So this summer I got a lovely little dog to enrich me and my boyfriends life. She's a medium sized dog, which means that she may have problems keeping herself warm when it's getting cold outside and as we live in Denmark it is a pretty sure bet that it gets cold in the winter ;)
So, what to do? the answer was a dog coat. I did start with browing the internet for patterns, but honestly, I either didn't like the design or the size was all wrong and there was no instructions on the resizing other than: print the pattern at xx%. Now that is a recipe for a too short or too bulky coat in my experience. What should I do then? Well, make my own custom pattern that fits my Little darling perfectly. And through this instructable I'll show you guys out there how to do the same and make that custom coat your poochies deserves.
What you will need:
Chewing Sticks for the dog
fabric for a mockup.
fabric for the actual coat, outer layer, interlining and lining. I chose denim for the outer layer, batting for the interlining to add warmt and a faux fur for the lining, again for the warmt.
Facing for the edges, preferably bias tape.
Sewingmaching or neddle and threat.
Velcro or buttons for closing the coat.
Step 1: Measuring Your Dog
This step might be the most trickiest, especially if your dog thinks what you're doing is silly or want to play... It took some help from my boyfriend holding a chewing stick to make my little bundle of energy to stand still and let me take her measures, and that was still only for 5 minutes at a time before she had to investigate what I was doing to her.
Now what you have to measure to make your custom dog coat:
a) length of coat: from collar to the root of the tail
b) breast: circumference of breast at the thickest spot, usually right behind the front legs
c) hip: circumference of the thinnest part of your dog, just in front of the back legs
d) front leg: circumference around the top of the front leg and
e) width of the front leg
f) collar to behind the front leg
g) belly: Length from behind front leg to front of back leg
h) circumference of neck at the collar
I know that it is a lot of numbers and measures to be taken, but it does give a better fit and you only need to take them once.. given that your dog is full grown, something I forgot my pup wasn't. So I might soon need to make a new coat after her new measurements.
Step 2: Drawing the Mock-up
now it's time to put the effort of measuring you dog to good use, we are going to make a mock-up. Why? because there is nothing more fustrating to draw the pattern directly on the fabric you meant to use for the coat and then realize: you did something wrong and it doesn't fit.. AND YOU DON'T HAVE ANY MORE FABRIC. That is a situation that can bring anyone close to tears, ecspecially if you have used a long time on it.
Now we are going to take some really inexpensive fabric, ideally an old bedsheet or tablecloth, preferable linen.
fold the fabric and lie it on a flat surface. The fold is the middle back of the coat, and thus is where we will measure out from.
following the length of the fold, measure out the length a(neck to tail), making sure that you have more fabric to measure out from at the neck end so you can make the collar part, make a mark at each end.
From the neck end, following line a, measure out the length of f(neck to back of front leg) and again make a mark. From this mark at the fold, measure down half the length of b(circumference of breast) and mark the whole line down.
From the line of b and following the line of a at the fold, measure out the length og g(length of the belly) and mark. Here you measure down from the fold, drawing a line ½ the length of Measurement c(circumference of the hip). Between the end mark og b and c you can now draw a line, this is the opening at the belly.
Halfway up at the c line, you should make a mark and Draw and s form up to the tailmark at the fold, that's the cover of the dogs back leg up to the tail. Don't worry too much about it, as it can be cut in shape at the fitting.
Now we get to the neck area, which is a little bit trickier. Make a mark halfway up at the line b and at a 90 degree angle measure out the length of e(width of front leg) and mark the line. divide the line e in half an make a cirkel around it, using half the length of e as the radius. This cirkel should touch the line b and from where it touch, measure the circumference of the cirkel, marking it when the length equals half the length of d(circumference of front leg).
Are you with me so far? Great :) either way, look at the picture I've added over how the lines should be looking about now, if something doesn't look right, try again. You might even just ignore my ramblings and follow the picture, could be easier.
Now, the line d is cut short at an angle, following this angle make a line down, this is the bottom of the collar.
At the neck end of line a, measure around 1½inch down, this edge will lie around the back of your dogs neck. Then making a curve which ends up in a straight line parallel to the bottom part of the collar, measure out half the lenght of h(circumference of neck).
Now you should have something still looking like the picture drawn on your mock-up fabric. At the end of the collar and belly flaps you should add at least 2 inches of seam, so you have something to stick the needles into when you are trying it on your dog and at the same time you will have extra fabric to ease into the pattern, should it not fit the first time.
Try it on your dog, avoid any pinching and make sure the dog looks comfortable with the mock-up on. If it fits(of course it does) go on to the next step.
If it somehow don't fits, remove fabric where it's too large (eg. the opening is too low for the leg or the collar is too long) by marking the new outline while the dog wears it. Or measure the parts where it's too short and add that length to the corresponding part of the pattern and make a new mock-up with the new measurements. The perfect fit is alway trial and error, even when making patterns for humans, that's why a tailor always fits clothes on the costumer.
Step 3: Cutting the Fabric
Now it's time to work on the actual coat. Take your fine fabrics for the coat and make sure there is no wrinkles, iron it if there is, as we want it to lay as flat as possible. Use the mock-up as pattern and cut, no sewing allowance is needed as we're facing the edges. When all the layers are cut, sandwich them having the lining as the bottom with the wrong side facing you, then interlining and lastly the outer layer on top with the right side facing you. Pin and/or baste it all together and you are ready for the quilting.
Note: If you want to add an embroidery design or other trimmings to the outer fabric and don't want the stitching to show inside the dog coat, then add it to the outer fabric before you sandwich them.
Step 4: Quilting It All Together Now
To make sure that all the layers of fabric stays in place and generally making the coat warmer and nicer looking it should be quilted. The design I chose was pure and simple: straight lines in an angle. I did consider a round medallion center back and quilting it all by hand, but time was against me, so the simple alternative and the sewing machine was chosen.
You should choose whatever design you could like and draw it with chalk on the coat and sew after it starting at the center and working outwards, thus smooting it all out and avoid tucks.
Oh and avoid sewing over the embroidery or trimmings if you've added any ;)
Step 5: Closure
Hurray for velcro, I had some with glue on the back which I used, but I still stitched it for a good measure. Two strip on the belly, preferable in the direction as shown in the picture, mainly because you then an ease the coat a little, should it happen your dog grows around the belly. Align the velcro about an inch from the edge, that way we also have space for the facing without having to sew over the velcro. Make sure that each opposite halves lines up properly. Same goes for the strip to close the collar, Again, let the lenght of the velcro follow the length of the collar, so you can ease the size of it.
If you want to use buttons, you can wait to add them until after sewing on the facing. 2-3 buttons for the belly and 1-2 for the collar, depending on their size. Decide on the placement, as close to the edge as possible and make a mark. At these marks you sew the buttonholes and then sew on the buttons on the opposite flap. If you are new to buttons and buttonholes, then you should choose velcro or find a good instructable on it, as I have no pictures to show how it's done, sorry.
Step 6: Facings
Now those rough edges needs to be finished. Round of all of the corners of the coat, as it will make it easier to work with and, I think, is more appealing to the eye. on the lining side of the coat, begin to pin the bias tape to the edge, starting at the tail end. At the curves where the outher edge is longer than where you stitch, you should compress a little more bias tape on, so it easily cover the edge when turned over. On the other hand, at the curves where the edge is shorter, the bias tape should be stretched a bit, so it doesn't tuck when turned over. When all edges is pinned with bias tape, sew it in place and remove pins. Cut a little of the edges and the bias tape, thus removing some of the bulk under the facing and easing the turning of the tape. Turn over the tape and pin in place. I personally prefer sewing the last bit in place by hand, as I think I can do that neater in hand than by machine and that's what there is a picture of, but if you're lazy or just really good with a machine, use it, it saves time.
Step 7: Done!
Remove all pins from the coat, cut all leftover threats and you're done! congratulations, your own custom dog coat from scratch. Put the garment on your favorite pet and see how it looks on, making sure to praise him/her for helping you with it.
Additional things you can add to the customizable dog coat:
Pockets (make sure the dog doesn't realize that they're transporting their favorite treat on their side, or they'll stop going straight)
or whatever you think that could be cool, but do consider that the dog might not think so too.