A few years ago I came across this great project called The Snuggles Project. It's all about making little pads/blankets for animals at shelters. You can go to their website at http://www.snugglesproject.org/ and look up what shelters are around you and whether or not they are associated with the Snuggles Project. Even though my local humane society is not listed as being a member, they still love it when I bring in some Snuggles for them! The website also has some great patterns, whether you want to sew or crochet or knit, but honestly, I have a technique that I feel is SO simple and I can whip out 6-8 snuggles in one hour.
Whenever I am thrift shopping, I always browse the pillowcase area and look for any pillow shams that catch my eye and aren't too expensive - I won't pay more than 50 cents a piece for them, and most of the time I only pay around 10 cents each. Keep in mind, these are puppies and kitties. They don't care what pattern or colors are on it - they just want something to snuggle with! Just be sure there aren't any decorations, buttons, fringes, etc... on it, because they could easily choke on stuff like that.
So, I start off with my collection of pillow shams and wash and dry them all.
While you're at the thrift store, also keep an eye out for material to stuff the shams with. I originally used flat batting, but that got expensive, so now I just go through the blankets section and find blankets that aren't too thick yet aren't too thin and are just a couple bucks. I lay them out and cut out a piece to fit relatively well inside of the sham - once again, these are puppies and kitties. They don't care if you cut the filling out perfectly. They might even appreciate a bump here or there, who knows.
Once I have the filling cut out, I stuff it inside of the sham and flatten it out as best as possible, and then I sew a straight line going across the entire pillow sham, closing up up the opening.
At this point, you have a sealed snuggle that's probably pretty comfy. Remember, though, that the shelters will be (hopefully!) washing these in between uses, so we need to make it more laundry-friendly. If not, the filling will bunch up inside and they won't be able to use them again. I go back with my sewing machine and sew a few more lines here and there. I like to get creative and make them match the patterns, but, I'll repeat this again - the doggies and kitties do not care what these look like! For that reason, this is an amazing way to learn how to sew, because it really helps you get a good feel of the machine.
After I sewed down all of the batting, I just cut off all of the ends of my threads - be sure not to miss any! That's another thing that a pet could choke on, and that wouldn't be good!
Here's my collection for the day - took me less than an hour to create 6 of these to bring along to the humane society the next time I go. I just love seeing them inside of the cages, too! The animals sure seem to enjoy them.