Friday, 17 February 2017

DIY Mardi Gras Dog Toy + How to Sew a Multi-Coloured Ball

Laissez les bons temps rouler! With our Mardi Gras coloured DIY dog ball, the good times are quite literally rolling (and squeaking!) around here! You can adapt this doggy DIY to use any colour combination you wish, but since we're posting this just before Mardi Gras our ball is made in the official Mardi Gras colours of purple, green, and gold.  If you're looking for a Mardi Gras doggy DIY but aren't keen on sewing, you can easily adapt these colours into any of our other pawesome doggy DIYs. Even a basic tug would be fabulously fun in purple, gold, and green.  Easy peasy!

The materials and craft supplies used in making the toy shown are:
  • 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. 

To make your own ball toy, you will need suitable fabric(s), complementary coloured thread, stuffing, squeakers (optional), and scissors/sewing tools. 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. 
The ball is assembled as six peels, just like an orange. To create a circle, each peel needs to be 1/2 the circumference long and 1/6th the circumference wide, plus seam allowances all around. If you'd like to see the math, The Shishi Girl has a great graphic. For a little extra Mardi Gras flair, I opted to make each peel with two joined colours (totally optional, of course), which means that my pieces are just a little more than half of a peel, with extra in the middle for joining.  You can see how both methods would work in the mini-template and images below.  I've been experimenting with different heavy-duty fabrics for many of my stuffed doggy toys recently, but since I had the right colours in my craft stash already, my ball was made with standard fleece and reinforced with rip-stop nylon. I cut twelve half peels of fleece (four of each colour), and six full peels of nylon for the ball.

  • Cut fabric for peels. See detailed instructions above.
  • Lay out your pieces, ensure you are happy with the colour combos before sewing. For my tri-colour ball, the colour combinations were P/Y, G/P, Y/G as shown in the third collage picture below.  This gave a nice distribution and was a series of three, which was perfect for my six peel ball.
  • Sew to join the half peels into full peels. Ensure the seam is on the wrong/back side if applicable to your material.
  • Once you have all of the full peels, lay out your pieces in order.  This will help to avoid sewing mix-ups as you join the peels into a ball.
  • Starting from the beginning of your peel sequence, layer the first two peel right-side-in and sew only their adjoining edge together along the seam allowance. This is where I also layered in my rip-stop lining.  Repeat to add each peel incrementally, taking care to join the pieces in the correct order and ensure that you align the center peel join line for a nice clean line on the outside of the ball when finished. Important: where there is one final peel left to join, sew one edge completely but sew the other only part way, leaving a gap for inversing and stuffing.
  • Trim any excess threads/material and inverse to right-side-out.
  • 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. 
  • Trim any threads if/as needed and enjoy!

If you've measured and joined carefully, you should have a nice closure point/seam at the top/bottom of your ball as shown in the final collage picture above, but this can be tricky.  Not to worry!  Option 1: If your ball is securely sewn but a little less than perfect, your dog won't judge. Option 2: Add a cheeky circle patch over the ends.  I've added circles to my ball (which I embellished with a totally unnecessary cross-bone design, just because!) so you can see what I'm talking about. If you do want/need circles, do make sure that they are very securely sewn into place.

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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