Like many new dog owners, I am smitten. She is a wonderful companion, and I am always picking up new toys for her to enjoy. Of course, she doesn’t care what the toys are like, she would be happy with an old sock! I do not want her to think my socks are hers, so I decided to try to create some new playthings for her using materials gathered at 1st Rate 2nd Hand Thrift Store. Please always supervise your pooch while playing with toys and take it away if it starts to come apart to keep her from ingesting anything bad for her.
I first started with the yellow octopus toy. Cut a square of tee shirt fabric. If you have a big dog and need to use a large tennis ball, use an XL tee or a jersey skirt. I used a baby dog-toy tennis ball, and a fairly small adult tee.
Remember your high school Geometry? Circumference = Diameter x Pi? Translation? The center uncut portion needs to be a smidge over three times as big as your tennis ball in order to reach all the way around…I used this coaster to estimate my cutting line
Now, simply cut from the edge to the center circle, first dividing the square into fourths and then cut each fourth in half to create eighths.(Illustrated above in red) THEN cut each eighth into thirds. (the blue lines show just one section cut) Don’t worry about perfection. The section size and the straightness of the cuts all disappear in the end product. Wrap the center portion around a tennis ball and tie the neck with a strip of tee shirt yarn (see link below) or strong ribbon/string and knot it well.
Start braiding! Select three strands (it doesn’t matter too terribly much that each braid is actually made up of the original three sections. Just try to make it look neat at the neck.) and braid them tightly, knotting at the end with your tee shirt yarn. Cut the ends to make them look flush. You can sew the ends just above the knot if you have a vigorous chewer. Ta Da! A fun chew toy! My little tennis balls squeek…but next time Lou pulls a squeeker out, I will reuse the ball in an Octopus to extend its life.
Tee Shirt yarn is so easy to make! Here is a link that describes it well. (but if you don’t like this one, Google it, to find another bloggers version or a Youtube video.) It will just take a tee shirt with minimal graphics and a pair of scissors, and about 5 minutes and POOF! Yarn for all sorts of craft ideas. Essentially, you are cutting the tee side to side in a spiral to create continuous yarn. (Screen printed ink/paint doesn’t stretch the same way the plain jersey does. Plus it might flake off in your pup’s mouth. Eww. Just make your first cut below the graphics and you are all set.) You can also just cut shorter lengths. For the black and white striped bits on the Octopus, I had to cut the tee vertically so the stripes would be horizontal, so all I have are pieces about 18″ long, which is all I needed.
The black and pink toy is simply a lanyard or paracord square box knot. You may have made keychains this way back in summer camp. Here is a good photo tutorial for the knot, there are also videos out there if you prefer them. My hot tip, is to do the first box as normal and then TURN THE WHOLE THING UPSIDE DOWN, and work the second box over what used to be the bottom. This way, you will have a finished box on the outside end when you are done. For my toy, I used two pieces of each color, each strand about 6 feet long. I then worked with each color as if it was only one strand. This just fattened up the finished project. I added a tassel on one end and clipped the knot short. (Mostly because I hadn’t developed my Hot Tip yet, and the bottom was a bit loosey-goosey. Had I flipped it like I suggest to you, I might have added a tassel on the knot end instead. Experiment. What do you prefer?
Next up, I made the Tug of War tie toy. Simply cut two slices in a tennis ball. (Maybe your dog did that for you already?) I inserted the folded middle of the men’s tie through the slices. I used a ruler to push it through the ball. Then just added some knots. Talulah still has some sharp puppy teeth and sometimes misses the toy and that hurts. So I wanted a large loop so we can hold on far away from her mouth…but there is no wrong here. If you want a longer toy, use the tie without doubling and try two tennis balls. Live dangerously. Innovate!
I call the striped circle toy The Virus. That was an inadvertent resemblance… Made with two circles of wool sweater that had been washed in hot water. You could also use fabric store felt or an older fleece blanket or even a sweatshirt. The “tags” are Talulah’s favorite thing to chew on. They are made with seam binding, from the thrift store. I made them loops, that go all the way through the circle. This way each one is sewn twice, on each side of the circle, perhaps making it harder for her to pull it out. Time will tell. I sewed once around to secure the tags. Added a slightly crumpled flat piece of cellophane gift wrap, and put the top on, sewing on top of my first stitch line. The internet says you can use a washed chip bag too. (I would cut the bag open to minimize the chance of suffocation should your dog get inside the toy. But I may be a little overprotective. (…my kids would say “MAYBE??”) The cellophane makes a great crinkly noise that dogs and babies love.
Finally, Lou got a little Collar Corsage for her TV debut, made out of felted sweaters. I used a bit of non-toxic glue to hold the pieces in place while I sewed them on my machine. I backed it with another circle of felt that has little slices in in for her collar to go through. So cute!