How to make your own custom shape and size DIY pet bed filling/stuffing insert cushion. 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 and waste. Here are our DIY dog bed tips, instructions, and money saving ideas.
Foam Cushion Insert Options
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. 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 similar foam. Sad but true!
Repurposing a Foam Mattress for Custom Pet Bed Inserts
The starting point for our inserts was an inexpensive single bed foam mattress. Total cost: NZ$59 (US$41 at current exchange rates). 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 DIYing, foam can be cut relatively neatly using with a kitchen bread knife and some patience. Since this post was originally shared, I’ve used the mattress hack (literally) to make all sorts of different cushions, including a DIY custom fitted window seat. See the widow seat cushion post for some step-by-step photos of measuring and cutting the foam. I’ve also joined scrap foam using hot glue to make inserts with offcuts. It requires some patience and is best with a snug cover, just in case, but works surprisingly well! There is a joined insert in one of our current dog beds.
Naked Foam Inserts vs. Cased Form Insert Cushions
Foam makes these beds nice and comfy, but 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.
Sewing a Covering Case for a Foam Pet Bed Insert Cushion
Supplies and Materials
To make a basic cushion covering case, you will need suitable fabric, coordinating thread, and basic sewing supplies including cutting supplies and a sewing machine.
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board (optional)
Different Options for Sewing the Casings
Any way you want to wrap things up works! As an insert, it’s best to avoid adding too much bulk. My coverings were either sewn closed as a permanent casing (the calico insert used in the tapestry bed) or bottom closure envelopes (the repurposed mattress cases in the bigger beds).
Our Repurposed Mattress Foam Insert Covering Cases
Fully Sewn Permanent Covering Case
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 approximately 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
Zippered Closure Covering Case
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 dog 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.
Envelope Style Bottom Closure Covering Case
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 not my handiwork. It’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. Haha!
Wrapping Up (Literally) our DIY Dog Bed Mini Series
Slipping in One Final Addition
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.
Total Cost for all Three Pet Beds
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 at current exchange rates) 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 Cover Mini Series
- The Background + Our Dog Beds
- Sewing a Box Cushion (Water Resistant) Dog Bed Cover
- Sewing a Shortcut Boxed Corner Cushion Style Dog Bed
- Making Your Own Dog Bed Insert Cushions for Easy Removal/Insert
- Making Matching Easy Envelope Style Throw Pillows
Update: There’s been a lot of nesting and resting since these posts were written may years ago. We’ve also moved homes and changed our needs in some spaces. There are a number of new pet beds in different shapes and styles here on the blog, including fitted window seat cushions, custom basket cushions, and more! You can find all of our DIY dog bed and blanket posts using the archive tag or sniff around for something specific using the internal search function. Woofs!