But first, a quick rant on how this relates to childcare…
Childcare providers do not spend their entire day with kids. Honestly, I believe it is even better for the kids to see that their childcare provider cooks, cleans, crafts, builds, or whatever else the provider is able to accomplish, especially in a home environment. The old “Home Economics” classes have been vanishing from our schools, if they’re not already gone, entirely. However, these skills are still needed and valuable to know.
Caring for a household is much more than dusting, vacuuming, and washing windows. The care of a household includes interior design, giving walls a fresh coat of paint, replacing the filter in the furnace, plumbing, lighting, and more, just for the inside of the home. Many kids grow up and move out of their parents home, without the knowledge that gutters need to be cleaned out after leaves have clogged them up.
In addition to just maintaining your home, there are skills that children should be learning such as sewing, knitting, carving, painting, and gardening (as well as many others). Learning these skills as children could help them as adults. These skills provide a hobby, an income, or just save them money and headache when they need to hire a professional, because they aren’t familiar with the basics. Therefore, I recommend all childcare providers learn home skills and spend some of their time performing their craft while involving the kids, to some degree.
I prefer sewing over so many other hobbies, or as my sister calls them “life skills.” The one day sewing~dog bed project is not something I would have the kids help with unless they are around age 10 or older. However, taking the kids to the fabric store with you to pick out the materials you’ll need is a great start. Let them explore the space and ask questions. If the child(ren) is over the age of 10, I’d consider having them help to lay out the pattern, take and mark measurements for starters.
If you want to make a dog bed without the help of kids, or with their help, you can try following these step-by-step instructions to make one for your favorite four legged family member.
This project requires:
- 4 yds of outdoor or home decor fabric
- (2 yrds each of 2 different prints or colors, if two-toned)
- Heavy duty thread, match to the largest area of color on your fabric
- Sewing machine
- Straight edge/ruler
- 6 yds Upholster cord or piping
- 25lbs Fiber fill
The measurements I used allowed me to make an enormous dog bed, which is what my husband requested when he said, “I want her to be able to turn around and spread out in her bed.” So I measured my dog, she’s about 24″ long when laying in a curled position and about 30″ long with her legs stretched. I decided to make the bed 36″, so that the fiber filling wouldn’t shrink the overall size too much, once it was stuffed. In hindsight, I could have added an extra 2″, instead of 6″, all the way around and still made a pretty large dog bed.
If you don’t want an enormous bed and prefer to use a pillow form for stuffing, a great pillow form is the Euro bed pillows. They are typically 22-24″ square. I would have gone this route if I didn’t have a giant box of fiber fill that I needed to use up. So, where I recommend you begin is by measuring your dog. Is your dog smaller than 22″ in height and length? If so, the Euro pillow is perfect. If your dog is bigger, you may want to make the 36×36″ bed I made.
Once you’ve decided the size, add 1″ so you can have a 1/2″ seam all the way around. For example, my bed is 36×36, so I measured and marked out a 37×37 inch square. I did this for both my top layer of fabric and the bottom layer, so I had two 37×37″ squares. Cut these out and set aside.
Next, I measured out the remaining fabric so I could cut out 4 equal sized side panels. My fabric allowed me to make my bed sides 7×36″, or with the 1/2″ seam 8×37″ side panels. I still had enough fabric left over to cut out the fabric for covering 6yrs of piping or fabric cord. I cut my cord into 4 equal lengths and then cut the fabric into 2 inch wide strips that were the same length of the piping cord. These pieces end up about 1 1/2 feet longer than the sides of the bed so they can be sewn down the corners of each side for shape.
I used heavy duty upholstery thread and of these I used about 1 1/2 of the 125 yd spools. I set my tension on my sewing machine to the highest number for the longest and widest stitch length, in a straight stitch pattern.
I began by sewing the fabric over the cord/piping. This is fairly simple. Using a zipper foot on the sewing machine (which can be left on for the entire project), I placed the cord in the center of the fabric and folded the 2″ strips in half to cover the cord completely. My cord is thin, it’s only 3/16″. It could have been bigger if I thought it would have looked better, but I felt this size was good for the polka dotted fabric to be visible and pretty. Be sure to press the edge of the cord as close to the presser foot as possible before you begin sewing.
To attach the piping, line up the stitches of the piping with the measured 1/2″ seam on the piece of fabric used for the sides of the dog bed. I’ll refer to the sides as walls moving forward to avoid confusion. I start by sewing just one side (preferably the outer side if it matches the fabric.) Then I line up the inside wall panel with both the panel facing eachother, so the fabric appears inside out. I pinned the two panels together along the stitch of the piping and along the 1/2″ seam and sewed these pieces together for all four walls.
Before seaming the bottom side of each wall, turn the fabric right side out. I forgot to perform this step with the first run (you may noticed the stitches on both sides of each wall panel in the image below. That was a mistake and I had to rip these seams out. Don’t make that mistake and lose precious time. Turn these pieces right side out before sewing the bottom hem. 😦
While you’re stitching the bottom seam, you’re also going to stitch the end of each wall together to make a large pillow or fabric pocket to stuff with fiber fill. Try to lay all four walls out in the square form and stitch the same end so that when you attach these to the bed, the open end of one wall faces the seam end of the next wall. This makes hemming the walls at the corners much easier.
Once your walls are all seamed up, pin them to the first two squares you cut for the bottom and top of the center of the bed. I use the stitch line at the bottom of each wall to line up with the 1/2″ hem line I marked around the edge of the top and bottom squares. I made sure my fabric colors lined up so the outside of each wall would be the same fabric used for the bottom of the bed and the inside of each wall would match the top of the center bed. I’ve seen other dog beds that have the opposite fabrics facing each other and they looked nice also. It’s up to the individual, right.
Make sure you leave about a 7″ opening around the center square of the bed to fill it with your stuffing or your Euro pillow form. You can either try to squeeze it back into your sewing machine and stitch it once it stuffed, or hand sew the opening. I chose hand sewing because this beast of a bed didn’t fit my sewing table once it was pieced together and stuffed.
Once all the pieces are sewn together, it’s time to stuff with the fiber fill. I stuffed the walls first because I felt it made stuffing the center of the bed easier.
Here is the bottom of the bed once it was completely stuffed, but before I hand stitched the openings I used to stuff it.
This bed was not intended for this little dachshund, but she thinks everything I make is somehow for her. After all, why wouldn’t it be for this adorable, charming princess?
This bed is actually intended for her younger sister, Philadelphia. Philly, as we call her for short, was getting a very special birthday gift. She enjoyed her 8th birthday, February 15.
My daughter, Emily helped Philly into a her seat at the table (with a treat to coax her, of course)
Meanwhile, my husband dimmed the lights and lit the candle.
While Philly may look a little excited to be that close to a lit candle, this is not her first birthday celebrated with cake, candles, and a dark and scary room. She did turn 8 after all.
Because I started this project in the late evening hours, I decided to save the hand sewing till after the party. It was fairly simple to hand sew the walls and the opening I kept for stuffing the center square.
Here it is, the completed project. I hope you like it and I hope you will give it a try, especially if you have kids nearby to watch, help, or even teach a thing or two. 😉
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