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How to sew a dog bed with sides

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How to sew a dog bed with sides! See how to design custom fabric and sew a simple dog bed that uses old pillows as stuffing.

How to sew a dog bed with sides

Our pandemic puppy won’t stop growing! Jango desperately needed a larger bed that was easy to wash and the kids needed a new project. They had so much fun designing this fabric that I printed with JOANN’s new Customizer [2024 edit, this function no longer seems to exist!] ; and sewing up this giant bed took just a few hours. I included a zipper so it’s easy to un-stuff and wash when it gets gross, I don’t know how designed those fleece ones you buy in the store but they get so grody after just a few months. The kids have taken to curling up on it like puppies when the dog isn’t using it, so I might be sewing up more to adapt as floor pillows too!

This post was sponsored by JOANN, which means they supplied some of the materials and compensated me for my time, but all opinions are my own.

fabric customizer joann

I learned new things during this process! I’d never tried to design fabric before this, we already had an iPad with the Procreate app but three other resources I used were this blog post about surface design and repeats in general, and this post about how to create a repeating pattern in Procreate; without it, the pattern looked like an obvious square “stamped” on to the fabric when I uploaded it instead of a true design as you see above.

Lastly, I used the tips on JOANN’s website to make sure it was properly set up so you can toggle all the colors. I had a friend with Photoshop handle those nitty gritty details, he said it only took a few minutes, if you don’t know anyone with graphic design skills consider hopping on Fiverr for a quick job! If you upload your design and don’t see this options, revisit those tips and make sure it is set up the right way to toggle the colors. You can see this is what the colors looked like on my screen vs. in person; they have a handy sample option to print and check how it looks before you commit to yardage, too.

how to make a big dog bed

He usually only sits still after 9 pm, when he turns into a pumpkin, but so far so good with the puppy approved comfort/design.

Check out these other posts while you’re here!

what to sew for a dog

A better shot of the print as he loses patience with picture taking! The kids are so excited to “see” their design out in the world, it was a really fun process.

Ready to see how easy it is to sew one of these?

Pin this tutorial for how to sew a dog bed with sides with this photo or link:

easy dog bed tutorial

how to sew a dog bed with sides


kid drawn fabric procreate

  • 2 yards of customized fabric – I ordered the “cotton duck” substrate; any of the woven, non-stretch options would work but be sure to consider washability and make sure the width is at least 54″ to follow this exact tutorial/sizing
  • Iron
  • Sewing clips
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilt ruler
  • 2 old pillows and/or assorted stuffing and fabric scraps
  • 20-22″ invisible zipper that matches your fabric

Cutting Instructions

  • (2) large rectangles measuring 37″ long by 28″ tall
  • (2) long strips measuring 38″ long by 5″ tall
  • (2) long strips measuring 29″ long by 5″ tall

Before you start:

  • Pre-wash your fabric the same way you plan to wash the finished dog bed!
  • If you plan to wash the dog bed very frequently, like once a week, I would recommend finishing the edges. I did not in my tutorial because I will only wash it once a month; but you could either use pinking shears or a pinking rotary blade just trimming off a tiny bit of each side or run a serger around all four edges of each rectangle before you begin sewing them together.

Step 1- Mark out 1/2″ from the top and bottom of each side piece along the short edge – this will help box the corners!

Step 2- Sew the four side pieces, right sides together, with 1/2″ seam allowance, with the short sides on the ends, making a rectangle.

Step 3- Press open all seams.

Step 4- Take one ‘body’ piece with the larger rectangle and fold it to mark the middle, then fold the zipper to mark the middle and clip to align. Install with your preferred method, then lay one ‘side’ piece with the thinner rectangle and mark the middle, pin, and continue to sew, leaving an installed invisible zipper between the two panels and then unjoined sides flapping. Then clip the other sides to match around the pre-sewn ‘side’ rectangle, and sew all the way around, taking care to stop at the 1/2″ seam allowance marks so the corners can be boxed.

I sew each side as a separate seam, taking a few stitches forward and back to secure. On the zipper side, sew to the edges of the zippers, capturing the raw edges. The zipper packaging will have separate install tips and instructions if you’re not familiar – I’m not too fussed about it being truly invisible, just that it’s working and secure!

Step 5- **Unzip the zipper half way! Very important!** This isn’t easy to photograph with such a large project, but you’ll then lay the other main ‘body’ rectangle right sides together with the side pieces and clip around, making sure there is an opening in the zipper. Stitch all the way around again, completing the dog bed.

Step 6- Gently pull the dog bed through the opening so it is right sides out, and insert two standard bed pillows and add other stuffing/shredded fabric scraps as desired, zip it close and you’re done!

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