DIY Dog Bed

Posted by Corrie on 1:35 AM in , ,
Last Tuesday, you got a little glimpse of the 'party' in the living room that Remy had with her dog bed. As you might recall, we came home the Friday before to find this scene...

...complete with not so innocent face. And so, an 'emergency' dog bed project was born. As I mentioned in my first post, this whole situation wasn't exactly a surprise. Remy has ripped holes in her bed (and I've sewn them) twice already, so I knew that my temporary fixes weren't going to last long. A number of people pointed out to me that Costco has large dog beds for about $40, but apart from not having a Costco membership, anything I've seen for that price either wasn't big enough, didn't have a separate washable cover, or had very thin material...meaning it definitely wouldn't last almost 5 years like the first one did. Especially with this kind of action (to the tune of "The Entertainer" so you don't have to listen to our tv...it always pops into my head when she does this):

That was a little more low-key than usual. Anyway, I decided that DIY-ing a new bed for Remy, reusing the current filling plus adding some new fluff, would be more economical and durable than anything I could buy at a store. Awhile back, I found this tutorial for a kid's floor cushion from Living With Punks.

                      Source: livingwithpunks.com via Corrie on Pinterest
It was essentially the same shape as Remy's bed, just with different dimensions, so I figured it would be a good guideline for doggy bed assembly. I pinned it on Pintrest to save for future reference.

I also pinned this doggy-bed-related-but-otherwise-irrelevant picture of an Irish Wolfhoud, which made me laugh because it perfectly sums up Remy's relationship with other dogs. And I love Irish Wolfhounds.
                                             Source: Uploaded by user via Corrie on Pinterest

Oooo, I just want to snuggle him! ...Er, Let's get on with the bed making.

I wanted Remy's bed to be both durable and aesthetically pleasing because - let's be honest - given its size, it might as well be a major focal point in our living room's decor. So the supplies I picked up were:

  • 4 yards of seafoam-colored indoor/outdoor fabric with a subtle scroll print from Joann Fabrics for $39.96 with a 50% discount. (It's similar in color to the fabric on my blue pillows, plus its outdoor durability means it's moisture and stain resistant, easy to clean, and stands up to heavy wear.)
  • Three 12 ounce bags of shredded foam (to add to the existing filling) for $8.38 with various coupons. (Joann Fabrics will accept multiple coupons in one transaction so I always have them scan the printouts to see what will work.) 
  • Thread in a coordinating color, which I already had
  • Total cost: $48.34 (less than half the cost of her original bed when I purchased it almost 5 years ago)

The foam was very static-y and had lots of tiny pieces, so I decided to sew closed some old t-shirts with the foam inside, plus one additional t-shirt full of the old filling. I literally just sewed the arm and neck holes closed, dumped a bag of foam in each shirt, then sewed the bottom of the shirt closed.

The idea is that when it comes time to wash her bed, most of the filling (at least the smaller stuff) will be contained in 'bolsters' (the t-shirts) so that we don't have to deal with this :

You could easily sew together one giant bolster, but I didn't want to spend more money on fabric when I could just use t-shirts.

While Remy was swimming in a sea of stuffing, I was busy cutting apart her old bed along its seams, which left me with three pieces, much like the pieces in the floor cushion tutorial: the top and bottom circles (each 48 inches in diameter) plus the side piece (6 inches wide and about 154 inches long). The side piece was actually made up of three separate strips of fabric, since one of the strips contained a zipper. Because I also planned to add a zipper (and my fabric wasn't wide enough to cut one long strip), I determined the measurements of the three almost-equal strips were 51in.+51in.+52in.=154inches total (the circumference of the bed). I things are getting a little math-y, so I hope you're still following!

I used the old bed pieces to trace the top circle onto the new fabric, measuring my pencil line 1 inch out to accommodate the seam allowance.

 I cut out my new top circle and then traced it on the fabric to make the bottom circle. 

Then I measured, drew, and cut out the strips that would form my side piece, adding in 1 inch for seam allowance. Two strips measured 52in. x 7in. and the zipper piece (which I then cut in half to insert the zipper) was 53in. x 8in. 

The reason the zipper piece was 8in. was because I had to account for seams to sew in the zipper, plus seams to attach it to the top and bottom circles (2 sets of seams adds 2 inches). Here's a diagram that better illustrates the pieces:

The first piece I sewed was the zipper, following these instructions, though I kind of half-a**ed it by not doing a basting stitch, using glue, or a zipper foot. Oh, and I bought a separating zipper (the kind you would have on a sweatshirt) instead of a regular one...so basically, it's amazing this thing even turned out ok, especially since I was a zipper-sewing virgin. One thing to note is that I stitched around the whole thing twice for extra reinforcement.

With the zipper piece done (are you tired of me saying "zipper" yet?), it was time to attach all the side pieces together. This required some quick pinning, then sewing the ends of all three pieces, right sides (aka patterned sides) facing, into one long strip.

Then I joined the ends of the strip and sewed those together to make a continuous circle. Before proceeding, I pressed all my seams so that my fabric was nice and flat.

Next step was to attach the side piece to the top circle. I laid the circle out, flat on the ground, with the right side facing up. Laying the side piece on top with right sides facing together, I pinned the outer edge of the side piece to the outer edge of the circle. REWIND. Let me note that I actually did this completely wrong the first time. Not only did I waste an entire night after work incorrectly pinning and double-sewing (twice for reinforcement of course), but then I wasted an additional work night solely ripping seams out to redo it. You live and you learn I guess. So let's learn from my stupidity. 

Wrong way:

Right way: 

Glad we've got that covered. Evening three of dog bed making was when I finally sewed the side piece and first circle together for the second and last time. After two evenings of issues, I couldn't seem to excuse myself from another. Let me preface this by saying that anyone who has ever used a sewing machine knows that there is an evil spirit lurking inside every single one. Not.Even.Kidding. I think every time I've ever used my sewing machine for a project, at least one thing happens that leaves me cursing at it. Maybe it's because Greta the Mean Green Sewing Machine has been around since the 1950s and has a short temper.

Or it could just be user error. Either way, I can't imagine I'm the only one (besides Sherry at Young House Love) who has these problems. At least my machine has kept me from subscribing to the Humpty Dumpty school of hard knocks - I've learned how to put her all back together again.

So I guess what I'm getting to is my night #3 incident.

Enter stage left: blood blister/cut/thumb nail bruise. Let me tell you. Almost sewing your thumb off is a sure fire way to instill a fear of sewing machines in any DIY- savvy person.  I hope the fact that it still hurts and I can barely button my own buttons a week later is enough to convince you to question my sewing abilities never let your fingers get caught up in your sewing bidness. By that I mean, don't feed your fabric from the front even when you know it's a bad idea but think it will be ok. Because it won't.

At this point, my blood, sweat, and almost-tears were officially part of Remy's dog bed. I took a band-aid break and Darren asked, "So, do you think you'll finish tonight so Remy has her bed while we're at work tomorrow?" I think I muttered something along the lines of "Remy can shove it and so can this #*$% bed." (Sorry Remy, I take it all back now. Please don't sit on me.)

But actually, I did finish that night, after one last step. Sewing the second circle to the other edge of the side piece (which was now attached to the first circle on one edge). I did it the same way as the first circle, by laying the pieces right sides facing and pinning around the edges. I had to bunch some of the top circle's fabric into the middle to get the outer edges to line up flat.

Then I sewed around the edges twice for reinforcement. Because the bed has a zipper, I didn't need to worry about leaving an opening in the stitching in order to turn the bed right-side-out. Unzip and it was done.

All that was left was to stuff and fluff with the t-shirt 'bolsters' and the old reused filling.

Ta daaa!

No fancy cording around the edges like the floor pillows on Pinterest had (it would've added too much to the cost), but that's ok. It's just a dog bed. And apparently a comfy one at that.

Oh, what we do for our dogs.

I'm hooking this project up with the Pinterest Challenge: Winter Edition, hosted by Sherry at Young House Love, Katie at Bower Power, Cassie at Hi Sugarplum, and Erin at The Great Indoors.

Feel free to check out my past Pintrest Challege projects too! A personalized typography LOVE print and Pottery Barn knockoff pillows.


Wow this is great! I love his new bed, looks like he does too! I must learn to sew...

aw, thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by! she is definitely loving the added fluff and therefore abusing it less, so i think my mission is accomplished. :o)

Just popped over from the Young House Love Pinterest Challenge.

Great dog bed for a sweet pup. And so much cheaper than buying one of those ridiculously expensive XL dog bed. Thanks for sharing!

This is a wonderful tutorial, just want I was looking for as our dogs just destroyed one of the floor beds this past week. Thanks for posting.

Thanks so much, Amanda! They ARE ridiculous expensive to buy. And half the time the "XL" isn't even large enough. It's definitely hard to find quality products for giant dogs. Thanks for your comment!

Kelly - sorry to hear about your dogs' bed! I'm glad you found it interesting and I hope it's helpful if you decide to make one yourself! Please share a link if you do. :o)

You did a great job! She looks pretty happy with her new bed. I'd love to beef up my sewing skills and try something like this. I'm visiting from the Pinterest Challenge, and I hope you'll stop by my blog too. :)

Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! The sewing really wasn't too tough for this (when I wasn't sewing my fingers off). The most challenging part was the zipper, but even that wasn't too bad. I love your photo/art display project! Cool fabric, and so cute for kids art!

I LOVE this!! I have a great dane / Lab mix who is around 100 lbs. I have searched everywhere for a bed that would fit him (without breaking the bank). I thought I found one.... but of course, it's a bit too small. O well - if he curls up, it works. ha ha!! Perhaps one day when it needs to be replaced, I'll use the stuffing out of it like you and make a new one!

Hi! Just popped by from Young House Love. I have 2 Danes myself so I instantly fell in love with your blog. The beds from Costco are seriously the best things ever. They are only $19.99 (not $40)......unheard of! They are only about 40" in diameter so a head or a butt ends up hanging off.
I also have a nifty suggestion....I made a large cover for a really ugly papasan cushion that was on clearance at Pier 1. 52" in diameter! Worked like a charm and really good "filling" for only $18.

Aw. I love your dog and I love your dog bed project. I wish I had a sewing machine. Along with the knowledge of how to use it... Your comment about evil sewing machine demons has me rethinking that though. Lol.

This is a great tutorial - thank you! We have a Great Dane who is a total bed destroyer and I have now been searching for weeks for a new bed for him. I refuse to spend $100, so I might have to haul out the sewing machine and try this!

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

Ashley - I bet your dane/lab mix is so cute! People used to think Remy was a lab when she was a puppy. (Personally, I thought the giant feet gave her away.)

Anonymous - Great suggestions! The papasan idea crossed my mind once (I have one of the chairs), but I don't know why I didn't think of it when it was time for this project! It would be the perfect size if you could find one for cheap! Btw, I'm so jealous you have 2 danes. They're like chips - you can't have just one. I'm just not sure another would work in my little house :o)

Rose - Thanks! I got my machine for $35 from an antique vendor and it just does the basics, but that's all I need right now! I imagine the older machines are a little crankier than newer ones though ;o)

Kelly - I'm glad you found it helpful! I'm glad my Dane isn't the only one. Definitely give this a shot, or if you're feeling less adventurous, some of the other commenters had good suggestions too!

Ahahaha I showed my hubby your post shred pic and his response "oh don't remind me!". Our sweet Harle Great Dane Lola has shredded 2 couches and countless dog beds. Her "bed" right now is an old couch cushion. Not quite big enough but lucky us she curls up fetus style when she sleeps. You are so right about giant breeds...no bed is ever big enough! And they are SO expensive. If I get the guts to buy a sewing machine this will be one of my first projects! Thank you so much!

Amanda - Haha! I can't even imagine coming home to a shredded couch...the horror! I love when they curl up like that. That's Remy's deep sleep position and we call it her 'diver' mode, because her back legs/feet are up by her face and it looks like the pose divers do when they jump off a diving board. :o) Danes crack me up! Thanks for your comment!

Just found your blog via Young House Love. The dog bed is awesome! From your video and adorable pictures it seems like our greyhound's behavior is pretty similar to your dog's. I understand the need for an XL dog bed that will stand up to all their scratching and circling. We call it "nesting" at our house. I'm getting a sewing machine in a couple weeks and this is going to be one of my first projects! Thanks for the great tutorial!

Well, despite your injury, the bed turned out great! Our dog (who is 10ish pounds) routinely steals the bed of his 30-pound friend, so I've definitely seen that situation lots of times. :-)

Thanks for linking up to the Winter Pinterest Challenge!

Erin @ The Great Indoors

Very cute! (the bed and the dog) I love that the bed has a gusset.

My dogs haven't torn up beds, but they are notorious for destuffing every single toy in the house. Instead of buying $10 stuffed toys at Petsmart, I get a bag of about 10 toys for $1 at the thrift store. Then I don't mind them tearing them up so much. :b

I found your blog while searching on Pinterest for a low cost/DIY dog bed. We rescued our Springer in January and have yet to find him a dog bed he likes, he has finally grown attached to an old comforter we threw on the floor for him to avoid him being on the couch. Saw that your dog bed was geared towards larger dogs and thought I would check it out. So glad I did, not only was it informative but hilarious! You literally had me in stitches all morning! The bed turned out wonderful, hope Remy decided not to sit on you. : )

He wanted that comfort for a long time. Keep up.

T.U.W. -great idea with the thrift store stuffed animals!
Mimi - Thanks! Each of my parents keep a comforter for Remy at their houses (can you tell she is spoiled?), but I found that the downfall of comforters is they absorb a lot of smells and it's hard to vacuum hair off. Good luck if you decide to make a bed!

What kind of dog is the fuzzy one in the picture with the little dog?

The 'fuzzy' one is an Irish Wolfhound

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