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Making a dog bed - suggestions for where to get fabrics?

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    Making a dog bed - suggestions for where to get fabrics?

    OK, am pretty much all thumbs sewing wise, but have an older Irish Wolfhound, so beds for her are really, really pricey. And been recently assaulted often by those "looks" when the cat and I are on the couch. IW's large bed from LLBean's is upstairs. So time for a project to make her a bigger one for the downstairs.

    Recent college grad son ruined his memory foam mattress topper last year when he waited until the 11th hour to move out. It was pouring, and we needed some kind of cushioning to prevent a heavy wooden bookshelf his father had given him from rattling around in the truck bed. Mattress topper got soaked, and fell apart in large sections when we attempted to dry it out in the sun. BUT it will make a great 'big dog' bed cushion!

    Last week I found what I'll use for an insert cover. Last minute purchase from Walmart of cheap sheets to use when helping out on the Jersey Shore. The content wasn't published on the outside - when I opened them up, they were nylon! Erk!

    OK, OK, so final question is, what material do I buy for the outside, and where to find it? (Also a larrrrge zipper...) Any other recommendations would be appreciated! (Now to find the instructions for the sewing machine...)
    But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

    Oh gosh...I dunno, but when you figure it all out, will you send me some specs/instructions? My mom and my SD13 both sew...maybe I could get them to make our dogs some new beds!

    For fabric, I guess I'd think about using the fleece stuff. Inexpensive, easy to replace, etc. But I would just "stitch" together two rectangle pieces with some decorative rope. That way, would be easy to remove and wash and no need to struggle with a zipper.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


      I don't have any suggestions or answers for you, but if I were in your shoes I'd most likely go to a craft/fabric store, and ask one of their (most knowledgable) employees what they think... they would know which fabric is the most durable, washable, un-shrinkable, easy to work with; and a craft/fabric store would most likely have a nice, big zipper.

      Also, a lot of craft and fabric stores have "how to" classes; and I remember that growing up, our local fabric store had patterns for sale, too (patterns to make just about anything you can think of; for all levels of expertise [or lack thereof!]).

      I just did a quick search online and found this page, which provides instructions and a pattern for making a rectangular dog bed; which looks like a simple box cushion that you could find on a sofa- I don't think it would be too difficult to make, at all. That web page also comes complete with a list of materials you'll need to make a rectangular dog bed.

      Of course, I'm just *assuming* here that you're looking to make a rectangular one, based on how I interpreted your description of how the memory foam mattress topper fell apart- that it would "make a great 'big dog bed' cushion" just made me picture a rectangle.... but this site has links to many different free dog bed patterns (and there are a ton more that you can find just by Googling "dog bed sewing patterns").

      And here is another method for making a large dog bed, which I'm sure you could incorporate your memory foam into

      So I would take a look online at the available patterns and designs, determine which one suits your needs best; and then head over to a fabric store (as I recall, Joann Fabric always has a ton of resources; although I don't know if the Joann's chain is something local to your area or not) to get some expert input

      Good luck with it, and make sure to post pictures of your final product!
      Originally posted by Martha Drum
      ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


        Original Poster

        Wow, thanks, RTB! (funny - that's my maiden name, er, Rees, not Beast )

        And you're right, it will be a rectangle, or as close to one as I can come! That square pattern and way to measure is perfect!

        Will display the end result whenever it's done. Can't get started sewing right away, but I can shop for fabric!

        And you're right, Buddyroo - fleece is high on my list - at least for part of it.

        Of course, if it was for the cat, am sure he would insist on using upholstery fabric to match the expensive reupholstered antique chair - but believe the dog will take anything.
        But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


          Get upholstery, canvas, or outdoor fabric. I wouldn't go with fleece for the outside because it's a hair magnet.

          Just sew a pillowcase to fit and add velcro or buttons on one short side if you're worried about messing up the zipper. You can do this!

          Many big dog owners buy crib mattresses at goodwill & craigslist. That might not be big enough for your pup!


            I don't sew either, and from what I understand, zippers are a colossal bitch to install unless you're pretty capable with needle, thread, and machine. Can you do velcro or maybe snaps?

            I put Velcro on our (human) duvet cover after Simon the Cattledog chewed all of the buttons off of it. Definitely requires a thimble and some strong fingers, but doesn't have to be perfect like a zipper.


              I made a large dog bed a few months ago, only spent about 80, I'll post everything after work for you guys!
              The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.


                Our favorite dog bed covers (note plural) are denim or strong twill - think almost Carhartt duck. The hair doesn't stick and the dirt brushes off. We have a couple that are yellow lab color and another couple that look like old jeans. One thing we've learned: we put the innards into a plastic trash bag, so when the cat pees or pukes on the dog bed, we wash the cover and can usually get away without having to wash or trash the innards - just throw out the garbage bag and get another (or two... layers are good). We look for them at yard sales and are lucky enough to live near both Lands End and Duluth Trading Co outlets, so we have a collection of dog bed covers that cycle through the wash on a regular basis. As far as sewing a cover (like I should be giving anyone advice on sewing anything) - use a needle that's meant for strong fabric, and thread that's meant for thick/strong fabric. Over-engineer it a little and it will hold up better in the wash.


                  the long zippers are not bad to sew in with the machine as long as you do them first before you close the cover along the seems. That way it's straight forward sewing (works for pants, too, btw)

                  You can get heavy cotton fabrics, sometimes even at walmart, but you can probably safe a bundle by reusing old worn out jeans (but then, I have a stash of huge ones....a bunch of tiny ones would not be so nice to work with.

                  I think fleece is about on par with the nylon sheets


                    I made a dog bed for a friend's old dog. The inner cover was a heavy vinyl since the dog was incontinent. Did I say she was older than Noah?
                    The outer cover was a twill type fabric. I just did a pillow case shape. I was able to put in a zipper. I sewed it on first, and then sewed the opposite end. I did unzip it a little before sewing the final end so I could easily finish unzipping when done to flip it right side out.
                    I am pretty sewing impaired I found it to be pretty easy.
                    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                      For my old doberboy, I got a baby mattress for less than 30 dollars (you can find % off coupons if you do online. I did the mattress because he likes to be higher and just a regular cushion doesn't cut it for him. I prefer the couch cushion material but that would have been way too expensive. I bought a twin size memory foam topper that was around 15, bought a full size comforter that I think was around 20 but it will depend on the material. And just the cheapest twin sheet you can find. I wrapped the memory foam topper around the dog bed (so you can flip the bed if you want) duct taped it into place and then wrapped the cheap twin sheet around that (which will make it easier to get the bed cover on and off later) I just took big safety pins to secure it on which makes getting it off easy too. After it's all wrapped I placed the bed onto the open comforter to mark where I need to be, there was only about a foot that I had to cut off. Give yourself an extra inch or two so it will be easier to get on and off to wash. I got the longest and biggest zipper I could find. Sew that on first. I placed mine at the short side of the bed and it still had a few inches that it goes down on the long side which makes it even easier to get on and off. Then just sew closed the remaining side of the comforter, make sure that you sew the wrong side for the zipper and comforter so you can flip it to the right side and have the zipper look nicer. I spent extra money and got 2 of those cheap college body pillows for the sides (my boy likes to rest his head on pillows) I just cut one in half took a bit of stuffing out so I could sew closed the open sides and then sewed the cushions together and had originally sewed buttons to snap them on and off easy BUT our young brat of a dog decided to go after them so I had to replace with velcro and eventually toss the pillows because he chewed holes in them (the fabric was truly cheap on those) So now it's just the bed part but if your dog doesn't chew I would add the pillows. The only thing I needed the sewing machine for what the zipper and comforter.

                      A few month ago he had to have surgery and while he does have his own couch in addition to the bed I made, he was not allowed to jump up so I had to make another bed because the two dogs just can't comfortable be on one bed. For the second one I spent about 30, just bought a twin or full memory foam topper and twin or full size sheet. Folded the foam in half and wrapped the sheet around that to cut the size I needed, sewed up two of the sides and left the third open to slip over the foam and then I sewed 8 large buttons to snap it closed. Honestly I would have done something different because the other dog likes to chew buttons but that was what I had in the house and it was a last minute deal that I realized we needed another bed for the floor, it was done in about an hour and it suited our need for a quick comfortable bed for his joints. It held up well until once again the pita chewed the buttons off. So again if your dogs like to chew buttons are a bad idea lol. But if I had more time I would have done another zipper, I may end up doing that bed again but use a zipper because they really did like it.
                      The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.


                        Fellow Irish Wolfhound owner here! Totally agree on the difficulty of finding affordable, durable beds that are big enough. Crib mattresses are too small, I like a minimum of 36" by 48", but prefer something like 48" by 54", or a regular twin bed mattress. Sometimes you can find those for free or not much, then just get mattress covers with fleece on top, or flannel or microfiber sheets and use the bottom mattress cover.

                        I am sewing challenged so can't tell you how to install a zipper or Velcro, but my guys, given a choice, prefer the fake sheepskin or a plush material. It would be nice if you could make two so you will not have to endure the Dog Torture Look while one cover is being washed.

                        I'll try to post a link to several of my hounds on some of their beds. The bigger ones are Orvis, very pricey but I got a great deal at an Equestrian Consigment Sale, and the leopard print one is a Pet-O-Bed, very reasonable mail order place.

                        At the last dog show I went to, they had some great huge beds that looked very durable and were very reasonable, I think $25 dollars for. 54" x 48", so you might try local dog shows, some have awesome vendors.


                          OK, here is a link to sleeping upside down hounds....the gray one is not with the program!



                            I cannot sew AT ALL! My mother tried to teach me many times and I'm hopeless. Fortunately, we live near the LL Bean outlet store in New Hampshire, so I got an XL dog bed cover (with some other dog's name on it!) cheap and stuffed it with the cut up remains of a worn memory foam mattress topper.


                              Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Houndhill View Post
                              OK, here is a link to sleeping upside down hounds....the gray one is not with the program!

                              And here is my girl. This downstairs bed was reasonable, but as you can tell, not really acceptable for a solid IW snooze...and getting worn...

                              And perhaps a good point about the fleece, as this one does hang on to the hair. But she seems to need something fuzzy to sleep next to.

                              Last edited by CVPeg; Nov. 21, 2012, 10:38 PM.
                              But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                                Original Poster

                                Originally posted by Canaqua View Post
                                I cannot sew AT ALL! My mother tried to teach me many times and I'm hopeless. Fortunately, we live near the LL Bean outlet store in New Hampshire, so I got an XL dog bed cover (with some other dog's name on it!) cheap and stuffed it with the cut up remains of a worn memory foam mattress topper.
                                Good idea. I am running back up to Maine this weekend for a brief trip, not far from Freeport. Will check the Outlet store to see if they have an XXL for "Goofball" (although that name would fit her). Actually her nice upstairs bed is fro mBeans, but expensive, and don't think the height would accomodate the thickness of the mattress topper I'll be incorporating... But maybe...

                                Lots of good ideas. Thanks, everyone!
                                But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                                  Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by Houndhill View Post
                                  At the last dog show I went to, they had some great huge beds that looked very durable and were very reasonable, I think $25 dollars for. 54" x 48", so you might try local dog shows, some have awesome vendors.
                                  Oooh - forgot about checking out dog shows. Big ones still coming up in Saratoga in Jan?
                                  But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                                    Very cool, CVPeg! Great upside Down tecnique!

                                    I am sure you will find or make a bed worthy of her!