Hallmark designer and pet parent extraordinaire Susan C. takes great pride in spoiling her fur babies. Knowing that several of her co-workers would welcome the challenge to create their own pet toys from scratch, she got everyone together for a few hours of crafting. Read on to see what they came up with!
Hallmarkers are a special breed of people who love what they do, especially when they’re doing what they love. At a recent workshop, a few Hallmark friends got together for an afternoon of combining their own personal love for their pets with their love of making things. Many “fur-baby” stories and photos were shared while everyone stitched, braided, stuffed and crafted some pretty incredible pet toys. The only thing missing was the pets themselves!
I share my home with two Keeshonden named Elroy Jack and Acapella (because she likes to sing). They are very smart, playful and love being part of their “family pack” at all times. Pella likes to snuggle with pillows, so I made an octopus for her, using soft, cuddly socks. Elroy is very curious, so I decided to make a caterpillar for him with balls inside that squeak. Because Elroy would be putting the toy in his mouth, I thought that coloring the fabric with a natural material was the way to go. I gathered dandelions and hammered them with a mallet onto the fabric to make a bright yellow-green caterpillar. (You can find step-by-step instructions for making this crazy caterpillar dog chew toy here!)
One of Sarah’s two cats is a rescued barn kitten named Marlo Thomas. Both kitties love to watch birds on the deck, so Sarah keeps a bird feeder filled. She’s sure that Marlo is “plotting some sort of plan” for the birds. That’s why she made her a little birdy of her own, so she could live out those dreams.
Karla has two Rhodesian Ridgebacks named Nelson and Wyatt. They are known as lion hounds, originally bred to protect herds from lions in Africa. Because her dogs don’t have to protect anyone from lions, she thought it would be appropriate for them to have a lion toy to play with. Sometimes they can get rough when they play together, so she also made them two pull toys that are tough and tuggable.
Eleanor Jane—also known as Pretty Girl Jane, Sweet Jane, Janer,The Kitty, Freckle Belly,Elle,EJ and JANE—is Leslie’s sweet girl. Eleanor loves chasing frozen peas and rolling around in the grass. On any given day, she can be found sitting wherever the sun is beaming brightest. Leslie thought a toy full of bold colors would brighten up Eleanor’s day. She’ll be sharing step-by-step instructions later in this post.
Terry will tell you that Rylee and Tucker are amazing kitties, and that Rylee is quick as lightning. Both Rylee and Tucker love to play with their toys, particularly the handmade ones. Terry put her illustration talent to work and hand crafted a mini dog and some mini kitties.
I also have two cats named Fiona Daisy and Rufus. Rufus is my snuggler, who is a quiet observer and is content to just watch Fiona play. Fiona is a one-year-old Maine Coon sweetheart who likes to snuggle under the covers. She follows me around and “talks” to me. If I call her by name, she comes running. Quite often I will wake up and find her just sitting on top of me, watching me while I sleep. One of Fiona’s favorite activities is to jump at toys in the air, so I made her a jellyfish swimming among bubbles. (You can download instructions for my jiggly jellyfish cat toy here.)
Jennifer has a feisty kitty named Jayna who loves to play and snuggle. Jen thought a snake-haired Medusa would be fun for Jayna at her feistiest. And for times when Jayna’s dreaming of her favorite treats, Jen made her a cuddly fish with flowing tails.
Azusa love-love-love-loves animals, any animals. She has two cats named Coco Puff and Cream Puff (because Azusa is a foodie). When Coco Puff has a hair cut, he becomes Coco Lion. Azusa also loves nature as much as animals, so she decided to craft some tree branches and a cute bunny for her cats.
Eager to make a few of these treats for your own furry friends? Read on to see how Hallmark designer Leslie S. crafted her feline-friendly pom pom cat wand!
From Leslie S.: I decided to make a little something for my oldest gal, a 14-year-old Maine Coon mix cat named Eleanor Jane. No one in our pack questions this little lady’s alpha status. She’s a sophisticated one who prefers chasing the laser pointer over some silly, store-bought cat toy. So I thought I’d try my hand at creating an Eleanor Jane-worthy kitty wand with a few bits of textile loveliness. And pom poms. (Always pom poms.)
If you’re up to the challenge of amusing your feline—no question, they can be a tough crowd—I highly recommend this pom pom cat wand! If you want constructive feedback, you might even let your fur-kid in on the process of choosing materials. Eleanor Jane takes project managing quite seriously.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Wooden dowel rod
- Flat leather cord
- Glue gun
- Baker’s twine
- Embroidery thread (I went with metallic gold. Because cats and shiny things.)
- Small strips of felt
Here’s what to do:
Drill a tiny hole in one end of the dowel rod, approximately 1/4″ from the end.
On the opposite end, place a small amount of glue and begin wrapping the flat leather cord. Add more glue along the rod as you wrap, enough to create a comfortably sized handle.
This next step is as simple or as intricate as you choose to make it: Create a variety of colorful braids or simply gather together a few straight pieces of whatever textiles you choose (yarn, twine, embroidery thread, woven cord, you get the idea) to add color and length.
Knot each section at both ends, leaving tails long enough to tie it to the next section. I took this opportunity to channel my inner 12-year-old and made some varying lengths of 5-loop-square-braids with yarn and standard braids with sparkly baker’s twine and metallic embroidery thread.
Create enough pom poms (find an easy how-to here) to intersperse between each section of textile material.
And create a tassel or two (find another easy how-to here).
Use baker’s twine or embroidery thread to tie and knot the pom poms between sections of braid.
Repeat to attach the tassels, one to each end.
Attach your string creation to the dowel rod by threading baker’s twine through the drilled hole and tying a secure knot. Before tying that final knot, I topped it off with an extra pom pom for good measure.
If you want to take the embellishing a step further, wrap and straight-stitch a couple of felt tabs along the dowel rod, one near the handle and another at the end of the dowel rod.
Workshop photography by Lindsey Mehlhorn.