Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Great Crate Debate

I have a secret, hideous corner of my apartment that has never been seen by the blogging world.  I’ve shown several pictures of my sewing nook which lead you to believe it is the perfect sewing space with nothing out of place. Although I do love it and think it’s great for my needs and perfect in most ways, I have intentionally left out views of the right side of this frequently used space.  See how pretty?
Little do you know -- and little do I like admitting -- that just to the right of my desk is a very unattractive and much neglected doggie corner. Unfortunately, it is the only place I can find to keep the not-so-glamorous dog crates that I use on a daily basis -- and while the puppies are growing and well behaved most of the time, I am still not brave enough to give them free reign of the apartment while I’m at work each day. We’ve been slowly working up to a full day with a few unsupervised hours here and there, but not even close to putting those crates up for good!  Alas, the extremely unattractive but very practical dog crates must stay.  
In my very first post, I explained that there were several ways in which projects of mine get started. One of the more common reasons I tend to begin something new is “to make a necessary and/or functional item coordinate with everything else.”  So, after more than a year of neglect, I have finally decided it is time to take on the task of disguising these eye sores.  You can see how desperately they need help and why I never show this corner of the apartment... oh, how shameful! 
To make matters worse, I have to admit that Nolan’s crate is actually the pink one -- I’m a terrible mother, I know! But, in all fairness, the teal cover was made for Shiloh before Nolan came along and I could not take it away from her.  It was actually one of my very first sewing projects and used to hide in the corner of my room. You can see how pretty it is below, prior to me washing and accidentally shrinking it. Sewing lesson learned: ALWAYS pre-wash your fabric!
One option I considered for the great crate make-over is simply sewing a matching cover for Nolan’s.  The downside to this plan was that I didn’t have enough fabric for a whole second one and wasn’t sure I could still find it. Also, while I do love the cover, there were changes I would make for the second one which would leave me with creating two brand new covers and not enough fabric for either one. The more I thought about the process to create two brand new covers, the less I liked that plan.
I eventually realized that I liked the idea of having one large cover since the crates are always side-by-side.  I looked around for benches to fit over the top of both making it a functional area while also disguising the crates. Unfortunately, nothing I found fit the crates or my budget.  I had thoughts of building my own but realized I didn’t really have the space or the tools to do this in an apartment.
I thought more and more about simple ways to create a bench or table as a way of hiding the crates and finally decided on a process -- I’d like to have a solid wood top with fabric covering all sides.  It probably sounds totally nuts and hard to visualize but as the plan stands now, I’d like to get a piece of wood cut to the length and width of the crates side-by-side. I’ll then paint it to coordinate with my fabric and staple panels to the underside of the wood piece.  I also want to have separate fabric panels over the doors that can be rolled up when the puppies are in the crates, but let down to completely hide them when not in use -- essentially looking like a large bench or table.  The hard surface can act like a table top and I can set dog treats, pictures, or even a basket with leashes on top. 
Also, with fabric only around the outside, it leaves the two sides of the crates which touch completely open so the puppies will be able to see one another during the day. In my mind, I've decided they’ll love seeing one another but still be seperated and have their own space.  Here is the extremely amateur, cartoon-looking makeover that I envision -- can you tell I am NOT the proud owner of Photoshop? 
I’m still searching for the fabric and trying to determine how many yards it will require, but I’m 99% certain my love of blue / teal will be reflected in my choice. I’d also like to find a coordinating pattern for a lining that you’ll see where the teal and pink are in the picture above. In a sewing project a while back, I made pillows to fit inside the crates. Once I’ve decided on a fabric, I’ll sew some coordinating, soft, dog-friendly pillow covers to complete the whole look.
Sadly, the wall above these crates is also bare.  My 'after' vision involves something functional for sewing and other projects so I’m leaning towards a custom, fabric memo board.  I’d be able to display sentimental photos or keepsakes along with all the images I find to inspire my next project.
I hope to make some progress on all these items during the week and weekend so be on the lookout for some updates and after photos.  For now, I’ve got a promising plan in mind and am in desperate need of the perfect fabric!

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