Thursday, August 16, 2012

Keeping warm and cosy (or, a long post about making a dog coat)

The week before I had my accident in April I made a winter coat for Tansy.  I've never made a dog coat, so I started completely from scratch.  First I searched the internet to get an idea of shapes, then I measured Tansy (adding extra centimetres in case her wiggling gave me the wrong measurements!).  I drafted a test pattern and then sewed some scraps of calico together for a toile.

Note to self - Tansy doesn't like new things, so trying to put a calico coat on her was, well, interesting..!  Though it gave me enough of an idea to know what adjustments I needed to make.  I made another toile, had another attempt at fitting a wiggling, squirming dog, made adjustments to the second toile, tried it on her again and I had a pattern I was happy with.

Dog coat pattern piece - cut on centre back fold

My husband and I discussed for a while what sort of closure to make for the coat - it needs two, one at the chest and another at her tummy.  We didn't want to have to wrestle Tansy into it, but we also wanted it to stay on, but to come off easily if she got tangled on something (she loves bounding through bushes and scuffling in undergrowth!).  So we settled on velcro.
It reminds me of a frog!

This coat is a simple cut out from some blue polar fleece.  I thought it looked a bit boring though, so I pulled out some variegated pink-purple yarn from my yarn stash and hand blanket stitched around the edge of the coat.  NEVER AGAIN!!!  Polar fleece is actually quite thick, so pushing a needle large enough for the yarn through the fabric about a zillion times to make the stitches was painful!  It took two evenings and I had very sore fingers!  But I think it was (almost!) worth it, it added a touch of cute to an otherwise plain coat and it made it look sportier.  Tansy is a very sporty and fun dog, so it suits her.

Out for a walk on a sunny, but cold, Canberra day.

Initially Tansy didn't like this weird thing I kept trying to put on her, but we persevered because even though she'd spent the past two winters without a coat, we thought she might actually need one.  Australian Silky Terriers don't have a double coat, which is great for us because it means Tansy doesn't shed hair like most dogs (less to clean up!), but it means she can't keep as warm in winter.  Canberra has lovely winter days (around 13oC/55.4oF) but cold nights and early mornings (regularly -3oC/26.6oF or colder) so Tansy needed a coat. Now she loves it!  I kneel on the floor and she races up to me, puts her front paws on my leg and lifts her head up so I can wrap her in the coat and close the velcro.  I'm really pleased she likes it - she probably doesn't care what it looks like, but she knows it keeps her warm!

It doesn't restrict her movement, so she can still run and explore while wearing it.

January 2013 update: There are more details about this coat at this newer post.

PS:  My shoulder is still giving me problems and I can't do much around the house (including no crafting or gardening) though I am back at work a few hours a week.  It's looking more likely that I'll have to have surgery, so I'll be out of crafting action for a bit longer - possibly not until the new year!

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