Sunday, January 11, 2009

Canine Coat: Hank is a Frat Boy

I have always wanted to know how to sew. My mom used to make her own clothes in high school, and I always thought that was such a cool idea. She tried to teach me once, and I made a truly horrific red t-shirt. It didn't fit well, it was a woven fabric, not a knit, and it was hard. So, it wasn't until I inherited my aunt's sewing machine that I decided to try and teach myself. Of course, the sewing machine I inherited had not been touched in over 20 years, and the repair shop said it was hopeless. They let me trade it in for some money off another machine, and I got a refurbished Pfaff. It isn't as high-end as the Pfaff I gave them, but it worked, which was a big plus.

I had a book on how to make curtains and I made these little cafe curtains for the kitchen. Then I went out and bought a bolt of fabric to make drapes for the dining room (which is really not a separate room, but it is where the table is). I still have not made those drapes. I have a table now, which will make it easier, but the table isn't as long as the drapes will be, and I'm more than a little worried that it's just too much fabric.

Thinking I needed to know more basics I bought a book: S.E.W: Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. It's a pretty good basics guide and has a couple of quick projects to get you started. For Christmas this year, I got Sew U: Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin which is about sewing with knits. It is interesting, but not nearly as good. For one thing, she constantly refers to her first book. Instead of explaining something she'll say "for more on X, check out my first book." It's a little annoying.

But! This weekend, I took a project from SEW - a doggie coat - and used some of the advice in the Home Stretch to make a coat for Hank out of one of my husband's old sweatshirts. He was going to throw it away anyway, and I worry about Hank getting too cold on our walks. Generally, I think dogs do not need clothing, especially dogs the size of Hank. However, the high this coming Wednesday is supposed to be around 9, and that is cold.

So, here's the coat.
The coat goes over his shoulders and attaches under his collar with a snap. I added a fake button to the front there, because the back of the snap is kind of ugly. There's another strap that goes under his belly and snaps on the other side. For that, I took a portion of the sleeve. So, for the snap I just sliced open the cuff and attached it so you can't see it on the outside. The sleeve is a little floppy, but the fit seems to be ok.

The pattern in the book actually tells you to make your own pattern. Rupp has a little dog, so she lists what measurements to take and how to make a pattern. I don't have pattern paper, but I did have a big roll of paper from when we were painting the house, and that worked pretty well. I just gave Hank a little piece of cheese whenever I needed a measurement, and he was happy to help. Here he is, modeling:

Hank is not used to flash photography. He blinked. You can see that I over compensated for him moving a little during measurements. The front overlaps a little too much and hangs down a touch. On the sleeve/strap, I left a little too much room and it flops away from his body. Hank doesn't seem to mind. Possibly because he has never worn clothes before.

He did a good job on the next pose.

So sassy. You can't see really well in this picture, but I took the collar off the sweatshirt and reattached it after I cut out the coat shape. That was a little annoying, but it lent a more finished look, I think.

Again, I wanted positive associations with this coat, so as I measured where the strap would be and tested the pattern on him (I made a mock coat out of an old sheet first), I kept giving him little pieces of cheese. I did that as he tried it on for the first time and then let him outside. He loves the backyard.
He does not, however love the snow, which is currently about chest-deep on him. He didn't go far or stay out long, but I think he likes his new coat.

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