Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dressed Up Dog Crate

As you saw in this post, I decided to make Sweet Olive a crate cover to help this wiry, jail-like contraption look a little more homey. The idea of dogs sleeping in crates has never sounded very nice to me, but Olive genuinely loves hers and voluntarily goes in it each night when it's time for bed. We leave the door open and sometimes she takes a lap or two around the bedroom, but mainly she snoozes in there until we wake up in the morning.

I found some DIY crate covers which I pinned to my Pooch-themed board  to give me a jumping off point.

With Harley's crate cover, I liked that it was a neutral color and had some detail on the top.

What I liked with the blue and white one was that it came around onto the front of the crate and sort of framed the door.

Before I could make a cover, though, we had to get a crate. Because we were putting it in a corner, we needed one that had a "garage door" style opening, rather than a swinging door since there was nowhere for the door to swing. We found the right size on Amazon for $37, which was nearly half the price we would have paid at PetSmart. 

Olive's foster mom suggested putting a towel or a yoga mat under the crate to help protect our carpet from the wires. I went with a yoga mat since it's waterproof (not to mention my yoga stint was short lived, so this guy was sitting around unused), to be an extra layer of protection in case of any future accidents (we haven't had any yet... knock on wood we never do). I trimmed the sides so there wouldn't be tons of excess lime green sticking out, but I opted to leave it nice and long to protect the wall--again, in case of any upset doggy tummies. You can never be too careful, and my dad has a story that's too horrifying to share with you that confirms that walls sometimes need to be protected.

To figure out how much fabric I would need, I measured each of the 4 sides of the crate I would be covering and sketched them onto an index card, adding about 1" to each measurement to allow for hemming. Once I got to Joann's and found the fabric I was going to use, I sketched all of the pieces together like a puzzle, making sure to fit them within the width of the fabric. I find that it's best to wait to do this until after you've found your fabric of choice, since they come in different widths. Granted, there are only a few standard widths, but this progression is just what's easiest for me.

First thing's first: wash the fabric, and make sure to hem the edges first so it doesn't become an unraveled ball of string in the washer. This first step is one that I always struggle with... because I'm impatient like that... and impatience often wins. Not this time though, because the last thing I wanted was to sew this crate cover, wash it a few months later, and have it shrink by an inch and no longer fit.

Please excuse the crazy white balance/general laziness exhibited in these pictures. Taking quality pictures required more energy than I had that day :)

Rather than cutting panels for each side of the crate (which would have meant hemming each of the four sides twice), I figured it would be easier to drape the whole piece of fabric over the crate and pin the edges to create a seam, then turn it right-side-out to hide the seams.

I chose a fabric that would more or less blend in will the walls, and it nearly perfectly matches our
bedsheets. It's clear that I 
intentionally didn't make the bed,
just so you could see the comparison... right?
After everything was lined up, I started pinning.

After I had four edges pinned, I thought it would be best to go ahead and get them sewn so I could see if any adjustments needed to be made before I got too far in. Also, pins make me somewhat nervous and I had no idea how to navigate sewing around this many of them, much less any more of them.

Here we are with those four edges sewn, plus a few more. You'll notice in the picture below that there's a slit going down the right side, which was to create a sort of panel that I could roll up like a window so that Sweet Olive could see us sitting in bed while she was in her crate. I wanted to do this because when we first adopted her, she became very nervous when she couldn't see where we were. Luckily, she grew out of this insecurity a few days after I made this cover.

I say luckily for two reasons. The first being that growing out of insecurities is a good thing. The second, well... can you see it? Have you spotted what I did wrong?

Womp womp. I put the slit on the right side of the crate, which is where it needs to be when the crate cover is complete. I failed to think about the fact that when I turned the cover right-side-out, the "window" would switch over to the left side, giving her a lovely view of... the wall.

It was not until I had done all of the work to create this lovely little window for her that I realized my error. John received some very angry texts about how I had spent hours and hours making Olive a cover and it was ruined! RUINED!!!!!

I decided to finish everything up anyway (even thought it was RUINED!!!!!), and ended up using a zig-zag stitch to secure the window panel to the sides. To add some detail, I tried to mimic the first inspiration picture I showed you by adding some ruffles. I'm not usually one for ruffles (they feel too girly to me), but I liked that they softened the cover and kept it from being just a giant cube of fabric. I had no real technique to adding them... I just bunched the fabric up and sewed it down. 

And, voila! The ruffles came out much more... ruffly... than I had expected (they feel sort of domineering and messy to me), but I was too defeated from the whole window panel failure to do anything about it. Looking back, I think I spaced the ruffles too close together and should have made each one about twice as wide.

For the record, the dark spot in the back left corner is the tag for that sheet.

Above, you can see the yoga mat lining the back of the crate. The cover also encloses the back, but I put the yoga mat between the crate and the cover so that the portion of the mat that sits on top of the crate would be hidden by the cover, rather than visible.

Now that we've lived with it for a few weeks, I don't miss the panel at all, and Olive seems quite happy in there. As for the ruffles, oh well. I've gotten used to them and think it would be too much work to rip all of those seams & re-attach them, just to make them slightly less in-yo-face.

So, what do you think? Have any of you made a crate cover before? How did yours turn out? Also, can this be the last time I ever use the word "crate"? We prefer to call it her bed, which seems less jail-like :)


  1. This is adorable. I'm in love with it. :)

    1. Thanks! Does Phoebe sleep in a crate? Do you see sewing a cover in your future?