Anyone that knows me, knows I love waterfowl hunting, but I love my dog more! She’s pretty good at fetching up birds now, but she’s a house and family dog before she is a hunting dog. So she does not sleep outside in the winter and because of that she can get cold between retrieves and the inactive times. She sleeps on the bed at night and sometimes between my legs when it’s cold now. She also sleeps on my side of the bed when Trish takes an afternoon nap. Basically, she is pampered and spoiled most of her life, but that is the life of our family dog. 😀
So, I knew I wanted to make a mat for her ground blind that isolated her from the from ground. So I started doing my research and came up with closed cell foam and polystyrene beads, which are like air soft pellets. I did a walk through at Jo-Ann fabrics and their foam was all open cell (A sponge) and there is no way I wanted to take that waterfowl hunting. Then a trip to Micheal’s and they did not have anything. The girl at Micheal’s gave me an idea when I asked her about the Polystyrene beads and bean bag pellets. She told me to check Kmart, which I would have never done. Kmart carries a make your own bean bag rack. You pick the bag you want and then you buy the beans to fill it. These are semi-puffed, pretty hard Styrofoam type beads. I really can’t crush them between my thumb and first finger and they pop back up. So the dog is not going to ruin them. Here is the bag as I bought it in Kmart.
So now I have the beans, but no bag to put them in and I have to make the bag, or dog mat. I bought a roll of 1000 denier Cordura a couple years back for my low profile jon boat blind, that I need to write about here and I used it for the blind on my Commander 120 blind. It’s great, tough, waterproof fabric, but unless the dog is running on it like this, I would really recommend you buy the 500 or 300 denier Cordura. The 1000 denier is a pain in the butt to sew. It was not bad for this, mostly, but corners on seams binds the machine and breaks needles.
I did not take pictures while I was making it as I just did not think of it. It’s not that hard making a pillow and you can watch any YouTube video of sewing a pillow. The GHG Ground Force dog blind I have is the older one, not the newer low profile one. Its 20″ between bars on the sides and 34″ between bars front to back. So, I cut a piece of Cordura that was 40″ x 34″, so it could be doubled over on the 4o” length to make the sides. I probably should have cut it to be 43 x 36″ but we will get to that. I’m just not an experiences seamstress. 🙂
I started by folding the fabric over to match the seams up. I then used paper clips to hold it still. My wife said “I have never seen any one sew with paper clips.” Well, this 1000 denier Cordura bends and ruins normal sewing pins. I know, as I have done this before and ruined many pins! I started sewing and zip across the 20″ side and stop and turn and zip right up the 34″ side. I am thinking, “Man, this is going great!”, but I am only sewing two layers of Cordura right now. Then I finished the stitch and turn the dog mat right side out, which 1000 denier Cordura makes even that a task, or a fight.
So now at the top I go and fold over 3/8″ of Cordura all the way around and put the paper clips to hold it in place. You can’t iron this stuff to hold a seam, it just will not stay. It wears like iron when out hunting, but unfortunately it sews like iron sometimes also! So I wanted a handle so I would use this to pack in for hunts on islands possible without the GHG dog blind. To get the handle I sewed a piece of 1″ webbing on one side of the front, which would be the bottom when used so the dogs nails can’t tear the threads. Just one stitch in a loop like a square around where the webbing contacts the Cordura and it was in place.
Now I can sew it shut, except for a fill hole, right? No, that is completely wrong. I lined up the top seams and tried to start my stitch, but I am sewing 4 layers now with two doubled over pieces. The needle did not even make it through to start the stitch and broke. So hand sewing and the loop stitch was coming to save the day. So with a curved upholstery needle my wife and I took turns sewing the top shut until there was a 5″ opening to fill the bag. Those 4 layers of fabric are so tough I had to hold the needle with lineman pliers and push it through the fabric and once through far enough pull it out the other side with the pliers. Did I mention how hard 1000 denier Cordura is to sew? I was so ecstatic when I bought the Cordura years back. I got 14 yards of the Cordura shipped to me for about $35. What a deal I thought, until you sew it. Little did I know it was so cheap, because no one else wanted to sew with it. 😀
Now it is finished and stuffed and closed up.
This was completely unplanned, but once it was made I found the handle could be put under the Velcro attachment that holds the frame to the bottom on the front of the blind. You can also see the loop stitches used to close the top/front. I thought about covering the threads with goop, for protection, but I’m probably over reacting. Her front paws are outside the blind when she gets the call to retrieve something.
From the back and you can see it could have been a little longer, but Kako is only 34″ Nose to butt and her head and neck are outside the blind when hunting. She is not even on the back end of the blind.
The finished Dog Mat in the blind just as it will be used in the field. Its perfect for my 60# lab even with this 1 1/2″ ground mat. My former 95# Lab used to have to just about Army crawl into this thing where Kako can just hunch down a bit and run in and can even turn around in this blind.
This mat fits the blind great, but when out of the blind it appears to be a bit small for use by itself, but only a hunting test will be able to tell. Maybe I’ll have to make a second larger one in the future.