How to Make a Collapsible Travel Dish for Your Petcomments (17) February 6th, 2009
I used to have a giant dog, named Billy, and I would take him on long hikes in the hills. He always got thirsty, so I had to carry a bowl and water for him in my backpack. I wish I had one of these oilcloth bowls back then! They hold water beautifully and take up almost no room in a bag. (My current pet, Puskin the Cat, is no fan of hiking, but he was more than willing to pose for photos, provided that I put a little food in the bowl first.)
What you'll need:
- Oilcloth, two colors (see below)
- Ruler and pencil
- Low-tack painter's tape
- Bone folder (optional)
- Sewing machine
- Heavy-duty sewing machine needle
This project is based on a simple origami bowl. In fact, I recommend that you fold up a paper bowl before you attempt this oilcloth version. It will help you better understand the overall structure and make working with the oilcloth a bit easier. There's a phenomenal tutorial over here to take you through the process in paper.
A Note on Oilcloth: When you're shopping for oilcloth for this project, check labels and ask questions. Some oilcloths are treated with chemicals that could be harmful to your pet. Look for a non-toxic, untreated oilcloth instead.
For the oilcloth version, start with two 9-inch x 12-inch pieces of oilcloth. I like to use two different colors because it makes the finished bowl extra pretty, but you can also cut two pieces of the same color.
This size will yield a bowl that's appropriate in size for most cats or small-to-medium dogs. If your pet is larger, like Billy, feel free to enlarge the starting pieces—just add the same number of inches to both dimensions.
Place the two pieces with right sides facing out. Anchor them together at the four edges with pieces of painter's tape. (Unfortunately, pins leave permanent holes in oilcloth, so we'll use tape to hold the pieces together instead.)
Sew along all four edges with a 3/8-inch seam allowance. You can sew right over the tape—it will peel off in pieces around your seam.
If you've never worked with oilcloth before, I'd recommend that you practice sewing on some scraps before you undertake this project. Oilcloth has a tendency to "stick" to your machine's presser foot—if this is happening, try Futuregirl's elegant solution. You'll also find that you need to apply some gentle pressure to keep the oilcloth moving over the machine's feed dogs.
After sewing, trim all four seam allowances to 1/8 inch.
Time to begin the origami: Fold the sheet in half crosswise, so you end up with a rectangle that's 8-1/2 inches long by 5-1/2 inches high. Then fold that rectangle in half down the middle, as shown.
When you're folding the oilcloth, be sure to crease every fold. Oilcloth will not hold these creases for very long, so you'll need to keep re-creasing with each step. You can use a bone folder for this, or a spoon, or the back of your thumbnail.
Note: the side of the oilcloth that's showing at this step will be the outside of the finished bowl.
Unfold that last fold, and place the rectangle so that the folded edge is at the top. Then, fold the left-hand corner down to match the center crease.
Do the same thing with the right-hand corner.
Now, open the right-hand corner back out...
...and turn that folded triangle inside out and then flatten it, as shown in the photo above. (If this step seems confusing, try looking at it in the paper tutorial I recommended.)
Repeat this process on the other side. Are you remembering to crease all your folds with each step?
Next, take the right-hand flap and bring it over to the left, as shown in the two photos above. (Again, if that's confusing, the paper tutorial might help.)
Fold the two corners in to meet at the center. Do the same thing on the other side.
The bottom edge now has two layers. Fold the top one up, and anchor the fold in place with painter's tape. Flip the piece over, and repeat this process on the other side.
Once you've done this step, the bowl shape will emerge.
Back to the sewing machine! This is how the bowl needs to be oriented on your machine. Older models may require you to remove a piece to reveal a smaller sewing area like this. Newer models may not require any adjustment.
Install a heavy-duty sewing machine needle. Sew along the folded edge with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.
Note: you're sewing through several layers of oilcloth here. My 25-year-old machine can handle this, but some newer, introductory model machines may not be up to the task. Definitely try sewing on some scrap oilcloth before you try this step.
Then, remove the tape. Stitch along the edge of the flap, following your previous seamline.
Repeat these two steps on the other side, and the bowl is complete!
If your pet is sensitive to smells (like Pushkin is), you may want to place the bowl in direct sunlight for several hours to bleach out any scent from the oilcloth.
To fold the bowl up, just bring the sides without flaps in toward the center, and then bring the flaps together in the center. You can keep folding, wadding up, or crushing the bowl from there—it'll pop back into shape.
To clean the bowl, just wash it with soapy water and then invert it on a dish rack to dry. I definitely would not recommend putting it in the dishwasher!
I think these dishes have some human applications, too—picnic snacks, anyone?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery