DIY Pets: Making an Upcycled Dog Sweater
Our winters are mostly mild, but I wanted our dog Star to look as cute and fashionable as possible. I decided I’d sew an upcycled sweater as soon as I came across the perfect used wool “human” sweater. So, one day, I stopped in Labels Exchange consignment stop and they had the perfect Woolrich sweater behind the counter with a small hole in it.
The pattern I followed came from this blog, and I followed the instructions closely except that I added to Star’s design with some needle felting (which would also cover up the hole).
Nadja helped me measure Star from her collar to tail, from under her collar to about midway down her belly, from her collar to her front leg…
…around her chest, and around her front leg.
Over the course of an hour or so, I cut out the pieces, and sewed up the sweater. I’m new to sewing but this, my third project, was easy as pie even to me. Basically, the pattern called for a big rectangle and a triangle. The pattern will give you the exact proportions.
I pinned the triangle piece alongside one end of the rectangle and marked where the leg openings would need to be (again based on the pattern and measurements).
After sewing the triangle to the rectangle, starting on one side, and then pinning and sewing up the other side….
the result was the upper part of the sweater and the belly part, as shown inside-out here with holes on either side for the front legs.
After sewing up the sweater, I embellished the original pattern by adding a design of needle felted bones and tennis balls. I could use one of the designs to cover up the small hole in the sweater as well. I knew I wanted to make bones, but when I put colors of wool roving out to choose from, it came to me that the bright green would make perfect tennis balls too. (Roving is a piece of wool that’s been combed, drawn into a clump, and twisted slightly. Roving has not been spun into yarn yet. It felts more easily than the spun yarn.)
I put a square block of thick styrofoam under the sweater and then gathered about a quarter size piece of the wool to use for the bone. Using the felting needle, I stabbed the red wool over and over to tangle the fibres and turn the wool into felt in a matter of seconds. The felt worked its way into the wool sweater and the fibers fused together, thereby making the design stay in place.
It’s really easy to work the wool into a shape, especially one as easy as a tennis ball. The main risk is being sure not to poke your finger with the felting tool!
I pulled the final garment on our amazingly patient model.
I love that the sweater has two looks: one with the neck pulled up over Star’s ears for those bracing below-zero days (not that we get those here)…
and the other the “everyday” fit that leaves more room for her collar.