Monday, 18 February 2008

What the well dressed small dog is wearing this season

So, as promised, here is a photograph, hot from the camera, of small dog showing off her natty new coat, courtesy of me almost setting fire to myself the other day.

I must say it fits her a treat, and for anyone who owns a small/medium sized dog, and a medium/large unwanted fleecy jumper, it's really easy to make. It's best to use a jumper or cardigan made from a material which is soft and stretchy and which won't fray.

Or go on fire.

Simply measure your dog from neck to tail, and cut the sleeve to that length. My jumper had a ribbed cuff, so as a result, small dog has a nice, snug-fitting polo neck. Measure from the neck to the top of the front leg and cut out a small hole. You will now need the cooperation of your dog, to allow you to slip the cuff end of the sleeve over its head, and gently pull one of its front paws through the hole, which at at this stage will almost certainly be too small. Ignore any growling and grumbling but be alert to the possibility of receiving a warning nip. The hole will certainly need to be enlarged and in doing so you should fine-tune the position, otherwise your dog will end up walking with (an admittedly comical), stiff-legged gait. You can use a fabric marker, or tailor's chalk to mark the fabric around your dog's shoulder while he/she is wearing the sleeve. Using pins is most definitely NOT a good idea.

Now remove the sleeve, again ignoring any complaints, and make the leg hole larger. To avoid an unseemly scuffle with your dog, who by now will probably be hiding out under the bed, fold the sleeve in half lengthways and mark the second leg hole. You will also have to tailor the underside end of the sleeve, so that calls of nature don't saturate the fabric. We have found that the best way is not to trim any length off the top of the sleeve, which should fit to just before the tail. Mark a smooth line from the tail, down the back leg, towards the of the dog, stopping under the belly, roughly amidships. This cutting line should be a smooth, fluid line.

It's all a bit of trial and error, but if you do make a complete dog's breakfast of it, you always have the other sleeve in reserve to get it right second time. Thereafter, once you have one sleeve which is a good fit, with the leg holes in exactly the right place, you can use it as a pattern for subsequent sleeves.

As your expertise with doggy sleeve couture increases, you can add in all sorts of useful and stylish refinements. For example if your dog really strongly objects to having the coat fitted over its head, you can cut the sleeve along the seam and stitch velcro fastenings in place for quick and easy closure. Look out for sleeves with arm pockets, which are useful for carrying poo bags, treats etc. Add reflective strips or 'go faster stripes' for nighttime safety. Sleeves of old cagoules make great waterpoof jackets, and come in a range of eye-watering bright colours, making your dog easy to spot in long grass or undergrowth. If you have a really small dog, stitch a handle to the top of the coat so you can quickly sweep it up out of harm's way if necessary.

Small dog is particularly partial to supersoft microfleece sleeve coats, and if they have a logo on the arm, so much the better. She's building quite a wardrobe of these recycled coats which draw flattering compliments whenever she's out and about, and which she laps up.
So, as well as giving your dog a warm glow, you will have one too, as you will be doing your bit for recycling and saving the planet.

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