Monday, 22 July 2019
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DIY Water/Pee Resistant Furniture Pads and Dog Bed Toppers

Senior Dalmatian dog lying on blanket on sofa with pillows

As shared last week, senior dog Oli's increasing issues with bladder leakage have lead to us upping our game on making his favourite places around the house more pee-tolerant so he can continue to enjoy his golden years (pun totally intended...hehe...) in comfort.  I spent so much time looking for suitable bed sheets and protectors that Facebook and Google ads started serving me targeted ads for incontinence products.  There are some great products out there, but I couldn't find the sizes/shapes I wanted to suit Oli and his nesting places. So I decided to make my own by adapting some simple ready-made products to perfectly sized (and styled) custom water/pee resistant toppers for the sofa and our two non-waterproof dog beds (pretty, but vulnerable). 

The furniture pads and bed toppers in this post were all made by hacking mattress protectors. The sofa cover and two dog bed toppers from one quilted protector and four back-up foam protectors from one laminated protector.  Tip: Shop for clearance items or super sales to buy quality at low prices. All seven of these custom protectors were made for less than NZ$40 total in materials, which is less than the cost of a single ready-made pet protector. You can also repurpose an old cover or one that doesn't fit your current beds to make this DIY almost no-cost. See tips at the end of the post on checking materials for water-resistance.

The living room sofa is one of Oli's favourite places to nest. It's beautiful and comfortable, but the  type of leather finish is not very pet friendly. It was always covered with layers of dog blankets for protection from scratches, drool, pee, and such. The sofa protector pad was very easy to make and is a perfect custom fit. Of course, a protector pad isn't that pretty, so I also cut some material in a similar shade of grey and made a custom fitted single layer fleecy blankie (see our blanket DIYs here)  to sit over the top, with ever so slightly bigger dimensions so I can tuck the edges into the soft to hold everything neatly in place. Protected, comfortable, and much more presentable than the previous method. Dog mad, but presentable. Haha!

Step-by-Step how to make a custom sofa protector pad for dogs

To make a similar pad, you will need a mattress protector of suitable size, binding or material to make binding, suitable thread in a coordinating colour, cutting tools, and a sewing machine. A walking foot would be helpful, if you have one (I didn't when making these). Everything can be measured and cut with scissors, but a rotary cutter, matt, and straight edges are handy if you have them.  An iron and ironing board (with pressing cloth if needed) are also recommended, if your chosen fabrics allow. Fusible tape is also optional.

✂️  The steps below, other than prepping the layers before binding, are exactly the same as binding a blanket. Once you get comfortable with using binding, the process is easily applied to all sorts of sewing projects. See the blanket binding post for additional photos of applying binding, turning corners during binding attachment, etc.

  • Prepare (or purchase) double-fold binding. Read more about making and applying binding, including how I make my own binding tape like the one used on these blankets.
  • Prepare mattress protector material by removing the fitted edges (save for other crafts).  Optional: Ironing is difficult with these materials, but it is helpful to ensure the material is as smooth as possible. Pre-washing/drying, hand smoothing, or low-temp ironing on the fabric side (with a pressing cloth over/under if needed) can help if  time and materials allow.
  • Cut to required size. Ensure edges are straight and corners squared. Pin if/as needed to hold 
  • Sew a narrow hem around the edges, within the area that will be covered by the binding, to help secure the layers of material before applying binding. Although these will be sewn during binding, it is easier (especially with materials like this) and likely to give a neater finished project if the materials are sewn together first, trim the edges if/as may be needed, and then bind. The narrow hem will be hidden under the binding, so feel free to use up odd colours of thread if you wish.  
  • Prepare binding for application. Optional: If using a basic fold-over join instead of sewing a diagonal join where the binding ends will meet, prepare the starting end of your binding. I like to cheat a little and use fusible web to hold things perfectly. So easy!
  • Select a starting point on the edge, ensuring it is far enough away from the corner  not to interfere with turning the binding (at least two full unfolded widths at minimum).  Tip: When machine sewing binding, everyone likes to do things a little differently. If top-stitching, it's common to sew the wrong side first, then flip and top stitch the right side; however, either works if your careful with your positioning and sewing. Do what works for you. :) I've tried both, and although I love the smooth joint of the side that was stitched then folded, I prefer top-stitching the top/right side. My still developing sewing skills are tidier on the top! 
  • Unfold the end of the binding and position it at the starting point, right sides facing, so that one raw edge aligned with the raw edge of the prepared protector material.  
  • Sew the binding into place along the first fold line, taking care whilst turning corners. To turn the corners on the first pass, I like to use the use the fold-and-press method to mitre the corner with binding. This will make the binding self-mitre (magic) when opened and folded over to topstitch on the other side.
    • Stop sewing at least the unfolded binding's full width from the corner. 
    • Remove the item from the machine.
    • Fold the tape upwards 90 degrees. Ensure it is in line with the next side (perpendicular to the current side). Iron to press a crease. Unfold.
    • Return the item to the machine (same position) and resume sewing
    • At the fold crease, pause sewing. With the needle down, lift the foot and rotate the item towards the corner. Lower the foot and sew along the crease line all the way to the edge.
    • Remove the item from the machine.  
    • Refold the tape upwards 90 degrees. Ensure it is in line with the next side (perpendicular to the current side), then make another fold downwards at the edge. Iron (or pin/pinch) and carefully return the item to the machine, positioned to sew the next edge starting from the folded over edge.
  • When you have fully sewn around the edge and back to the starting point, take care to align at the end overlap. Ensure there is enough of a tail leftover to conceal inside the overlap, then cut the end of the binding. If using the basic fold over, I will cheat again here and use some fusible web to make sure my concealed end is perfectly tucked into the starting end before I topstitch.
  • Trim threads and turn the protector over. Wrap the binding over the edge, carefully topstitch (or other binding sewing technique, if/as you prefer) the binding into place, taking extra care to ensure the corners are neatly folded on both sides.  Tip: As I reach the corner, I like to remove my item from the machine, ensure the corner is folded as neatly as possible (checking both sides),  reinsert the item on turned around the corner, and start sewing again
  • Trim threads if/as needed. 

✂️  Because this cover will be taking a lot of wear under paw/body, bums, I actually went back double edged the binding with two stitch lines, as shown in the photo below. I felt that the top-stitching wasn't tight enough to the edge. I was feeling bold and did a very narrow edge stitch after practising my binding on several projects and it came out great! Practice makes better, but not yet perfect. 

Sewn binding on the edge of a custom dog sofa protector pad

Our recently upcycled matlasse bedcovers for the office dog beds (a DIY that will be shared in some future post) look great and don't slip and slide about on the carpet like some waterproof fabrics. The boys love snoozing together while we work (they're on the beds together behind me right now). To protect the beds and covers, I made two custom dog bed sized protector pads using the same technique as the sofa protector (and material from the same hacked bed protector). The only DIY difference, other than size, is that for the beds I also cut material from a microfiber sheet and used it to top the toppers. It's simply cut to the same dimensions, layered, and joined when the sides of the protector material are sewn before binding. Prettier, but not really necessary as there is always a blankie or several on the beds as well, other than them hopping on and then refusing to budge when I was putting the pads into place. I think they approve of the upgrade!

Step-by-Step how to make a custom bed protector pad for dogs

If you don't sew (or want an easy no-sew protector for back-up, like mine), thin laminated-style mattress protectors or incontinence sheets can be cut to fit without finishing the edges as the lamination keeps the edges from fraying.  The downside to these, as aptly demonstrated by Oli when he hopped onto the bed I was using to check size during cutting, is that they are much more likely to shift, bunch, or perhaps even tear than a padded topper. Oli also aptly demonstrated why I needed these toppers by leaking some pee onto the topper.  If used as a topper, they're best paired with an easy wash blankie covering for stability/protection as well as comfort. If you have a fitted flat-topped dog bed bedcover like mine however, they work great slid into potion sandwiched between the inner mattress and outer cover as a back-up layer of protection for the foam if the cover is not waterproof/resistant or in case a waterproof/resistant fabric cover seeps. 

Step-by-Step how to make a custom no-sew bed liner pad for dogs

To make a similar no-sew protector, you will need a mattress protector of suitable size and cutting tools. Everything can be measured and cut with scissors, but a rotary cutter, matt, and straight edges are handy if you have them. An iron and ironing board (with pressing cloth if needed) are also recommended, if fabrics allow. 
  • Prepare mattress protector material by removing the fitted edges (save for other crafts).  Optional: Ironing is difficult with these materials, but it is helpful to ensure the material is as smooth as possible. Pre-washing/drying, hand smoothing, or low-temp ironing on the fabric side (with a pressing cloth over/under if needed) can help if  time and materials allow.
  • Cut to required size. Ensure edges are straight and corners squared. Done!

In choosing a single layered protector material, quality varies. Beware of significant crunching noises (dogs may not like the sound). An absorbent top layer helps protect what's underneath and around the protector, not just have liquid pool or run off the edges. That's why I hacked a protector instead of using PUL fabric. It's worthwhile noting that this type of material is prone to winkling and creasing, so it's best stored rolled instead of folded if not in use. If using inside a fitted cover, like mine, it can be tricky to slide into place. I find it easiest to work on the floor with the bed backed up against something to prevent sliding. I hold the two corners that will be going to the inside/back, reach my arms inside,  then slowly work everything into place and smooth it all flat. 

Bonus: Tips on Checking Materials for Waterproofing and Water-Resistance 

Whether it's for protectors, bed covers, blankets, jackets, or any number of projects, it can sometimes be helpful to test the water performance of materials (or pre-loved items to see if they're still performing as expected).  A basic quick and easy way to do this is with a simple water test, layering the material over an absorbing material  (usually a tea towel for me) that readily shows a colour change if wet.  I apply water and then do an initial check for surface resistance (beading, run-off) and immediate wick through (if the cloth underneath is wet). If that passes, I re-apply water and do a press/rub test to see if the material is genuinely waterproof or will seep through either with prolonged exposure time or applied pressure.

Truly waterproof materials won't let any moisture through no matter how long it sits, if it is loaded under pressure, or rubbed.

Demonstrating waterproof fabric not passing moisture to layers beneath

Water-resistant materials do a good job at holding water on the surface but can't handle prolonged exposure or pressure. Water will pass a pour test, bead and roll, but will seep through if rubbed or pressed.

Demonstrating water resistant fabric passing moisture to layers beneath with pressure

Others may fail but still have partial water-resistance. Small quantities will bead, but volume will soak through and/or the beads will absorb with rubbing or pressure. Many polar fleeces are good examples of this partial resistance. Thin micro fleece will soak straight through immediately (it makes a great stay-dry inner for diapers) but the thicker/tighter the fleece weave, the more resistant it becomes. Some heavy weight fleeces are admirably water resistant bordering on waterproof. 

Demonstrating water on fabric seeping straight through to layers beneath

If you are checking the performance of an absorbent layer, absorption speed, spread, held volume, and/or hold (if water squeezes back to the surface under pressure) may also be beneficial.


  1. I'm dog lover and first pups comes to my house few days ago. It is little breed pups and I want to brought some new furniture for him. As a new pet lover I have not idea what is best product for him. But here I gather lot of things, that really helpful and love it. Specially I'm looking for water resistant types furniture for little pups. Thank you so much for sharing these lovely tools and products.

    1. Your very welcome, Ivana. For little dogs, there are lots of different bed options including with waterproof covers, ready made, DIY, or modified. Different dogs enjoy different things, and I'm sure you and your pup will get to know what works well for you as you get used to life together. :)

  2. I'm really glad to see your advice. Most of time, blog owners do not reply early or response the right time. But here you response and give us the correct idea. Thank you so much. Now I'm biggest fan of dalmatiandiy site.

    1. Awwwww! Thanks! :) I hope all is going well with you and your new dog.


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