Saturday, February 21, 2015

Make some Cat Beds

For the past month, I've worked on making some round cat beds for the crew.  Finished 4 so far.  The cats are enjoying all 4 of them.  Three of the beds were made to handle two cats sleeping together and the 4th is a single cat bed.  My cats love these as winter beds.  During the summer, they could care less about them and prefer low sided card board boxes to sleep or nap in or just stretch out across the bed or couches. AND they are REVERSIBLE!  Just flip it inside out.

Fabric used:  1 1/2 yards of 100% cotton flannel;  I pre-washed it.  Since flannel  tends to shrink about 4 inches/yard in a dryer, you will probably need 1 and 5/8 yards or you can use 60" wide polar fleece and need only a yard to make one.  Or you can use another type of furry fabric to make them.  I prefer the flannel to keep static electricity at bay as cats seem to generate lots of static during the drier winter months and they don't like static anymore than you or I.

NOTE:  If using a directional fabric, decide how you want the pattern to appear on the tubes.  That will make a difference in cutting the length of the tube; whether you cut the width of the fabric or cut the tube length from the length of the fabric.  Just be sure when you cut the circles out that you won't interfere with where you are going to cut the length(s) for the tubes.

The pattern is pretty simple to make.  I scribe a circle between 7.5 inches up to 9.5 inches in radius onto the fabric.
   7.5" radius equates to a 15 inch wide circle making a 14 inch wide bed.  This is good for single cats of small to medium build.  Large cats will also use it when they want to be really cozy.
   8.5" radius equates to a 17 inch circle making a 16 inch wide bed.  Good for medium to large cats.
   9.5" radius equates to a 19 inch circle making a nice size for two medium to  large cats or 1 extra large cat.  My cats also use it by themselves and enjoy it.

By the way, these cat beds are machine washable and dryable.

For these beds I used flannel and made two circles (#1 & #2), same size.  These form the base of the bed with some filler in-between the layers.   Then, using a soft tape measure, measured the circumference of one of the circles and used that measurement to cut a rectangle from more of the fabric.  Cuts were made 15 inch wide,   the width of the fabric as it usually takes at least 1 width plus a few more inches to go all the way around.  The rectangle usually ends up between 47 inches to 60" in length by 15" wide depending on circumference of circle.  With flannel that means I cut a 2nd width of fabric and cut off what I need from the 2nd piece to make the length required for the circumference.

Note: If you want to make a two fabric cat bed, just cut the width of each fabric at 8 inches, then seam together to form the 15" tube before going on to the next steps.

Then the rectangle is sewn together at the ends forming a fat tube (called the sides of the bed).  I press the seams open and sew the seam selvages down the length of each selvage, about an 1/8" from their edges with a straight stitch.  You'll see why later.

Detailing:  You can save yourself a little bit of hand sewing time if you form the openings for the stuffing while you are sewing up one of the seams.

 I then fold the tube in half, length wise, wrong sides together so the tube now has a width of  7.5 inches instead of 15".  The raw edges of the sides are sewn together at about the one quarter inch line, all the way around.

Then a double or triple row of stitching is made half way up the side, all the way around the tube, about
1/4 inch wide total.  This forms the divider between the two side tubes and makes it sturdy enough for stuffing the tubes that were just formed. (don't stuff yet).

Next step is to prepare the base.  I use a fairly thin polyester batting (Christmas "snow" batting) that comes in a sheet form and cut the batting the same size as the base circles. (you might need to piece in a section if the batting is not wide enough for the diameter of the circle.)  You may use other batting if you want.
 One could add more layers  of this thin batting to make it thicker if wanted but not really necessary.  One could also use polar fleece to make this bed and batting would not be needed in the base.

Secure the batting to circle #1 by laying it on the wrong side of the base circle, and sewing it 1/4 inch around the edge of the circle.  You could also quilt this layer to secure the batting even more to this layer.  Do NOT add the circle #2 yet, as that is the last step before stuffing starts.

Now, pin the tube to the outside edges of right side of  circle #1.  Sew all the way around about a 1/4 to 3/8ths inch in from the edge of the circle being careful not to catch in the sides of the tube as you're moving the pieces around.

Carefully fold in the sides of the bed towards the center of the circle so
you can see all the edges of the circle.

Then take Circle #2 and lay it right side down on top of folded-in sides, hiding the sides of the bed. Pin around leaving a 4 to 5" opening for turning.

 Sew around the outside of the circle with 2 rows of stitching for sturdiness LEAVING an opening of about 4 to 5 inches so you can pull the sides and circle #1  through the opening.  Voila!  You are almost ready for stuffing the tubes.  Now you can sew the opening closed.

Stuffing the Tubes:  

You will need:
1.  either a sharp pair of scissors with a pointed end or a seam ripper.
2.  a bag of stuffing.  I used polyester stuffing so it's easy to wash and dry.
3.  a dowel or stick of some sort about an 1 inch (2.5cm) in diameter and about a foot long for tamping the stuffing into each tube.  I used the large tube from "Fasturn" ( )as it was handiest for me and worked well as a tamping rod.

At one of the vertical seams of the sides, the seams you have sewn the seam allowance down on, carefully pick out the seam where the two edges meet, for about an inch and a half.  Enough so that you can insert stuffing and get your tamping rod into.

 Just add stuffing a little bit at a time, tamping as you go, filling to the center first and working your way out to the "entrance".    Do that for both tubes that were formed in the sides. Stuff your tubes to the stiffness that you want.  This does take quiet a bit of stuffing.

Sew the 2 openings back up with some hand sewing, and the bed is done, ready to use.

copyright notice 2015:  You may make and sell these beds but not the directions.

My future plans:  Will be tweaking these directions with more photos when I have the time.  If you have trouble with a part, let me know, then I know I need to make clarifications or simpler directions.
 I do plan to make one with 3 rows of tubing in the future, just to give the cats a higher walled bed.  I will need to add another 7 inches to the width of the side fabric.  My spouse also suggested making one with a top on it  of some sort.

"New Kitty" Scooter

We have inherited a new kitty.  She came to us from a friend who died  from cancer this morning and wanted her to have a good home.  I think we just might qualify for that.  She's somewhere between 7 and 10 years old and would be called a dilute tortoiseshell in coloring. That means she's grey and cream (pale orange), all mixed up.   She also considered polydactyl meaning she has more than the normal number of toes on her front paws as you can see in the photo below.

We had her for a couple of weeks in  January then she went back to her home.  Well, she's back with us now, permanently (Feb 20) and instantly recognized "her" room.  Even looking for the cat climbing pole which we had removed (because we're expecting human guests) when she departed the first time.  We'll be placing it back in her room in a week as she really enjoyed having it.

While she and our other cats get used to each other, she has to have her own room.  She's quite willing to defend her territory. Goldie is not too pleased with that.  We are spending time with Scooter everyday while she is "incarcerated" in her room.  The vet will be seeing her this next week for a health check-up.  It will probably be her first visit to a vet since she was spayed years ago.

Meanwhile, I'm  knitting a little cat blanket for her.  Luck would have it that I found a yarn that resembles her fur in color.  Mixed greys with cream spots as you can see in photo.  It will become her window pad when she wants to lay down and look out the window.

One of the cat items I already had is being used by her.  A little green fur cat bed that I've had around for years.  She loves to curl up in it and "hide".  She also has use of one of the cat tents.  Something she figured out how to dive into almost immediately and she looks forward to us playing with her.  Will also make another cat bed for her when I find the right colors of fabric.

My Jacob's Ladder Project # 7B

An update on the dilemmas with my decisions:
The new sashing came in.  After cutting and laying out the new sashing with the old sashing, decided to do one quilt with the old, and the other with the new.  The new sashing is a darker red.
From Bar Harbor collection by Paula Minick
& Laura Simpson for Moda
Birds of a Feather collection by Kaye England licensed  to

When I laid them out with a mix, it just didn't look right so put them in the separate quilts:

The one on the left has the older sashing and is lighter than the one on the right.  The designs of the 2 sashing fabrics are quite similar and from different manufacturers.

The 4 missing large blocks are being put together and I've decided to make the cornerstone blocks with the red fabric and muslin instead of red and sashing fabric.  Just seems to be the way to go.  Plan to get those cornerstones done today.

Continued in Part #8

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Jacob's Ladder Project, # 7

Decided to lay out the 2 quilts so that matching colors were in the same positions on both quilts.
As you can see, I still need 2 more blocks in each.  Not to worry though.  The fabrics have been found in my stash, just not the inclination to build them yet.  So...

Have been working with the sashing off and on these past few weeks.  I cut out sashing thinking I only needed the strips 3 1/2 inches wide.  Got half of what I needed cut out and found that I wasn't going to have enough for both quilts.  Dilemma now as the fabric was available in 2011 but not now.  Searched several sources on the internet including the manufacturer and it's "gone", not even showing up on e bay.  Also checked local quilt shops, none had it.  I'm sure there is some still out there as I bought the fabric last summer at my local store but in their clearance bolts.  At least I think I bought what they had left.  At the time didn't know how much I'd need (not too well planned, right?).

Then I decided I better look at the old quilt picture again and double check how I was going to make the cornerstones.  Oops, they are a 4-patch, not the single piece my brain thought it was.  Darn, I have to make the sashing wider so the 4-patch is at least the same size as 4 patches in the blocks.  The old quilt had the 4 patches at a larger size than the 4 patches in the blocks but I didn't quite like that look and my fabric was running out.

Decided that another look on the internet was in order, looking for a similar pattern in the same colors.  Took a while and finally ended up on and browsed all of their red and white fabrics.  Eureka!  Found one that is close to the same pattern.  So it's on order, expecting it to arrive any day now.

Meanwhile, back to the 4-patch and the sashing.  In order to make the 4-patch work, my sashing now has to be 4 1/2 inches wide uncut.  That meant, all those pieces I had cut out earlier had to be widened.  Of course, now I had to add another 1 1/2 inches to each strip.  There was enough fabric to get that done for the 30 sashes I had already cut.  Got that done last week.

Next dilemma:  I wanted both quilts to look the same other than the positions of the colors in a block.  So with two different sashing fabrics, the layout of those have to match in both quilts.  So, the original sashing will be laid in horizontal rows and the new sashing will be laid out in vertical rows.

Still debating on whether to have the light background  in the 4-patches match the sashing fabric or match the muslin background used in the blocks.  The original quilt had used the sashing fabric in the 4-patch corner stones.  None of the blocks in the old quilt had muslin as a background fabric but had used other fabrics, scraps or old dresses most likely.  I probably won't make that decision until the new sashing arrives and I play around with the look.  Though I am leaning toward using muslin in the cornerstones but then it will really look different than the original old quilt.

Anyway, here's what things look like so far without the new sashing.

The blocks may be rearranged again when the final 4 blocks are added..

Continued in Part #7B

Browsing some old floppy disks from years ago and came across this scan of a photo I took.

My quilting wasn't too bad back then.
As I recall, the outline of the state was enhanced with some cording run thru the double line of the border of the state.
This quilt motif was placed on a quilt that I and other women in my Tbird club put together as a fund raiser for a convention our T-bird Club was hosting that year.