They say to let sleeping dogs lie, so you may as well give them an adorable pet bed to do it on. Simply grab wool fabric that matches your pet's coat, then needle punch their defining features for the cutest little project. (Or big — you can easily resize this tutorial if you have, say, a Great Dane.)
Punch Needle Portrait Pet Bed
What You Need
- Wool fabric for top (the “face” of your pet)
- Backing fabric (recommend wool, flannel or canvas)
- #14 fine Oxford punch needle (will make a ⅛” high loop)
- 2-ply rug yarn
- No-slip hoop
- Embroidery scissors
- Sharpie or tailor’s chalk pen
Good to Know
When using a punch needle, you’ll need a no-slip hoop. A regular embroidery hoop won’t keep the fabric tight enough for the loops to stay in place.
1. Outline Your Design
Pick which pet you want to represent on the pet bed. (We chose a dog.) Choose a wool color that matches the pet’s fur for the “face” fabric.
Using a Sharpie or tailor’s chalk pen, sketch your pet’s features — we did the eyes, nose, mouth and ears — onto the wool fabric.
2. Hoop and Thread Up
Stretch the fabric and hoop up one of your pet’s features. (You will move the hoop around to punch different areas.)
Hold the punch needle with the groove facing up and thread the yarn through the screw eye (aiming the yarn toward the slot). Pull the working yarn back until you feel it slide into the groove. (It should move freely through the needle.)
3. Punch the First Outline
Flip your hoop so the wrong side of the wool faces up. Begin punching the outline and any details on your first feature. (We started with one eye.) To do this, you want to punch your needle through the fabric, pushing it all the way down so the handle hits the fabric. Bring the needle back up, drag the tip across the fabric and insert right next to the previous stitch.
As you punch, keep the needle with the groove facing up and punch away from you. Turn your work over regularly to make sure your loops are all the same height on the right side. If they’re uneven, you’re either lifting the needle too high or not punching down all the way.
4. Fill It In
Once the outline and details of the feature are done, fill in the interior of the outlined shape.
When using a #14 fine “mini” Oxford punch needle, your punches should be right next to each other, leaving a row in between your stitches to prevent overpacking, which makes your design lumpy.
5. Clean Up the Front
After you’re done punching, the front side of your feature will look messy with long ends (aka tails) sticking out and some uneven loops. There may even be loops in the wrong place. Don’t freak out — everyone’s work looks a little funky at this stage.
There are two techniques to help clean things up:
Snipping: Before you move your hoop to the next feature, flip it over so the front faces up. Use embroidery scissors to cut off all the tails that are longer than the loops. If you have some too-tall loops, cut them to the same height as the others.
Poking: For loops in the wrong place, use the point of your embroidery scissors to reposition them, playing around until your loops are where you want them. When you’re done, remove your feature from the hoop.
When you’ve finished your first feature, hoop up the second feature and repeat steps 2-5. Keep repeating until all of your punch needle features are complete.
7. Steam Press
Steam pressing your punch needle features will make them uncurl and lie flat. Run a towel under cold water, then wring it out. With the front facing up, lay the towel on top of your first feature.
With your iron on the highest setting, hold it down in one spot for about 15 seconds. Pick up your iron, move it to a different spot and repeat until you’ve steam pressed the entire area. Continue until you’ve steam pressed all your features.
Cut out a rectangle piece of iron-on fabric interfacing that is slightly larger than each punched area. On the back side of the "face" fabric, iron a patch of interfacing to each punched area to make sure the loops won’t loosen over time.
Repeat with each area until the top panel of your pet bed is complete.
Turn over the entire “face” fabric so the wrong sides face up. Using scissors, trim around the cushion, leaving a 1½” seam allowance all the way around.
9. Prepare the Back
Cut your backing fabric so it’s the same size as the “face” fabric, including a ¼” seam allowance. Pin the two pieces right sides together.
10. Stitch the Pillow
Sew the outer edges of the cushion together using a ¼” seam allowance. Leave a 4” gap along one edge.
11. Flip and Stuff
Reach your hand into the unsewn gap and turn the pet bed right side out. Stuff to desired fullness.
12. Close the Gap
Close the gap by hand sewing a neat row of whipstitches .
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