DIY Cat Toys, or Superfluous Photos of My Cats

Moving in together is an exciting point in any relationship, but when Bear and I U-hauled it, one of the greatest perks was getting to double our number of meows, forming our tiny family of 4. Since we’re not the kid-having kind, Lula and Ollie are, of course, our less messy, way furrier, substitutes and we’re fairly obsessed with them. I mean, sometimes we make up songs about them. They also each have a (totally fabricated) dramatic backstory of their lives before us and about 14 aliases a piece. Don’t judge. The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

Anyway, while putting the final touches on my Lazy Kitten Sleep Mask two weeks ago, I was swarmed by the fuzzy gray and white duo who had suddenly developed an interest in crafting; or at least in things like spools of thread and the crinkly sound of Velcro. Plying them with treats, nor gentle scolding, really made much difference, so I put my sleep mask on hold to accommodate my two feline assistants and stitched up a quick cat toy for them of excess fabric to bat around the house.

I had no stuffing around to fill the toy with, but being fairly resourceful, I dug out some cotton balls from the bathroom to use in its place. This is just a small toy, so just a few cotton balls did the trick. Before filling the little heart shape I had cut out and hand-stitched together, I rolled the cotton balls in some dried catnip to give the toy a little something extra.

Breaking out the catnip and filling the toy only invited more investigation, so I acted quickly to sew up the remaining open space on the side and tossed it into the living room. There, it was promptly smothered with love before becoming the prize in a mutual game of keep away. Needless to say, they thought it was the cat’s pajamas and that made me feel pretty darn satisfied. Bringing joy in even the simplest ways is truly the heart’s best medicine, no?

Quick Heart-Shaped Cat Toy
Supplies:
Enough scrap fabric to cut out two hearts about 3.5-inches in width and 2-inches in height
Coordinating thread of your choice
Sewing needle
Scissors
Pins
Approximately 5-8 cotton balls
1 teaspoon of dried catnip

Directions:
Step 1: Cut one heart out of the fabric either by freehand or by making a simple paper pattern. Use the first fabric heart as a guide and pattern to cut out a duplicate. Step 2: Put the two hearts together with the frontside of the fabric facing inward and pin together. Step 3: Thread your needle and stitch the heart together leaving a 1-inch opening remaining. Tie off the thread, snip excess, remove pins, and turn the heart right side out. Step 4: On a plate, or in a bowl, place the cotton balls and sprinkle catnip on them until they are fully covered. Fill the heart with as many cotton balls as needed and stitch the remaining hole closed.

Lazy Kitten Sleep Mask Tutorial

Poor Bear. I’m terrible to sleep with. For all the ease and loveliness I bring in daytime, I run hella short on both when trying to sleep. You could call me fussy, if you were into understatements. Blankets can’t be too heavy, nor too light. Nothing can touch my feet. If it’s not cool in the room, I’m a beast. And light? Forget about light. Any pin prick of illumination that occurs where curtain meets blind makes me stompy. The soft glow from a cell phone lit just to check the time is met with whining. My sleepy self is cantankerous at best, other worldly at worst.

I’ve long wanted a sleep mask, but something flashy and cute that offers something redeeming to onlookers when my evil sleep twin is about. Maybe with a little work, I can convince my subconscious that while feisty, my sleepy self can be more vampy than angry. Harness a little cat woman, or something. Thus, a sleep mask for lazy kittens. Purrr!

This project is quick, makes a great handmade gift, and is low-sew, meaning the sewing is minimal and can be done with just a needle and thread.

Materials:

  • 2 pieces of coordinating fabric, each 12-inches by 12-inches
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Needle & coordinating thread
  • Velcro – Fabric Fusion
  • An iron
  • 3/8-inch black elastic

Directions:
1.
To start, you need to select material for the front and back of your eye mask. You’ll want the back side, at least, to be black. I used simple, inexpensive craft felt for the back of mine and this bold (and totally theme appropriate, meow!) leopard print from the clearance table at Joann Fabric’s. 2. Next, print out the sleep mask pattern I made and follow the instructions for cutting it out and affixing it to your fabric with pins.

3. Fold your fabric in half as noted on the pattern instructions, and align the edge of the pattern with the folds. Pin the pattern in place and don’t worry if you have a few dents or bubbles; just try to keep it as flat as possible when you begin cutting. 4. Cut out each piece, reusing the pattern for the back and front. When you’re finished, you should have two full pieces as illustrated below. Aren’t they so cute already? You can line the two pieces of fabric up here and just double-check your work making sure they’re as close to perfect a match as possible. Trim slightly, if needed.

5. Here’s where the sewing comes in, but no fear. This is going to be painless. You need black thread, a sewing needle that you feel comfortable with, and 3/8-inch black elastic. Measure your head with the elastic from temple to temple. Make sure the elastic is fitted and snug to your head, but comfortably so. You don’t want the band to be tight when you’re trying to sleep, but you want it to be secure enough that it’s not sliding down constantly. For me, this was about 15-inches – I might have a big head – and then you’ll want to add 2-inches to the total and cut your elastic.

6. On what will be the inner side of the back of your sleep mask, pin 1-inch of the elastic into place as seen above. Using your needle and thread, sew the elastic in place. If you’re new to sewing, a little x-shaped stitch – as you would use when sewing a button – is easy to do and will adhere the elastic securely. 7. Next, cut off 1/2-inch pieces of Velcro – Fabric Fusion and follow the package instructions for setting them with your iron, both on the inner back part of the mask, as shown above, and on the inner front side as show below. Velcro has two sides – a softer side and a harder, more plastic like side – which is how they grip to one another. I chose to put the softer side on the inner back portion of the mask and, truly, it can’t be felt against the face and eyes.

Note: If you enjoy sewing or aren’t looking for a low-sew project, you could just stitch the mask together at this point after adhering the other end of the elastic. I like the Velcro option not only because it involves minimal sewing, but because I can pull the halves apart and put in little sprigs of fresh lavender for aromatherapy if I’m feeling fancy. It’s up to you how you customize this to fit your needs.

8. With the Velcro fastened in place and distributed on both inner halves, pin and stitch the other end of the elastic to the inner back side of the mask. 9. When finished, remove pin, affix the front side of the mask to the back and it’s complete! Leave as is or decorate the mask to your liking. I added a tiny bow made from felt remnants. 10. Get your sleep on, kitten!