Sewing 101: Pet Bed


If you love your pet and you love your home, chances are you’ve been frustrated by the challenge of finding pet accessories that work with your decor. Luckily for us, this is nothing that a little DIY power can’t fix! It’s super easy to sew your own pet bed, which you can customize with a fabric that suits your room and a filling that your pet will love. In this post I’ll show you how to make a simple bed that you can easily sew in any size and with a trick for making sharp corners that will look totally pro. Let’s get started! — Brett Bara

This post is brought to you by Domestic Beast. See their selection of hand-selected, well-designed products here.


Materials

  • 1–2 yards medium-weight fabric, such as cotton ticking or cotton duck
  • 1/2 yard leather strap (available in the trimming section of fabric stores)
  • stuffing of choice (I used poly-fil; suggestions for alternatives are below)
  • basic sewing supplies

 

1. Cut the fabric.


Note: Be sure to wash your fabric to pre-shrink it before cutting and sewing. Skipping this step could cause your seams to bunch when you launder the finished bed in the future.

Determine how large you’d like your bed to be, and cut two pieces of fabric for the top and bottom of the bed and two pieces for each side, adding 1″ to each measurement for seam allowance. The side pieces will need to be exactly the same length as the sides of the top/bottom and about 6″ tall.

2. Make and attach the handle.


The leather strap I’m using here is quite thin, so I’ll be doubling it to make a sturdy handle. If your strap is thicker, you won’t need to double it (but steer away from choosing a really thick strap, which can be too thick to sew on a regular home sewing machine).


Cut two pieces of strap 10″ long. (If using a thick strap, just cut one piece.)


Layer the two pieces together, and top stitch all around the perimeter of the piece. Here, I’m using a heavy-duty thread and a slightly longer stitch length (3.8mm), which creates a nice look when sewing on leather. If you don’t have heavy duty thread, you can use regular thread and it will work just fine; the stitches will just look lighter. Using heavy-duty thread here is aesthetic only; it creates more of a traditional heavy top-stitching look that you typically see on leather.


Next, working on one of the pieces of fabric you cut for the sides of the bed, fold the piece of fabric in half to determine its middle and mark that spot with a pin. Center the handle over the middle point, and tape it in place with a bit of a bend in the leather so the handle will bow out. You want to avoid pinning the leather in place, as pins will leave permanent holes in the leather. I like to use tape instead of pins, or binder clips.


Then, just sew each end of the handle in place with an X, and that’s it.

Note: When I removed my tape, I discovered it had left a mark on the leather (yikes!). This isn’t typical, but sometimes surprises like this happen. To fix it, I used more tape to distress the leather all over and conceal the original mark. Just a tip in case the same thing happens to you! You also may want to test your tape on an extra piece of your leather strap to be sure it doesn’t leave a mark; if it does, try holding the handle in place with binder clips instead of tape.

3. Sew the sides.


The only slightly tricky part of this project is sewing the corners of the bed. Because it’s a 3D corner, you have to use a special technique so that the fabric doesn’t bunch at the corners.

Begin by placing two side pieces together with their short edges aligned (and right sides of the fabric facing in). With a ruler or tape measure, mark 1/2″ in from each corner and place a pin to mark those spots. Sew the seam with a 1/2″ seam allowance, sewing only between the two pins. This means you’ll have a little 1/2″ flap at the beginning and end of the seam where the fabric isn’t sewn.


Here’s the 1/2″ flap at the end of the seam on this piece.


Continue sewing all the side pieces together until they’re all attached in a big loop. Press all the seams open with a hot iron.

4. Attach the top and bottom.


Next, take one of the top/bottom pieces and align one of its edges with one of the side edges. Pin the two pieces together and sew them with a 1/2″ seam allowance, starting and ending the seam 1/2″ before the edge of the fabric just as you did for the sides. It’s very important not to catch the seam allowance of the side seams in the corner seams; fold the seam allowance out of the way when necessary.


Here, one edge has already been sewn (the top seam), and I’m getting ready to sew the next edge along the side seam. Note that the fabric from the top seam is folded out of the way.


Here’s how the corners will look once you attach the top/bottom to the sides. What you’ll have is three pieces of fabric meeting at the corner, where a 1/2″ flap has been left at the beginning/end of every seam.

For best results, sew each side section separately (don’t try to sew all the way around the entire perimeter of the piece at once; rather, start and stop each one side at a time).


When one top/bottom piece has been attached to the sides on all four edges, you’ll have a piece that looks like this.

Next, repeat the whole process to attach the second top/bottom piece, but leave an 8″ opening in one of the side seams.


Trim the seam allowance from all three sides of each corner (this will reduce bulk from the extra fabric in the seam allowances, and help create sharp corners).


Turn the whole piece right-side out and press all the seams, and you should have nice 3D corners!


Finally, stuff the bed with your stuffing of choice. I used fiber-fill, but you could also consider options like special filling made for pet beds that contains cedar chips (like this one), or you could recycle filling from something else, like an old bean bag or a pillow.

Once your bed is stuffed, just sew up the opening, and you’re done!

The Junk Drunk

This is adorable. Of course my cat would assume it’s a new bed for me, and make herself at home in the middle of my bed instead. Solution: make a human sized pet bed, just in case.

Lauren

I love the leather handle detail! I made a similar dog bed for my mom several years ago for Christmas and it was a great gift! I used a large piece of foam and made a cover with Velcro so it could be removed for washing. I like how yours can just be washed as is.

Nadia

Awsome! Our lovely dog destroys her bed once in a while so sewing up a new one will be much cheaper for us (and I can choose the fabric I want, as previously said in the post). Thank you so much for this!

Jeanette @ This Dusty House

Love it. The leather handle is so sweet, but I know my dogs would have a heyday, until it’s ripped off and chewed up. However, I should really attempt to tackle making one without the handle… My boy’s bed is desperately calling out to be replaced, so might be a good time to DIY!

Phoebe

Oh how I wish I was talented enough to make this! But I’m definitely going to give it a try someday! Love it and thanks for sharing :)

sarah

great diy, thanks for sharing.

we made one in the style of a pillow-case and folded an old comforter in quarters to serve as padding. we have a 3 year old golden retriever who sheds and loves mud, so it’s been great for easy washing and drying. it also fits perfectly in the back of our subaru, which guthrie (our dog) really likes for longer drives.

SuzyMcQ

After reading this several times, I am still a bit confused about the corners. Are you saying that they should be sewn by hand and that you should first sew from one side to the corner and then sew from the other side to the corner of each corner? Sorry, my question sounds just as confusing…but I want my corners to look as sharp as your’s do.

Lisa A

So cute in the ticking and so easy. I made my dog a bed with one side canvas for warmer weather and the other side fake shearling for colder temps. Made the joining strip around the outside out of leftover sofa fabric and stuffed it (and I mean STUFFed) with a couple of fluffy pillows from the box store. She new it was hers immediately and loves it!

Melinda

Our new dog has a bed in her crate but she’s always pulling it out. This would be great for her to have as a lounging bed for the living room!

Grace

Gorgeous! I’ve always avoided sewing projects with corners like that because I didn’t know how to do them properly. Thank you!

Rose

love this – and great fabric choice! it would match with anything. i agree about the handle though – definitely not for dogs who chew. for those of us who are sewing challenged, there are a bunch of cute beds on etsy – one of my favorites is from the foggy dog (www.etsy.com/shop/thefoggydog)

Brett

hi Suzy – I know this sounds super confusing, but I think it’s one of those things that sounds more confusing than it actually is to do! First, you can sew all parts of this project on the machine, no need to do it by hand. Basically, you sew all the sides together first so you have a big floppy square, then you sew the top to the square, one side at a time. Just remember to begin and end EVERY seam for the sides and top/bottom 1/2″ before the edge of the fabric. Leaving that 1/2″ open will create the sharp 3-d corners. Hope that helps! :)
Brett

Sarah

Fun idea – love the idea of picking out my own fabric! Will share with my fosterdogsnyc.com readers!

Sam

This is super cute and your detailed instructions make it quite easy to follow. I love the idea that you can totally customise your material to suit your decor, plus I love the added leather handle too!

Archana @ my SoCal'd life

I’m getting a puppy soon and have been so overwhelmed with all the preparations — and prices! I love this idea. Sounds fun and much more cost-effective than buying a bed in a store.

naomi

It’s very cute, but you can’t wash this. I find that we regularly wash our dog bed covers so I would say to improve this you may want to have an interior liner for all the stuffing and then the outside cover can come off easier than unsewing/resewing for washing

Wedding Favors by Nette

This is wonderful! I have 3 dogs but only one actually wants to sleep on a bed. I’ve bought several beds for her already and she needs a new one. This will definitely save me some money! ;)

Katy@RICE

This makes me want to get a dog just so I can sew her this bed!

Our local Walmart sells fabric by the yard, and they have that pattern fabric, in two color choices! I might have to go get some and make a dog bed for… my child?! We’ll use it as a floor cushion until we get a dog :)

Alexa

Cute but only practical for dogs that don’t roll in mud and go swimming. I wish you could make a bed that has a washable cover? Thank you!

Ros

Very cute, and I love the look with the handles, but I’m going to adapt that to be an envelope-type cover to a dog bed… because a non-washable dog bed, combined with springtime mud, seems like a questionable idea.

Shannon & Harry

Just made this using your tutorial. Thanks so much! Harry loves his new bed. I was confused by the corners bit also, and after I was done figured out that you really do just sew end to end with that half inch seam…no fancy corner trick. I realized that after the fact because I was petrified of covering over my seam allowance. I kind of want to make him another one for our bedroom. He’s spoiled.

Lela

love the idea and am making one. but I am actually making another one to fit over it with a zipper to wash. Great tutorial. Thanks.

Debbie

Making it washable is easy-peasy! Make your pillow using this pattern, but with cheaper, plainer fabric, no handle, stuff, and close opening. Then, using the nicer fabric and handle, make a 2nd cover with the bottom piece to actually be 2 pieces that overlap a few inches, like a pillow sham, so it will slip over the original pillow. Everything else, except for the bottom being 2 overlapping pieces, would be exactly the same. You would also have to hem those overlapping parts to avoid fraying and give it a finished look.

Patricia

Thank you for this great tutorial. Just inherited my son’s dog and was thinking about making him a new bed. Also thank you Debbie for your suggestion, it’s a must because our dog loves the mud.

Julie P

What a great tutorial. We have just bought a new car and I shall be making one for our dog to travel in the back. He loves something to snuggle into. I plan to make an inner cushion with a removable cover for washing. Thank you for the very clear instructions.

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