Update February 10, 2015 – New sizes available
I have added instructions below for materials and cutting for medium and small PVC dog cots as well as the original large PVC dog cots. The small size looks so cute when next to the large one.
I went to buy smaller diameter PVC for the medium and small and didn’t like the amount of flex (bending) in 1″ PVC so all 3 sizes are designed using 1 1/2″ PVC. Make the legs shorter for the smaller sizes.
All the general instructions remain the same — just use the correct set of measurements you need for your dog.
If you don’t sew I will be selling the slings for all three sizes so see Large, medium, and small dog cot slings for sale for details.
Update 2/15/2015 – let me know if you need a specific size
Sarah contacted me yesterday asking if I could help her with measurements for a dog cot that would fit inside their dog crate. Since I had done my calculations for the new medium and small size cots in Excel I was able to come up with all the measurements fairly easily. If you need a specific size, let me know and I will help if I can. Just don’t go too small since the slings get harder to put on small frames.
I had a reader request I sew one set of slings for the PVC dog cots and send them to her so she could then sew two more for her 3 dogs. I figured a step by step tutorial on how to do it might be warranted.
This is basic sewing so anyone can do this project. All that’s required are straight rows of straight or zigzag stitches so it would be a good beginner project.
This tutorial is based on using 1 1/2″ PVC pipe and fittings only for a 30″ by 36″ bed for a large dog. Before making, be sure you have the floor space to accommodate the bed. If you have a smaller dog and want a smaller bed you will have to calculate different measurements. If you need help doing this you can contact me.
What you need for the project:
The first thing you will need to track down is the elbows that will be the corners of the bed. You can find the elbows on Amazon and they are also available at US Plastics and other places. Update: when I made my first cots these 3 way elbows were not available locally. Appears the big box stores carry them now, which makes this project even easier.
You can go to your local big box home improvement store to find 1 1/2″ pvc in 8 ft. lengths. It’s reasonably priced.Look for 3 way elbow fittings and for this tutorial they must be 1 1/2 inch.
Cutting the PVC
They sell PVC cutters that work amazingly well. I didn’t have one for this size PVC so I cut the pipe with my compound miter saw. Cut the pipe into 2 32″ and 26″ pieces. When fitted into the elbows this will create a frame with the outside dimensions of 30″ by 36″.
You will also need 4 small pieces for the legs. I recently increased the legs on mine after finding out one of my dogs has arthritis in her spine and I want to make sure she’s suspended above the floor. 4″ or 5″ legs would work fine for smaller/younger dogs.
I’ve tried 100% cotton, cotton/polyester blend, and Cordura. 100% cotton stretches a lot. Cordura is exceedingly tough, but I don’t like it because it’s noisy — every time the dogs move around on their beds it’s very noisy. I like cotton/polyester the best. The cotton makes it soft for the dogs and the polyester makes it durable.
The important thing about the fabric is that it must be over 48″ in width (you will need to cut the selvages off). The last fabric I purchased was Crosstalk Target at Joann which is a 65/35 cotton/poly blend that is 53″ wide. If it’s not on sale make sure you have one of their 40% off coupons – the coupons can be loaded on your smart phone. If you buy another fabric make sure it’s machine washable and at least 48″ wide.
How much fabric you’ll need
Cutting out the fabric
These instructions are written for someone with little sewing experience, so forgive me if you are an experienced seamstress.
Note: Cut the edge selvages off before measuring and cutting the slings.No pattern needed. I use a T-square to square up the fabric and make straight lines for cutting, marking the lines with a chalk pencil and then cut. I always buy a little more fabric than required because fabric stores often don’t cut the fabric straight. Once you square it up you can lose a couple inches, so better to be safe than sorry.
Sewing the slings
That said — you don’t need an expensive sewing machine. My expensive machine died and no longer had replacement parts available and I wasn’t in the mood to spend $1,500 to $2,000 on a machine. I purchased a cheap machine and it does just fine for basic sewing. Cheap machine = okay. Cheap thread = not okay.
The ironing board and iron are both your friends. If you want to turn out a decent sewing project they are almost more critical than the machine you sew on.
Sew outside hems
After the panels are cut use an iron to turn 1 inch hems on the sides of the panels. You can go the further step of then folding the seam under again for the 1/2 inch hem you want in the end, but I find ironing the 1″ fold makes it easy to tuck the 1/2 inch under for the finished seam while I’m sewing — but I’ve been sewing since I was 5 years old, so the extra step of folding under the hem may be easier for those of you new to sewing.
Sew the 4 outside hems. A single line of stitching is fine
Sew end pockets for PVC tubing
Use the iron to turn under a 1/2″ hem on each end of the slings.
Fold the ends under 4″ to form the pockets and pin. Double and triple check before sewing that the finished length of the wide sling is 31 1/2″ and the finished length of the narrow sling is 37 1/2″.
The most important thing is the finished length of each sling. If they are too long they will droop on the floor and defeat the whole purpose of the bed. If they are too short you won’t be able to assemble the bed.
When you are sure you have the correct length, stitch the pockets. I do three rows of stitching since these are the seams that will take the most abuse from the dogs jumping on the beds. I have two 75 lb. dogs who at times both leap on the same bed — I haven’t had a seam fail yet. The zigzag stitch is very strong, so you can use that as well. Just make sure the pocket for the PVC pipe is 6 1/2″ total or 3 1/4″ folded since the circumference of the 1 1/2″ PVC is 6″.
You have your finished slings and you’ve cut the PVC pipe to the required lengths. You also have you PVC elbow for the corners and the short pieces for the legs. You are ready for assembly.
The first three corners will be easy. If you’ve sewn the slings to the correct length, the final corner should be a pain to assemble because everything will be tight. That’s a good thing, so don’t worry. Note: as the cots get smaller they are harder to get that last corner on so the medium and small are hard, but doable. You want the fabric to be tight, so don’t get upset if it a bear to do the last corner.
I have assembled the beds in a multitude of ways. I prefer to put the slings over the appropriate length of pipe and then added the corners. The 4th corner should be difficult to do — you may have to tilt the opening of the corner and work the pipe into it.
The beds are easy to dismantle so the slings can be run through the washing machine. The PVC can easily be wiped down as well. After washing and drying the slings just reassemble.
If you have any questions please contact me.
I have a couple of large slings for sale as of 9/16/2014 and will remove post when they sell.