How to make your own custom DIY dog bed insert cushions. All of the pet beds made in this mini-series were filled using custom-made covered cushion inserts. They’re perfectly sized for their areas of use with matching fitted covers. We also aimed for comfort with minimal cost and waste. Here are our DIY dog bed tips, insert instructions, and money saving ideas.
Foam Cushion Insert Options
There are many filling options for dog beds, 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’re lucky, you may be able to source cut-to-order foam at a reasonable price. However, after price checking options here when these pet bed inserts were made, 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 DIY dog bed insert cushions was an inexpensive single bed foam mattress. Total cost: NZ$59 (US$41 at current exchange rates). This was cut to size in three foam pieces. Two were measured to suit the tapestry trunk top and black window seat cushions, made to custom fit into those locations. 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 together using hot glue to make inserts with offcuts. It requires some patience and is probably best used with a snug-fitting cover, just in case, but works surprisingly well! There is a joined insert in one of our new/current homemade dog beds. It’s been in use for a few years now without any issues. Pawfect!
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, like whenever the covers might need to go into the laundry. I wanted to make sure that the would hold up well over time. To do this, I made three customised fabric-covered foam-based inserts. Its been many years now since these were made and this was first posted. The covers from earlier in the mini series have all been replaced with new custom-fitted homemade dog bed covers, but the inserts are still going strong.
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 a bed or cushion insert, it’s best to avoid adding too much bulk, so I didn’t want zips or Velcro. A streamlined case for surface protection is perfect. My DIY dog bed insert cushion coverings were either sewn closed as a permanent casing (calico insert used in the tapestry bed) or bottom closure envelopes (upcycled 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! I generally dislike including zips on this sort of thing, but this one was compact and already on the reused cover, so I was ok with it. 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 alignment in the fourth image below? That’s not my handiwork. It’s the original side seam of the 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
I made an extra purchase to make sure that our beds were comfy, convenient, and safe for the pets. We added 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
Update: We have new DIY dog beds! The beds have worn well, but 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 several new pet beds in different shapes and styles 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 out something specific using the internal search function. Woofs!