Monday, 12 August 2019
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DIY Fitted Envelope-Style Rear Closure Pet Bet Covers

Dalmatian yawning laying on a stack of black and white dog beds

Our old water resistant dog bed covers have worked 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. More important than just looking a bit shabby, the scratched and worn tops had compromised their water resistance. Pretty good durability considering they were made with clearance bin table cloths, though! In addition to the old beds, I also had cutoffs from the making of our window seat and a few other projects that could be put to good use if covered, so dog bed cover making was added to the to-do list. I watched for a great sale and then picked up some durable outdoor fabric for my covers in my go-to shades of grey, black and white, coordinating with the rest of our home. 

If you don't care about seam positioning on the sides vs. the edges, there is very little difference in the look of a finished basic box cushion that has been pieced together vs. a boxed envelope from a single piece of fabric, so when making these beds I opted for the latter. There are fewer seams (more water-resistance) and envelopes are way easier to make than cutting and piecing, but getting a good fit does require careful cutting as there is little room for correction after committing to size and closure placement.

Each cover was made from a large piece of water-resistant outdoor fabric, with an overlapping rear closure through which the cushion could be inserted and removed if the cover needs to be cleaned. I opted for Velcro-style hook-and-loop in lieu of fitting a zipper, using some of my large rolls from AliExpress. The inexpensive dog bed inserts were all made from foam pieces cut from a single mattress.  Two were reused from the old full box concision red bed and faux box cushion black bed, and a third was created by joining two smaller pieces of foam. It was my first time attempting to join foam, and in lieu of buying adhesives, I used the low-temp hot glue method. It takes a little patience to work it incrementally together, but it worked very well and I can't even feel it in the finished bed.

✂️  I like to do a check fit at each stage as I work, just in case! Mistakes and rework suck, but better when minimised if ever needed!

Step-by-step instructions for sewing a fitted dog bed cover with boxed corners
  • Measure and calculate the fabric requirements to fully enclose the cushion on all sides. 
  • Add additional allowances for the seams, finishing the edges on the rear panels, and overlap of the rear closure.  Tip: The rear closure overlap can be as large as you wish, but at minimum will need to allow for the width of the hook and loop strips to be overlapped and secured closed.
  • Finish rear closure edges.
  • Double check your measurements, confirm placement for hook and loop, then sew hook and loop into position (see alternative assembly note below), ensuring that the cushion cover will fit tightly when enclosed and fastened.  Tip: You can run the Velcro so that it encroaches on the area to be sewn and boxed (no need to waste more by going all the way to the edge), or stop shorter for less Velcro use and easier sewing/boxing. There will still be plenty of hold with a small gap at each end. The difference can also be sewn, if you wish.
  • Close the rear as it would be in a finished cover, double check your measurements, and then carefully position the cover right-side-in.  The fold lines will become the middle of the front/back in the finished cover once sewn and boxed. It is very important that the fabric is positioned PRECISELY where you want the Velcro closure to be on the rear of the finished bed when making the folds. Pin to secure. 
  • Sew the sides together along the seam allowances. Optional: If you have ravel-prone fabric (like mine!), want added durability for frequent washing, or just want a cleaner finish, you can finish the raw edges by over locking or alternative method of your preference.
  • Trim excess, if/as needed.
  • Starting with one corner, position by pulling the fabric sideways from the seam so that the seam line is centred evenly from the point, forming a triangle. Ensure that it is flat and even. If the fabric allows, iron to ensure that the seam is pressed flat and the square holds position. Measure across and mark a straight line a the point where it is the depth you want for the boxed corner (in this case, the cushion thickness). Sew across the marked line. Trim loose threads and excess.
  • Repeat for the other corners, taking care to ensure that the shared seams are flattened to fall in the same direction for a smoother line in the finished cover.  Tip: Extra care is required when boxing the corners with your overlapping rear panels. Ensure everything is fitted smoothly in the as-closed position before sewing. Double check that nothing has been accidentally shifted or bunched before trimming.
  • Optional: To make matching handles, cut fabric 4x as wide as your desired handle width at desired length plus an allowance for finishing the end edges. Double fold lengthwise, like a binding. Invert to finish the ends, then reverse right side out. Topstitch the lengthwise edges. Position in the desired location(s) on your bed cover and sew to secure (crossed boxes work nicely).  I was using up my offcuts, so added long strips with three attachment points to make double handles on each side of the bed covers.
Step-by-step instructions for sewing matching handles for a DIY dog bed cover
  • Open the Velcro closure and reverse the cover right-side-out.
  • Squeeze the foam and wrangle it into the cover through the opening, taking extra care to ensure the corners are tightly in position. Close up the Velcro, place it into position on your seat, and enjoy!

✂️  Alternative assembly: If you aren't confident with the precision needed on measurements/fit for finishing the rear first, you can half sew the sides from the front fold-over, box the front corners, and do a fit-check to confirm your measurements before doing final cuts, edges, and Velcro on the rear closure. make sure you line your stitch path up when you finish closing out the sides. I've tried, and the results look the same either way, so go with what feels right for you!  You can also make the complete envelope and then sew the Velcro after, if the cushion is large enough to freely access the flaps.

Dalmatian dog lying on a black and white dog bed with pillow

I've been trying to be more efficient with my sewing projects, so instead of buying more fabric and being left with more offcuts for the fabric stash, my small bed cover was made by joining two pieces so that I could get all three large pieces from a shorter length of fabric. The centre seam is sits flat and was blended as carefully as the remnants and pattern allowed to reduce visibility.  The handles used most of the remaining offcuts, leaving just one small rectangle of leftover fabric, which I made into an envelope pillow case for one of the many orphaned pillow inserts in the linen cupboard. The general method is the same, but no boxing or Velcro on this envelope, just a big overlap at the rear to hold together snug once the insert is added. Humphrey rather likes having something in his nest for leaning his head on while he watches the world through the windows. :) No leftover fabric. Yay!

Step-by-step instructions for sewing dog pillow to match dog bed

Of course, even though the outdoor fabric is water-resistant, a little back-up water/wee protection never goes astray, just in case.  A no-sew protector layer was added to the inside of the covers, and position so that it sat smoothly atop the insert. The snug fitted covers sandwich it and hold it firmly in position  inside the bed over the foam. Our beds usually have a blankie or two on top as well, both for easy of quick washing as well as snuggling in cosy comfort. It is a dog's life indeed!

Adding a waterproof liner to protect a dog bed cushion

2 comments:

  1. @oscar.and.harper.eats12 August 2019 at 19:00

    This looks incredible. I can't wait to give this a go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have basic sewing machine skills, making envelopes is super easy! Simple envelopes, like pillows, only take a few minutes. Beds don't take me very long either these days, but I've improved a lot with practice since my first covers. :)

      The only tricky part for making a fitted boxed envelope bed cover with Velcro (or with a zipper) is making sure that everything is sized for a tight fit and carefully positioned when you sew so that you get a neat and tidy rear closure panel, but all very doable.

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