MillWorks: Piggy Bag

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The Amazing Piggy Bag


"Why are we in two separate sleeping bags? These were made for sharing!"

Only three seams (honest!) are needed to create this two-section sleeping bag! Add on to that, no cutting the fabric, no hand-sewing involved, and no exposed seams or threads for guinea pigs to nibble on. I designed this many years ago for my pets, have made a bunch of them, and it still shocks me how quick it is to whip one up. It may be a little confusing at first, but once you sew one you'll probably remember how! The bag is sized just right for other small pets like ferrets, as well, and you can add hardware to the bag to make a hammock! They're great for cages, and they're wonderful for holding your piggies in. Guinea pigs can really nestle into these (my cavies are posed a bit more exposed than they have to be), and two can fit in them comfortably. These beds are so versatile, you'll want more than one! And, best of all, guinea pigs love them.

As for the fleece, when you make your own things, a world of possibilities opens up to you! Licensed fabrics can't be used for resale. But since these aren't for selling, you can make just about anything, including using licensed fleece featuring things like popular cartoon characters and sports teams.

Does this sound too good to be true? It isn't! The big secret to this pet bed is in some strategic folding. So, let's get started!

At the fabric store, purchase a 1/2 yard of fleece on a standard-width bolt. You can make more than one by getting multiple fabrics (for variety) or a larger cut of the same fabric. Just make sure to cut larger purchased cuts to 1/2 yard along the cut edge, not the selvedge edge, to make sure you're getting the length needed. I've frequently made these sleeping bags with a little bit less than 1/2 yard. But, remember, if you're only making one, the store will do the only fabric cut this project requires. Yay! (That being said, I personally like to cut the selvedge off before getting started.)

Now, take that fleece home, and we'll get this project finished in a flash!

Optionally, cut the selvedge off along each short end. I know I said no cuts involved. Don't hate me! This step is optional, but I like to cut it off since it just looks better and most sewers would tell you it has to come off. If you leave it on, make sure not to sew the following seam on the selvedge as it won't behave the same way the rest of the fleece does--sew closer in on the fleece. I would also recommend sewing the turning hole closed (when finished) since the selvedge edge may look munch-able to the rare cavy who finds it.

Start by bringing both short ends together, right sides together, and make a seam with your sewing machine on the short edge (selvedge edge). Wait! This seam is the most important one in the project, so let's talk about it for a little bit! The seam should be made in two parts, with a gap in the middle that's large enough for turning. Each of the two sections of the seam should be backtacked very securely so that the stitching doesn't rip out. If the hole is small enough and your guinea pigs aren't curious (this hole will be in the center of the base (underside) of the bag when finished), then there's no need to hand-sew it shut (at the end of the project) since fleece doesn't fray. The whole project can squeeze through a gap of around 2", depending on fleece thickness. Leave however much makes you feel confident you can turn the project.

When sewing, seam allowance isn't overly important. Just make sure you're getting each layer of fleece captured in the seam. I tend to do a very generous seam allowance when making these.

When you're all done with this stitching, you'll be left with a really short and wide tube.

Now it's time for the amazing stuff to happen!

Reposition the seam so that it's at the center top of your loop. Then, push the two long ends into themselves and toward the center until they meet at the center and are sandwiched inside. This illustration shows how this should look from the side:

It will take a bit of finagling, but try to get everything as even as possible.

Holding all four layers together, sew along the two raw edges (where the fabric cut is). Do not sew the folded ends. Seam allowance isn't important, but make sure you're getting all four layers of fabric at the same time. After sewing, cut off any loose threads.

It should look something like this when all three seams are sewn:

Don't worry about having straight seams, perfectly lined up raw edges, or your turning hole being exactly in the middle. Once everything is hidden inside, no one will notice!

Turn the entire project right side out through the little turning hole. Once the fabric is turned, you may be left with something that doesn't look quite like the ones in the photos (for example, you may end up with one pocket on either side!), but it will just require some re-folding on the outside to get it to look right.

Lastly, if the turning hole looks large, you know your cavies are curious and will check out the base of the bag, you left the selvedge on, you like a more finished look, or you have any other concerns, please hand-sew the small hole closed (using an invisible ladder stitch). I don't sew the holes closed and have never had a problem, but it's always better safe than sorry if you have any concerns.

Here's the sleeping bag I made after writing up the instructions, to make sure they're followable (and also to give my cavies for Christmas). It's so much fun looking at fleece fabrics available at fabric stores and knowing you can have any of those fabrics (as long as they're on standard-width bolts) as a cavy bed!

From my cavies and me to you and yours, we hope this is something you really have fun making. It can help enrich your relationship with your pets if you make something special for them, and this is a very easy project to start with!

Says:

I designed this bag so many years ago, but have been hesitant to share it since sometimes you're most protective of the ideas you come up with that are deceptively simple. If you want to share this with others, it's okay to link people here: http://millworks.webs.com/piggybag.html, but don't put this on your website, sell your homemade bags, or claim the design as your own. It would make me very happy, though, if you made them for your own pets, as gifts for your friends' piggies, and for animal rescues and shelters.

The reason I finally decided to share this is because my guinea pigs love these, and they're so easy to make, even if you're new to sewing. These sleeping bags have even helped me when bringing new guinea pigs home, to hold them and help tame them. I hope this bed design will help enrich your guinea pigs' lives.

Did you know I just love guinea pigs so much I write and illustrate books about them (a few are shown below)? Please check out my books and author page on Amazon.

Have fun!

Providing crafts since October 2011. Piggy Bag created super long ago, but online since December 2014. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Mielissa J. Taylor. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind.