The jury is still out on clothing made for dogs. We have all seen the dachshund dressed as a hot dog and the poodle painted and sculpted as a ninja turtle, all the while looking absolutely miserable. Small “purse dogs,” especially, get a bad rap for being dressed in ridiculous outfits complete with painted nails, but there are real reasons to bundle up your pooch.
Step 1: First Impressions Are Important
I would like to introduce you to Valentino. Like his namesake Rudolph, he is a lover, and like the clothing designer, he takes his fashion very seriously.
Tino has no undercoat, and barely any fur on his very cute belly. In other words, as soon as the temperature drops, he feels it. A sweater makes him a bit more comfortable on chilly evening walks.
Step 2: Prancing Proudly
And Mr. Valentino definitely prances a little prouder while he is wearing one of his sweaters – how could he not when he is always so admired.
Step 3: Measurements
There are only two basic measurements you will need.
First, you will need to know your dog's girth, or chest measurement. This measurement is taken directly behind the front legs, and is the pattern size you should look for.
Next, measure from the neck all the way to the base of the tail – this is your length measurement. This can easily be altered in most patterns, so if the girth and length measurements do not match up with your pattern, go for the proper girth and adjust the length by adding or eliminating a few extra rows of knitting.
TIP: If you do not have a tape measure, measuring a round shape can be tricky. Use a length of string or ribbon to find the chest circumference and then lay that string on a ruler or yardstick to find out your pup's sweater size.
Step 4: Find Your Pattern
Doing a quick internet search will pull up many, many pattern options to use for your fabulous hand-made doggie sweater. Obviously, some will work better for a yorkie, and some will work better for a pit bull, so do keep that in mind - make sure those measurements you just took are handy.
If you knit or crochet, you are probably already familiar with Ravelry. There are so many amazing patterns on this one site, many of which are FREE! You do need to register in order to use the site, but all that is necessary is an email and password login - they do not use your information or pass it on to others.
Two canine sweater patterns that I have used with quite a bit of success are the Turtleneck Dog Sweater and the Bucalicious Sweater. Valentino is modeling a few different versions of these two patterns throughout this instructable.
And never let the pattern images scare you off a pattern – it it possible to dramatically alter the look simply by ignoring yarn recommendations (just make sure your gauge is not too far off the original suggestions or you will have to make some adjustments).
I also left off the sleeves for a couple of the sweaters for even more ease of movement.
Step 5: Hint
If you own a male dog, something to look for in a pattern is that the underneath portion of the sweater is quite a bit shorter than the top. The reason? When Tino lifts his leg, he does not always do a fully extended arabesque and the stream can move forward rather than away from the body. This means his sweater can be easily soiled if it is not well fitted. So make sure the sweater ends high up on the belly and does not hang down in harms way!
Step 6: Gather Your Materials
There is nothing worse than sitting down to begin a new project only to realize that you are missing a vital tool. Now is the time to make sure you have your knitting needles at the ready, along with yarn, row counters (if you like to use them), instructions, scissors, and a pencil to make notes on your pattern as necessary.
And remember to keep fiber content in mind when choosing a yarn if your doggie is susceptible to allergies.
Step 7: Cast On!
Follow the instructions laid out in your chosen pattern. If you come across any problems, a quick trip to your local yarn shop can put you in touch with many experienced knitters. Also, there are quite a few tutorials online that may answer your questions.
Step 8: Hint
I always like to add a small hole so attaching a leash does not interfere with the fit of the sweater.
To do this, I cast off three stitches in the middle of my row only to add those three stitches back on the next row. (Think of it as a small buttonhole at the level of the d-ring on your dog's harness.)
Step 9: Sew Up a Sweatshirt for Your Canine Companion
Of course, knitting is not a required skill to make your doggie his or her own one-of-a-kind clothing creation.
There are a number of sewing patterns out there.
It is also possible to use the design diagrams and measurement information from a knitting schematic to create your own clothing pattern. Use a sweater or sweatshirt that you will never wear again and cut it up using your newly created pattern. A quick bit of sewing, and you have up-cycled an old piece of clothing into a brand new doggie sweater coat.
Step 10: In Conclusion . . .
Most importantly, you know your dog.
Sure, most dogs will balk a bit when you first put clothing of any kind on them and ask them to move. Try putting a treat a few feet in front of them – you won’t believe how quickly they will "remember" how to walk while wearing their new sweater.
However, if he or she is truly uncomfortable, or the fit is restrictive or binding in any way, do not force them to wear any clothing.