DIY Home Decor Pet Projects

How to make DIY Dog Silhouette Art

I have been a dog owner for over 20 years. My dogs are my children, which means I need to hang large pictures of them around my house.  While I want all my guests to admire my adorable pet portraits, I don’t want to look like the crazy dog lady.  So, instead of full-blown oil-paintings of my dogs in gilded-gold frames (btw no judgment for anyone who goes this route), I have opted to create DIY dog silhouette art.  I love doing silhouette style art, as you don’t need to be an artist. You just need to be able to trace. I created painted silhouettes for my first two fur babies that still hang in my dining room.  These worked so well because they both had very distinct profiles.  The portraits captured their individuality perfectly. 

I tried to apply this similar technique to creating the profile silhouettes for my new girls, but it didn’t really capture them. They are sisters and while they look similar, they have distinctive personalities and the painted portraits just didn’t capture that.  So, I decided to go for a cut out approach, which honestly was much easier. 

Cameo silhouettes
While these were cute, they just didn’t feel like I had captured their personalities.

Step One: Capture the Personality

You need to start with a good picture.  A picture that is not head-on will give you more to work with, but I also like one that shows the dog’s personality, as well.  I found that running around outside with my dogs first gave them a cuter mouth-open, playful look.  If I woke them up from a nap, they would’ve just looked sleepy or complacent (which is not either of them).  

Step Two: Outlining

You can outline it in several different ways.  The easiest is to print it out and then use a pen to trace the shape you want.  Most of us are better at tracing with our hands than doing it on a computer.  To capture a little more of each dog, I had a few places where I followed the natural line of the ears or the paws to cut in.  Once you have the basic outline, I think it is helpful to color it in with a black marker.  This will give you a sense of how the final project will look and if the silhouette will read how you want it to.  If you have a tablet or feel skilled with photoshop, you can also do this step on the computer.  I just pulled the picture into pages on my iPad and traced it that way.  Because I was using a tablet, it felt just like tracing with a pen.   

Dog silhouette on ipad
I started by outlining on my iPad, but you can also print and do this by hand.

Step Three: Printing to Scale

Once I knew how I wanted the profiles outlined, I wanted to print it larger than one piece of paper.  For me, the easiest way to do this was by converting my design to a pdf and opening in Adobe Acrobat.  Adobe has an option to print a tiled image.  This allowed me to increase the size to 150% and it printed across four pages that I then taped together.  You may not need to do this depending on how large you want your final silhouette. If you are opting to trace it by hand, you will need to retrace the profile following the same lines you did before.  This will help guide your cutting in the next step.  You don’t need to color it in, as you already have a sense of how the final will work.  

Step Four: Cutting out the profile silhouette 

Take your print out of your dog profile and tape it on top of your cardstock.  You can optionally get rid of some of the excess white around your pet first.  Once it is securely taped, place it on a cutting mat and use an Xacto knife to cut around the silhouette.  It took me about 20 minutes per dog.  However, I did this as I watched silly TV.  I found having something on in the background, kept me from rushing and I took my time. Other folks might find it distracting, but it was kind of relaxing for me.  

Cut outs of dog silhouettes
After the silhouettes have been cut out. Then I used spray adhesive to attach to the white background.

Step Five: Framing

I reused old frames that I already had.  I was able to just flip the picture around and attach the cutout silhouettes to the back.  If you aren’t able to do that you just need the background (out of cardstock or thicker) cut to the correct size.  I then used 3M spray adhesive on the back of the silhouette and placed it on the background.  You want to spray the silhouette and not the background.  If you spray the background, you will have extra sticky stuff in place you don’t want it.  Once it has dried, then put it in your frame and hang it up.  While I love my painted portraits, this was so much faster as I did not have to wait for any paint to dry. 

If you like the nightstands under the portraits, you can check out that tutorial here.

DIY Home Decor Pet Projects

Easy DIY Double Dog Crate Plans

Dog crates are ugly.  They are big giant cages in the middle of our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and if you have two dogs . . . it’s even worse.  I know there are some dog owners that are anti-crate, but for my girls the crates are a safe place to snuggle for the night, eat a treat, or just hangout. While standard dog crates are not pretty, they are affordable.  I had tried to find double dog crate furniture at an affordable price, but everything was in the $1000+ range. So, I decided that I was going to use our existing wire crates and create a DIY double dog crate table around them. 

However, all of the online plans for two crates had the longest sides facing forward (which does look really pretty).  They look like lovely buffet tables or sideboards.  Sadly, that orientation just wouldn’t work in our bedroom.  Also, most of those plans looked like they required more time, money, and skill, then I was ready to put into this project. So, I took what I liked from several plans and put together my own version of a super easy DIY double dog crate.  

One of the challenges during this DIY was that I could only use materials that I already had on hand.  Who made up this rule, you say? Well. . . Thrifty Ellen and I had challenged each other to a “Use what you’ve got” Design Challenge.  This was mostly because it was in the middle of the pandemic and we didn’t want to go to anywhere.

For your reference, this crate cover was made to go over two 36 inch crates.  While I will give my measurements, you should definitely measure everything for your situation. If you want to be able to slide the crates in and out from under the crate furniture, you should add on a few inches to all of your measurements. You could also modify these plans to go over just one crate as well. 

Cutting the wood for your dog crate:

For the legs, I cut the following out of ¾ inch Nelson* wood: 

  • Four 2.5” x 26” (part A in diagram)
  • Four 1.5” x 26” (part B in diagram) 

For the top braces:

  • Three 2.5” x 47” (part C in diagram)

*Nelson wood is wood that Home Depot delivered to us by mistake with another lumber order in the middle of the quarantine.  I would have taken it to Nelson, but figured they might not want wood that had been hanging out in a stranger’s garage for a few days until they discovered it with a sticker saying “Nelson” on it amongst the rest of their lumber.  Nelson—if you are out there: I hope Home Depot brought you a new delivery and know that your original wood did not go to waste.

For the crate top surface I used ½ inch thick plywood that had once been part of the base of a platform bed.  It was already cut into planks that were 3 ⅞ inches wide.  I needed 13 planks to cover the top of the two crates.  I stained it with minwax special walnut 224 and then added two coats of minwax polycrylic finish (which were both leftover from my nightstand project).

Close up of top corner of crate.

Constructing the frame:

First, I placed A & B together at a right angle (see diagram) and then attached with three wood screws—one at the top, one at the bottom, and one in the middle. Before I put in the screws, I did pilot holes with a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw. Create four of these posts, by combining your remaining A & B pieces. 

Next, take two of the posts and place one of your C pieces on top of them (kind of like a bridge).  I oriented mine so that side A would face out when I put it on the crate (see diagram).  Drill pilot holes and then screw C to the posts.  Do the same thing for the other leg posts and one of your other C pieces. Your basic frame is now constructed.  I recommend painting or staining it at this stage, as it will be harder to do once it is attached to the crate cover. 

Constructing the wooden crate top:

Note: You could stain all of the top planks before this next step.  I stained mine after putting them together, and only stained the parts that would be seen. 

Carefully, line up all of the planks and get the edges as even as possible.  I used a carpenter’s square to even mine out.  Place the remaining C piece across the boards in the middle.  Then using small nails, add a nail through C and into each plank.  Before you hammer, make sure that the nails won’t go all the way through.  This top piece is really unwieldy.  Each plank acts as its own teeter totter.  If we had more wood, we might have done two cross beams, but once it is attached to the frame it is very sturdy.  If you haven’t painted or stained your top planks, do so before the next step.

Final assembly of your Double Dog Crate

Complete the final steps around your crate, unless you sized yours up and can slide the crates in afterwards.  Ours fits snug enough to hide more of the crate. If we need to get the crates out, we either lift it up and over, or remove the four screws in the top cover.  

Place one of the two “bridge” pieces at the front of the crates and the other at the back (see diagram).  Carefully, place the top cover over the two bridge pieces.  It should rest with one end on each of the bridge pieces and the middle brace should keep it from sagging or bowing in the center.  Drill your final pilot holes, add one screw at each corner, and TADA . . . you have completed your own DIY Double Dog Crate!

So, this was my “Use what you’ve got” Design Challenge Entry.  You can check out Thrifty Ellen’s Entry here.  Let us know who you think won, or better yet share your own version!

Handmade Gifts Pet Projects

Easy Fishy Cat Toys

I made these DIY fish cat toys as a gift for a friend with new kittens.  They were super easy to make and used up the scraps from another project.  Sewing the fish right-side out makes this fast and easy. 

The final quirky cat fish toys

The materials list is pretty short:

  1. Scrap fabric – cotton, heavy felt and upholstery fabric are all good choices
  2. Thread – your stitches will show so choose a color that matches, coordinates or contrasts as you like. I chose colors that matched the fabrics, but alternated them so that each fish had a thread color from one of the other fish. 
  3. Scrap felt, fleece – for catnip pouches and stuffing.  I like using pieces of fabric to stuff animal toys because I don’t have to worry about fiberfill stuffing coming out and being toxic to or choking the animal.  At worst, they will pull out a piece of scrap fabric that is too big for them to eat, and you might find a slobbery wad of fabric on the floor. 
  4. Dried Catnip
  5. Paper, paper bag, etc. for template
  6. Scissors, Pinking Shears (optional)

I started with laundered fabric scraps. You want to make sure no sizing chemicals are left, that might cause harm to your furry friends.  

I drew a fish pattern on a paper bag, which I used for exactly one fish before I realized it was too wide for the rest of my scraps.  I had initially planned for all of the fish to be the same size and shape.  But I had my heart set on using up those scraps, so I adjusted on the fly and ended up with different sizes and shapes. 

Once I cut out my fish bodies, it was time to work on the stuffing.  I’ve had commercial cat toys before that shed catnip all over the house.  I didn’t want to do that to my friend, so I took a little left over fleece and made little pouches to stuff the catnip into.  This also gave the fish a little “body”.  I wasn’t exact about the size or shape of these pouches.  Just snipped a few scraps, folded them in half and sewed two sides, making sure to back-stitch the ends so they didn’t come undone.  Once I had a bunch of little pouches I stuffed them with catnip.  After you’ve stuffed all of your catnip pouches, sew closed the final side of your pouch, again backstitching the ends to make sure they stay closed, these will be treated roughly, so you want to make sure the catnip stays inside.  Insider tip: After completing my first pouch, I made a whole fish and tossed it to my cats to see how they would react.  I wanted to make sure that the fleece wasn’t so thick that they wouldn’t smell the catnip inside.  They pounced immediately and I could tell it was working. 

Once all of my inner pouches were done I placed my two fish halves right sides out and began sewing.  I used the side of my presser foot for the seam allowance and started sewing at the tail, up and around toward the head.  I lifted the presser foot and adjusted the fabric as necessary to sew around the curves, and make clean corners.  

Sewing the fish cat toy closed.
Stuff the fish, while it is on the machine, after sewing halfway around. This saves you from having to pin and sew around the whole fish while it is stuffed.

I sewed around the fish until I was just past the head.  Made sure my needle was down, and lifted the presser foot if necessary.  Then I stuffed the pouches of catnip into the heads and bodies of the fish.  I also cut little triangles of the fabric to stuff into the tails and added some strips or small pieces wherever I thought fullness would be necessary.

Adding fabric to cat fish toy tails
I didn’t want these to be fully stuffed as my cats like floppy toys, so that’s the design I chose.  You can just as easily stuff them as full as you can, while still being able to get the presser foot back down and maintaining your seam allowance. 

Once stuffed, I finished sewing all the way around the fish. 

Sewing around the cat fish toy body.

I finished off the edges by fraying them, or using my pinking shears, to give them each an individual look.

A lovely cat fish toys for your cats or a friend’s.
A bit of leftover ribbon tied around the tails completed the gift.

Looking for other projects to use up scrap fabric? Check out these cute scrap heap monsters!