Introduction: Make a Warm Dog Vest From Sweatpants Leg

Every January, our cocker spaniel Galahad suffers from some kind of allergic itch. We end up clipping all his hair off and bathing him in prescription shampoo to keep him from nibbling himself raw. This may be Florida, but January *is* actually the cold month, so the poor little guy needs protection from the cold.

I had a couple pairs of sweatpants that shrank and ended up about capri-length (argh! argh! I *hate* too-short pants!) and so I cut off the legs and made them into barn shorts. I was looking at the cut off legs, with their fleece and the elastic at the bottom, and realized that I could probably recycle them as vests for the poor cold dog.

This was an eaaaaasy project--and considering I usually get sweatpants at Walgreens for 3/$10, it might even be cheap enough to just buy sweatpants to make into dog vests. (Huh. Maybe that's why they shrink...) The second one of these that I made took about 5 minutes.

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed for this project:
  • Thread for sewing machine or hand sewing
  • I needed one and a half sweat pants legs. For a larger dog, you might need two, three, four legs.

Tools needed:
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needle

Step 2: Measure the Dog

We're using Galahad's buddy George to demonstrate this step, since it's too cold to strip Galahad naked. I'll mention Galahad's measurements so you have some idea what the numbers might be. Galahad is a 25-lb cocker spaniel.

You're going to want to note these down, or just measure when you come to the step where you need them. If you want to make more than one, having a list of measurements would help.

1) Measure around the neck. Galahad is 12".

2) Measure around the broadest part of the chest, the barrel. Galahad is 22".

3) Measure from elbow to elbow across the back. Galahad is 17".

4) Measure from elbow to elbow across the chest. Galahad is 3.5".

5) Measure from the collar to the front of the foreleg. Galahad is 5".

6) Measure from the collar to the waist. Galahad is 14".

7) Measure around the foreleg, and divide in half. Galahad is 5" around the leg, so half is 2.5".

Okay, Galahad is 12" around the neck and 22" around the chest. I measure the elastic opening at the bottom of the sweatpants; one measures 4" across at the elastic opening, so when the seam is cut and it's sitting flat it will be 8" across. So I need at least two to get the 12".

I measured the pants legs across; one is 16" (8" across) and the other is 20" (10" across). Together, that's way more than enough to go around his 22" barrel. If you don't have enough to go around your dog's barrel, you'll need more. Make sure you take an inch into account for each seam (2 seams for 2 legs, 3 seams for 3 legs.

Step 3: Making a Tube

1) To keep from losing the elastic, I stitched on either side of the seam at the end of the sweatpants leg. That anchors the elastic down.

2) I cut the pants at the seam and cut off all the old seam.

3) I stitched the two pants legs together to make a large tube.

4) I reduced the diameter of the tube so it would be about right for Galahad's shape. With the tube inside out and folded across with one side up, I measured and marked.

I added 2" to neck and barrel so that it would not be too tight, and then marked that measurement on the tube: 14" around the neck (or 7" for one side, since it's folded), 24" around the chest (or 12" on one side), 24" all the way to the back of the tube (or 12" on one side). I drew a curved line from the neck to the barrel, and then stitched down that line.

Step 4: Making the Tube Into a Vest

1) With the vest inside out and folded so the side is up, I proceeded to shorten the vest. I marked the top line at the length +2" (16"), and the belly line at the length (14") and again drew a curved line. I cut about one inch out from that line.

2) I folded the extra inch under and stitched it down. This was absolutely not necessary; fleece like this won't unravel, so you could just cut at the line in step 1 and leave it. But hey, I needed the practice ;)

3) I marked where the legs should go, using the measurements from collar to foreleg and elbow to elbow. The opening starts 5" back from the neck. Elbow to elbow was 17" across the top, and 3.5" across the belly; with the vest folded with one side up,that's 8.5" from the top and 1.75" from the bottom. His legs are about 2.5" from front to back, so I made the opening 3" to allow room to move. All I did was cut a slit; again, this won't unravel, so no need to do any more. I could make legs but I don't think we need them.

And done! Galahad models his new sweatshirt vest.