DIY Simple Bolster Dog Bed

A couple of weeks ago I had to chuck some of our couch throw pillows as I started to have an allergic reaction to them.  No idea why all of the sudden, we’ve had them for years, I suspect some dog tracked something inside from a walk and transferred.  Who knows.  But hives are really unpleasant.  End result: many of the throw pillows are no longer.

No biggie, right?  Hubby and I rarely use them.

Nope.  The corgi has been right put out ever since.  You know she’s a princess, right?

So after a couple of weeks of her fidgeting unable to get a comfy spot.  I dug around in my sewing stuff to see what I had left over from other projects.  Brain storming how to make the corgi happy once more.  We had picked up a couple of yards of a really nice purple upholstery remnant fabric a while ago.  Ah, perfect!

As the fabric isn’t really the right matchy matchy for our living room, I wasn’t keen to make more throw pillows out of it.  And decided on a simple bolster dog bed instead.  Figure easy to move around, would work in a crate or on the floor or in the car or on the couch.  Versatile.

Here’s how I made it.  I highly recommend using upholstery thread and sewing needles both for the sewing machine and for the by hand bits.  So much easier for such projects.

Step 1:  lay out the fabric and measure for the base of the bed.  As I wanted to be able to fit a standard easy to wash bed pillow in, I used a pillow case as a sizing guide.  Make sure to leave enough extra on all sides for the seams

Fabric laid out on the floor, measuring tape & pillow case for reference

Step 2: after cutting the fabric, flip it so the underside of the fabric is up, and fold in half so is pillow case size approximately.

Step 3:  hem the 2 short sides.

Step 4:  sew up each long side, so now your have a bag with an opening on 1 of the short sides.  I have learned having done this process before, that sewing down the diagonal on each of the corners helps the seams stay strong even after much fluffing of the bed by a dog, so sew along the diagonal of each corner.

Step 5: I was debating between velcro or snaps for the closure, decided on velcro.  Measured the velcro to fit the open short side.  Then sew into place.  If your velcro happens to have sticky adhesive on one side, finger nail polish remover is great to have on hand for cleaning off the sewing needle.  Otherwise it gets all gunked up from the adhesive.  You could do a zipper opening instead as well, in which case you’d want to install the zipper before sewing any other parts.  But I didn’t have a suitable zipper and my dogs are kind to their dog beds so I went with velcro.  If I had a dog who liked to unstuff their dog beds, well I wouldn’t be making them this bed first off (because I don’t give dog beds to dogs who like to destroy them.  Those dogs get towels or a square of fleece) but I’d definitely recommend a zipper closure.

Sewing in the velcro

Now if I was just wanting this to be a simple easy dog bed, I’d invert the fabric I had now sewn so that top side of the fabric was showing, shove in my standard bed pillow, close up the velco and call it done.

The base of the bed all finished

But since Zora is a princess, as mentioned, and she likes to have a comfy place to rest her little princess head when she’s sleeping comfy on the couch, I decided to make a bolster for the bed.  I decided to have the bolster just travel on 1 of the short sides and 1 long side not all the way around the bed.  Mostly I did this because it was easier to measure and cut and conserve fabric based on what I had.

Step 6:  Measure and cut the fabric for the bolster.  For ease of stuffing, I wanted the bolster to be wide enough for me to get my hand and arm into it.  After some experimenting I found that magic number for my hand and arm to be 14″ or 7″ with the fabric folded in half.

Measuring the fabric for the bolster

Step 7: Now invert the bolster fabric so that the backside of the fabric is showing out.  Then sew 1 of the short ends together.

Sewing together 1 of the short ends of the bolster tube

Step 8:  Sew up the long end, so now you have a long tube with an opening on 1 short end.

The bolster tube pre-stuffing lying draped on the dog bed base.  Have to see if I measured correctly!

Step 9:  Reinvert about 1/2 the length of the tube, as this makes it easier for stuffing.  You want to stuff so that the nice topside of the fabric is what is on the outside when you’re done.

Re-inverting the bolster tube so that the top side of the fabric will be facing out once stuffed

Step 10:  Stuff the bolster tube with fabric batting or upholstery stuffing.  I got this big box of the stuffing off of Amazon during my couch building project and still have a lot left over.  As you stuff, gradually invert the fabric as you go until you have the entire tube stuffed with the nice topside pretty fabric on the outside.  Having a dowel handy for stuffing helps too.  Don’t over stuff it or Step 11 is really more challenging than it ever would need to be.  Trust me.

My box of upholstery stuffing.  So much stuffing!

Step 11:  Fold in the edges on the still open short end and sew shut.  Be careful not to bend and break 2 needles like I did.

Sewing shut the stuffed bolster tube

Step 12:  Position the bolster onto the dog bed base you made in the first 5 steps.  Then using an upholstery needle and thread, tack it in place by hand.  Be sure to only tack it onto the top layer of the bed base otherwise you can’t get your stuffing pillow in to the base!  In hind sight, had I thought about this bed design more before doing it, I would have sewn some velcro onto the bolster fabric before step 7 along 1 of the long sides, and the other half of velcro to the bed base, so that the bolster would then be easy to attach and remove from the base for washing and such.  Oh well, maybe another time.

Step 13:  Insert the standard bed pillow into the dog bed base.  Velcro it shut.

The finished product!

Step 14:  Clean up all of the little bits of thread and fabric and broken needles in your sewing area.  No need for some overly curious dog to ingest any of this stuff!

Step 15:  Call your corgi and introduce her to the bed.  Tell her how much you love her and that she is adorably cute.

Zora on her new bed!
Zora all comfy on her new bed up on the couch.  All is now right with the world.

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