Why did I come up with a DIY PVC pipe collapsible frame dog bed? Because I wanted:
- a dog bed that was easier to both vacuum and machine wash.
- a dog bed out of a fabric that wasn’t an eyesore in my bedroom, where my dog sleeps next to my bed all night.
- a dog bed that was more portable.
- a dog bed that kept its shape when the dog twisted and turned in the night, or when I had to walk on it.
My materials were:
- 4 lengths of 1 inch diameter PVC pipe; for my dog’s bed this was 2 of 42 inches, and 2 of 32 inches.
- 4 one inch PVC elbows, smooth on the inside (no threads for screwing).
- a bed sheet no longer needed for our beds; any medium weight cotton/polyester fabric would do.
- an old twin mattress pad; quilt batting or an old blanket would probably work fine.
- a remnant of decorator fabric; I had some on hand, but these can be found at places like Home Fabrics or JoAnn’s Crafts and Fabrics.
- thread to coordinate.
- a pencil.
- a workshop measuring tape, which is easier to keep straight when measuring the PVC pipe.
- small saw.
- regular sewing machine.
- size 14 sewing machine needle, depends on the thickness your dog bed ends up being.
- rotary cutter, cutting mat, sewing pins, sewing measuring tape, sewing scissors, sturdy hand sewing needle.
- straight edge with measuring units.
- dimensions of space available for dog bed.
- dimensions of sleeping dog.
I decided to make my dog’s bed 42 by 32 inches. I’ll admit right now that it ended up slightly larger and a tight squeeze in the intended space. This is because the elbows add width and length that I didn’t account for.
- one 42 by 32 inch piece of main decorator fabric.
- one 42 by 32 inch piece of main lining (old sheet for me).
- one 42 by 32 inch piece of old mattress pad.
- two 40 by 7 inch pieces of main decorator fabric (I would recommend making this more like 38 by 7, because it will be out of the way when sewing the corners, but I am telling you what I did so that it matches the photos.) All pieces that are 7 inches wide are casing pieces for the PVC pipe. I came up with the 7 inches by draping the sewing measuring tape loosely around the PVC pipe and allowing for seam allowances and ease of insertion.
- two 40 by 7 inch pieces of lining fabric (ditto to comment above).
- two 30 by 7 inch pieces of main decorator fabric (for same reasons as above, I recommend 28 inches instead of 30).
- two 30 by 7 inch pieces of lining fabric (re: 28 inches).
Sewing (all seams are 1/2 inch unless otherwise indicated, RSO=right side out, WSO=wrong side out, RST=right sides together, WST= wrong sides together):
1. Sew only the two short ends of one casing lining to one casing decorator fabric of matching dimensions, WST. Do this until all four casings have lining attached
2. Press seam open, then turn the casing fabrics RSO and press the seam folded so that the lining is on one side and the decorator fabric is on the other
3. Fold each lined casing piece lengthwise, lining sides together and raw edges even. Baste.
4. Center a casing of appropriate length along each side of the main decorator fabric bed piece, on the right side of the main fabric, raw edges even and the fold of the casing to the inside (laying on the fabric). Pin and baste. The casings will be covered by the other fabric as sewing progresses, but will turn to the outside when all is flipped RSO. When looking at the photos, do not be confused by the fact that I did this on the lining…
5. Pin and baste whatever is being used for filling, or cushion, to the wrong side of the main lining piece. If you want to keep the outer most seams from getting too bulky, you could trim the filling piece perimeter to about one inch smaller than the main piece and sew it about 1/2 inch from its edge to the lining. You won’t see it when the bed is laying there.
6. Place the main piece of decorator fabric (with casing basted on it) and the main piece of lining (with the filling sewn onto it) RST. Pin them together, somehow marking about a 14 – 16 inch space that will be left open so that the dog bed can be turned RSO. In the photo below, I have it all pinned, but have pulled open one end to show the casings on the inside. Before sewing, I will pin some of that end, but leave some open
7. Sew around the outer edges of the main bed pieces, keeping the casings free from being caught or bunched up wrong. You do, however, want to catch the raw edge of the casings in this seam. I curved around the corners slightly instead of trying to make them exactly square. See photos for how this ended up looking. Either way, you will want to trim the corner seam allowance bulk down some, but probably no closer than 1/3 inch to the stitching, to make the corners lay better when turned. Remember, you can always go back and trim it a tad more, but you can’t glue it back on!
8. Turn the whole thing RSO, poking out the corners as much as possible with your fingers or a dull object. The thickness of the dog bed makes it unnecessary to get too worried about this.
9. The thickness of the perimeter seam of your dog bed will affect how you can sew the opening closed. Mine was pretty thick, so I used a combination slip stitch and running stitch. The design of my decorator fabric made delicacy and precision unnecessary and helped camouflage irregularities.
Cutting the PVC pipe:
Mark out the 1 inch PVC pip with a measuring tape and a pencil. As noted above, I cut two 42 inch pieces and two 32 inch pieces. My husband had previously shown me how to hold one knuckle just barely against the side of the saw blade to stabilize the saw enough to get the cut started. After that, the fingers can be moved to a less abrasive position and the rest the sawing completed.
My cuts were not all perfectly perpendicular to the pipe, but close enough. I did not bother to sand the ends.
Putting it all together:
Each piece of PVC pipe was slipped in a casing of proportional length (long to long, short to short). The smoother cotton/polyester lining makes this process easier than it would be with many coarser decorator fabrics. Once the sections of PVC pipe are in the casings, place a PVC pipe elbow between PVC pipes at each corner. Do NOT glue the PVC pipe if you want to be able to take it apart for washing (which I have already had occasion to do once and the dog bed is only a week old!)
My dog likes knowing she has a specific bed. It helps her understand her sleeping space better at home, which she is not allowed to leave without permission when told to “go to bed.” It also helps her deal with traveling with us, as she can readily identify her new space and she is comforted. And now, finally, we have a dog bed that I like as much as she does.