Monday, 29 January 2018

DIY Giant Lips Squeaky Softie Valentine's Day Dog Toy


Smmmmmmoooch! Young master Humphrey-Hot-Lips is loving his newest squeaky toy. This Valentine's Day DIY dog toy was a quick and easy craft - much simpler than some of our fancy embellished squeaky toys, but still tons of fun!  The centre seam really completes the lippy look, and the toy looks exactly the same on the front/back.

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. Basic sewing skills are needed - nothing too fancy or difficult!

To make your own squeaky lips Valentine toy, you will need pre-shrunk/washed sturdy red (or other Valentine coloured) fabric, complementary coloured thread, stuffing, squeakers (optional), and scissors/sewing tools. I used the same red fabric as our Love Bone dog toy from my craft stash leftovers. Yay for stash busting crafts! 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 lip shapes of strong fabric for the main body of the toy. Lips are pretty easy to free-hand (folding the material into half, as shown, is a sneaky way to make a symmetrical shape) but if you aren't comfortable free-handing, there are plenty of free outline lip shapes online that you can print and use as a pattern. I layered my fabric and cut both lips at the same time to keep things matchy matchy. Scale to suit your pet and available materials. 
  • Optional: As a lesson learned from working with this particular fabric in the past, it can be tricky to inverse without pulling/fraying the free edge along the gap, so I like to sew a small seam between the seam allowance and edge in the section of the pieces that will be left open for the gap.  
  • Layer your lip shapes right-side-in and sew together along the seam allowances, leaving a gap for inversing and stuffing. 
  • Trim any excess threads/material.  For inversing a shape like this, it can be helpful to trim the excess fabric from the corners at the sides of the lip to inverse to a sharper point and/or trim the seam allowance near the bow of the top lip to help reduce bunching when inverted.  
  • Optional: If you'd like to reinforce the edges, you can sew a second seam line between the seam and the edge or overlock the edges. I overlocked my edges, except at the bow (trimmed narrow) and corners (points trimmed). 
  • Inverse through the open gap to right-side-out.
  • Sew a seam line in the middle of the toy to partially separate the two lips. Don't sew this all the way to the corners of the toy else you will block your ability to stuff the toy fully. I also think that the toy looks better with fuller corners at the sides of the mouth, and Humphrey is a big fan of stuffed pointy bits on his toys.  The corners are prime grabbing, nibbling, and shaking points.
  • Stuff the toy and (optional) add squeaker(s). You will need to work the stuffing into position along the top/bottom sides of the lips and into all corners and curves for a full mouth shape. A long semi-blunt object can be handy for extending the reach of your fingers inside the toy. I used my closed pen. Easy peasy.
  • Fold the gap seam allowance into the toy and sew the toy closed. Caution: Accidental squeaking while stuffing/sewing may result in dog theft attempts from your craft table before you finish the project. I almost always end up accidentally squeaking and Humphrey always gets very excited. :)
  • 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.


2 comments:

  1. Hello! I love all your dog toy tutorials. For the Giant Squeaky Lips, which kind of fabric did you use? Is there a kind that's especially pet-friendly, not treated with weird chemicals, etc? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jeanne! The lips were made with a heavy woven fabric, but from a local craft/sewing store.

      Unfortunately, most fabrics and ready-made products have some form of chemicals in/on them. Natural organic fabrics (cotton, wool, hemp, bamboo) with eco dyes are probably the closest you can get to chemical-free/safe materials, but they are often far to soft for dog toys (at least for my dogs). If your dog is smaller or a gentle player, they might work for you. It can be difficult to find fabrics that are sturdy enough to stand up to big dog play that are all natural and, if dyed, colourfast for washing/chewing/drooling.

      There are some certifications/standards, like GOTS for organics or OEKO-TEX than can help identify materials that are free from some of the worst chemicals.

      I do try to shop with care, but prioritise durability. Ingesting threads or pieces of a toy is a serious pet safety risk (you can read more about safety here). I know that what I'm using may not be perfect, but am still more comfortable with that personal choice than many of the unknowns in ready-made products.

      A few things I use to filter my options are if a fabric smells weird on the roll (you'd be surprised how many do) or can't be washed. Fabrics marketed as "easy-care" like permanent press, stain-resistant, waterproof, anti-static, etc are all signs of extra treatment. Fabrics with printed designs are more likely to have chemicals in their inks, so I work with plain woven/dyed fabrics for toys and make my own designs. I do use colour, but you could use an unbleached and undyed material which reduces the chemical processing.

      No matter what I'm using, I also prewash all my fabrics and materials used for toy making (squeakers and thread not included, of course) and things like beds, blankets, etc. Even "good" fabrics have still be handled, stored, transited, etc. If a fabric might shed a few threads at the cut edges, I bag it and stuffing can also be washed and dried in a zippered mesh lingerie/sweater bag just like a pillow.

      I soak and wash first with strong detergent, and then (for toy materials only) put things back through another wash cycle (plain or with baking soda) to get rid of the detergent residue. I try to wash, dry, and fold right after buying so it's clean and ready to go in my craft stash when I feel like making something. When drying, I always rack/line dry outdoors. I doesn't use a dryer for any of our laundry, but for new materials drying/airing in a sunny breeze can help off-gas lingering residues. Washing doesn't remove all chemicals of course (especially since some of my fabrics are synthetics, so technically are chemicals) , but it does help with the ones most likely to free up during play.

      I know that's probably a much longer reply than you were expecting, but I hope it helps! :) I'm sure you aren't the only one wondering about fabric and material options. Probably something I should devote a post/page to at some point.

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