I have chosen to write on a “pet project” of mine—a pet bed! When finances get tight, I know we often have to make hard choices concerning the animals we love and have included in our family circles. Though expensive surgeries or medications may not be possible on a reduced income, it is still possible to provide some things for a pet without spending money. The pet bed in this article recycles old jeans, a t-shirt, and the stuffing from an old pillow. It only cost me the price of some thread and my time.
The bed that I made for this article was for a cat that my children wanted and agreed to go in together to pay for, so the instructions that I share here will produce a bed that is appropriate for a cat or small dog. However, they can easily be modified to make a larger bed.
I began by preparing the clothing articles for sewing. I grabbed an old adult-sized pair of jeans to be the sides of the bed. Jeans that are stained, slightly frayed at the hem, or have a broken zipper are fine for this project. If the pair you would like to use have some holes, plan to cover the holes with decorative patches before you sew the bed together. The legs will eventually be stuffed with the fiberfill from an old pillow, so they need to be able to contain the filling. I cut the legs to be as long as possible without getting into the pockets and zipper. The longer the legs on your jeans, the larger your finished bed will be. After folding the jeans on the top-stitched seam, I cut off the opposite side seam. Then I trimmed the remaining fabric into a rectangle that was seven inches on either side of the remaining top-stitched seam. To prepare the t-shirt, I simply removed the collar and sleeves.
Since the legs on my pair of jeans were not very long (about 26 1/2”), I opened up the hems, sewed the legs together on the crease, and stitched the hems back in place with appropriate colored thread. Folding the legs along the hem with right sides together and matching the seam lines, I then stitched the other ends together to form a circle of fabric. Then I folded the fabric in half again lengthwise with the top-stitched seam showing along the top edge.
At this point, I had a double-layer circle of fabric with a fold at the top. My next step was to stitch a series of three-inch long perpendicular seams along the open edge of the fabric tube. These seams joined the two layers of fabric together (not all four!) to about halfway up and were spaced about six inches apart. (The spacing measurement can be altered to fit the length of other jeans to make the seams evenly spaced.) The photo of the step is a little difficult to make out since more than one layer is visible. It shows both the outside front and the inside back portions of the tube. The front layer ends at the top-stitched seam.
Now that I had the legs stitched together in a way to provide shaping, I began to stuff the ring I had formed using clumped fiberfill from an old pillow. Pulling the clumps apart and fluffing the fibers, I stuffed the ring so that it would be soft but firm enough to provide a side to the bed. That finished, I stitched the raw edges closed.
By measuring the circle that I had formed with the jeans and adding an additional half inch to allow for stitching the seams, I made a paper pattern of that sized circle so that I could check it against the stuffed ring and be sure that it was the size I needed. Laying the pattern out on the t-shirt I had chosen, I cut around it through both layers of the shirt. This gave me two circles of fabric which I left stacked together and carefully pinned to the bottom of the stuffed ring. It took a little while to ease the fullness of the circles to be evenly spread around the edge of the ring, but I was finally able to stitch them in place, making sure to leave a small opening for stuffing the center. After I had sufficiently stuffed the center of the bed, I stitched the opening closed and finished off any raw edges.
At this point, the project was completed, but it was inside-out, with its seams still showing. To hide the seams, I had only to flip the sides of the bed up so that the top-stitched seam of the legs was now visible.
This project did not illuminate some great spiritual truth for me, but the verse that came to mind was Proverbs 12:10a, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” The God who created the creatures we love is concerned that we are good stewards of that which He has given into our care. Christ said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10a), and it is on this premise that we often give the responsibility of caring for a pet to our children, to prepare them for the day when they will have the care of precious children of their own. So make a pet bed together with your children and teach them to regard the lives of those whose comfort in life is dependent on their care!