Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter fashions

From something I wrote last year on another site:

Stella's a Great Dane and I've always found it very difficult to find properly fitted clothes for her. I'm talking functional clothing here, for warmth, as Stella is one big woose when it comes to the cold. Anything below 20C and she starts to shiver if she's lying down and relaxed. Anything below 0C and she needs a jacket when outside for more than a few minutes. I find it strange that there are companies that makes Superman costumes for toy poodles but no one makes properly fitted warm coats for large, relatively hairless dogs.

Well winter's almost here again and Stella's feeling the chill so I decided to try to make her some jackets this year since I can't find anything that'll fit her the way I like (not to mention how expensive most dog clothes can be). Most of the heat loss occurs from her belly where there's basically no fur at all but all the commercial jackets I've seen, at least the ones that do sort of fit her, don't do an adequate enough job of covering up underneath.

So, I went to ValuVillage, bought some fleece jackets and insulated vests and did some alterations on them. Stella and Rocky are not impressed but I think the results aren't bad.

Here's the materials breakdown:

cost per jacket: $7 - $10
time spent altering each jacket: 15 - 30 minutes
equipment: sewing machine, safety pins, thread, scissors

Here are more detailed instructions, in case you want to make something similar:

1. Go to ValuVillage, Goodwill, etc. and buy a vest or fleece. Stella, a Great Dane, needed an XXXL although I don't really find the sizes that consistent so some XL were big enough while others were too small.

2. Put the garment on your dog backwards and inside out so that the zipper runs along the back of your dog. You want to put the garment on inside out so that when you sew it, you'll be sewing on the inside and not on the outside of the jacket. Very gently do up the zipper making sure not to snag any skin or fur and checking that nothing's too tight, especially aroung the neck/shoulder area. Hopefully everything fits and you can proceed to the alterations.

3. Roll up the sleeves so that at the very least the paws are clear. I roll the sleeves up higher almost to Stella's elbows just so that they won't drag in puddles or wet snow. Using safety pins, pin that rolled up sleeve in place.

4. Using safety pins, pin all the loose fabric along the underside of the belly so that you get a good fit. You'll probably find that there's a lot of sagging fabric at the belly and as you go along to the chest area, the fabric gets tighter. Don't pin it too tight otherwise it might be too restrictive for movement.

5. Take the jacket off and sew a new seam along the pins along the belly and sleeves.

6. Cut off excess fabric.

7. Turn jacket right side out and try it on your Dane.

8. Sometimes I find that the zippers, especially the older ones, don't stay closed at the top near the neck so I sew a couple of velcro strips which close across the zipper up by the collar to keep everything in place.

9. For a male dogs, you'll now have to cut out a piece around the base of the belly so that his "parts" can hang out. Hem the edge of this cutout so it won't fray.

Good luck and I hope everyone's dogs stay as warm as they want to be this winter.


Anonymous said...

Now, that's cool! Or, not, which is the point.

Tell Stella she looks like Julia Roberts -- that oughta win her over. Rocky, on the other hand, looks like... well, charitably, he looks like he should be repairing a tractor...

Got any good ideas for winter boots that don't look like they should be on Paris Hilton?

joanne said...

Here is a not-bad pattern for winter boots.
The price of dog clothing is outrageous. Even the little dog stuff. I think they look very chic. If anyone happens to make the boots, let me know how they turn out.

Elizabeth Abbott said...


Caveat said...

Good job, Fred!

Fido Fleece made good coats. Just polar fleece with velcro that did up along the back. I don't think they're in business anymore.

Dog clothes are way overpriced. I like your solution!

Rocky, yeah. Maybe go for a solid colour next time. Just sayin'.

Fred said...

Hey, Rocky's not just any ol' granpappy, he's a crabby, hard of hearing, arthritic, ball-less, butt sniffing granpappy and them's his clothes to prove it.