The Great Dog Crate Cover Caper


In my last post, I told you how I had the bright idea to sew a crate cover for the dog crate that will soon be “den” to our West Highland Terrier puppy.  I hadn’t had any luck finding a pattern for one so I did a little internet perusing, looked at what’s out there, and did some sketching of what I wanted mine to look like.
Armed with my sketch and measurements of each part of the crate (except for the bottom), I headed over to the fabric store and bought my fabric.  My hubby would have taken the measurements and worked out exactly how much fabric to buy.  I just guessed.  I think I ended up getting 3 yards of the black floral fabric, 2 yards of the cream background fabric, and  1 1/2 yards of the burgundy gingham fabric.

Here’s how I got it all put together.  This is for a 30″L x 21″ W x 24″ H dog crate with front door and side door, by the way:

1.  I decided that the cover would consist of a top, a back panel, two door panels, and then one side panel for the side without a door, and two small panels for the side with door which would go on either side of the door.  Both the little side panel to the left of the side door and the one end of the long, unbroken side panel would have to wrap around the front corners so I had to take that into consideration when doing my measuring.

2.  Armed with my measurements, I went upstairs to the cutting table and carefully measured and cut out each piece and then stuck a label on them so I wouldn’t get the pieces confused.  So far, so good.  Oh yes, I decided to do a 1/2″ seam allowance so I added one inch to each of my measurements.

3.  It was at this point that I realized that I probably would want to line the pieces.  Drat!  I hadn’t taken that into consideration at all when buying fabric.  Luckily I have a large fabric stash at home so I was able to come up with additional fabric that would coordinate with what I had chosen.  That meant I had to cut all the pieces out again in the lining fabric this time.  NOW we were ready to get down to business.  I took each piece (except for the Top Panel), put the outer fabric and the lining right-sides together and then stitched around three sides, leaving the top unstitched.  I trimmed corners and seams and turned the pieces right-side out and pressed.  For the Top Panel, I sewed around all the sides, just leaving a little opening to turn it right-side out afterwards.

4.  Next I tackled the door panels.  I decided to add some strips of the gingham fabric on either side of the main cream-colored fabric to give it some pizazz.  Once that was done and the strips were pressed, I again put the lining on top (right-sides together) and sewed around the three sides, leaving the top open.  As before, I turned and pressed.

5.  That brought me to the decorative trim.  I had originally thought that I’d sew it all around the top panel, catching it between the outer fabric and the lining but when I had sewn the Top Panel, that was the only panel that I sewed around all the sides, just leaving a little opening to turn it back right-side out.  I think I had decided that it would get too bulky (and too fussy) trying to attach all of the parts while sewing the top panel to its lining.  So instead, now I took my strips of decorative trim (which I’d already lined) and laid it up at the top of a panel.  I arranged it so that there was a half-inch on either side  for the seam allowance and then trimmed off the excess.  Before I did anything else, I turned my decorative trim strip inside-out and sewed my seam on both ends.  Then I trimmed the seam, turned it back right-side out and pressed.  Now I laid it again on top of the panel, making sure the top edges were flush together and baste stitched through all the layers about 1/8″ from the edge.

6.  It was at this point that I realized I might have a little problem.  When I had taken my initial measurements, I had decided how long I wanted the side panels to be, based on attaching them to the top panel with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  But since I had modified my approach and already used up the 1/2″ seam allowance on the top when I sewed it to the lining, if I then sewed my panels to the top with ANOTHER 1/2″ seam, my panels would be 1/2″ shorter than I wanted.

Are you with me so far?  Don’t worry.  I wasn’t even with me at this point.  Well, I thought about it awhile and as I walked around my sewing room, I happened to glance over and notice a roll of binding tape I’d saved from a quilting project from several years ago.  Hmmmm, that just might work.

OK, so I decided to take that binding tape and sew it all around the edge of the top panel (using a 1/4″ seam) placing the raw edges of the binding tape to the outer edges of the top panel.  That also ended up killing two birds with one stone because I then didn’t have to hand-sew the little opening I’d left on the top panel to turn it right-side out.  I just caught it in my sewing when I attached the binding tape.  Once the tape was attached, I flipped the folded edge outward all the way around and pressed it.

7.  It was time to start attaching the different panels to the top.  I started with the front door panel.  I had decided to use two fabric strips on each end of the panel that would hold the door when it was rolled up.  I had attached these when I had basted the tops while applying the gingham trim.  Now to attach the panel to the top, all I had to do was double-check my measurements to make sure I was placing it at the correct spacing from the corners and then I butted the edges together, laying the door panel edge on TOP of the binding.  I then sewed it to the binding.

8. I repeated this procedure with all of the other panels, attaching them in the following order:  front door panel, back panel, side door panel, left panel on side with door, right panel on side with door, side panel.

9.  When it was all put together, I didn’t like how the side panels gapped from the front door panel.  Hmmm, ok, why not attach a button on either side panel and then use the fabric loop to hook over the buttons when the door was down?

I found some buttons that would work and sewed them on lickety-split and then slipped the loops over each button.

Problem solved.  I didn’t bother doing anything to attach the side panels to the back panel because there wasn’t a bad gap and I like the ability to lift up the back if I want more air in there.

So, here is the finished product.  Notice how I can just roll up the door panels and slip the ends into the fabric loops.  This works with the doors closed and also, I can open the doors with the panels rolled up.  I just lift the roll, open the door and let the roll fall back into place.

Front of crate with door opened

Side of crate with side door panel rolled up

Crate with both door panels down

I’m sure there’s a much easier way to do all of this.  As I mentioned before, I tend to take a twisty, convoluted path to a “finished product” or conclusion but I eventually get there. I was always the bane of my math teachers when we’d have to explain how we’d solved a problem.  I would usually have the correct answer but trying to explain how I had arrived at that answer was a journey that few could (or wanted) to follow.

In the meantime, it’s finished, the puppies are born, and in 8 weeks little Finnegan will be coming to join our family.  Whee!

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