Full disclosure – I can’t sew worth a darn and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. I consider anything held together with safety pins or Velcro to be sewing (whoever invented Velcro outdid the sliced bread people by a mile). I feel that as long as I didn’t buy it this way, I can say “I made it myself!” Needless to say, this goes for dog clothes as well as people clothes.
After finishing an entire shirt inside out, getting miles of thread lost in the bowels of my totally innocent sewing machine, and somehow making two front ends (or was it back ends?) of a superhero costume, I realized that sewing, for human or dog, was probably not my forte.
But these days it’s different. The internet has everything you could want to make your own dog clothes. Literally EVERYTHING. Patterns, ideas, supplies, instructions, videos, photos are all available. Some don’t even require a sewing machine.
Whether you’re an expert seamstress or a rank beginner, making your own dog’s clothes has some advantages:
- Recycle your old clothes – Most of us have old, stained, or worn out clothes – sweaters that have shrunk, baggy jeans with the rear worn too thin to wear in public, sweatshirts with stains from every bowl of ice cream for the past year – that for whatever reason we just can’t bear to trash (sentimental value, love the fabric, etc.). Sure, you could make a bag, or … something … but when a friend asks “is that your old sweatshirt from college?” you may question that decision.
- Matching outfits – it’s always extra adorable if you and your furbaby have matching or coordinating outfits. And that doesn’t necessarily mean fancy-schmancy down to the last button type matching. A simple jacket or even a bandana in a coordinating color will do. Or go for a reverse look – if your dress is red with white trim, go for something white with red trim for your pup.
- Unique designs – whether you hang out with other well-dressed canines and their people, or just like having original, unique things in your life, you can’t beat stepping out with your mini-me in a one-of-a-kind ensemble. Throw on some gold rick rack or some Swarovski Rhinestones and you’ve gone above and beyond without breaking the bank. The satisfaction of saying it’s an original, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind design can’t be beat.
- Save money – sometimes you see exactly what you want online or at the store, but alas, other things are simply higher on the list at the moment. It happens to all of us. So make it yourself!
Sewing your own dog clothes doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Here’s a list of basic supplies to get you started:
- Sewing machine – Not an absolute necessity for all projects, but to say they’re handy would be a gross understatement. Today’s machines are lighter, more compact, and simpler to use than ever before AND many come with an instructional DVD, like this basic 23-stitch Singer. It weighs a little over 14 pounds, comes in 4 yummy colors, and frankly I wouldn’t pitch a fit if I found it under my Christmas tree this year.
- Thread – At the very least, you need basic black and white. If you don’t have these, go get yourself a large spool each of good quality black and white. Matching thread colors are nice if you can do it, but those spools of partially used chartreuse and eggplant and neon turquoise can add up so start with the basics and work your way up to the specialty colors as you go along.
- Scissors – They don’t have to be special, just sharp.
- Fabric – so many patterns and sources! (see below)
- Pattern – Commercial patterns are sold just about anyplace where fabric is sold, and I found a great versatile one from McCall’s you can find here. Free patterns are readily available on the internet. (See below).
- Pattern paper – usually available wherever patterns are sold.
- Other miscellaneous sewing supplies, also called notions, such as tape measures, straight pins, needles, needle threaders, pin cushion, and so much more. You can buy these individually but if you’re new to the whole sewing game a kit may be the best way to go, like this one at Walmart which includes the basic black and white thread and scissors along with the other basic necessities.
They say the devil is in the details and M&J Trimming has literally every sort of embellishment you could want – ribbon, rhinestones, patches, buttons, feathers, applique, iron-on trims, and tons more. Fair warning – if you’re a crafter as well as a dog lover, your head might explode. This place is that amazing.
You’re on a budget, you say? Oh, a very tight budget. Gotcha. Been there, done that. Here are some suggestions:
- Fabric – Free is better than cheap any day. Look around your house for these things:
Bibs, baby onesies, leftover fabric, ill-fated project, any old clothes in general, unwanted pillowcases,
old sheets, or fleece blankets you wouldn’t mind cutting up for a good cause, etc. Hit up your friends for these things too.
- If you’ve got a few bucks, check thrift stores – people do donate leftover fabric, bibs, and onesies and while you’re there check out the shirts and sweaters, both adult and child. Any place that sells fabric will always have remnants. Baby onesies can be found cheap and you’ll find a pattern below for a dress made with a baby bib. Who knew?!
- Thread – It’s hard to get away from this one. As mentioned, black and white are pretty basic and great to have on hand for a lot of things, but strictly speaking any color thread will hold the material together, and in a pinch embroidery thread or something similar will work.
- Needles – Again, pretty much indispensable.
- Scissors – Any kind.
- Tape measure – These can be found pretty darn cheap at discount stores, drugstores, dollar stores, even grocery stores and this is something every home needs anyway. Even if you never sew a thing, you’ll need one to measure your dog for clothes, including harnesses.
- Newspaper, cardboard – For making patterns if store-bought pattern paper is a no-go, just remember that the ink can smudge.
- Patterns – Here are some mighty cute and for the most part easy free patterns I found:
https://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/reversible-over-the-collar-dog-bandana – You can’t go wrong with a classic bandana and the possibilities for fabric, trim, embellishments are endless, from basic black to princess worthy. This one is reversible and fits over a collar. I think this paw print fabric would be ideal.
http://www.sewdoggystyle.com/2011/03/bib-dress.html – Adorable little frock fashioned from baby bib and pillowcase.
https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/how-to-make-custom-dog-clothing – Cute pink dress that does involve some legit machine sewing but looks like it’s worth it.
https://diyprojects.com/diy-dog-shirt-diy-pet-projects/ – Lest you think all dog clothes are for the itty-bitties, your chihuahuas and your Yorkies and the like, check out this super easy pattern for the bigger guys (or girls), there’s even a video tutorial at the bottom of the page.
http://resweater.blogspot.com/2010/04/tutorial-tuesday-easy-dog-sweater.html – This sweater will require some basic machine sewing and will be easier I think if you are a little familiar with sewing wool.
http://voknits.com/recycled-dog-sweater/ – Upcycle an old sweater, this one has minimal hand stitching, no
sewing machine necessary.
https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Dog-Coat – Easy to follow instructions and clear illustrations on each step.
https://makezine.com/2009/07/21/how-to_country_gent_tweed_coat/ – A traditional tweed coat with a snuggly warm fleece lining.
http://aonestopshop.blogspot.com/2011/12/doggy-pleated-wool-coat-pattern.html – A very stylish pleated wool coat.
https://www.sheknows.com/pets-and-animals/articles/960941/diy-dog-shirt – Made with a baby onesie!
https://www.chroniclebooks.com/blog/2008/09/18/handbound-your-thursday-dose-of-chronicle-craft-39/ – If you’re a knitter, this smart sweater for medium-size dogs is just the thing. I don’t knit, but I would think it could be adapted for larger or smaller dogs than the one pictured.
https://www.crochetpatternsgalore.com/dog-coat-9342.html – If you crochet, here’s an easy and colorful stripe pattern.
As I said, my own personal forays into the world of sewing didn’t work out extremely well, but I might give it another shot, and if I do, I will post it. In the meantime, if you’ve made any clothes for your furbaby, leave a comment and let me know how it went. And if you are trying it for the first time, I’d love to know it goes!