Pets · Whimsy

Wintertime Doggie Sweater

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Brrrrr! Wake me in April.

Here in New England, cold days are hard to avoid. Lately it seems like my dog has gone into hibernation. She’s a pretty furry girl, so I don’t usually do the dog coat thing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last winter, I practically lived in my favorite wool fair isle turtleneck. But I found out the hard way that the hand wash setting on the washing machine wasn’t exactly the same thing as actual hand washing. While the sweater still looked good, it was way too small to ever wear again.

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Starting point

Upon closer examination, it was still nice and soft, but now it was a little bit felted too. The benefit of felting is that now I didn’t have to be concerned about raveling if I wanted to cut into it.

I thought about what I could do with it. I considered mittens, a hat, or possibly a vest. Then I saw my dog curled so tightly that she looked like a furry throw pillow. She was going to get a sweater!

Here’s how I did it.

First, measure the dog. You’ll need to know circumference around the middle, circumference of the neck, and length from neck to tail.

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Measure the dog. (Yes, her bed is on my desk. Try not to judge).

I made my own pattern based on her measurements. The easiest way to make it would be to just plan on the pattern being the exact shape of the finished coat. Instead of hemming, I would just sew bias tape on the raw edges. Once the pattern was done, I thought about how to best place the design on the sweater. I brought out some wide double-fold bias tape I thought might work. I also went through my box of bag parts for webbing and closures.

When I get rid of worn out backpacks or other bags, I cut off any good d-rings, fasteners, swivel clasps, and anything else I think I might use. They all go in a box for occasions such as this. For the dog coat, I found a side-release buckle and slider. I added a scrap length of 1 in. black cotton webbing that was the right size to fit them.

I tried a few colors of bias tape and settled on the hot pink.

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Once I had all of the supplies together, I cut into the sweater. I removed the sleeves and cut the front from the back. I took off the turtleneck, but left a little of the main sweater attached in case I wanted to use it. As I expected, it didn’t ravel.

While it wouldn’t work out every time, in this case, the turtleneck was just the right size to fit the dog comfortably. So I made that the neck piece.

Once I cut the coat shape, I did a rough fitting.

I pinned the neck and the body together to fit the dog’s proportions. The I sewed them together using a 3-thread overlock stitch on my serger.

Next I bound the raw edges with the pink bias tape.

Around this time, I realized that I didn’t have a plan for the raw neck edge at the base of the turtleneck. I didn’t want to use the bias tape because I wanted to maintain its stretchiness. I found some black fold-over elastic (FOE) and used that, even though it wasn’t a perfect match. I didn’t think the dog would mind. Also, it’s practically invisible when she has the coat on.

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I thought the FOE would also be a pretty good solution for making a buttonhole (for a leash attachment point). I zigzagged it into place, then carefully opened a slot in the piece’s middle. If I were to do this over again, I would put some stretchy stabilizer under the buttonhole area before stitching. It’s fine, but it could tear given enough pressure.

The last step was the strap that goes around the dog’s middle. First I put together a test belt using the hardware, webbing and a few pins. After some convincing, I was able to test it on the dog. I snugged it up a bit and brought the pieces to the machine. I chose to sew the entire belt to the underside of the sweater instead of making two smaller pieces attached to the sides. While that would be fine for stable fabrics, I’m sure that the knit would stretch.

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I’m warm!

The finished product is slightly imperfect, but sooo cute – just like my dog!

Fashion

Burgundy Cowl-Neck Tunic

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Cover art for V9055 View C

This is one of those projects where the fabric dictated what it wanted to be. As soon as I saw the gorgeous heathered burgundy hacci fabric, I knew it was meant to be a loose cowl-neck pull-over. And it would be mine. I guess if pressed, I would deny that the fabric literally spoke to me, but fellow sewists will recognize that subtle whisper.

I love cowl neck garments in the cooler months. Now that there are so many lovely lightweight knits on the market, sweaters can use bulkier design elements like cowls, gathers, and draping. With that in mind, I landed on Vogue 9055. One of the views was exactly what I had in mind. View C is a cowl-neck raglan tunic with a high-low hem and a kangaroo pocket (which I omitted). Although I had recently done a raglan tee and copied out a good version of the pattern, I chose to start fresh with this one since I was looking for a garment with more ease.

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The sleeve pieces fit together so the outside wraps around the inside. In other words, you have a seam on each side of your wrist, not one down the middle.

Vogue 9055 is a “Very Easy” pattern, and this time I agree. I spent more time preparing the pattern and cutting out the pieces than I did assembling everything. I even made it a bit more complicated by finishing all of the raw edges and it still was only about two hours of actual sewing.

This pattern was unusual in that it featured a two-part sleeve. I was a little concerned that the sleeve seams would be prominent and distracting in the finished garment, but my fears were unfounded. I’m intrigued and hope to learn more about them and how they can best be used.

I was surprised that the neckline was so deep. It’s clearly shown on the illustrations, but somehow I didn’t notice. I think if I were to make this with the regular scoop neckline, I would make the neckline a little higher. I would also try omitting the darts, especially if I was going for a sportier look.

Once again, I used serger thread only for the serger’s loopers and used “regular” thread for the serger needle. It would have been nice to match all of the thread, but when the garment is on, the black looper threads don’t show at all.

Next time, a short detour into activewear again. What are you making for fall?

 

 

Fashion

Drape Neck Summer Sweater

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I knew this knit fabric had possibilities the minute before I impulse-bought it.

My top started with a look at my fabric stash.  I have had this piece of deep olive knit for years.  It’s a thin knit which drapes well, but still is opaque enough not to need lining.  I remember a younger, more foolish me standing at the remnant table thinking “I know it’s only a yard, but it’s so pretty…  I’ll think of something!”  It’s about time I proved to myself I know thing or two about using foolish fabric purchases. Game on!

One of my go-to tops is a sleeveless pullover made of a similar weight sweater knit.  I wondered if I could use it as a model.

Red and Black Stripe Top
I used this top as inspiration for my project.

Preparing the pieces took some patience.  It was hard to keep the knit from stretching while cutting and marking. For a marking tool, I used a yellow chalk wheel. It made nice, clear marks without pulling the fabric.

While I wanted to serge as much as possible, I did not have matching thread.  I knew any dark neutral would work for the side seams, since darker colors tend to recede into the background.  But the thread used to hem the neck, bottom and sleeves would be visible on the front, so I opted to use my regular machine and my single matching spool for the hems and the tucks.  I used plain black in the serger loopers and moved the matching spool to the serger’s right needle position. I serged the sides, shoulders and the raw edge of the cowl with a three thread overlock seam.

Again, I seem to have chosen a tricky fabric.  I had to pull out all of my tricks to keep the sewing machine from swallowing it.  In the end, I laid a scrap of tear-away stabilizer under the knit to get my seams started.

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View B was similar to the inspiration top and required less than a yard.

Once I worked out the machine setup issues, the top went together quickly.  I made one small addition to the pattern instructions, stabilizing the shoulder seams with stay-tape.

I would definitely make this top again.  Any solid color, abstract pattern, or even stripes would look great with it.  I would probably go with an easier fabric, but I *think* the second time would be faster even if I didn’t.

I can’t wait to wear this!  It looks good by itself or under an unbuttoned jacket.  It can be paired with jeans for a casual look, but is also completely appropriate as work wear.

Summer, here we come!

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TIP: You don’t have to thread the serger with a row of matching cones. Here I have threaded the right needle with an all-purpose polyester thread.
Olive drape neck top front
The finished top looks great!
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Nothing fancy, just a nice, plain back.