Fabric Stash Project: Dog Jacket

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I like to be outside. At various times in my life, I wished I was a smoker because they get to go outside for a few minutes all of the time. I remember reading an employee manual once where I worked (yeah, I’m someone who actually does that), and smokers were allowed four 15 minute breaks through the day in addition to lunch, while non-smokers only got two 10 minute breaks. I’d be in a party or a stuffy crowded bar and think I just wanted a few minutes of space to regroup and see the smokers go outside. But smoking isn’t for me and just standing outside a door alone without a cigarette or reason can look suspect or antisocial. Once in a while I’d do it anyway and fib and say I was waiting for someone when people asked.

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I never enjoyed breastfeeding, except that it allowed me a few minutes escape if I wanted. I didn’t mind feeding in front of people, but I always had that excuse if I wanted to sneak away. Sometimes (sorry, family) I would say I had to go feed the baby and take the baby upstairs and I’d read or watch TV or even take a nap for a few minutes instead.

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And now, I get to walk the dog. I might have to carry poop in a bag or get woken up in the middle of the night to do it, but I can escape outside for a few minutes. I breath fresh air. I see acorns and baby turtles. I make friends with the dog owners and retirees in the neighborhood and explore the muddy trails between Sarah’s house and mine. I can go outside for 5 minutes or a few hours and appear responsible and kind and not strange and antisocial. It is good.

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Our pup was pulled from a kill shelter in the South and brought to a shelter here in Northeast where we first met her. She’s a southern girl and doesn’t have thick fur, and she shivers a ton in the cold. We bought her a fleece jacket when we got her last winter, but she’s filled out some so it’s snug in the chest and I thought a few more inches of coverage might be nice. I used her old jacket as a template and added seam allowance and the extra inches where needed. I had microfleece from JoAnns (I can’t remember why I bought it in the first place), but it’s sort of cheap and thin, so I doubled the top and bottom layers (so there are 4 layers) to make a nice thick blanket. I laid out to trace and went for my scissors and came back to find that she approved.

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My machine was dropping stitches on the thick parts so I was playing with stitch length and tension, but changed the needle and didn’t have problems after that, I’m not sure why that made a big difference. Does anyone have problems with that?

There are free patterns online for dog jackets (this one is cool, made with an old jacket so it’s waterproof), but really, you want to measure it to your dog and design it based on the dog’s body and what your dog will tolerate. My dog is extremely tolerant, so that wasn’t really a consideration here. I made a thicker belly strap than her original to keep her belly warm, but you probably couldn’t pull that off with a boy dog or one with a shorter torso. How their neck, chest, legs and shoulders are shaped and move might also change your design. The basic idea is to make a cape and then add straps for under chest or belly. Her old jacket had a collar and it never seemed to bother her. It adds a few extra inches of coverage on her neck so I kept it in the new design. I’d think some dogs might not like that, and sewing it on is a little tricky. If I make another, I might leave it out for simplicity.

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You also have to consider where your leash attaches to the dog. Her old jacket had a big button hole on the back, you could clip the leash through, but it was low on our dog and annoying to feed the leash through so we just went over the collar. I’ve seen hoods on dog jackets, but if I were a dog, I think I’d want my ears out. At my kids suggestion, I alternated the velcro on the inside and outside so that it could be reversible. I have some reflective tape I can put on, but I’m not sure if I will yet.

This project was quick and easy. It would be an easy way to not only use up a fabric stash, but to recycle a lot of things – sweatshirts with favorite teams or logos, old blankets, or jackets.

 

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