As a guy, I've made fun of dogs wearing clothes for years. Now, as a guy with a cool dog (boxer) I have found myself with the need for dog clothes. When the weather gets freezing cold and your dog has very little hair, you have to take action or you start getting puddles in the apartment! I had an old pair of jeans with a knee torn out. I had an old fleece scarf that I never wear anymore. A little measuring and sketching and I was ready to get started. I had fun making Dottie's jacket and hope that you have fun as well. The jacket I wound up with is customized just for Dottie's size. I even thought it was clever to add one of the back pockets to the side of her jacket. (for treats?) I'll give you the steps that I followed and urge you to be creative and give it a try yourself!!
Step 1: Materials
Grab some old clothes... a pair of jeans and a fleece scarf is what I used. If you want to use a flannel shirt or sweatshirt, no problem. I suggest something for the outer shell that's durable such as denim or another heavy cotton. For the lining, anything you would use to stay warm can be used for your puppy. I also used a sewing machine but you can pretty easily sew by hand if you don't have a machine or just prefer to do so. I picked up some "industrial strength" Velcro at a local department store. A piece of chalk will also come in handy... I'll cover that in another step. A pair of scissors and a measuring tape and you'll be ready to go!
Step 2: Sketch a Plan! Measure Your Pooch...
Most dog clothes are a pretty simple plan. Pretty much imagine a blanket with a hole in the front to put the head through and something to fasten around the stomach or chest. I didn't have a cloth tape to measure my dog so I used a string to measure and held it to a tape measure I had open on a table to get the lengths. Measure around the neck below where the collar usually sits and make sure you allow room for the dog's head to fit through. Remember it's always easier to trim off a little more than scrap it and start over if it's too small. If you want to add a fastener at the front, you can do that as well. You want to give enough room so that your dog can moved comfortably to play or "other" activities he or she may do outside.
Step 3: Cut Pieces
Remember when you are cutting your pieces to allow for seams. I gave myself an extra 1/4 " for every seam I was going to put in. This is not the step that I added the Velcro... it will come later. I just added the image to show how I saw the jacket coming together. For piece A, I used the front of a jeans leg with the knee of the jeans toward the lower back of the dog. This gave a little extra give in an area that the dog usually bends while running and playing. I also didn't have any pattern paper so I used a piece of chalk to make rough sketches on the denim. This allowed me to see where the cuts should be without having to do multiple trimmings or cut too short on a piece. If you want to use a Velcro closure on the front as well as the bottom, add enough length to make an overlap and remember your seam allowance!
Step 4: Putting the Pieces Together
This is where it really gets fun! You can see that my jacket came out a bit different from the original sketch. I decided to add a back pocket from the jeans to the side panel of the jacket. For piece A, I used the front of a jeans leg. The other pieces I cut from the back of my jeans. The back of jeans tend to have slightly larger pieces than the front. Like working a puzzle, you can put the pieces together in a way that you can make a good fit for your dog. Once I had the shell (denim) pieced together, I tried it on the dog to make sure I was going to get a good fit with the finished project.
Step 5: And the Lining Goes In...
I took a wide fleece scarf and cut it in half. This gave me two pieces that I could sew together to make a solid piece wide enough to cover the inside of the jacket. By cutting it just smaller than the denim shell, I was able to roll the edges over and pin them. As I sewed around the edge of the entire jacket, I removed the pins. By cutting a small V in areas that had sharper curves, I was able to get the denim to lay down over the fleece lining. It looks a little rough but I was going for function more than fashion. Someone with better skills than myself would be able to finish the edges and make a more attractive item.
Step 6: Adding Velcro Fastener
By adding the Velcro going horizontal on one side and vertical on the other side this gives you maximum grip with easier fastening. This also gives you a little room for error. When you attach your velcro, remember to sew around the edge and then back and forth across the middle to give you the most stability.
Step 7: Wear and Enjoy!
A couple of quick tips... if your dog has never worn any items of clothing, this will take an adjustment period. I don't advise you to feel you can stick the clothes on the dog and hit the street. It took some time for Dottie to get accustomed to wearing her jacket. Once she realized she stayed warm when she wears it... she gets excited when I get it out because she knows it's time to go outside and play! By letting her wear it for a few short periods of time and then a couple of short walks, she got used to the jacket. Enjoy the cold weather with your dog and please share pictures or stories with me!