These two pups got some new beds … and I go on a rant about fabric sourcing.
A rant on fabric sourcing:
Chain fabric stores like Joann’s, Hobby-Lobby, etc. are not the only places to get fabrics. Often times, the fabric at these stores is over-priced and low quality. For example, at Joann’s the average price of denim is around $10-12, and its low weight, low quality, and 45″ wide. At the some of the local shops around Salt Lake, you can get 10+ oz. denim at 60″ wide for the same price or less.
“What about the coupons?” you say. All those coupons do is reduce the items to what they were originally worth. How else could they afford to always have sales and coupons?
Upholstery weight fabrics at the chain stores are also crazy expensive, and there are the same issues with quality. To circumvent this, its possible to call local upholsterers and ask if they are willing to sell their leftover bolts. I’ve done this before and managed to get some designer fabric that originally cost ≈ $100 per yard, for $15 a yard. They often buy entire bolts for a project, and are left with anywhere between 1 and 10 yards left that they can’t use.
The other (and probably the greatest) benefit to buying from local shops is that the money you spend stays in your community instead of being funneled out to some corporate headquarters.
I understand that some people don’t have the same resources we do in Salt Lake. In that case, you need to make do with what you have, I get that. But don’t automatically assume that a small town has only one fabric / sewing source.
Here is a list of my favorite fabrics retailers in the Salt Lake City area:
Tissu’s Fine Fabrics – The highest quality apparel fabric I know of in Utah. Yes it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for. The employees are all professional seamstress’ and pattern makers too.
Nuttall’s – Primarily a quilting shop, but has a good selection of apparel fabrics. Amazing deals come through periodically.
Design Company – massive selection, but can be expensive. Check the $3 section in the very back, there’s great stuff there, and watch for sales. Also good for odd things like foam, automotive headliner, leathers, etc.
Kirkhams – My go-to for rip-stop nylon, taffeta, coil zipper and accessories. They have a full-blown tent making factory in the back of the store. At times, there can be good deals on heavy weight canvas and there’s a revolving stock of factory end fabrics.
Wardell’s – An upholstery shop that sells remnants. Average price per yard is about $15, and some of the fabrics are amazing.
Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics – The best selection of Gore-Tex, Polartec, Thinsulate, Apex, hardware and accessories. Large selection of camouflage and Cordura also. (Technically in Idaho, but they ship)
Wave Products (no website) 125 2100 S. South Salt Lake, UT 84115. (801)-466-6061. They sell Cordura fabrics, and have a huge selection of hardware. They also do custom bag / case / duffel work.
Sewing Machines / Repair / Industrial Sewing Machines:
Daines – Industrial sewing machine retailer and service. They also sell thread and embroidery backing.
Shingleton’s – Janome retailer and sewing machine service and repair.
Don’t be afraid to look for alternatives, you never know what you’ll discover!
Back to the Dog Beds:
This project is pretty straight forward, so I’ll keep it brief. Any basic upholstery tutorial would be plenty to learn the techniques used here.
For fabric, I browsed through the Design Co., and found some upholstery fabric for $3.00 a yard. I bought about 5 yards to make these two beds.
The sizes are 31″ wide, by 41″ long and they are 4″ deep. In hindsight, they could easily be 2″ – 3″ deep to save on stuffing materials. We have a 55 lb. yellow lab and a 7 month Border Collie, and these beds are oversized for them.
My favorite part of this project was how much time I spent at the sewing machine. The seams are long, and there’s plenty of piping to make, which means lots of sewing and less fussing.
I measured out the pieces on my cutting table, and used a card-stock jig to mark out the rounded corners.
Then I made what seemed like a mile of cording. This cording is not cut on the bias to save materials, and it worked just fine.
This is my Consew walking foot machine with a cording foot. For anyone interested in doing a lot of upholstery / bag and pack making, you can’t go wrong with an industrial walking foot. They are so much fun to use.
The piping is sewn to the tops and bottoms of the beds.
On one side, there is a zipper to allow for the stuffing.
With the first side of the zipper sewn, I attached a zip cover.
The zipper cover is a simple piece of fabric that is sewn in half. The folded edge is exposed, while the raw edges are sewn onto the zipper tape. The raw edges are hidden underneath the other half of the zippered panel.
After the zippered panel is finished, all the side panels are sewn together into a loop. This loop is sewn, right-sides-together, onto the top and bottom pieces of the bed. Remember to open the zipper when sewing the final seam.
For stuffing I visited an upholsterer and bought a bunch of their scrap foam and batting, then combined it with soft scraps of my own, and some polyester fiber fill.
To keep the inside organized, I enclosed all the stuffing within an old blanket. I just sewed it all up inside a sack.
Thats the end …
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