The Good and Bad of DIY: Doggie Car Quilt

Charley Girl & Her New Quilt

Have you heard of the book, Make the Bread, Not the Butter.? In a nutshell, Jennifer Reese records her experiences making 120 kitchen-related things from scratch and tells you whether or not it is worth “the trouble”. I heard about this a few years ago on NPR and the whole concept stuck with me. Ok, raising my own chickens to get eggs, to eventually make into baked goods, has zero appeal to me. BUT when I find that I “need” something I could possibly sew or build myself, I can’t resist that DIY pull. I like the challenge of drafting out a new project, figuring out what I would need and seeing something through to the end. I especially like it when that end product is something that will be used and appreciated every day. My thriftiness is a double-edged sword, however. Take, for instance, the time I was 2 minutes away from sewing the last handle on this car quilt for Charley and my sewing machine failed. I must have gone through something particularly thick, or maybe my needle was getting dull. Either way, I kind of “forced it” because I was SO CLOSE to finishing and that’s when something really went wrong. Without boring you with details, I ended up finishing the quilt by hand and looking up Youtube videos on how to fix my sewing machine because I didn’t want to spend money on professional repairs. Fast forward a day and a half and I have my entire machine open with screws and other miscellaneous pieces in piles. I told myself that I could handle it and put my machine back together, but I knew that I was way in over my head. Those things are complicated! Thanks to my darn DIY sensibility, I probably now have an even bigger repair bill on my hands. The sewing machine (minus a few screws that I had leftover?) is now put away out of sight so I can just avoid the thought all together.


But hey, Charley sure is happy about her new quilt (and I’m happy that I don’t have to drag a vacuum out to my car every other week)!

How to Make a Dog Quilt for Your Car


– *2 yards of a durable fabric. I chose 59″ Duck Cloth Canvas for muddy or dusty days!

– *2 yards of soft and cozy fabric like 59″ anti-pill fleece

– *2 yards of either batting, old towels, more fleece…something thick to sew in-between the two sides of the quilt.

– Double fold quilt binding, 2-3 packs if each pack is 3 yards (you can make this yourself or buy it, depending on how much patience and time you have!)

– 2 yards of Cotton Strap (Webbing)

– Thread

*These are approximate measurements for a Honda Fit. I recommend measuring your car before you get started! It only takes a second!*

To start, measure the inside of your back seat and take note of where the head rests are placed (because that’s where the quilt attaches). If you want your quilt to become a “hammock” like I have pictured, double the height of the seat/chair.

Lay out the duck cloth canvas, the thick batting, and then the soft fleece on the floor. Cut the pieces so that they’re all the same size and then pin to keep the layers together. I used a long ruler to mark out my quilting lines in a diamond pattern (3″ x 3″) and then I got to sewing! It was easier to start quilting from the center…this is the longest step and takes tons of thread. Just be warned! When that part is done, you’ll be happy you quilted. It’ll look awesome and your friends will be impressed with your handiwork!

The last step is finishing the edges with binding and sewing the loops for the headrests. If you want to be fancy, you can use buckles for the loops so that you don’t have to mess with the head rests…but I got cheap. Hey, an extra $16 saved in buckles is $16 towards fixing my sewing machine…

I spent around $25 for the entire project, but you can be super thrifty and spend close to nothing if you have spare towels and sheets around!


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