Monday, February 9, 2015

Service Project: T-shirt Dog Toys

One of the girls in our troop is very outspoken about her love for animals.  Any time we ask for service project ideas, she asks to do something for our local animal shelter.  She told the troop that she wanted to incorporate volunteer work for the animal shelter into her 9th birthday party, but she was told she has to be a teenager to volunteer.  In the past, we have done projects to help our our local League for Animal Welfare, but I wanted to make sure we planned another service project to benefit the shelter this year.

Over the summer, my daughters read the May/June 2014 issue of American Girl Magazine.  They came across several projects for dogs and cats made from old t-shirts.  What a great way for girls to use their resources wisely!  While out of school for the summer, my daughters asked to make a pet bed out of a sink mat and old t-shirts.  I posted about that experience here.  The girls in the troop decided it would be fun to make dog toys out of those old t-shirts.  Additionally, this service project satisfied Step 4 "Make a Pet Feel Loved" for the Brownie Pets badge.

One of the other troop leaders offered to prepare the t-shirts since she happened to have a pile of t-shirts that she wanted to use or donate.  Upon doing an online search for instructions, we had difficulty finding a tutorial or decent set of instructions for this project.  I located our copy of that May/June issue of American Girl Magazine, and modifying those instructions, I decided to post how we made dog toys out of old t-shirts.

To prepare the t-shirts:
Lay t-shirt out on table.  Use scissors to cut 
across the shirt below the arms.  The collar 
and sleeves will not be used in this project.

 Use scissors to cut off the bottom hem of the t-shirt.  
Save this strip to use as a tie to finish the dog toy.

 Use scissors to cut up the side seams of the t-shirt.
 Use scissors to cut strips every 1.5" to 2".  

Our co-leader started by cutting strips the width of the t-shirt (about 16" for an adult t-shirt).  As she worked, she found it was easier to begin the cut with scissors, and then she ripped the shirt the rest of the way.  Some of the strips may have been 1.5" wide while others may have been 2" wide.  The variance in the width of the strips did not affect the finished product.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, our troop is comprised of second and fourth graders.  Though these girls could have cut and/or ripped the t-shirt strips on their own, we decided to have the strips ready for them.

To make the dog toy:

Choose 9 t-shirt strips and tie them together.  The issue of American Girl magazine mentioned above says to tie the strips together in a knot, leaving a 1" tail.  We used an extra strip of t-shirt to tie off the top of the dog toy.  The hem strips that were saved when preparing the strips worked well for this step.  We wrapped the 9 strips with a hem strip and tied a double knot on the front side of the dog toy.  Then we wrapped the hem strip again and tied a double knot on the back side of the dog toy.

The American Girl magazine suggests separating the t-shirt strips into 3 sections (3 strands per section) and then braiding them together.  We separated the strips into 3 sections (3 strands per section) and braided each of the 3 sections individually before braiding all 3 sections together. The magazine suggests tying the strands in a knot when there are a few inches of t-shirt left.  We used the hem strip to tie off the dog toy as described in the step above.

We had the girls work in pairs.  One girl held the end of the dog toy while her partner braided the strands.  They worked together to finish one dog toy.  Then they switched positions and the worked on another dog toy.  The finished dog toys look great!

WARNING:  The magazine strongly suggests readers be sure to supervise pets when they play with these toys.  They advise readers to throw the dog toy away if it starts to shred or fall apart.  This warning definitely applies to the dog toys we made since we did not tie the strands in knots but used an additional t-shirt strip to secure the strand on both ends.

We hoped to stop by the animal shelter during the last part of this meeting.  That didn't work out, so we plan to stop by the shelter at the end of our next meeting to deliver our donations.  Thank you for reading!

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