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How to Sew an Easy Dog Coat
Some Dogs Need Winter Coats
My little Maltese is growing older and needs a coat as the winter draws on, which it is doing right now in the Southern Hemisphere. Most dogs have two layers of hair or fur, a soft one underneath and a tougher outer layer. The soft under-layer gathers the body heat and the outer layer aids trapping it in, thus helping to keep the dog warm. Some small dogs like Maltese have the outer layer missing. This means that they are lovely and soft, but without the outer layer of fur they can be very susceptible to the cold weather.
Especially as they grow older, dogs such as Maltese need extra help to keep warm. I have knitted my little friend some coats and she has a purchased 'raincoat' that is lined with 'lambswool' for wet day outings, but she needed extra coats for normal winter days, too.
The Coat Pattern
I decided to keep the pattern fairly simple. I was able to find scraps of fabric left over from other projects over the years, so thought I would make three little coats following my pattern.
- I made a paper pattern that was about 30 cm wide and 38 cm long.
- I cut out a curve that went to about 6 cm deep to allow for her neck.
- I added an allowance for a seam all around of about 1 cm wide.
It is not difficult to adapt this simple pattern for different sized dogs. Just do it in paper first and try on the resultant pattern to ensure it is the correct size for your best doggie friend.
Cutting and Stitching
I found that three layers make a good warm coat:
- an upper layer of fabric,
- an inner layer of filling, such as quilting material,
- and a bottom layer of fabric.
- Put the two fabric layers, outer sides together, back to back.
- Add the quilting material and pin all three layers together.
- Machine around the edge leaving a gap making a firm beginning and ending to the stitching.
- Turn to the right side, fold in the edges of the remaining and slip-stitch together.
- Press with a warm iron.
Finishing and Decorating
Finishing the Edges: Using ribbon or rick-rack, reinforce the edges. This makes a nice finishing touch and helps to strengthen the garment.
The Decoration: Any ribbons, more rick-rack or pieces of velvet or lace can be used for decoration along the centre of the coat. As you can see in the photographs, some of mine looked pretty. I also made one that was more fancy with tiny bells and flowers, but it did not stand up to the washing-machine. As the coats need to be washed fairly frequently, this aspect of the decoration needs to be considered. One of mine, I thought, looked rather like the top of a tissue- box! However, some people we met on our daily walk thought it was cute.
The Ties: As you can see in the top photograph of a coat, I used some black tape and stitched Velcro to the ends. I thought it would make it faster to attach, but it is stiff and rubs on the dog's tummy. For the other two I just used the slower method of stitching on black tape to tie. It is slower, but more satisfactory. It does not need to be too long or the ends get in the way, but otherwise it works well.
She may be growing older, but she's still a little girl at heart. When I hold up a coat, she shows her joy and delight by doing a little dance, sometimes just on her back legs. Then it becomes serious and she stands still until the ties are completed ready for our walk.
© 2013 Bronwen Scott-Branagan