I got a sewing machine! And for my virgin project on the new machine? Why, something for the pets, of course!
Now, you all are going to think I’m crazy, because this project is a new doggie bed for Jack. (He’s batting, what? 1 new bed a year? If only we were all so lucky!) After he ate the corner off his last bed during a bout of nervous excitement, his no-sew bed had seen better days. But this new bed, this new bed is shaped like a cloud! Only the best for our boy (and man, has he got us trained). Wanting something a little more unique than the regular square shaped beds of yore, we thought it would be sweet to see him nestled in a cloud, all cozy-like. Aw.
Originally, I had wanted to make a cloud shaped pillow just to have, but realizing that Jack’s bed would be next on the sewing agenda, I merged the two to make one monstrous cloud. And please, keep in mind that I am no sewing expert (and to be honest, I’d been downright terrified of all those strings and needles until I cut the crap and just took a class), but I did have a lot of fun making the puppy cloud. The bulk of how I did so is all about the zipper, all of which I learned in said class. So let’s do it!
Supplies needed for 36″ cloud
2 yards medium-heavy weight fabric
6+ yards of fleece for stuffing
24″ zipper in contrasting color
kraft paper (to make the template)
sewing machine w/ zipper foot
iron and ironing board
For those wondering, I used this fabric and zipper from Fabric.com. The grey material is super sturdy (but I would say it’s a lot lighter than the photo indicates), and I pre-washed it before starting on the project. The red zipper was just for fun – who doesn’t love a peek of color, right?
ONE. After doodling a few practice round of cloud shapes on a notepad, I sketched my giant cloud shape on a roll of kraft paper, being mindful of the size I had in mind (approximately 38″ on the straight edge and 34″ on the highest peak, leaving room for my seam allowances). I absolutely recommend using a template, so you can play with shapes before cutting into your fabric. Once you have your template, lay it on your fabric, then cut out your shape. I did something which I can only assume must be a huge no-no in the sewing world – I layered my fabrics and cut them both at once. (Eek, I know.) Because it’s not a symmetrical pattern, I did, however, lay them together so that the right sides were facing each other (the same way I’d layer them while sewing).
TWO. With the right sides of the fabric layered together, center the zipper along the straight edge and mark with a pencil where the zipper starts and stops. Pin along that edge, then sew your seam with a 3/4″ allowance, basting in-between the pencil marks that indicate the zipper. Backstitch at the start and stop of the zipper to make it more secure – soon enough, you’ll be using the seam ripper to take out those basted stitches (but not yet!).
THREE. Once that side is stitched, open your fabric so that the right sides are facing down, then pin your zipper in place over the seam – between those marks you’ve just made. Below, I used our empty coffee table to do this prep work:
FOUR. After you’ve pinned the zipper in place (making sure that your zipper lines up with the seam), bring the sides back together, and use a zipper foot to sew the first edge of your zipper to the seam. Remove the pins as you sew towards them, then repeat this on the opposite side.
FIVE. With your zipper now in place and your fabric open, pin through all layers of the fabric where your zipper starts and stop. Turn your fabric over, so that the right side is facing you, then put a long piece of scotch tape from pin start to end.
SIX. Remove the pins, and – still using your zipper foot – use this tape as a guide to then stitch a long and skinny rectangle around your (hidden, for now) zipper. When turning the corner with your sewing machine, make sure your needle is in the fabric, then lift the sewing foot, turn, and put the foot back down. Then continue your stitch as normal to get one continuous rectangle. (These are all very technical terms, don’t you know?)
SEVEN. With the rectangle stitched, use the seam ripper to free yourself from the basted stitches in the middle of the rectangle. You’ll find your hidden zipper in all it’s glory, now, unzip it!
EIGHT. Now that the zipper is done (and unzipped – you don’t want to stitch it in with no way to open it again!), lay the fabric back together so that the right sides are touching, and pin around your cloud shape. Then, swap back to the regular foot and carefully sew it up!
NINE. To get the curves looking nice and… um, curvy, you’ll need to cut V-shaped slits into the cloud seam allowances. Now, mind you, I didn’t know this until I flipped the cloud right side out, saw my puckered curves and panicked, so I used this tutorial as a guide – including her recommendation to press the seams afterwards. Doing so made all the difference.
TEN. After you’ve trimmed and pressed your curves (look at you go!), turn it right side out, then stuff it! I picked up 4 yards of clearance fleece from Fabric.com to plush up Jack’s cloud, but I really should have sprung for 6+ for our big pup. Of course the best part of stuffing the bed with cushy fabric, towels and old tees is the whole bed can be taken apart and washed properly. (We ended up using the 4 yards of fleece + several old towels – the same ones from his former bed.)
In the end, the cloud bed came in at 36″ along the straight edge and 32″ at the highest peak. Jack got a nice scrub-a-dub, then settled right in.
Are we certifiably crazy yet? Pet photos, paintings, pillows and (countless!) beds? Aye. And to all you sewing ninjas, please feel free to chime in and throw a few pointers my way. I’ve got the sewing bug – and I’ve still got a lot to learn! – but I’m ridiculously excited about it.