Friday, 25 November 2016

DIY Squeaky Softie Christmas Tree Dog Toy

We have some very fun DIY dog toys for you this Christmas and first up is an easy squeaky Christmas Tree. It's one of our simplest holiday DIYs! Since there is no pattern or special shapes needed, it's very easy to scale to your dog/preferences.  It also looks fabulously festive with or without the trunk and/or star if you'd like to simplify.  Squeaky softies are always popular with our dogs and they always want the toy the other is playing with (typical kids!) so I made two squeaky Christmas trees and have hidden them away for their Christmas stockings. :) 

The materials and craft supplies used in making the toys shown are:
  • Polar fleece fabric
  • Scissors
  • Stuffing
  • Squeakers
  • Sewing Supplies Can be fully hand sewn if you wish, but will be much quicker/easier if you have a sewing machine. Basic sewing skills are needed - nothing too fancy or difficult!

To make your own Christmas tree toys, you will need sturdy green fabric, mixed fleece scraps for embellishments (a great use for offcuts!), complementary coloured thread, stuffing, squeakers (optional) and scissors/sewing tools. I used the same green scrap stash fabric as I did for our Frankenstein - the upholstery fabric with bonded fleece backing is a little tricky due to thickness for sewing, especially corner seams, but it is so tough!  Softie dog toys follow the same basic principles as you would use if sewing (or buying) for a small child - no loose parts to nibble free and everything securely stitched into a sturdy toy.

  • Cut two identical triangles of green fabric for your tree, in the desired size of your finished toy plus an all-around seam allowance.
  • Cut long narrow strips of white fleece for garland.  If you have pinking shears, these make a cute edging for your garland.
  • Cut small pieces of coloured fleece for decorations.
  • Cut a strip of brown fleece for the trunk, at the width of the trunk and four times the desired length.
  • Cut a larger piece of yellow fleece for a tree-topper.  Since a star shape will be more difficult to sew securely to the outside of the finished treetop (especially if your tree fabric is thick, like mine!), I opted for a simple circle with pinked edges, and used lines to securely attach it and also create a light-ray appearance.
Tip: Sewing small pieces of fleece can be tricky for pinning, positioning and stitching.  If you wish, you can tack them into position with a non-toxic glue (this will be chewed on, so make sure its non-toxic/edible, whether bought or homemade) or a few quick hand basting stitches.
  • Position your embellishments so that the garland extends into the seam allowance and your decorations are well clear of the edges.  Using complimentary thread colours, sew your decorations securely into place. Do not attach the tree topper at this stage. 
  • Layer your trees right-side-in and sew together along the seam allowances, leaving a gap at the bottom (where the trunk will go) for in versing and stuffing.  Remove off any excess threads and trim the excess fabric from your corners. This is especially helpful for inverting to points if your fabric is thick.
  • Inverse to right-side-out.
  • Optional: Sew an additional seam along the sides of your tree for added strength and style.  If your fabric is too thick to readily sew all the way into the corners, that's ok, just do the edges. Do not sew the bottom.
  • Using complimentary coloured thread(s), sew to attach your tree topper. Tips: If you use yellow on your top thread and green on your bobbin, the stitching will blend on the back of your tree. As noted above, my corners were very thick and tricky for sewing, so I opted to just use straight lines to securely attach the topper as well as create a light-ray appearance. 
  • Add stuffing and (optional) squeaker(s). Don't over-stuff or it will be difficult to close the toy.
  • Fold the gap seam allowance into the toy and sew the toy closed (hand-stitch or machine if you prefer - see step below. 
  • Optional: As per the sides, sew an additional seam along the bottom of your tree for added strength and style.  If you hate hand-closing, you can cheat a little and use this to close the toy at the same time.
  • If adding a trunk, fold the ends of your trunk strip to the center and then fold the trunk in half.  Position as a sandwich onto the base of the tree. Using a complimentary coloured thread, sew securely into place.  I used a vertical seam in the center to secure the strips together and to the tree, then a vertical seem on each side to close/secure the edges of the sandwich, and then a horizontal seam on the top of the trunk. While I also like the trees without the trunk, the added buffer helps to protect my vulnerable closure seam from squeaker seeking fangs. :)
  • Trim any threads if/as needed and enjoy! 

Remember, toys are for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Toys are for playing and playtime is safer (and more fun!) with you involved.  You can read more about dog toy safety here.

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