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.

Oye.

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

Materials:

– *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!

Saving Sad Chairs, One at A Time

My heart breaks for sad, forgotten furniture.

Every 1st week of the month, the alleys of Santa Monica are chalk full of forgotten treasures. People move out, get lazy, and discard some really great stuff in the alley or on the sidewalk because they don’t have time for a garage sale or a good will drop-off. In most cases, part of the item is damaged but there are parts that can be reused or re-imagined to serve a different purpose! Other times, the item is just a little dirty and needs some TLC. Their loss? My gain! My favorite sidewalk find to this day is my golden wicker wing chair – it was dusty and dirty but otherwise in perfect condition. The wicker is even 100% in tact! I came to the conclusion that maybe someone died in it, but shrugged it off and now it’s one of Moby’s favorite cuddle spots. If a spirit is in the chair, then I think he or she is kind and obviously likes cats. We can share.

Unfortunately our apartment has gotten to the point where we can’t take in any more furniture fosters. Maybe one day I’ll have my own garage where I can properly restore and reupholster furniture…but until then, I’ll continue to pawn off these projects to my sister and friends.

A few months ago we came home to this gem sitting next to the trash can in our alley.

Chair - Before

We were coming in from the airport with Jackie’s parents (who got to witness my weakness in person) and instead of helping everyone unload the car, I immediately went over to check out the bones of this chair. Who could toss this?! Similar styles  (like the Kennedy chair pictured below) run for $900+ at stores like West Elm and Room & Board and I knew it would be a relatively easy reupholster job, requiring little fabric. Even before I could convince my sister to take it, Jackie’s dad swooped it up and put it in her car. Yay!

It took us a few more months to actually get the job done, but it honestly was as easy as I anticipated! I told Nats to keep all of the original fabric pieces in tact so that we could use them as templates and she stained the wooden sides herself. For this project, I wanted to see if I could pull off cording and I totally did! I think it finishes off the edges nicely. If we were to do it again (and the beauty of it is we can!), we’d purchase some new padding since it’s a little lumpy but at least now she doesn’t have a stained, yellowing vinyl chair sitting in her living room.

chair-after

New chair for $30 and a fun evening with a staple gun, cheese and my sister. About $870 saved. It’s simple.

Inspired by this post and want to spruce up some of your furniture? Breanna Rose shared this awesome Etsy shop that creates custom legs for Ikea furniture! For just $30, you can easily customize an ‘ol Karlstad sofa! Gawd, I love the internet.

My favorite, Wiksten Tanks

I hate to admit it, but sewing has taken a back seat ever since we moved to a new apartment. I used to have a designated area that served as a sewing “studio” where I could keep my machine, tools and messes out for days. Now, in a smaller apartment, I have a desk, a box for all my tools, and a trunk for fabric, trinkets, zippers etc. My desk is in our living area (in plain view for everyone to see) and I hate leaving everything out overnight. Mild OCD or something. I think this is why I haven’t been sewing lately…a mix of not wanting to make a mess and the lack of time to complete a project. But, enough excuses! I’m already boring myself writing them out…

The truth is, I missed sewing and I also wanted something new to wear so I got my butt to the local fabric store hoping that a pattern would stand out. I was immediately drawn to this bright and beautiful blue…

Wiksten Tank by Naomi

Wiksten Tanks are my go-to for when I want to make something easy, wearable…and fast. The pattern is fool proof and I’m proud of myself every time I do a clean french seam! Spring/Summer is here so hopefully I’ll be whipping out more of these bad boys. Maybe I’ll try something with sleeves next time but that sounds so daunting!

(Wiksten Pattern That I love So Much)

Sneak Peek: Reupholstered Dining Set

Totally slacking on posting photos of the new space. I have this unrealistic hope that it’ll all come together at once (and quickly). So far it isn’t happening that way!

Here’s a little sneak peek of a close-to-finished nook. I love
Jackie’s growing collection of botanical illustrations mounted on newsprint. Also, take note of the crown molding! We’re growing up!

The dining set was a labor of love. We polished the wood, saved the original labels, and recovered the retro orange seats. I’m not sure if the original seats got itchier with time or if these things were always itchy, but lets just say that they weren’t the most comfortable. Not to mention the vintage smell and mysterious stains. It was a huge pain to remove all of the staples (apparently the Swedes love their staples!) and we had to work with a weird latex foam seat that was glued to the wood base. Once we got that out of the way, we covered the seats in a new fabric that was found in the Fashion District in downtown LA. I’ve been hoarding this
amazing cut of Indonesian textile for almost a year and a half and
I’m so pleased to see it go somewhere in plain view all the time!
I love the vibrant colors and the tribal pattern. Best of all,
it’s super soft and durable.

On to the next project!



MORE DETAILS:

Table: Craigslisted off of a really sweet couple in Westchester. The husband found this beauty in a Goodwill and he restored it with Howard’s Feed & Wax. We lucked out when it ended up being too large for their new apartment!

Chairs: Found at the legendary Pasadena Rosebowl Flea Market after scouring through dozens of over-priced mid-century dining sets! We got a deal when I noticed that some of the caning was damaged…doesn’t bother us, but got us a nice fat discount. We can always restore the caning when we are feeling rich. Or not!

DIY – I AM. Zippered Yoga Mat Bag

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Goal: sew a yoga  mat bag with zippers so that I can cart around my fancy new Jade yoga mat without getting it covered in dust, dirt and cat hair. The Jade yoga mats are made of a heavy-duty rubber that grips so it isn’t suited for your typical mag bag with the synch on top.

Inspiration: These amazing “I AM.” Yoga mat Bags

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Since I am cheap and refuse to spend $80 on a bag for my yoga mat, I decided to figure it out on my own (with some guidance from mom, of course)!

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This was the first time I had ever attempted a zippered inside pocket and if you are ever going to tackle this on your own, this tutorial was extremely helpful. It’s not hard at all if you go step by step but the end result is so rewarding!

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Sewing 2 linings with zippers inside one large tube was another hard concept to wrap my mind around but once I was putting the whole thing together, it made sense. This tutorial on making a zippered pouch made my life much easier. Honestly, I don’t know what people did before the internet! I’m guessing a lot of ripping seams, sewing stuff backwards, and starting from scratch.

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My end result is super functional as I can fit my mat, my mat towel, a hand towel AND an outfit in there…and check out the grommets! Pretty excited about those. I also looooooove the lining fabric that Jackie found in clearance! The blend of cool and warm colors make me happy and I can’t wait to turn it into something else since I have so much leftover!

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