sewing 101: color spectrum pet bed

Pets get chilly in the wintertime, too (I noticed that my kitty has been making herself little nests all over my apartment since the cold weather has really set in), so keep them extra cozy with a quilted pet bed stitched in a winter-blues-blasting color palette! In this post, you’ll learn how to sew the simple patchwork top, quilt it and sew it all up into a removable cover for any bed. You can use this cover over a purchased bed, or make your own insert using stuffing or specialty materials like buckwheat hulls. You could even slip a heating pad into the cover for extra warmth. — Brett Bara

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • an array of colorful medium-weight cotton fabrics (you’ll only need a scrap amount of each)
  • 1–2 yards medium-weight cotton fabric for the back of the bed
  • 1–2 yards muslin
  • 1–2 yards quilt batting
  • purchased pet bed or pillow form OR fiberfill or stuffing of your choice (such as buckwheat hulls)
  • scissors
  • pins
  • iron and ironing board
  • sewing machine


1. Plan the size.

You can use this pattern to cover an existing pet bed, or you can make your own insert to fill the bed. Either way, determine what you’d like the finished size of your bed to be and divide the length and width measurements by 2.5. The result is the number of squares you’ll need to make your cover. For example, if you want a finished length of 30″, 30 divided by 2.5 = 12; you’ll need 12 squares to make your desired length.

Note that in the instructions below, we’re cutting 3″ squares; this is because after sewing 1/4″ seams, the finished size of the squares will be 2.5″.

2. Cut the squares.

Begin by cutting your fabric into 3″ squares and arranging them as you like, according to color. It’s a good idea to snap a picture of your color arrangement so you can refer back to it in case your pieces get moved out of order once you start sewing.

3. Sew the strips.

Next, begin to join the squares into strips by sewing the pieces together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

To make this go more quickly, you can keep sewing the pieces together in a continuous string without stopping and cutting the thread after each seam. (In the photo above, two squares are being sewn together in each segment — it’s hard to see that the fabric is doubled.) After sewing the pairs together, open them up, arrange them in the correct color order, then move on to sew them into strips.

Iron each strip on the wrong side, pressing the seams on all strips so that the seam allowances face the same direction.

4. Join the strips.

Once all the strips are sewn, it’s time to join them.

Place two strips together with the right sides facing, and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Continue until all the strips are joined. Iron the piece well on the front and back.

5. Quilt the patchwork.

Cut a piece of quilt batting about 1″ larger than the patchwork on all sides, and cut a piece of muslin a little larger than the batting. Layer the pieces with the muslin on the bottom, the batting in the middle, and the patchwork (right side up) on top. Smooth everything out so there are no wrinkles in any of the layers.

Pin all three layers together, then begin quilting. Set your machine to a slightly longer-than-normal stitch length, and sew through all three layers in any pattern you like. If you’re new to quilting, practice this first on scrap fabric layered with batting and muslin just like your actual piece.

After the quilting is complete, trim all four sides so that the batting and muslin are even with the edges of the patchwork.

6. Make the back.

To make the envelope closure on the back, cut two pieces of fabric that are as wide as the patchwork and long enough to be folded completely in half (with the fabric doubled, wrong sides together) and that overlap each other by about 3″.

Pin the two folded pieces to the RIGHT SIDE of the patchwork piece, and sew through all layers around all four sides. Trim the corners, turn the piece right side out, and press the side seams.

If you aren’t using a pre-purchased inset, make a pillow form by sewing together two pieces of muslin that are the same dimensions as the patchwork, and stuffing it with fiberfill or the material of your choice.

Simply slip the pillow form inside the finished cover . . .

. . . and your cozy pet bed is ready to be enjoyed.

Good night!

  1. susanna says:

    Awww…look at that sweet fluffy face! What a thoughtful mama you are for making your furball a comfy place to sleep this winter.

    PS: I’ve been going through your DIY posts. You have such great ideas! The how-to for the filament lighting – wow! And the one with the hearts and initials burned into birch wood – terrific! Thank you for the daily inspiration.

  2. erin says:

    Love it!!! My cats have been going under blankets all over the house, too. And they steal our spots the minute we get off the couch!

    PS- you have the cutest cat ever! Heee!!!

  3. Ruth says:

    Brett, your kitty is so adorable and fluffy!!!! I really love the colours you chose for your pillow, so funky and refreshing!

  4. What a fun project! I’m new to sewing, and I think this would be great practice. I have two kitties who I know would love it :) The last image of the sleeping furry baby has me swooning!

  5. What a gorgeous kitty, lovely pet bed too!

  6. Fantastic arrangement! I was planning on doing a quilting 101 post myself next week.

  7. A-C says:

    Great Idea! My cats would surely love one of these with some form of heating pad inside. They’ve been extra cuddly lately trying to steal our warmth.

  8. Peaches says:

    #1 That is one badass cat. Love him!
    #2 Oh man, I *just* made a simple rice bag bed for my Lola…just pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes and she will burrow in it all day. Now I feel so inferior that I did not create a matching candy-colored rainbow quilted cover. Next weekend, fo sho.

  9. Renée says:

    Oh my kitty would love this one but I really can’t sew :( Love the cat in the photos!

  10. Helby says:

    I love this! Very pretty

  11. Brittany says:

    I would just like to say, that first picture is amazing.

  12. great. very nice colors. I want to sew for my cat.

  13. Natasha RL says:

    This is adorable! I now especially want a pet kitten (or bunny?!) to make cozy things for.

  14. Snottyboy says:

    Your kitty model is beautiful

  15. Reader says:

    Thanks. I like the idea and appreciate the detailed instructions. The only thing that doesn’t work for me is the pattern of the quilting, which mars th effect.

  16. tanaya says:

    So cute, I love it. But PLEASE don’t put a heating pad in it!

    It has been proven that heating pads can be harmful to the small bones on felines. You are actually advised not to let your cats lay on them (you’ll find the same warning on many electric blankets too!).

  17. Gigi says:

    One suggestion for pillow forms are the $10 Ikea memory foam curved ones-GOSA KARNE/side or back versions – Our cats love them they’re very cushy for arthritic cats and very cheap and hypoallergenic. I think also the sides make them feel cozy like in a nook. Another idea would be to add some “thermal” heat exchange fabric that would retain their body heat. :D Beautiful work you did!

  18. This is the perfect cat cushion to use in the ultimate cat bed:

    Now I have *two* projects for our very spoiled feline!

  19. EEp! I was just breezing through on my way to another post and I had to STOP when I saw this. Love the cat and the quilt. Looks fantastic! Stopped me in my tracks! ~ karen

  20. Mindi says:

    I love pet projects and this one is just wonderful! I love the last photo-happy kitty :)

  21. lovely, but my pillow is even not as cute as his

  22. Tisha says:

    I rarely comment but that kitty is just too cute!!! Lurve the last photo!

  23. If only my cat would sleep somewhere designed for her. Perhaps a beautiful bed would encourage her to do so.

  24. Ashley says:

    That guy looks grumpy but sweet! I absolutely love the picture of him sitting on his colorful new bed.

  25. katie evans! says:

    this cat is so crazy looking.

  26. Kate says:

    This is an ideal gift for both pets and the humans that love them. Making individualized gifts for my own pets brings a ton of joy to my crafting experience. Your DIY contains the perfect amount of instruction and the pics are inspiring. I enjoyed – thank you!

  27. Breanne says:

    i love anything with a cat on it! gray and grumpy on top of a rainbow!

  28. Idaira says:

    This is great! i’ll try for my little bunny! thanks for sharing!
    And you cat is killing me! sooo cute!!!

  29. Jeanne says:

    Brett, I love your sewing tutorials! Always so clever, beautiful, and of course, always inspiring!

    Andrea, what an awesome cat bed you made! I want want for me. And no, I don’t mean my cat, hah!

  30. eva says:

    so cute, for sure that cat will feel comfortable..

  31. Alison says:

    Love it! It’s so pretty, and the cat looks very comfy. :)

    Check out my tutorial on strip piecing this patchwork pattern. It makes it so quick.

  32. Joanna says:

    Working on it right now! I’ve been wanting a dog bed for a while, but I can’t believe how expensive they are! So I’m using scrap fabric and taking some stuffing out of goodwill pillows and the whole project won’t be more than 5 or 10 bucks!

  33. Erika says:

    Very funny! My cat’s will love it ^_^

  34. Michelle says:

    GOD THIS IS GREAT!! WHAT WE DO FOR OUR BELOVED CATS! ( I am a cat lover can’t ya tell??)

  35. Suzanne says:

    Your tutorial is just what I was looking for! I’m not someone who likes to measure, so I found your instructions for the back of the pillow particularly helpful and logical. I made a quilted pillow today from your tut.

    Your cat is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And he’s a lucky guy to have such a gorgeous pillow made especially for him.


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