Thursday, 30 June 2016
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Making Your Own Simple Dog Bed Insert Cushions

Dalmatian dog lying on top of a stack of homemade dog beds

(Part 4 of 4) All of the pet beds made in this mini-series were filled using custom-made covered cushion inserts sized to area of use (and our custom covers), maximise comfort, and minimise cost/waste.  

The starting point for our inserts was an inexpensive single bed foam mattress, just like our other beds (links at the end of this post).  This was cut to size in three pieces: measured to suit the tapestry trunk top and black window seat cushions, which were made to fit locations, and the remainder determined the size of the red floor bed, which was a flexible dimension. If you are lucky, you may be able to source cut-to-order foam at a reasonable price; however, after price checking here it was far more economical to buy the mattress than an equivalent amount of foam. Sad but true! If you are DIYing, foam can be cut relatively neatly using with a kitchen bread knife and some patience. Total cost: NZ$59 (US$41).  There are many filling options, with a wide range of prices based on supplier, quality, thickness, and size. Shop around for what works best for you and your pet, and consider what you have that could be reused or repurposed. 

Foam makes these beds nice and comfy, but it is still light and portable. Foam is not the easiest to squeeze in/out of a bed cover and I wanted to make sure that it would hold up well over time when the covers needed a wash.  To do this, I made three customised fabric-covered foam-based inserts. 

Diagrams for cutting material to make a dog bed cover

  • The big red floor bed insert is foam only, taking full advantage of the clean box cushion lines. The floor beds are almost always enjoyed with doggy blankets, so extra padding wasn't needed. To keep things economical and waste-conscious, the fabric cover that came with the mattress was repurposed for the cover.  I cut it to size from the zippered end, sewed the cut, and boxed the corners. The foam was reinserted through the zipper and the cover can be removed if needed. Easy! Added cost: NZ$0.
  • The black window seat bed replaced a sad, flat, old pet bed.  That sad flat old insert was recycled into a topper for the new foam base, making a super cushy window seat cushion for pets to watch the world and enjoy sunshine snoozes. I took the remaining end of the mattress cover, trimmed, and sewed it into a basic insert cover.  Added cost: NZ$0. See that nasty looking side seam in the fourth image below? That's the original side seam of pre-fab mattress cover - makes me feel so much better about any little wobbles and minor misalignments in my TOTALLY AWESOME covers. :)
 Covering a foam dog bed insert
  • The tapestry trunk top bed insert is foam wrapped with an offcut of batting.  I sewed a cover from inexpensive but sturdy calico cut as per the sew-closed diagram above, leaving the rear ~2/3 open, boxed the four corners, inverted the case, stuffed it, and sewed the gap closed by hand. Added cost: NZ$5 with leftovers for future projects. This technique can be used to make the outer cover for beds with non-removable covers, or you can make your liner from water resistant fabric if you want added insert protection.  If you don't mind the case being a little looser fit or want the insert cover to be readily removable, you could make an envelope-style cover instead and avoid the hand sewing
Making a case for a foam dog bed insert

One extra purchase was made to make sure that our beds were comfy, convenient, and safe for the pets, and that was to place a piece of grip matting under the beds on the window seat and trunk to make sure that they stayed in place on the slippery wooden surfaces. We've had a few slip-and-slide episodes with beds and blankets in the past!  Added cost: $NZ5 for a large roll that will last for many other uses in the future.

Grand total: NZ$95 for all three custom beds, including outer cushion covers ($31) and covered inserts ($64), plus an extra $NZ5 for the anti-slip matting = NZ$100 (US$70) for the full project and three very happy cosy pets. Being efficient with the insert materials, repurposing clearance materials in lieu of more expensive alternatives, and shopping for other fabric/supplies on sale made a huge difference in cost for quality in our DIY beds.  

Our DIY Dog Bed and Custom Bed Covers:
As a bonus, Creativity Unmasked has shared a DIY for sewing simple envelope-style pillow cases in coordination with our bed mini-series. You can make on in minutes and use up some of your remnants/offcuts in the process.

Update: These water resistant dog bed covers were fantastic, but after several years of hard wear under paws and claws, shuffling around indoors/outdoors, and ferrying through our move, they were rather worn. See our new (and slightly improved) DIY fitted envelope-style rear closure dog bed covers for details on the new beds. 


  1. I agree, great idea and it looks pretty spectacular without taking up too much room. Your pet must feel like they really scored big. pet beds

  2. To get the best out of your chosen mattress try a mattress protector. They're available in anti-allergy or waterproof styles, and are machine-washable. Mattress toppers add a luxurious extra layer to your mattress. They provide extra support and comfort and will generally provide a cosier feel to your bed.


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