Sewing Patterns For Pet Beds, Gyms, And Caves.

Sewing patterns for pet beds, gyms, and caves.

Sew beds for small animals such as puppies, kittens, and ferrets or litter-box trained rabbits. There are more cat owners than dog owners nationwide. Pet owners have an eye for fashionable fabrics that match their decor.

Take orders online and customize cat beds to match carpets, drapes, or furniture for your customers. Here's how to make beds for cats and kittens. Small breed puppies also can use them.

STEP 1: CHOOSE FABRIC SAFE FOR CATS OR SMALL BREED PUPPIES

At your local basket shop, buy a large and sturdy basket without a handle, if preferred, about a yard long, square, oval, or round. A rectangular shape is easiest to work with when sewing a cat bed, but oval baskets look prettiest to the eye.

At your local yard store purchase two and a half yards of 45 inch fabric that is safe for cats to chew, lick, or scratch without tearing or ingesting harmful chemicals, dyes, or starches. Upholstery material, canvas, denim, pure unbleached natural cotton, hemp, or any heavy fabric safe and not containing chemicals that could cause allergies is fine.

Your veterinarian may also recommend particular fabrics. Since some cats chew and swallow wool, don't use wool. Some fabrics come with ancient Egyptian designs printed on them which makes a wonderful cat bed print for your little Bestet, but make sure the dyes can't be ingested or licked off or would harm the cat. Also purchase the same amount of white cotton lining fabric for lining the inside of pillows. Your yardage store will show you several linings. Choose the soft, white cotton, polyester, rayon, or linen linings that dry quickly.

Buy pillow stuffing or fabric scraps cut into four inch squares with which to stuff the bed that is safe from toxicity to cats or humans. Buckwheat husks make good stuffing as do normal pillow stuffing materials that dry quickly in a machine dryer or in the sun. Cotton or other materials may be used, but select those that don't hold moisture, mold, or dry slowly or are toxic to cats. You can wash the stuffing separately if you sew a zipper in the cat bed. Or insert a ready made cat pillow into your pillow-case like catbed slipcovers. It's better to sew your own heavy fabric covers so the cat can scratch as much as he wants to without destroying the bed.

You can also use two shag rugs if the shag is not looped where the cat could catch his claws and rip out his nails on the loops. Also rugs must be soft to the touch and not shed easily, or else the cat will swallow the fibers and gag on furballs, or the strings of the rug will twist around the cat's intestines and require surgery, so don't go for fibers that can easily shed or be pulled out. Soft, short, scratchable fibers on a rug that won't come out easily are great. Make sure the back of the rug isn't coated with rubber that dissolves with moisture and falls off in little pieces that the cat will swallow.

If you use rugs, you'd sew two of them together and leave one side open for the stuffing/fill material before you'd sew it shut with a zipper so you can wash it. Let's first discuss how to sew a cat bed with softer fabric than two rugs. Wash the fabric in slightly warm or cold water and iron it. You'll get rid of chemicals and starches in the fabric and go through shrinkage before you start to cut and sew.

STEP 2: CUTTING AND SEWING THE CAT BED

Turn the fabric inside out. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that you have two pieces of fabric attached at one side that is about a yard and a quarter inches long. Line the inside with cotton lining fabric made for pillows that you purchase at your yard store. It should be cut to the same length and folded about a quarter of an inch at the edges when sewing. You fold the edge under slightly to get rid of the raggedy edge where the cutting line was. Sew all stitches on the fabric while it is turned inside out. When you finish sewing, the stitches won't show because they'll be on the inside, and the printed design will be on the outside.

Place the fabric lining against the inside of the fabric and turn the edges in to form a seam so that no ragged edges face outward WHEN THE MATERIAL IS TURNED RIGHT SIDE OUT. Turn the fabric edges inside also and pin them to the lining so that the lining and fabric are sewn together, and the fabric now has a lining. REMOVE EACH PIN as you sew where you have pinned. Make sure you don't leave a pin hidden for the cat.

A safer way is to baste over masking tape so you don't use pins at all. I recommend this method to ensure that you don't forget to remove a pin. Sew the lining to the inside-out fabric. Leave one side open, but turn the edge of the lining in and sew down to the edge of the fabric so the lining won't face out with a ragged edge. On the open side, insert all the stuffing or batting and fill the pillow-type bed 3/4ths full. Plump it down in the middle so the cat has a comfortable dent or "depression" in the bed to sink into.

The bed should not look like a pillow because the cat has to have his "hole" or "depression" to sink into in the middle of the bed that is soft and pliable, but yet doesn't sink down to the bottom where his body will be pressed against a hard surface. You can insert a zipper on the side if you want to remove the batting or stuffing to replace it, or if not, sew all sides shut. The bed will last longer if you are able to remove and wash or replace the batting if the cat soils it. You can also stuff the bed with scraps of fabric instead of batting.



Sew a seam by machine or hand around all edges of the fabric except for one side. Fill the bed with scraps of fabric, washable batting or pillow stuffing. If you choose to put your zipper in at this point, sew the edges of the zipper around the side of the bed. It's hard to match the zipper size, so you might want to sew Velcro instead. I highly recommend Velcro instead of a zipper on the side so you can easily remove the insides of the bed to wash. You may prefer to fill the bed with cut up scraps of fabric about 4 inches square instead of cotton batting or pillow stuffing because when wet, it may lump and cause pain to the cat or irritations. I use scraps of fabric that do not lump or other pillow stuffing that won't lump when moist.

STEP 3: PUTTING THE BED IN THE BASKET

After you've stuffed the bed, tamp it down so that it forms a depression in the middle and sturdy sides. You may want to sew the depression permanently into the bed by making a seam around the bottom to hold the depression down. With your hands, move the stuffing up the sides or walls of the bed while tamping other stuffing down so that the bottom is soft and has no lumps and is "quilted" enough for the cat to lay on without feeling the hard floor.

The sides should stand up and be sturdy. You may want to sew a second seam around the edges of the floor of the bed so that it looks like a cylinder with a bottom and walls. If you use a rectangle shape, make sure the bottom of the bed stays depressed (down) and the walls or sides go upwards. This is done by sewing a seam around the bottom and moving with your hands the stuffing so that there are sides or walls to the bed.

Fit the bed into the basket. It should rise up the sides of the basket somewhat. Add bows to the handle of the basket or sides if you're giving as a gift, but don't leave the bows on for the cat to swallow. Cats swallow string or ribbon and it wraps around their intestines as they try to gag it up. Don't leave string or ribbons around a cat bed and warn those you give a gift too to remove all bows you put on as packaging. If you can't find a basket the size of your finished cat bed, you can have one made at a basket manufacturer, or use a box painted with murals, wallpapered, or glued with fabric.

STEP 4: MAKING YOUR OWN BASKET OR BOX TO MATCH THE CAT BED

Instead of using a basket to put your cat bed in, you may use a wooden crate or cardboard box the same size as your cat bed pillow or slightly larger. Cut matching fabric--slightly larger than the size as your cat bed. Fit each side of the box with pieces of fabric cut to 1/2 larger than the box.

Turn the edges in and sew the seams down so no ragged edges show or glue edges down. Paint all sides with nontoxic permanent glue. Fit the fabric to all sides of the box except the bottom. Paste the fabric on the box. When the glue is dry, turn the box over and do the same, pasting the last piece of fabric to the bottom of the box. You may want to paste a piece of washable plastic on the bottom of the box where it touches the floor to keep it clean. Use a hardy fabric or shag rug on the box. I recommend a wooden crate such as an orange crate rather than a cardboard box that will eventually easily cave in with age or pressure or biodegrade with time.

You can use a plastic or metal box also. Just glue fabric around the edges. Insert your cat bed. Inside the box should feel like a pillow with a dent in the middle where the cat will sleep.

Use ethnic prints, such as scenes of ancient Egypt to make your cat appear strikingly like royalty. If your cat is a certain breed such as Siamese, you might use Thai prints, or Abyssinian cats might like African prints. Persian cats might like fabrics printed with scenes of ancient Persian winged griffins or the like. Burmese cats or Bengals might like Asian leopard cat print designs. You can showcase your cat in your living room with such a bed. The outcome would be a box with a pillow-type cat bed in it decorated or covered with lush, rich, sturdy, and safe fabrics that match your fancy or your carpet.

STEP 5: WORKING WITH RUGS:

As an alternative to fabrics, you might like to use two throw rugs, about 24 inches square sewed together and stuffed with pillow batting. Sew all around except for one side and put Velcro around the one side you want to remain open to replace the batting. The rug cat bed is harder and less comfortable for the cat. I recommend sturdy fabrics for the cat bed pillow and lining the box on all sides with small rugs or carpet cuttings.

Ask your carpet store to cut you off 4 pieces of rug slightly larger than the size of the box and paste the rug over the 4 sides of the box with permanent fabric and wood glue. Turn the edges in or trim them off if the rug is too large for the box after folding. Then put the cat bed inside the rug or carpet- covered box. Have the carpeted box the same color as the cat bed pillow inside, or in colors that contrast well. If you use a print, choose carpet in a solid color that matches the dominant color in the print.

You can sell these cat beds online. Some of the ones online I've found look like the pillows you find on sofas, and others look like round soft pillows that fit into baskets.

Decorate your cat bed with the cat's name embroidered or written with fabric paint, but be careful. The cat will probably eat off the letters that are painted on. It's better to sew on any lettering or decoration. The cat is less likely to scratch off letters sewed onto the outer carpeting on the outside of the box. He's more likely to eat off any lettering on the pillow bed inside.

If you study the cat and dog beds in the supermarkets and pet shops, you will see how closely they resemble either sofa pillows, sofa seats, or oval shaped pillows and bean bags that fit into baskets. Don't stuff your cat or dog bed with anything harmful that the cat or dog will eat if he chews a hole in the bed. That's why large scraps of fabric (not wool) are safer.

Always check with a Vet before you buy the stuffing. Sell the cat beds online from your Web site if you wish or through catalogs, electronic or print. Leave flyers at pet stores and animal clinics. Or you can open a "catique" or cat boutique or sell through mail-order. You also can pick up a pattern for three or more styles of felt or quilted igloos for cats at your local pattern and fabric shop for around $5 or so.

I recommend a wonderful cat igloo pattern you can sew available from Butterick. I use the pattern #5903 Butterick "Cozy Critters" pattern, all sizes included.

See your fabric store catalogue or write to Butterick Pattern Service, 161 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10013, To make templates, simply cut cardboard sections using the pattern's Guide for Cardboard inside and transfer selected piece numbers to your template. The pet beds patterns and instructions are included for small or large size pet beds.

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