Sneaky sewing shortcuts? We like! This easy shortcut for making box cushions has a natural curve for plush loft, clean front pattern, and less waste in seams and offcuts than a fully boxed gusset. Better yet, it’s way less effort to cut, piece, and sew. Pawfect! These were made as custom pet beds for our dogs and cat, but the techniques work as a shortcut for making box cushions for any purpose.
Boxing vs. Boxed Corners on Wrap-Around Cushions
Fully boxed cushions use a pieced together boxing as a gusset. It gives a very square edge on all of the seams. All joins (excluding your closure, if the cover is removable) are on the edges. When well-sewn with careful pattern matching (if applicable) the finished look is very clean, the shape is sharp and angular, and the cushion looks good from the sides as well as the front.
Boxing the corners of a wrap around cushion is a much easier sewing project. There’s less cutting, less matching, and less sewing. The downside is a visible side seam. There may also be a more rounded shape as the fabric wraps and squeezes the edges of your cushion insert. This can be a downside (shape and style) but also an upside, especially when talking about pet beds. My beasts are loveable shedding machines. Seams are potential fur collection points, especially on the top edge of beds and basket liners. The curvy wrap around can also naturally accommodate the curved loft of slightly rounded inserts, such as a foam cushion insert with an added plush topper.
With years of use, wear and tear, moving, etc. plus new location (we’ve moved, yet again) shapes, sizes, and décor, we’ve updated our covers. They’re similar to the ones seen here, repurposing many of the materials and inserts. But when I was making the new DIY dog bed covers, I took the time to take a lot more step-by-step photos and tweak the instructions for ease and clarity. You can see our new beds and updated details on making fitted envelope style pet beds in our newer post. Happy crafting and cuddling, furfriends!
Supplies and Materials
Our DIY Boxed Corner Pet Bed Cushion Covers
The black bed was made for the bay window seat. It was made by upcycling a clearance sale spill-proof table cloth (just like our red bed). All totalled, including the insert and assorted supplies, this cushy water-resistant bed cost around NZ$35 (US$24 at current exchange rates). There is also material left over in my craft stash for future projects. As a little pawnote, many years later, that scrap material was put to good use making a water-resistant cushion for sweet senior Oli’s dog mobility stroller.
The small tapestry bed was made to go on top of the wooden trunk that Tiger (and sometimes Humphrey – rascal) likes to sit on at the back windows. It’s a perfect custom size for the trunk. It was made using home decor fabric and all totalled including the insert cost around NZ$25 (US$17 at current exchange rates). That includes extra fabric left for making matching throw pillow covers.
I am not an exceptional seamstress, so if I can do it, you can do it! All you need are a few basic sewing supplies and some time.
DIY Pet Bed Cushion Cover Supplies and Materials
To make a similar cushion cover, you will need suitable fabric, coordinating thread, hook and loop (Velcro), and basic sewing supplies including cutting supplies and a sewing machine.
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sew-In hook and loop tape (Velcro)
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board (optional)
- Interfacing for handles (optional)
For washable fabrics, wash, dry and iron (unless heat sensitive) prior to making your cushion covers to reduce the risk of shrinkage issues later. When your case is sewn, you may also want to trim and overlock (or otherwise finish) the internal raw edges before inverting to help reduce ravelling over repeat washings. This is especially helpful for ravel prone fabrics.
DIY Shortcut Box Cushion Water-Resistant Pet Bed Cover
Cutting and Piecing Options
Depending on your available materials and sewing confidence, you can make the cover with a single piece of fabric or by joining multiple pieces of fabric. Two options for making a rear closure dog bed are pictured in the diagram below, with a one-piece wrap around or a rear closure gusset attached to a wrap-around. As long as the total finished dimensions add up to the right measurements for your insert, you can piece together additional materials if/as needed. This can be helpful if you’re using smaller pieces of fabric or making extra large covers.
I used Velcro for cost and convenience. If you would rather use a zipper, you can easily adjust the rear panel flaps to suit the size/type of your zipper. The rest of the DIY is the same. You can also use the techniques in our easy envelope throw pillow covers, upsized to suit your pet beds for a very simple (and comfy) closure. Omitting the Velcro requires a bigger overlap to hold the cushion secure, but it is a very easy way to make a pet bed. It works especially well for baskets. It’s how I made our custom fitted pet basket cushion beds several years later!
Sewing the Cushion Cover as a Single Piece Envelope
Cutting the fabric(s):
- Cut fabric to size. For a basic envelope, it will need to be large enough to fit around your entire cushion once and overlap at the rear (plus seam allowances). See above.
Attaching the hook and loop (Velcro):
- Sew to finish the exposed edges of your Velcro closure flaps (the open edges through which the filling is inserted).
- Sew Velcro to the unfinished side of the top closure flap, near the finished edge. The stitching will be externally visible, so use a threat that compliments the fabric, not the Velcro. Sewing Velcro can sometimes be a bit fiddly, so I personally prefer using the loop side on this exposed position as it is the easier sew and will have neater looking stitching on the outside.
- Check positioning for alignment and sizing. Pin (or tape) Velcro to the finished side of your other rear flap, taking care to ensure that the finished closed rear panel will be an equal height to the other sides. Sew Velcro into place.
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). Alternatively, you can stop shorter for less use (and potentially easier sewing and boxing). There will still be plenty of hold with a small gap at each end. The difference can also be sewn, if you wish. As noted in our post on making custom window seat cushions, you can also part sew and add the Velcro later if you aren’t sure on sizing and want to test fit before committing to Velcro placement.
Sewing the case:
- Close the rear as it would be in a finished cover.
- Flip the loop of fabric so it faces wrong side out.
- Double check your measurements, then carefully position the cover right side in in preparation for sewing the sides. Laid flat, the closed loop of fabric should be folded PRECISELY where you want the middle of the front and back sides to be when complete. The fold lines will be the midline of the front and rear closure panel in the finished cover. Pin to secure.
- Check, check, and double check.
- Sew the sides together along the seam allowances. Trim excess, if/as needed.
At any point, you can slip the cover over your foam to double-check sizing – just in case. It’s always easier to correct errors early. Nobody likes unpicking seams, and it’s too late once you’ve trimmed.
Boxing the corners:
At the corners (intersection of your centre fold and side seams), create a box corner seam by sewing across the intersection.
- 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 at 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.
I neglected to take photos of this step during my DIYs here. It really helps having a photo explanation, so I hunted down a nice clear how-to box a corner at Sew 4 Home that will help if this is a new technique for you. The same technique is used for any type of boxed corner, and Something Turquoise’s tote bag DIY has a brilliant photo explanation of how to do it. Very sorry about that! I’ll be sure to take additional photos and add them in future posts.
Finishing the covers for use:
- Invert through the Velcro opening so that the fabric is right-side out.
- Insert cushion filling, Velcro closed, and enjoy!
Adding handles (optional):
These beds were made without any handles, but for info on how to add sturdy matching handles, see our previous post.
Sewing the Cushion Cover with a Separate Rear Velcro Gusset
Struggling with a one piece fit or measurements? Adding a separate rear gusset is an option to add extra length to your materials without affecting the look of your more visible front and top sections. It’s also an option if you’re not sure about sizing the cushion cover for a tight fit and don’t want to commit to your Velcro positioning before making and test fitting the cushion cover. This can be helpful for material sizing or for working with rounded squishy inserts. You can sew the main body of the cover, leaving the seam allowance free for joining the rear boxing later. Then check fit, pin, and sew the rear gusset into place.
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!