It’s Official! Celebrating the Adoption of Winifred with a Block Printed Dog Bed

Those of you who have been reading Red House West since early days may remember that we have been “fostering” a dog for the past few months.  “Fostering” only because really it’s been a long trial adoption, and late last week we finally made it official!  I decided to mark the occasion by making a hand-printed dog bed for my Winnie girl.

Winnie enjoying her backyard

These first few months haven’t been without challenges (don’t even get me started about what she did this weekend–I’ll just say it ended with a chicken getting stitches) but despite some lapses she is adjusting well and I’m totally in love with her.

We ask a lot of our animals in this house: Winnie has to get along with: (1) Our angelic but anxious dog Cora; (2) Wolsey the 18 lb. Manx who seems to have a death wish when it comes to dogs and can’t keep himself from rolling his fat body on top of their sleeping faces, and; (3) our sweet cat Cromwell, who can bring out the prey drive in mashed potatoes by running at the slightest provocation.  Not to mention we have a toddler, and I won’t tolerate any canine misbehavior toward her.  Winnie has handled it all, and it’s been a joy watching her settle in and adjust.  She’s a tough cookie and I think she’s had to stand up for herself a lot in the past.  She is also really smart and desperate for connection, and I count myself lucky to be her human.

Wolsey prepares to make his move.

Wolsey prepares to make his move.

To celebrate her official status, I decided to make her a new dog bed.  Have you noticed how ridiculously expensive dog beds are?  They’re just glorified floor pillows, but for reasons unknown they always cost a pretty penny.  And I’ve also never found one that I thought was particularly nice to look at.

Who needs a dog bed when you have a pouf?

Who needs a dog bed when you have a pouf?

The first thing I did was to carve a block to use for printing.  Although it might be a tired motif, I chose an arrow for Winnie as both a symbol of love and also because of her toughness and self-sufficiency (all she needs is a thick plait down her back and she’d be Katniss Everdeen).   It’s a simple arrow, but I wanted to make sure it was straight and the angles were even, so I used my trusty parallel ruler to draw it on tracing paper (in pencil), and then transferred it onto the block.

Red House West

Carving it was easy and only took about fifteen minutes.  The block I used is Moo Carve, and my carving tools of choice are made by Speedball.  After doing some test prints and cleaning up areas that needed to be carved away, I glued it to a clear plastic backing like this.  The backing makes it a lot easier to control when printing, and the fact that it’s clear means you can see your pattern placement.

Red House West

Doodles and test prints.

I set myself up at the dining room table where I could spread the fabric out.  I used basic cotton muslin that I had on hand.  Muslin takes ink nicely, washes well, and is easy to sew, so it’s a favorite of mine.  For the print I did a close pattern and I just eyeballed the placement of each arrow.

Red House West

Red House West

Of course Winnie was standing by to help.

Unstaged photo: she actually printed an arrow with her paws.  Scoundrel.

Unstaged photo: she actually printed an arrow with her paws. Scoundrel.

I think the pattern turned out great–better than I expected.  After the ink dried I heat-set it by ironing it (with another piece of fabric on top to protect the iron in case of wet ink) and set about sewing the bed.  It’s a simple pillow with an envelope style closure.  I didn’t follow a tutorial, but this one looks good if you’re new to sewing.

And here’s the finished product!  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Red House West dog bed

The bed is much more befitting of Winnie’s beauty now, and I like to think that she can feel the love I put into it as she sleeps peacefully next to our bed.  Or not.

Red House West

And now for my plea to you:  if you are thinking of getting a dog, consider adoption.  Winnie is my third rescue and each of them has been truly wonderful.  If you’re in Alaska, definitely check out Bethel Friends of Canines.  It’s a great organization filling an important need, and they partner with the local airlines to fly dogs into Anchorage for adoption.

Who could resist this face?

Who could resist this face?

Thanks for reading along!  We’ll be back on Friday with another edition of Good Score–readers have sent in some seriously great stuff that we’re excited to share with you!

28 responses on “It’s Official! Celebrating the Adoption of Winifred with a Block Printed Dog Bed

  1. Katy Gilmore

    What a wonderful post – I am just a little teary. So happy for Winnie, so glad for you (poster family for pet adoption- you are inspiring). Winnie’s bed beautiful, and so fitting that her love arrow a little reminiscent of the Red House West weathervane! (And I wish the hen happy healing.)

    1. meramatthews

      Thank you Katy! The arrow is reminiscent of the RHW weathervane, I hadn’t even realized it. Fitting given that both RHW and Winnie came into my life (and yours!) at about the same time. xoxo

    1. meramatthews

      Thank you! I like the fabric so much that I think I’ll use it for other future projects–napkins, baby blankets, pillow cases–soon my whole house will be Red House West themed! 🙂

    1. meramatthews

      The rug is from West Elm. Since we’ve only had it for about a year I can’t give you a true test of time report, but I will say that it has held up well so far. The only thing I’ve noticed is that I can see a difference in the texture of the rug on the side that gets more traffic, but probably nothing a good shaking out and turning couldn’t handle. There have been a few cat barf incidents but luckily the rug didn’t stain. 🙂

    1. meramatthews

      Awww, Buffy. I hear you. My first rescue dog Megan was the true love of my life (I say it’s a three-way tie between my husband, daughter, and Megan, but everyone knows the truth). She’s been gone for almost two years and I still miss her every day. And now it’s raining on my face.

  2. Marlene Miller

    Wow. I am so impressed with the pillow! Love the black on the muslim and the close repetition of the pattern. And, you know, I’ve already fallen in love with Winnie.

  3. Panda flannel

    Oof I got a little teary at this part: “She’s a tough cookie and I think she’s had to stand up for herself a lot in the past.” What a lucky dog to have someone be so patient and perceptive with her.

    Also, is that piping I see? Wow! And what did you use as the dog bed insert? I made a dog bed for my ex’s pup to use when they spent the night at my house, and couldn’t figure out what to use for the insert for cheap. I ended up buying two $2 pillows from Target, combining the batting, and sewing it all back up. One night I had unstuffed the pillows and the batting was all rolled together in one huge pillow lump, but not re-enclosed yet – we woke up in the morning to find the puppy had tucked himself in and made himself a huge batting nest, ha.

    1. meramatthews

      Thank you so much, what a sweet thing to say and a dear story too! Yes, I used piping, a first for me, and it was really easy. And now for confession time: the insert I used is actually a dog bed! And it gets worse: when we first got Winnie I went to get her a new bed, and everything was like $80. I was blinded by frustration and I ended up buying the cheapest bed they had: a $15 pillow that has one of the Duck Dynasty guys faces on it and says “buckle up kids, this day just got awesome.” Whatever your feelings are about Duck Dynasty, it is objectively heinous. I didn’t explain this whole bit in the post because I was embarrassed and mad at myself for buying it. One of my perennial resolutions is to improve my consumer ethics, and I felt like this was a real lapse. Anyway, that feels better. The truth set me free (or at least made me more accountable). 🙂

  4. michellet2013

    Great post Mera and a fabulous bed befitting Winnie’s adoption! It’s amazing how these furry critters weave themselves into our hearts. Your merry band of fur friends (talk about personalities) is so fortunate that you’ve opened your home to them and given them a second chance. Thank you!

  5. Susan Glassow

    Winnie’s arrows went straight to my heart — in a good way. You write such funny-tender descriptions. Linking this post to Bethel Friends of Canines is brilliant. Your story telling encourages readers to begin their own trial rescues. Welcome home, Winnie.

    1. meramatthews

      Thank you Susan. When I first saw her picture I felt like I saw a sweetness in her eyes, and I was right. She has a dear heart, and I think once she fully realizes that she’s home for good and matures a bit that the sweetness will be her defining characteristic. I adore her!

  6. Carol Crump Bryner

    I just love everything about this post. You have such a big heart, Mera, and all your animal and people companions are very lucky. And I’m really impressed with your printing job for that pillow. That’s not easy, especially with little furry paws “helping.” That first photo of Winnie in the Adirondack chair would steal anyone’s heart, even a cat person like me.

    1. meramatthews

      Thank you so much Carol! One of the things that I appreciate most about Winnie is that she has always been very gentle with Opal, and over the past few months she has started getting really concerned whenever Opal is upset. If we let her she would sleep under Opal’s crib every night no matter how soft and beautiful a bed we offered her. 🙂

  7. Jeanine

    Thanks for this post! Winnie must be the long-lost twin sister to my parents’ dog, Sophie. She’s also a rescue dog, and the smartest and sweetest one they’ve ever owned. Do you know much about her breed (or mix of breeds)? Their shelter didn’t have much information. And, your post has inspired me to make a similar bed for Sophie. It’s a fantastic design!

    1. meramatthews

      Sophie sounds like a gem! I really don’t know anything about Winnie’s breed–the rescue called her a Delta mix (meaning the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta) which just means a medley of whatever is out there plus sled dog. If I had to guess I’d say maybe a wheaton terrier/husky cross? I’d love to see a picture of Sophie and her new bed! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

      1. Larisa

        Hi! This is such a late reply but I came across your site while searching for some lino prints. We have a rescue that looks quite similar. Check out the breed ‘Berger Picard’ or ‘Picardi Shephard’, it’s pretty interesting and your furry friend could have a mix of that 🙂

        1. Mera Post author

          Thanks Larisa, your pup sounds like a cutie! Winnie would be a lot easier to handle if she had even the slightest hint of the berger picard shepherd sensibilities, but alas, her attitude is 100% terrier. She’s a scoundrel, and I love her for it. 🙂

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