Super-Easy Pet Cushion Project

We have a new member of the household. His name is Kirby—after tossing around dozens of names and circling back to the one that really describes what he does best, sucking up stuff on the floor and making it disappear. He’s a Pekingese and an Easter baby. Yep, the Easter bunny brought this little fellow on April 8. (Which just happens to be MY BIRTHDAY, too, and was too much of a cosmic coincidence for me to ignore.) Having a little pocket pet offers all kinds of crafting opportunities, including the creation of costumes and outfits that he’d be mortified to wear if he had just an ounce of self-awareness. In due time, my little puppy, in due time.

I’m starting with more basic projects, however. He’s being crate-trained, as most household dogs are, and I can’t stand the thought of his little puppy underparts lying on the cold, hard, plastic, cookie-sheet-shaped, slide-out base of the cage. I also don’t want to give up any of my good towels. Here’s a chance to use my crafty brain to cook up something simple, yet wonderful.

I scavenge through the house, looking in drawers, closets, and my sewing area. Voilà! I spy some oldish pillowcases whose matching sheets have long since been used for dust covers in the garage. A little feminine, yes, but he’s a modern pup—it’s all about recycling. I take the first pillowcase to my sewing station, flatten it on my cutting board, and unroll a batch of batting. Using the pillowcase as my pattern, I cut a folded (doubled) piece of batting about an inch smaller around the edges than the pillowcase. Then I insert the doubled piece inside and pin the four layers flat. Using a larger stitch than normal, but not a full basting stitch, I sew around the perimeter of the pillowcase, securing the batting.

That’s it! All done! It is the perfect size to fit inside the doggie crate, and it’s pretty, cushiony, and so washable. I’ll make 3 or 4 so I can rotate them between wash days. Kirby doesn’t even mind the darling little ruffle on the end. See? He’s just happy his owner is such a crafty lady.

 

 

Buckets o’ fun

In my quest to get organized, I had to go beyond the hanging organizer (see previous post). Yes, it’s finished! I think it turned out pretty-kitty well and it also got filled up pretty-kitty fast. I think it looks pretty-kitty pretty. Don’t you just love themes?

What could I do with the other stuff that didn’t fit into one of those pockets? Put it in bags? Bins? Boxes? Baskets? Buckets! But buckets are ugly and bulky, right? Well, not anymore. Introducing my “buckets o’ fun”! The first one I made is sans handle, but I think I’ll add it later. It continues the kitty theme, but not quite as directly as the new brown bucket. See that kitty on the front? I just imitated one of the kitties in the fabric used for the liner (same fabric used on the hanging organizer).

Now I’m using my buckets to hold things like rick-rack packs, patterns, notions, and little remnants that I might used for other things. Instead of a pile of mess, I now have some cute, coordinated organizers to help me be less cluttered.

In the next couple of days, I’ll be posting a pattern and instructions on how to make your own lined buckets. I hope you have buckets o’ fun, too!

 

Getting organized is messy

McCall's Crafts M6374

I found a fun and practical pattern for making lots of things to help keep some of my sewing and crafts more organized. It’s McCall’s Crafts pattern M6374. I can’t imagine paying $18.95 for a pattern—remember back in the good old days when patterns were in the $1–$3 range?—so I was THRILLED when Hobby Lobby had their occasional sale of all patterns for 99 cents. (It’s beyond satisfying to buy things for 99 cents, isn’t it? I love to wander around dollar stores.) So I bought four patterns, but knew this one was the one I’d open first. Why?

Because I need to get organized. I thought the wall-hanging organizer would be a good idea so I can get things off my sewing table, but still keep them handy. I’ll just hang it within reach while I’m sewing. (Oh, and a huge THANK YOU to my DH, Eric, for buying me a new sewing machine! Love it!) But things had to get a little messier before they got better. Isn’t life like that sometimes? I remember hearing that when I was going through some counseling several years ago. It’s like needing surgery. In order to heal, sometimes we have to get cut open, which can be very messy and painful indeed. And sometimes we need someone outside ourselves to help. For me, that has included God, close friends, special family members, and the occasional mental health professional. The end result, though, is worth all the tears. It means moving forward with more light and less darkness, more self-control and less trying to control others.

So here’s the messy part of my project: cutting out the 20+ pieces that are supposed to become an organizer. When I saw how many pieces were involved, I have to admit that I almost changed my mind. Instead, I decided to read through the directions so I could understand what each piece was, how it was sewn, and what purpose it served when finished. I did just that, and **Surprise!** it all made sense! I cut out each piece and began sewing. Less than 24 hours later, I was finished!

I love this bright, sparkly, kitty-laden organizer. Now I want to get busy making some matching accessories: probably the square pincushion and some of the round boxes to hold lots of goodies. Stay tuned for finished products in the next post!

I hope you’re learning how to put all your pieces in the right places, too. Thanks, friends, for coming along for the journey.


For the love of cats

I love to read cat—and dog and horse and all kinds of animal—stories. Just so you don’t think I’m purely a cat person, I’d like to report that my favorite dog book so far this year is A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron. Like the dog character did, this book is finding its way home the long way around: from one friend to another until I get it back sometime in the future. Please do read this book or recommend it to middle-graders and adults who love a good dog story.

But this post is really about the love of cats. Last night I finished Homer’s Odyssey—not the ancient tale of a hero and his quest, but the recent best-selling story of a blind cat named Homer, written by Homer’s “mom,” Gwen Cooper. The subtitle of the book distinguishes it from the classic: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat. Gwen recounts the joys, heartaches, discoveries, and personal growth she experienced since adopting a tiny black kitten who had no eyes. (Both eyes had to be removed when he was four weeks old, matted shut by infection, in order to save his itty bitty kitty life. He never even had a chance to open his baby eyes before having them removed.) Sensing that there was something heroic about this bundle of felinity, she named him Homer, after the blind poet. I can’t recall ever being so drawn in to a book about an animal as I was by Homer’s Odyssey. I smiled, nodded, cried, swooned, and cheered chapter after chapter. I think you will, too.

I have two cats of my own, Edie and Emma (see About Me page for photos). Not only do I feel a deeper appreciation for having them in my life, but I also feel that Homer is one of “my” cats, too. I know him now. And not ever seeing him in person doesn’t change that fact. If I learned anything from reading this book, it is that you don’t have to see things for them to make sense. Homer makes perfect sense of his life every single day, having never seen a single ray of light. I love the irony that this blind cat is opening the eyes of readers to the wonder, courage, and soul-rooted love of our beloved pets.

So, here’s the craft project I made—my own tribute to the cats in my life: an eco-friendly, folding shopping bag that I made in a jiffy using a Butterick See & Sew pattern (#B5635):

Kitty shopping bag (open)

 

Kitty shopping bad (folded)

In case you think I’m really a great seamstress, I have to admit that it was a total accident that the cat matched up like that when the bag is folded. Happy accident! Now the trick is to try to keep the cat hair off it! Or…as a friend of ours says: “Cat hair: It’s a condiment and an accessory!” Hmmmm…I think that might make a great bag, too. Stay tuned!

You can go to the Projects Photo Gallery page to see how this 20″ x 12″ bag folds down into a 3″ x 5″ easy-storage clutch.