Saturday, March 2, 2013

Puppy Fabulous Cover

Okay, so apparently February came and went and I'm still reeling.'s March and I'm determined to get one of my posts actually posted. I had others in mind and even started one for Valentine's but the projects turned out less impressive than I wanted so, no post. But on to better things. Our family introduced a new member to it recently. This wonderful puppy came with lots of things, one of them this giant, unsightly crate. Until recently, this crate sat in the middle of the living room as a giant eyesore. But, not anymore. I made a few adjustments to the layout of our tiny living room and finally finished this outstanding project.

Enter: The Puppy Fabulous Cover.

What makes it puppy fabulous you might ask? Simply stated: imperfection. See, my puppy doesn't care how great or perfect her cover for her crate is. She just wants a cozy cover. And that's all she got! But hey, it's a lot better than that unsightly crate. So, on to the project.

This project can be very simple, or by adding a few things, a little more challenging. But, even if you barely know how to use a sewing maching you can do this project!  I'm not super skilled at sewing. I taught myself all I needed to know. There have been calls to my mother in law many times to ask questions that 2000 miles doesn't quite allow all the help needed. (Of course, all the miles in the world can't help me. Or so I'm told. ; ) The point is that pretty much anyone that wants to can make this. It really is simple. The basic instructions are as follows:
1. Measure the top, and sides for a total of 5 measurements. 
2. Cut fabric at least 1/4 inch larger than measurements to allow for seams.
3. Sew together. 

Got it? Yeah, don't worry. I have a few pics and tips to follow. So...check out the details.
Step 1. Measure. Yep, the old addage is true. Measure twice and cut once. Now, cutting these pieces can be tricky as it is important to keep them squared off (straight). But this can easily be accomplished by measuring and marking at the tops and bottoms. My trick (and I did make some mistakes anyway so expect that) was to use a sheet.

Yes, I said a sheet. When I started this project I knew it was simple and wouldn't require much as I had done a similar one years back for a bird cage. But, I really try hard not to buy new stuff instead using up things I already own that are collecting dust. So, I pulled out my tupperware of fabric and quickly went through it. I found a flat sheet that had never been opened (a WalMart buy) that was intended as a backing for curtains (did something different). So, I grabbed that. After all, as I said earlier it would have a nice straight edge (selvage). They were tan and went nicely with my decor. Now, if I were smart I would have stopped there and just done the project quickly but that's just not me. So, I spiced it up a bit. 

I found a couple old curtains (the really cheap kind) in a nice maroon, and some other fabric I'd purchased years ago with the intent of making a skirt. Obviously, I never did. Now, I know better than to be that industrious because I'll probably never be the clothes making kind of gal...I know, I know, never say never. But...I digress. After looking through a lot of other choices and sizes of fabrics, I chose the two above. I decided I would make a maroon strip on top and the other checkered fabric on the bottom. 

2. After this, I set about measuring and cutting my fabric. The maroon fabric was such a poor quality that I ended up doubling it over to get the color I really wanted. I cut the tan as the back to attach the other two fabrics to (not necessary but easier to keep the sizes you want). It is at this stage that I will say how important it is to measure well and allow for extra room. Keep in mind that the front of the cage will be a flap and you will need to make that piece a bit larger so you can have a nice hem all the way around. 

For beginner sewers I would suggest adding at least a 1/2 inch seam/hem allowance to the measurements before cutting. I probably could have had a bigger seam allowance and better measurements. If you spend the time on this part, the rest will go much easier.

Step 3: Lay out your pieces and start pinning. As I said earlier, I am using the tan as a background to attach the other two visible pieces. So, layout that first piece you want to really doesn't matter which one. My top piece was all the black, white, red, checker fabric I chose, while my sides and front and back were two different pieces of maroon and the aforementioned fabric.

To star the pinning, just lay out the two pieces and line them up. I chose to use the selvage as my bottom so I could skip the step of creating a hem. (If you are using just regular fabric with no hem, you will need to add at least a 1/4 to 1/2 inch to create the hem. Then sew the two pieces together and hem them as one piece. This will save you some steps of hemming each one and then sewing together.) 
As you can see in the picture below, I chose to use a fabric that had a fringe. I wanted that fringe to be free from the bottom of the fabric so I made sure to pin and sew just a little bit higher. You will also notice that the selvage I'm using. (Yep, I'm just that lazy. Or, you could say I'm that smart!)


 Once I pinned the first piece, I started pinning the maroon to the top. Notice in the picture below I laid my white/black checker fabric down while I pinned the maroon. (Also remember that my maroon was folded in half for a thicker fabric and darker color.) I will also point out that I had not cut very precisely as I warned was important in the beginning. This created a little bit of a problem when attaching all the pieces but I worked with it. Imperfection, remember?!
 After pinning the top of the maroon and the bottom of the checker fabrics, I combined the two. I wanted the checker fabric on top of the maroon so I folded the checker fabric under while leaving it on top of the red. In other words, pull the checker fabric that is folded in the last picture up over the maroon and then fold under the top. What I'm essentially doing is layering the two fabrics, securing them to the tan, and creating a hem on the checker fabric all at the same time. One time through the sewing maching, three jobs done! That's what I call efficient.
 Proceed as before for all 5 pieces making sure they all lay correctly when together. In other words, do some more measuring before pinning so the sewing goes quickly. 

Step 4: Sew all pieces. Once sewing is completed. Choose the piece that will be the front cover and create the hem. To do this, fold over the sides about a 1/4 inch (or half inch depending on your original seam allowance), pin, and sew. See below.

 This is what my seam looks like for the front "door" or flap. Pretty snazzy, huh?

 Another option is to serge the edges, I don't have a serger so I kind of did my own by using a very small zig zag stitch. It worked well on the maroon but not the checker because the edges of the checker frayed so I ended up doing the zig zag in further. If you look closely at the edge of the checker you can see the first attempt that did not work at all. Due to this issue, I ended up doing hems on all open sides (sides that weren't sewed together).
 When the hems are done on the pieces that need them (the front door piece, and the front of the sides that sit by the front door) you are ready to sew the whole thing together. Think of it kind of like a puzzle or maybe a skeleton. The left side's connected to the top piece, the back is connected to the top piece, the right side's connected to the top piece...Did you get my reference to the skeleton song? No...that's okay. You might be better off. Yes? Awesome...I'm not the only crazy lady out there! Anyway, after all the pieces are connected to the top, sew together the back to the side pieces and...voila! Happy dog!

 See? Denali is trying to tell us she likes it. She was talking a bit when I took this picture. You can see all the tan from the inside of her cage, and refer to the first picture for the outside. So it's definitely not perfect, but at least it's done. And...Denali really likes her new cozy home.

It's a touch fancy yet still fairly easy. There are some really awesome and talented seamstresses out there that put my design to shame but I'm happy with the result. And, it was essentially free. At least I didn't buy anything new for it. You could also use fleece and save yourself the time of sewing hems (fleece does not unravel like other fabrics). I just thought it would be a little bit too hot for my little pup come summer months. Besides, I didn't want to buy new stuff anyway. So, that's it.

If you have any questions, please fee free to ask. Leave comments, links to your design, or more. I would love to hear from you. Hope you enjoy trying your next project.

Happy Creations! Jennifer