Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kennel Comforter Tutorial for Dogs & Cats

The Princess & the Pea

The past many days were packed to the top. By Sunday I felt I just needed to regroup with one quiet day. I went to the studio to get ready for sewing group here on Tuesday, and my hands were once again moving batting scraps. I really hate moving and re-moving unneeded items. We had a cold snap the night before, and a newly adopted barn kitten without a cozy bed to stay warm in her crate. A quick turn of the sewing machine made a pillow cover, and the batting bits turned it into a toasty nest.

It was such a good use of the bits and ends that I made 3 more for the older cats. My daughter resisted taking the cushions thinking they would just get sit around getting dirty, but the cats immediately took to them. One point for Mom. Batting scraps down and 3 more happy cats!

Organizing My Beloved Rulers 
& What Happened Next

My large collection of Creative Grids rulers had hung from a peg board for the last year. More were stored beneath the ironing table in tubs, and I was always afraid of breaking one. I'd already had one accident when one slipped off the wall peg while trying to remove the one behind it. A trip to IKEA over the weekend proved successful at finding the perfect cabinet for these many expensive, and hard to store items. This grey cabinet has roller wheels, and wide, shallow drawers. It's called an Alex unit, and stores easily under my cutting/ironing/ping pong table. Scissors and sharp tools made their way into the top drawer, and needles into the bottom. There is less clutter on the wall now, and I know they're better protected.

As with everything IKEA, assembly is required, but here is what happened as a result of needing floor space to put the cabinet together. 

(1 Old Towel + 1 Yard Flannel + 30 Minutes= 
1 Cozy Kennel Comforter!)
X's 6

While clearing space on the floor to do the Alex drawer assembly, I kept moving a box of old towels that was in the way. I must have pushed them around 2 or 3 times. Really! The towels had been in service over 15 years, and a few even patched as they made their way back and forth to university with the kids. They were still too good to send out as rags, but had been replaced for every day use. I had an inkling of an idea months ago that they would make good filler for kennel comforters. There was no time like the present moment, and it was a way to postpone cleaning!

Durable Cotton Materials, Please!

Many animal shelters need simple kennel bed comforters. Something soft is nice for the animals, but did you know that a pet laying on a cute bed appears more adoptable? Yes! It helps people imagine that pet in their own home. So this project is especially suitable for your cute animal fabric.

Some shelters ask for only cotton filling. Polyester is easily pulled out and becomes a choking hazard. Regardless of which filler you use, the entire pad needs to be washable and durable. I checked with our local shelter about using toweling, and was given the go-ahead.

The kennel beds at our Humane Society measure 22" x 36". I decided something slightly smaller would be ideal, and that also fit with using 42"-43" width fabric most of us have on hand. My method was fast and simple, and in a few hours I had made 6 comforters, and emptied that box of towels.

Sewing Details

*I used prewashed flannel from my stash to be cozy. Flannel may shrink up to 7% in the first two washes. Always preshrink flannel for any project!  See this post for proof: As Exciting as Watching Flannel Dry

Other fabric suggestions might be lightweight, washable upholstery fabric, denim, twill, or polar fleece. If in doubt, ask your local shelter, or make one for them to try out.

*A 3 mm stitch length worked well for all sewing in this project. This is just slightly longer than your standard stitch length.

*Use thread that resists breaking. Test your thread strength by gripping the ends in both hands and pulling hard. If it breaks, try another. You want these to last. Any color will do. 

Cut a length of fabric 34" long, and the width of fabric. 
Fold lengthwise, right sides together.

My toweling was cut 21.5" x 33". Cut off hemmed edges or finely woven areas of the towel if it distorts it or will be difficult to sew through. You want it to lay flat in all directions. 

Lay toweling on top of wrong side of folded fabric. Adjust 3 sides even with edges leaving one short side with about 1 inch of fabric past edge of toweling for a turning edge. Trim if necessary. If toweling is smaller than cover material, it is not a problem. You will just sew on the edge of the toweling. Perfection is not necessary in this project.

Pin the 3 edges of toweling leaving the turning edge free. Spacing every 5 inches or so is enough.

Sew through all layers on 3 sides keeping turning end open. This step secures the toweling to the cover fabric, and will keep it from shifting.

Turn the sandwich right side out.

Pin under the raw edges. I tucked one edge over the toweling first, then turned the other under to meet it. It is not essential that it is a beautiful seam, but more so that it holds. You can straight stitch or zig zag this edge for security.

Lay bed cover flat smoothing and working any excess bulk out toward the edges of the mat. Pin the center to prevent shifting while sewing, and about 1"-1.5" from the outer edge.

Using your 3 mm straight stitch, stitch around all 4 sides. 

Stitch again down the mat lengthwise to secure. I used the width of my machine throat to stitch one side, turned, and then stitched the other. 

It's done!

You will notice this mat feels incredible cozy, and will machine wash and dry well in a dryer or over a rack. These are headed to our Humane Society for a test run, and I will let you know their recommendations for any changes.

In a world of so much turmoil and sadness, do what you can where you live to make lives better. Turn your energy into good things that make positive change. Be the change you want to see. Simply love each other, man and beast.

Come on, Doxie girls.
It's sewing day!


KaHolly said...

Excellent post! And very timely for me. I am bookmarking it for when I get to Texas for the winter! Thank you 'sew' much. Every little thing counts, and all added up, counts big!

terrieannie said...

My own sweet Meggie passed away recently and I wanted to do something in her memory. Since I adopted her from our local Humane Society 13 years ago, this would be the perfect project for me. In addition to that, I live in North Texas and I know there are many displaced pets from Houston that have come our way. Thanks for your tips, I never thought of using old towels!

Sandra Walker said...

Thank you for making my heart feel full with this post Julie. Years ago I used a couple of old towels to make one of these for Rocco. I’d forgotten about making more like it for our Humane Society. I keep all my trimmings in a bag to stuff cat mats (have given a few to HS in Florida but not here at home yet, bad) and I know I have a couple of old towels that can be put to this much-needed and appreciated use. Thanks for the nudge and tutorial. Reminds me it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just make some. Now.

Angie in SoCal said...

A quick and neat project. I like that we are recycling fabric.

Kate said...

What a great idea for giving old towels a new life.

Vickie said...

I love the idea of sewing for the animals. I never thought of using old towels!
A personal story:
I have basenjis (a dog originally from Africa) and I have found that if I stuff anything with cotton - they destuff the object and EAT the cotton! In this house, only polyester is used for the dogs.
Luckily not many basenjis end up in a shelter. There is an excellent nationwide network to intervene if at all possible. (BRAT - Basenji Rescue and Transport)