The Fun Mouse: Mouse Information: How to: No Sew Fleece Cube
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WARNING: You will be using Polar Fleece for your cube. Do not substitute with another kind of fabric. Other fabrics are dangerous and flat out deadly! Other materials have long strings which can get caught around toes and limbs, cutting off circulation. This can cause the mouse to actually lose a limb! Some materials expand when wet, posing deadly problem if the mouse ingests it. Long fibers and/or fibers that expand when wet can choke a mouse and get caught in the digestive tract. Both often result in painful death. Fleece knotting is also safer than sewing as you are eliminating the thread!
It is very difficult to show exactly how to make a fleece cube. In all honesty, it is easier to read this and then "wing it." This is one of the rare cases where pictures don't really help a whole lot. They kind of make it more confusing at times.In an effort to help eliminate as much confusion as possible, I have used 6 different colors of fleece. Pay close attention to this as you go through each step.
Cut six pieces of 8" (20.32cm) square Polar Fleece. This will make a 4" (10.16cm) cube.
You may choose to make a larger or smaller cube if you wish.
To figure alternate dimensions, take the size cube you want to end up with and add 2 inches to each of the four sides (this means 4 inches total, both high and wide), compensating the fringes to be knotted. You do not need to make the fringe strips longer, smaller, or compensate for them in any way unless you find it difficult to knot the 2 inches provided. If you find 2 inches too small, add to the pattern all the way around. Adding 2 more inches both high and wide will give you a total of 3 inch fringes all the way around. In the case of a 4 inch cube I'm making here, I add 2 inches to each side to compensate for the knotted fringes, making it so I need a 8" square total. Another example: If you wanted to make a 5 inch cube, add 2 inches to each side (4 inches total, both high and wide), making 9 inch total for each square.
Lay all of your fleece pieces on top of each other. You are now going to cut 2" (5.08cm) slits about an inch (2.54cm) apart (unless you have previously chosen and compensated for larger fringes) on all 4 sides of every piece of fleece. To get the proper number of slits I generally first cut a slit in the middle on one side. I then will cut a slit between that middle cut and the end symmetrically on both sides. If more cuts are needed (such as for a larger cube), I continue to cut in the middle of each previous cut to make it symmetrical. Cut the corners off completely and set them aside but don't through them away! They make great nesting material! There is no waste when making cubes!
It is very important that you cut all your pieces the same. If any have wider fringes or more/less fringes on one side your cube will not line up properly. If you are unable to cut all pieces at the same time (which requires a heavy duty scissors), cut 2-3 at once. Then take one of your pre-cut pieces, lay it over 2-3 uncut pieces, and use your pre-cut as a guide. Do this until all 6 pieces are cut. It may help to pin the pieces together so they don't slide while cutting. Be sure to use a single safety pin that you can easily remove. TFM recommends against straight pins or any alternative because they can easily be forgotten, potentially causing harm to the mice when in use.
Take 2 pieces of fleece, lay them on top of each other, and knot them together along one side. Tip: Fleeces often stretches one way. When ever possible (throughout this entire guide, not just this step), knot the stretchy side of one piece to the non-stretchy side of the other. This will help the cube keep form.
Fold out, with fringes down.
Take another piece of fleece and lay it directly and evenly on top of one of the pieces you previously knotted. There are 3 possible sides you can knot together. None are 'wrong.' For the sake of example, however, I will be knotting the top of the white piece to the top of the light blue piece. After those 2 are knotted, I will then knot the right side of the light blue piece to the top of the dark blue piece.
After the 2 sides are knotted together, you will see this when you open your project. This is the inside, fringes/knots out.
With the cube still in the position you see above, take another piece of fleece and lay it evenly over the bottom (dark blue) piece.
Here you will knot the orange piece to the bottom dark blue piece, along the left side.
After you have completed knotting one side, this is what you will see when you fold that piece out. Next you will knot the orange piece to the white piece.
With the orange piece flat down, fold the top (white) piece over it so that it is flush on the side you want to knot. Then knot them together along that side.
Once you have completed the above, you will see this when opened up. It's really starting to look like a cube now!
I have now laid the cube down so the white piece is down. You will now introduce another a new piece, such as I have with the green square. Lay this new piece flush with the white one.
Knot the green piece to the white piece, along the side opposite to the dark blue piece. This means that the white piece will be knotted on 2 sides, opposite from each other.
After you have knotted that side, you will see this when you fold your cube out (folding the green piece up).
This is where the directions tend to get confusing. Hang in there. Fold your pattern over so that the green side is flat on the bottom with the light blue side folded over it, as seen below. You will be knotting the green side to the lighter blue side. The picture below may help you gain your bearings if you are lost.
Once you have knotted the green side to the lighter blue side, your cube will look like this when you fold it out.
You will now fold the orange side over the green side and knot them together along one side.
After you have knotted those together, your cube will look like this when you fold it out. You're nearly there!!
Take note in the above picture that all fringes are flapped outward. This is necessary. Take your last piece of fleece and drape it gently over your cube, lining each side correctly with the cube.
Knot all 4 sides of the yellow piece to the corresponding cube side. This will give you a completely closed cube. Do not leave one end open, and do not panic ;).
As I'm sure you've noticed, your cube has no door. In one side of the cube cut a slit or a hole. I have chosen to cut a slit. I slid my scissors between the knots on one side and cut from one end to the other, only cutting one side of the cube. Should you choose to cut a hole instead of a slit, simply pinch the material making a pucker and cut the pucker off. Take note that the hole will likely be larger than you intend, so start with only cutting a little. You can always make the hole larger.
Here you can see the result of the cut I made above.
I have flipped the cube over, so the opening is in the front. The cube is complete! You may choose to set it in your mouses' tank or hang it from the lid. You may even choose to stuff it with mouse-safe bedding (such as the fleece squares you cut off your pattern in the beginning!) for your mice to nest in.
I have chosen to hang mine. I use wire (floral wire found at a craft store). Be sure that no wire ends can possibly touch your mice as this can cause injury, possibly even the loss of an eye! I only used 2 pieces of wire and all ends are OUTSIDE the tank. To do this I thread one wire inside one corner of the cube and outside the other corner, entering at the back and exiting in the front of the same side. I do this for both right and left sides. Now all 4 ends of the wire are outside of the cube and will go through the lid of a tank making it impossible for the mice to touch. I also choose to place wood beads on each of the 4 corners, threaded on the wire. I do this to add a little extra chew toy. It isn't necessary at all. In this picture I also have a large cardboard roll hanging as well.