Pet Summer Dress



Introduction: Pet Summer Dress

It's summertime and your pet wants to be just as fashionable as you. These step by step instructions will outline how to draft your own dress pattern tailored to your pet and how to take this pattern and make your own dress.



·      Fabric or your choice, amount depends on size of pet

·      Matching thread

·      Snaps or Velcro

·      Paper for pattern


·      Sewing Tape measure

·      Ruler

·      pencil or marker

·      Sewing pencil or marker (wash out or air erasable)

·      Fabric Scissors and/or rotary cutter

·      Paper Scissors (you should not cut paper with good quality fabric scissors)

·      Pins

·      Sewing machine

·      Snap Fastener Tool (optional)

·      Gathering foot for sewing machine (optional)

·      Hemming foot for sewing machine (optional)

Step 1: Measurements

In order to create a pattern and pick out your fabric you must determine the size of your pet. There are 3 important measurements to take on your pet. I’ve demonstrated each below using a plush dog for clarity. For each Measurements step the name of the dimensions will be indicated in the step title for use when drafting the pattern.

Step 2: Measurements: Around the Neck (Neck)

This measurement will be taken around the neck of your pet. You can also measure your pet’s collar if they wear one to get this measurement. Note: be aware not to make this too tight so your pet will not be uncomfortable.

Step 3: Measurements: Around Their Body (Body)

This measurement will be taken around your pet’s body behind their front legs. Some harnesses fit around this area so if you have such a harness it can also be used to get this measurement.

Step 4: Measurements:Length of Body (Length)

This measurement will be taken from behind your pet’s head to their bum. This will be used for the length of the outfit and can be adjusted based on your preference. For my outfit I want the dress to come to my cat’s backside but not over her tail.

Step 5: Other Dimensional Considerations (Seam Allowance)

Other key dimensions to take into consideration when drafting your pattern will be seam, hem, and fastener allowances.

The Seam Allowance with be the fabric overlap at the seams, typically I use ½” to ¾” but this can vary for your sewing comfort level.

Step 6: Other Dimensional Considerations (Hem Allowance)

The Hem Allowance will depend on your hemming method. You can choose a single fold hem, double fold or use a hemming foot on your sewing machine. I have included photos of each type. Once you determine your hemming method take note of the amount of fabric needed for use in the pattern drafting.

Step 7: Other Dimensional Considerations (Fastener Allowance)

The Fastener Allowance is the amount of fabric needed to affix your fastener. Select the type, number, and if applicable the pattern of fasteners you will require. Note the measurements and the orientation for use in pattern development. Example: If you are using 1” by 1” precut adhesive Velcro your allowance should be at least 1”.

Step 8: Pattern Making

For my pattern there will be 2 pieces. A top which will go around my cat’s neck and body and a skirt that will attach to the top. The following steps will outline how to develop a pattern for each portion. The photos shows the 2 patterns for reference for how they will look while drawing them out.

Step 9: Pattern Making: Top Step 1

This portion of the pattern will use both the Neck and Body measurement. This pattern draft will be for half of the top so you may wish to fold your drafting paper in half to have a full top for testing.

First take the body measurement, divide by 2. You will then add the Hem Allowance and the Fastener Allowance. This measurement on the final garment can modified later so I recommend aiming for too big versus to small. 

You will then draw a rectangle that is this calculated dimension long and 1-2 inches (2-5cm) wide. The width will be the width of the strap around your pet’s body and should not be less than the Fastener Allowance plus 2 time the Hem Allowance. This strap can be as wide as needed to secure properly on your pet. 

Step 10: Pattern Making: Top Step 2

You will then draw a second rectangle with the same dimensions rotated 90 degrees next to the first as shown. This portion will go around your pet’s neck. This dimension can also be modified during garment construction so too big is better than too small. The vertical placement will depend on your pet’s build. 

Step 11: Pattern Making: Top Step 3

To finish the top pattern draw 2 curves between the rectangles as shown. This creates smooth lines to help with sewing. A check here would be to measure the top curve to the end of the front strap. This should equal the Neck dimension divided by 2 plus the Fastener and Hem Allowances. Modify as required but the fasteners should fall on the straight end portion after the curve ends.

Draw an arrow on the top of the pattern.

Step 12: Pattern Making: Top Step 4 Fit Check

Cut the pattern out using paper scissors and check the fit against your pet. Align the arrow in the middle of your pet’s back and check the length of the 2 straps and the placement of the neck hole. The straps will need to extend past the midpoint of the neck and body.

Step 13: Pattern Making: Skirt Step 1

For the skirt pattern we will be using measurements from the top pattern. First measure the Top pattern from the Top edge to the start of the bottom curve to determine the Skirt Width as shown. The Skirt length with be your pet’s Length measurement minus the Fastener Allowance used for determining the Strap Width.

Step 14: Pattern Making: Skirt Step 2

For the first pattern piece draw 2 perpendicular lines, one the Skirt Length and one the Skirt Width divided by 3.

Step 15: Pattern Making: Skirt Step 3

Next draw another line from the end of the Skirt Width line at an angle greater than 90 degrees. This will give the skirt it’s flare and you can be increased or decreased based on amount of flare desired. Connect the end of the angled line with a straight line perpendicular to the Skirt Width line. Cut out the Pattern using paper scissors and add an arrow point towards the Skirt Length side.

Step 16: Fabric Selection

The amount of fabric needed will depend on the pattern size. The Top Pattern drawn represents half the top with the arrow being located on the fold of the fabric. The minimum fabric needed will be the top length by 2 times the top width. If your fabric has a pattern you will want to pattern to run side to side along the Top Width.

For the Skirt the pattern piece will also be laid out on the fold of the fabric. We will need 3 skirt pieces for the end product so the minimum fabric dimension will be the Skirt length by 6 times the Bottom Skirt Width. If your fabric has a pattern you will want to pattern to run side to side along the Skirt Width.

Step 17: Cutting Out the Top

Fold your fabric piece in half. Place the pattern with the arrow on the fold. Pin in place. Use either fabric scissors of a rotary cutter and mat to cut around the fabric lines. For my example I am using left over fabric from another project. In this case it is important to ensure both sides of the fabric fully cover the pattern area.

Once cut out remove the pins and the pattern. When the piece is unfolded it should look like a tiny cropped tank top.

Step 18: Cutting the Skirt

Fold a portion of the fabric over the width of the Bottom Skirt Width. Lay the pattern on the fabric with the arrow on the fold and pin into place. Cut the fabric using fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat. Repeat twice more to get 3 identical skirt pieces. Note: for my skirt I am using a patterned fabric. Ensure the pattern runs along the width of the skirt piece with the top of the pattern on the short side.

Step 19: Cutting the Skirt

For my project I chose to use scrap fabric I had from a previous project, as such I could not get 3 equal pieces. Instead, I lay the pattern out on the fabric and cut it such that there was additional fabric for a seam allowance in lieu of the fold. I the flipped the pattern and repeated to get 2 sides of the skirt piece.

Step 20: Assembling the Skirt

Thread your sewing machine with thread machine your skirt fabric with machining thread on the bobbin. 

For my section cut in two pieces I then pinned the 2 pieces together along the straight edge and sewed them using a straight stitch. For all my straight stitches at the start I will go forward a few stitches, then reverse over those stitches before proceeding for the full seam. At the end I will go forward to the edge, reverse for a few stitches then forward to the end again. This will help to the secure the seams. 

After completely a straight seam cut the excess thread and fabric. I will be using this piece as the center section of the skirt.

Step 21: Assembling the Skirt

Take 2 skirt sections and lay them pattern side (or Right side) together and pin along the angled/flare side. Stitch together using a straight stitch.

Repeat with the final skirt piece. This will now be the full skirt.

Step 22: Hemming the Skirt

Prior to attaching the skirt to the top you will complete the hems. There are 3 hems on the skirt. Along the bottom edge and on the 2 free sides of the skirt. Hem using your preferred method. I hemmed mine using a hemming foot attachment on my machine.

A helpful tip when using this foot, prior to hemming trim large variations on the fabric length at the existing seams before starting for the bottom hem.

Once the hem is complete trim all excess threads

Step 23: Hemming the Top

If your Top is a different fabric, change the thread in your machine. Before attaching the skirt we will complete 3 hems along the curved edges as shown.

Step 24: Assembly: Top and Skirt

Lay out the top hem side down. Find and mark the center with a sewing marker.

Find the center of the skirt and lay it hem side up on the top aligning the bottom edge of the top with the top edge of the skirt. Pin the edges together starting in the center.

Sew together using a straight stitch along the edge of the skirt piece.

Step 25: Finishing the Waist Straps

Step 26: Final Strap Length Check

Prior to attaching the fasteners and finishing the ends of the straps try the outfit on your pet and check strap length. Here is your opportunity to shorten the straps if they are too long by cutting the ends down. For my outfit I removed a bit off the end for better fit. If removing length be sure to remove the same amount from each side.

Hem the ends of the straps. Remove any excess thread from the final outfit.

Step 27: Attach the Fasteners

Attach the fasteners to the straps. I use 1 snap per strap. Be sure that the snaps line up and are placed such that the male and female connectors are pointing in the correct direction.

Step 28: Show Off Your New Outfit

Step 29: Customize!

Once you get the basic pattern down let your imagination run wild! These are some photos of other dresses made with the same basic concept. Try different fabrics, skirt shapes or embellishments to make you pet look their best.

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