Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Crackling Pillow Dog Toy for Sandy

 In May 2013, we travelled about four hours from our house to pick out a dog in Granby, Colorado.  We went there to meet the Australian Labradoodle breeder, her dogs, and her puppies. We picked out Sandy but could not bring her home for about a month since she had to stay with her mom dog, Matessa, for about 8 weeks.  (By the way, the dad dog is named Tennison... can't leave him out).

While we were waiting to bring Sandy home, I looked on line for pet toys one can make at home.  I came across this fun article:  "Ten DIY Dog Toys You Can Make for Pennies" and sort of stored some of these ideas in my head.  The one project that really stood out to me was "#9 Crackling Sock":  put an empty plastic water bottle (lid removed/choking hazard) in an old sock and tie a knot to keep the bottle from coming out of the sock.  Apparently dogs like to crunch and munch on Crackling Socks.

Fast-forward a few weeks, I opened my Etsy Shop and was looking at dog toys available for sale.  I found a seller making and selling essentially the same thing only, in place of the sock, the seller made a nice fleece pillowcase with a Velcro (hook and loop) closure.  I have fleece and I have plastic water bottles. I went to WalMart and spent about $0.84 on generic Velcro (hook and loop).  Turns out I already had Velcro at home.  Drat! 

My first prototype was a learning experience but not an epic failure (I was sleepy from getting up early with puppy after all).  When I turned the pillowcase inside out, the Velcro (hook and loop) was facing the wrong way! Doh!!!  No worries though.  I made the opening to insert and remove the water bottle so small that there is no chance the water bottle will fall out.  The prototype was a little longer than it needed to be, so after making a few sizing and procedural adjustments, I was on a roll.  It was like I had a little assembly line in my craft room (which reminds me... I have a craft room now... I need to take some photos so you can see that).

Homemade Crackling Pillow Dog Toy

To make this project, you will need:
  • 1 plastic water bottle
  • fleece (I used two contrasting colors)
  • Velcro (hook and loop)
  • sewing machine and thread
  • scissors
  • straight pins
Description:  Essentially, you are making a fleece pillowcase with a Velcro (hook and loop closure).  The Velcro is attached to two fleece rectangles toward one end of the rectangle to make it easier to insert or remove an empty, crunchy water bottle.  What makes this project great is that the water bottle can be replaced if it get damaged/deteoriates/needs to be replaced.  Also, the empty fleece pillowcase can be easily laundered in the washer and dryer when it becomes soiled.


Cut the fabric (fleece) into two rectangles which measure approximately 6 x 11 inches.  For cutting I used my "pizza cutter like" rotary cutter on a self-healing mat but scissors will do. 

Next, attach a little Velcro (hook and loop) to each rectangle.  Be sure you use the "hook" side of the Velcro on one rectangle and the "loop" side of the Velcro on the other rectangle.  I used about 3 inches of Velcro on each rectangle.  When you stitch the Velcro down, you need to ensure the Velcro is positioned on the rectangles such that rectangles are "mirror images" (see photo).  Also, my fleece did not really have a "right" or "wrong" side, but if you make this project and your fabric has a distinct "right side", stitch the Velcro (hook and loop) to the "right side" of the fabric.  Using a sewing machine, stitch the Velcro down by stitching around the perimeter of the Velcro (use straight pins to hold in position).  I used a straight stitch when attaching the Velcro but I imagine a zig-zag stitch would also work nicely.  You'll notice that the Velcro is positioned toward the top of the rectangles (about 2 inches from the top).  It's a good spot to put the opening so you can insert the plastic water bottle when the project is complete.  If you put the Velcro in the center of the rectangle, inserting the bottle would be difficult.

After you get the Velcro stitched down, place the two rectangles together (right sides together).  The Velcro should marry/line up and hold together as Velcro does.   Next, pin the rectangles together to keep them from shifting while sewing.  Using a straight stitch on the sewing machine, sew around the perimeter of the pillowcase, leaving an opening to insert and remove the water bottle.

You'll notice that on three sides of the pillow case, I stitched closely to the edge of the pillowcase(about  1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge), but on the Velcro side of the pillow case, I stitched about 3/4 inch from the edge.  Basically, on the Velcro side you want the stitching to line up with where the Velcro is stitched down as is shown in the photo above.  You also noticed I started stitching about 1/2 inch after the place where the Velcro is stitched down and I stopped stitching about 1/2 inch before I got to the Velcro. My Velcro strip is about 3 inches long so this gave me a 4 inch opening which is a good size to insert the plastic water bottle when the project is completed.

In this photo (above), I am pointing to the spot where I started sewing.  I started sewing about 1/2 inch down from the Velcro.  Stitch back and forth a few times when you first get going as this will be the opening for inserting and removing the bottle.  Stitching back and forth will keep the opening from tearing open or stretching out.

In this photo (above), I am pointing to where I stopped sewing. I stopped sewing about 1/2 inch before I got to the Velcro.  Stitch back and forth here too to prevent the opening from tearing.  If you use a 3 inch strip of Velcro and leave about 1/2 inch space before and after the Velcro, you'll end up with a 4 inch opening... a good size for inserting the water bottle later on.

Clip the corners to remove some of the bulkiness and then turn the pillow inside out.

See, there's the Velcro closure to keep the pillow case sealed nicely.

Remove the lid (choking hazard) from a plastic water bottle (16.9 ounce size) and insert the bottle.

Ta-Dah!  A Crackling Pillow Dog Toy!

Now, go make a one or two more... or eight.  Great gift for my friends who also have four legged friends.

Of course... I'll have to save some for Sandy.

 This project is "Sandy Approved".

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