Two ladies and a saint are the inspiration for today's post.
One of the ladies, my in-law's neighbor, rehabilitates squirrels in her spare time. She doesn't have any formal wildlife rehabilitation training, but did some research, bought some supplies, and offered her hand to the local wildlife center. She usually takes in two baby squirrels at a time, rehabbing them, until they're big enough to release to the wild.
The other lady is my friend in Florida. She has a similar affinity for squirrels (and bunnies), except that she doesn't rehabilitate them. She also did some research to learn behavior patterns of wild squirrels and what their needs are. The squirrels in her 'hood visit her daily. She feeds them and delights in their friendly company.
Saint Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals and ecology, felt at one with all creation, and was known to communicate with animals. In the prayer of St. Francis (one of my favorites), there is a line that reads, "where there is hatred, let me sow love," so today, in honor of these three, we are going to sew love. (The entire prayer of St. Francis is at the bottom of the post.)
There's a little known fact that these ladies have told me about: squirrels love to cuddle. Especially in rehabilitation, squirrels enjoy a safe, secure, cozy place to sleep. Enter the squirrel pocket. This is what we'll sew today.
Now, I'm calling them squirrel pockets because that's where the idea originated, but honestly, these pockets would be suitable for any animal that loves to snuggle/burrow. A ferret comes to mind. And cats, definitely cats. (Takk will be getting one soon...!) The only adjustment you'd need to make in order to sew one of these for anything larger than a squirrel is the size of pocket. For the sake of this DIY, we'll focus on the size of a baby squirrel.
- Fleece (the amount of fleece needed is double the size of the finished pocket)
- Sewing Machine
- Whole lotta love
I had some fleece laying around, so I took it over to my mom's to get her insight and assistance in putting this pocket together. We looked at the squirrel pocket website that is linked above to see what the finished piece looked like and we set to work.
Two things to note before you begin. Firstly, the fleece is doubled all the way around, so you'll need double the amount of the size you're thinking. Secondly, the pocket has a little 'welcome mat' as mom and I like to call it on the open side. The only reason I could come up with for this little extra bit of material is that if an animal attempted to open a closed pocket without the mat, it would be quite challenging. The welcome mat allows the animal to needled its nose (or paws) underneath the pocket flap, thus allowing entry. Follow me? So don't forget a little welcome mat in your estimation of fabric.
Step 1: Decide how big you want your pocket to be, and times that by two. Imagine that the animal may want to be completely enveloped in the pocket, as well as be able to move around inside a bit. Cut your fleece material to size, remembering to leave room for a seam all the way around. Then fold in half with right sides facing in (WS out). Put a couple of pins around the folded fabric to hold in place.
Step 2: Sew around the edges leaving a 2-3 inch gap on one side. We folded over lengthwise and left the gap on the short side opposite the fold. Turn the pocket rightside out through the gap that you left. It helps if the gap is large enough to get your fingers through so that you can push out the edges in all of the corners.
Step 3: Fold the seam inside the gap that you had left open and then sew another seam along the outside of the entire fabric, including the gap.
Step 4: Fold lengthwise once again, 2-3 inches less than halfway. This creates your pocket flap and welcome mat. Sew along the two sides of the pocket, leaving the top portion by the welcome mat open. Reinforce the edges where the pocket meets the welcome mat.
Voila, your pocket is complete! Super easy, right? If you are making a cuddle pocket for a pet, I hope your he/she gets countless hours of cozy enjoyment out of it! If you'd like to make these for squirrels in rehabilitation, contact your local wildlife authority to see if they are needed and where you can drop them off. I gave the two that I made for this DIY to my in-law's neighbor who said that our local wildlife center would love more, so there's definitely a need out there!
May the love for animals inspire some cozy goodness and pocket making!
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.