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How to Make a Fabric Guinea Pig (or Bunny!) Hay Sack/Bag Tutorial

Guinea pigs are way cooler pets than I would have imagined prior to owning one. Tiki has only been part of our lives for two months, but she’s inspired me to make lots of new items for my Etsy store and personal use. These cloth hay bags are something I make for sale, but I also wanted to share a tutorial for the other avid DIY-er pet owners out there. I’ve experimented with several different ways of making them, but the pictured version is half lined and my favorite. The front panel is lined so the openings have nice, finished edges, but it’s a little easier than creating a fully-lined bag (which is, by the way, a huge pain). The bag, as shown, is sized for a single guinea pig, but you can change the dimensions to suit several cavies, or even a bunny!

DIY guinea pig or bunny hay sack

I know it’s easier to buy a hay manger and way less expensive to shove your piggy’s hay in a toilet paper tube, but a hay sack is way more tidy than either option. Yes, some hay will fall out on the ground beneath the bag, but there is way less mess than the cardboard tube method. Additionally, most wire/wood hay mangers that hang from a cage allow hay to fall out the back and into your room! I don’t know about you, but I prefer to keep as much hay as possible in the guinea pig cage and off the spare bedroom floor.

Supplies for DIY cloth hay sack

  • 2 sheets of plain printer paper
  • Tape
  • A paper cutter (makes life easier, but you can do without)
  • Scissors
  • A ruler or quilting square
  • 1/2 a yard of cotton cloth
  • Matching/coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine or needle for hand sewing
  • Pins
  • A pencil or fabric marker
  • Iron/ironing board
  • 2 metal eyelets/grommets
  • A hammer
  • 2 shower curtain hangers, small clips, or other method of hanging the finished sack

I really can’t stress enough the importance of having a dedicated pair of cloth scissors. Cutting paper with scissors destroys them! This project requires you to make precise cuts through two layers of fabric at once, which is harder than it sounds if your scissors are dull. I recently bought a pair of Gingher scissors and I love them! I wish I’d bought them ages ago.


 

 Fabric hay bag tutorial

1. Before getting started, make sure your fabric has been washed and then dried without any dryer sheets. Iron it to ensure the fabric is entirely smooth.

2. Create your pattern pieces with your two sheets of printer paper and paper cutter or ruler and scissors. I use two pieces of paper and tape to create a 9″x10″ rectangle, but you can modify the measurements to match your critter needs. Next, cut out two pieces of paper that are each 2″ square.

pattern pieces for hay sack

3. Cut out three main body pieces for your hay sack. I usually fold the fabric so the rights sides are facing each other, pin the pattern down, cut out two copies of the body piece, unfold the fabric, and then cut a third.

pin the pattern in place

4. Place two pieces of fabric so they are on top of each other with right sides facing out and pin them in place with their edges matching as well as possible.

pin together right sides out

5. Position the two 2″ squares on the bag wherever you’d like the openings to be. I like to place mine 1.5″ up from the bottom edge and 1.5″ in from the sides, but the choice is yours.

position squares on the fabric

6. Using a pencil or fabric marker, carefully trace both of the squares and then remove the paper pieces.

trace squares on the fabric

7. Pierce a hole in the middle of a square, making sure you cut through both layers of fabric. Cut from there in a straight, diagonal line, so that you end up bisecting one of the drawn corners. Continue cutting about 1/4″ past the marked corner. Repeat this for the three remaining corners.

cut squares

8. Once all the corners have been cut, carefully cut along the drawn lines to remove a 2″ square of fabric from both thicknesses of cloth, as shown.

one square cut

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the second square.

10. Next you need to fold and iron all of the flaps you created in the previous steps. All flaps need to be turned to the inside so they are sandwiched between the two fabric layers. I find it easiest to simply fold under one pair at a time, ironing and then pinning as I go.

press the edges under

11. Once both squares are prepared, carefully sew around each opening with a straight stitch. I like to sew about 1/16″ away from the open edge to ensure I catch both thicknesses of fabric and stitch them in place. From here on out, treat these two pieces as one single unit.

stitch the openings

12. Take your third remaining body piece of fabric and pin it, right side in, to the front panel.

pin the bag together

13. Sew the pieces together along the sides and bottom, making sure to leave the top open. I like to use a 1/4″ seam allowance.

stitch

14. If you’d like, enclose the fabric edges with a zigzag stitch, blanket stitch, or a surger.

zigzag the edges

15. Turn the hay sack right side out.

turn the bag

16. Press the side and bottom seams.

press

17. Turn under and press a 1/4″ hem along the top, then turn under and press another 1/4″ fold to encase the raw edges.

turn the top under and press

18. Top stitch along the top, sewing between 1/16″ and 1/4″ away from the edge, depending on how wide you made your hem in the previous step.

19. Position your eyelets on the bag and then apply them according to the package instructions. I’ve made bags with four eyelets and bags with two, and I prefer using just two. Each eyelet goes through both thickness of the bag’s front and the single layer of the bag’s back.

position eyelets

insert eyelets

20. Stuff with hay, hang, and then watch your piggy wheek with joy!

Tiki's hay sack

Can you tell that last photo was taken with my phone? That picture is a few weeks old now and Tiki wouldn’t hang around to be in photos, especially if she heard a camera shutter click. I still only take pictures of her with my phone because she finds it much less nerve-wracking. In addition to nibbling out of her bag, she also likes to use it to “hide” while drinking water. Silly piggy! Not even the phone paparazzi can keep Tiki away from her fresh veggies, though! But she might give you the stink eye if you’re getting to close and she thinks you’re there to snitch something.

tiki with veggies

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and making your own critter a hay sack! If you have a piggy and want to provide some additional tasty treats but live in an apartment like we do, please stop by my post on growing microgreens in your apartment.

How to Plant and Grow Microgreens

Piggies totally love fresh microgreens! Plus it’s great to feed them produce you know is “clean” without any harmful pesticide residues to harm their adorable little selves.

I hope you enjoy these posts and thanks again for stopping by!

Natasha

 

 

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • LeAnn May 15, 2014, 11:49

    Tiki is one lucky little critter — and SO cute!!!

    • Natashalh May 16, 2014, 12:39

      I love her little crest and fierce eyebrows! But I enjoy watching her eat, most of all. It’s just too cute!

  • wendy korpita October 25, 2014, 17:31

    Hi there! I love you piggy goods! I bought material and am going to try to make the hay sack. I am not very crafty, I was wondering what the reasoning was for having 2 pieces of material in the front and one in the back? Is one not strong enough for the front? I may be visiting your store lol 🙂
    Thanks so much for the tutorial!!
    Wendy

    • Natashalh October 26, 2014, 06:59

      When I made my very first hay sack for our girl, I thought the hay might poke through and I made the entire thing lined. It was really annoying! Since then I’ve learned that, at least with the fabrics I use, simply using one layer works fine. The front lining is kind of like added insurance, I guess. I’ve never had hay stick through one layer, but two layers makes really sure that hay won’t poke through the front. I figured the front is ‘more important’ because random bits of hay sticking out might surprise/prick a piggy while they were eating hay from where its supposed to come out. If you made a hay sack using very thin or loose weave fabric, I’d say it’s pretty important to keeping the hay contained. If it’s a sturdier weave, it probably isn’t as important.

  • Rochelle May 18, 2015, 08:25

    Hi, so question…I have rabbits…wont the rabbit CHEW right through the material of the haysack????????

    • Natashalh May 18, 2015, 08:38

      It depends on your rabbit! I know some of them are big chewers, but others aren’t. Hamsters I owned in the past would chew on anything, but our guinea pig was never a chewer and her bag doesn’t have a single chew hole in it.

      • Rochelle May 18, 2015, 08:44

        Yeah, I hear that. I’m going to make one of these…I think it’s so cute. I’ll let you know how it goes!!! Thank you for the tutorial!!

        • Natashalh May 18, 2015, 16:14

          I hope it goes well for you and the bunnies don’t decide the fabric looks tasty! I know they are a bit more “chew-y” than guinea pigs, but I also know a friend uses literally the hay sack I made for this tutorial with a bunny.

  • Hannah May 24, 2015, 22:36

    Thankyou so much for this tutorial! Mine’s almost done, I just need to do the top hem and add the eyelets. I made mine with 3 holes in the front (so that my 3 guinea pigs won’t fight), and it is more rectangular. This is a great tutorial, very clear and with excellent photos!

    • Natashalh May 25, 2015, 06:35

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful. =)

      Picturing three guinea pigs eating hay in a row is one of the cutest things imaginable! I hope they enjoy.

  • Angie July 25, 2015, 19:55

    Thanks! I will try this in the morning. I made a bag from fleece and used bias tape around the hole and that works ok but I want to try this one too! Cute little piggy btw!

    • Natashalh July 26, 2015, 08:18

      Thank you! Bias tape would work, but sewing it this way makes the lip a little more sturdy so it stays open a bit better. I hope you enjoy. =)

  • Hannah August 27, 2015, 20:40

    My two piggies love their new hay bag and definitely eat more hay now. They’re only 8 weeks old though so have also decided it’s a great place to hide and will jump up inside fairly regularly!

    • Natashalh August 27, 2015, 21:59

      Aww, that sounds so cute! And I’m so glad they like their hay bag. Thank you for letting me know. =)

  • Tammy March 23, 2016, 11:53

    Do you have any other tutorials for making cuddle sacks or beds for guinea pigs?

    • Natashalh March 23, 2016, 12:21

      Hello!!

      I actually don’t, even though I meant to write a tutorial for a snuggle sack for the longest time. I think I even took pictures for one well over a year ago! A lot happened in the mean time, though, including loosing my dad very unexpectedly, that kind of threw the plan out the window. If I ever do write a tutorial for a snuggle sack, I’ll come back and leave another reply to let you know. =)

  • Janelle Havers May 23, 2016, 15:56

    Love these! I’m actually short on time these days busy schedules! Wanted to make one myself with your step by step info 😉 But for now I just ordered two of these from your page instead 🙂 Can’t wait to get them! Our hay rack isn’t cutting it with our new C & C Cage. Our Piggies are having fun making a mess, but me cleaning it all up twice a day not so much fun! Lol

    • Natashalh May 23, 2016, 19:35

      Piggies can be messy, can’t they? But they’re so cute! I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial and I hope you like your hay bags, even though they probably aren’t from me because my Etsy shop is on vacation right now! =)

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