Monday, May 23, 2016

C&C Cage All-in-One Fleece Bedding with Covered Sides Sewing Tutorial

This tutorial to make all-in-one fleece bedding with covered sides for C & C Cages includes cutting diagrams and fabric requirements for 2 x 4 and 2 x 3 cages. You can use the same concept for other size cages but fabric requirements, and likely fabric cutting layout, will differ. Seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise stated. 

Feel free to substitute with other materials, however cutting instructions may change depending on the width of the fabric. 

This tutorial assumes basic sewing skills and knowledge of reading patterns and cutting diagrams.

Fabric Needed:

Prewash all fabric in hot water prior to using.

2 x 4 Cage:
2 yards of 60" wide microfleece or fleece (I prefer microfleece)
5 yards of 42" wide flannel for three absorbent layers
3.5 yards of 42" wide flannel if you are only doing two absorbent layers

2 x 3 Cage:
2 yards of 60" wide microfleece or fleece (I prefer microfleece)
3.75 yards of 42" wide flannel for three absorbent layers
2.5 yards of 42" wide flannel if you are only doing two absorbent layers

Supplies needed for best results:
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter
Acrylic Rulers (I used 6" x 24" and 12.5" square for this project)
Pinking shears to finish flannel edges (or machine that does zigzag stitch)
Sewing Machine and basic supplies

 2 x 4 C & C Cage Fleece Bedding Layout

 2 x 3 C & C Cage Fleece Bedding Layout

60" Wide Microfleece/Fleece Cutting Diagram

WOF = width of fabric (woven selvage to woven selvage)

If you really hate doing exact cuts for the side covers, you can just cut the 13" x width of fabric cuts, trim off the selvage, pin the WOF edge of the 13" x WOF strip to the completed base, sew it to the base, and then trim off the excess when you get to the end. It works out the same.

42" Wide Flannel Cutting Diagram

Note about cutting: You will be folding the fabric down from cut edge to cut edge, not selvage to selvage, in order to get the length needed for the cage.

For best results: Cut flannel with pinking shears (I use a rotary cutter with pinking blade) or finish edges with zigzag stitch to prevent fraying in the wash.

This is what cutting looked like with my cutting mat and acrylic rulers - it is a huge time saver and helps to get the most accurate cuts - well worth the investment if you are going to make multiple sets of bedding:

Piecing the Base of the Bedding - Microfleece/Fleece over Flannel

Microfleece  has a lot of stretch, and regular fleece has some stretch. Flannel is a woven with very little stretch. Sewing these materials together can be challenging. To account for the fleece stretch, the flannel is cut 1" larger. 

Pin all the layers together prior to stitching. After pinning, trim off any excess flannel if needed (more likely with regular fleece). It is probably a good idea to sew some lines through the center of the layers as well to keep them from shifting. I didn't do that, but more out of laziness than anything. Maybe on the next set.

Attaching the Microfleece/Fleece Sides to the Completed Base

For best results: USE A ZIGZAG STITCH especially if you are sewing with microfleece. The zigzag helps allow the fabric to stretch - make my zigzag stitch longer and a bit less wide than usual. If you use a straight stitch, lengthen your stitches.

I like to start and stop stitching 1/2" from the edge of each end, but if you don't want to do that, you can stitch all the way to each end.


Sewing the Cage Sides Together

Match top edges of adjacent corners, pin down, and match bottom edges.
Continue using a zigzag stitch. Sew down the entire length.

And you have a cover ready to use! Here's the first 2 x 4 bedding set I made set inside the coroplast before putting them in the new cage.

Additional absorbent pads:

I use all of my leftover microfleece (my preferred type of fleece for maximum wicking) and flannel to make additional turned and topstitched pads with 2-3 layers of flannel topped by microfleece to use in potty corners of the cage and to catch water bottle drips. I have approximately 6-8 that I use for each set of bedding.

Waterproof cage liner for bottom of cage:

Additionally, I prefer to keep the coroplast as clean and dry as possible underneath the cage. I either line the bottom with disposable dog training pads, or I use an additional layer of absorbency backed by polyurethane laminate (PUL). I do not like to use PUL on the bottom of the all in one system because it just adds too many layers and I feel like the bedding doesn't get as clean or dry all the way through.

To make a bottom layer of extra absorbency and PUL, cut 1-3 layers of flannel and one layer of PUL the same size as the base (or a couple of inches bigger if you want to cover the corners well. Place right sides together, DO NOT PIN PUL - use paper clips or wonder clips. Stitch all around leaving about 6" to turn right side out, then topstitch. Line the bottom of the cage, then put all-in-one bedding in on top of it.

Note about fleece type & washing bedding:

Everything I know about using fleece/microfleece for bedding, I know from cloth diapering.

To help prevent repelling that can occur, refer to cloth diapering charts on the types of laundry detergent that work best to prevent build up. (I use Rockin' Green for hard water) Here is a good chart to refer to.

Build up and subesequent repelling can happen, so it is good to look at cloth diapering sites for information on how to strip the bedding and remove the build up. Here is a good resource for that.

Our new divided setup:
Last weekend we adjusted the cage from one 2 x 4 cage to two connected 2 x 3 cages. I still haven't altered the 2 x 4 bedding to fit the 2 x 3 cages and they are just tucked over the side - they are functional, but you can see the backside of each cage is bunchy where there is extra length. Soon I'll make time to alter the bigger sets.