LIFESTYLE

How to Make Dog Clothes: Expand Your Dog’s Wardrobe

Make clothes for your dog
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

If your one of those dog owners who thinks that a few accessories would brighten up your dog’s life, then you’re not alone. But buying shirts, sweaters, hats, and all of the other fashion accessories at the pet store can get a little pricey, and there are always new items being added according to the season.

However, instead of shelling out money, why not consider DIY dog clothes to add to your pet’s closet? Many of these tips below are easy to make with just a pair of scissors and some sewing thread, while others may require a bit more skill with the use of a pattern and create your doggy clothes from scratch.

Do it yourself dog clothes

We put together just a few examples of how to make dog clothes on your own.

Dog shirt

Do you have an old t-shirt lying around that you’re no longer interested in wearing? Instead of throwing it away or confining it to use as a rag to wash your car, turn it into a shirt for your dog. Depending on the size of your dog, you may need to trim it down in order to fit him properly. If you have a giant breed dog, then using an extra large shirt will help you to make him a proper shirt.

The materials you’re going to need are:

  • old t-shirt
  • scissors
  • tape measure
  • fabric glue
  • marker
  • needle and thread

In choosing a shirt to use, the neck line should be about the same size as your dog’s in order for his head to fit through. That way, you won’t have to worry about cutting the neck later and having the fabric fraying as your dog wears it.

Making of dog clothes

The next step is to take some measurements. You’re going to need to measure around the middle of your dog’s chest, the distance from his neck to his tail along the middle of his back, the distance from his neck to the middle of his stomach, and from the shoulder to the elbow in order to determine the length of the sleeves.

Decide which side of the shirt you want to be showing on your dog’s back and turn that towards the cutting surface. Mark the length from the neck of the shirt to the measurement recorded from your dog’s neck to his tail. Add an extra 1/4 inch for a hem, and cut across the bottom of the shirt.

The next step is to remove excess fabric on the sides so that the shirt will fit your dog. In order to accomplish this, mark a section at the bottom of the shirt that is half as long as the length around your dog’s middle, and add an extra 1/4 inch to both sides for a hem.. The mark should be centred so that the cut is even on both sides. Draw the lines that you need upwards from the bottom of the shirt.

Once you get to the armpits of the shirt, use a curved surface to mark off half of the sleeve that needs to be cut. If your dog has large forelegs, then you may need to cut less of the sleeve off. Cut along these lines.

Turn the shirt over so that the stomach side is now facing towards you. Mark the measurement for the neck to the mid-stomach and cot across this length, being sure to leave some fabric for the hem. If you want to remove the sleeves, now is the time to cut them off.

DIY dog shirt

Once you’re done, turn the shirt inside out and use fabric glue to hem the cut edges together. Do this by drawing a line of glue along one edge of the shirt, and then fold the edge over the glue so that the cut edge is now on the inside of the shirt. Wait until the glue has set on all the hemmed edges. You can use safety pins to keep them together while you take care of other chores. A needle and thread or a sewing machine would also help this process go a lot faster.

In order to take care of the sides and the armpit, fold the edge of the back side of the shirt (the long one) over the glue that has been placed on the stomach side (the short one). It can be a little tricky to do this, given the shape of the armpit, but some patience will definitely pay off.

You can take another route by cutting down the middle of the stomach side of the shirt altogether and sewing some Velcro tabs in several spots. This can be much easier than pulling the shirt on over your dog’s head. Now, you can even match with your dog if you have the same shirt. If you’d like to see another version of making a shirt for your dog, check the link below:

Doggy leg warmers

If you have an old pair of socks that you’re no longer interested in wearing, you could turn them into doggy leg warmers. He may not be interested in going to an aerobics class, but he’ll certainly look a lot warmer this coming winter season, and it puts those old socks to good use. You can use regular socks for small to medium dogs, and you can use knee highs for larger dogs.

Doggy leg warmers

Cut the socks at the bottom of the ankle area to remove the foot of the socks. Then, cut the top part in half length-wise. You should have four separate pieces altogether. Turn them so the outside are facing each other, with the tops and bottoms left open. Fold in the edges as much as you need to fit the circumference of your dog’s legs. You can choose to hand stitch or machine-sew the ends together, depending on the kind of fabric the sock is being made out of. Then, turn them inside out and your dog is ready to wear them.

You can make as many leg warmers as you need, and you may even find yourself looking for socks in the store just to make more for your pooch. You can even sew on small buttons, bows or other small accessories to brighten up these leg warmers even more. For some small dogs, the bottoms and tops may need to be hemmed in order to stay on your dog.

Doggy headband

This cute headband will definitely make a statement when you take your dog to the park. Covered in buttons and bows, this headband adds a bit of a frilly look to your dog. However, the basic design can be used to make more neutral headbands if girly isn’t really your thing.

What you’ll need:

  • scraps of two contrasting fabrics
  • one large button (size 36) to cover and a tool
  • 12″ clear elastic
  • thread to match the fabric

To start, you’ll need to measure around your dog’s head from the center of the top of their head right in front of the ears, to around under their chin and back up again. Secondly, you’ll need to measure from the bottom of one ear, under the chin, and to the opposite ear. Cut the elastic that is equal to the first measurement.

Doggy headband materials and tools

In order to make the band, rotary cut a strip of fabric that is two inches wide and twice the length of the first measurement.

To make the bow, rotary cut two strips of fabric that are different measurements depending on the size of your dog. For small and medium dogs, cut the fabric 3.5″ by 3.5″; for extra-small dogs, 2.5″ by 2.5″. All of these measurements include a 1/4″ for seam allowance.

The first step is to cover the button with fabric and set aside. On one of the strips, turn 1/4″ to the wrong side and sew the hem. Repeat for the other end. Fold together the right sides of the strip and stitch them together along the long edge. Leave the short ends open. Then turn the strips inside out

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the band, gathering the fabric as it is pulled through. You can hand stitch or machine stitch the ends together. Pull the elastic so the stitched ends are inside the fabric, and then gather up the fabric on the band until it is equal to the second measurement. Stitch through the short end of the band to hold the fabric in place on the elastic. Try the band on your pet to figure out the best place for the bow and button; mark where you want them to be and remove it from your pet.

Doggy headband

Place the bow strips right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving one end open. Trim the corners and then turn them inside out. Turn the seam allowance at the opening to the wrong side and press. Then fold the bow in half horizontally, and crease to mark the centre.

Using a needle and thread, tie a knot in one end of double ply thread and sew a line of basting through the centre of the bow where the crease is. Be sure to leave a 3″ tail. Pull up the thread to gather the fabric, wrap the thread around the centre several times, and tie off the end with the tail on the back of the bow. Then, insert the needle through the bow again through the centre and secure the button with tack stitch through the top layer of the fabric band only. Cut the thread. It’s ready for your dog to wear and show off his style.

Over the collar bandanna

This is a fun item that you can make, especially if you have piece of scrap fabric around and you don’t know what to do with them. These are much more fun to make, and require less fabric than a regular bandanna.

What you’ll need are:

  • two piece of fabric in different patterns
  • plastic canvas
  • scissors
  • rotary cutter
  • cutting mat
  • sewing machine
  • fusible bonding web
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • measuring tape

If you plan on making several bandannas (and you probably will), you can save time on having to measure the fabric over and over again by cutting a piece of plastic canvas to use as your pattern every time. The basic shape should look like a triangle resting on a skinny long rectangle (this is where the collar feeds through).

Making your bandana

Using the canvas allow you to count the holes so that you can make sure that your point is in the middle. The best measurements for the various sizes of dog breeds are as follows:

Extra small dog:

Top: 6 3/4″

Vertical side: 1 3/4″

Diagonal edge: 4 5/8″

Height (to point): 5″

Small dog:

Top: 7 7/8″

Vertical side: 2″

Diagonal edge: 5 1/2″

Height (to point): 5 7/8″

Medium dog:

Top: 9 3/8″

Vertical side: 2″

Diagonal edge: 6 1/2″

Height (to point): 6 6/8″

Large dog:

Top: 11 1/4″

Vertical side: 2 1/8″

Diagonal edge: 8″

Height (to point): 7 3/4″

Extra large dog:

Top: 15 3/4″

Vertical side: 2 3/4″

Diagonal edge: 11″

Height (to point): 10 1/2″

These measurements can be altered as needed in order to fit your dog correctly.

Use two fabrics that can be easily washed and are light weight. Wash and dry them before you start cutting and sewing. Put the fabric together with their backs facing out and place your plastic canvas on them. Start cutting out the pattern using a rotary cutter and place a few pins across the top of the fabric to keep them together and sew a straight seam across the top.

Over the collar bandanna

Open the two joined pieces and press the seam so that both sides lay flat. Make sure that the wrong side of the fabrics is still facing you. Fold one of the side inwards and press the fold. Do the same on the other side. It’s important that both sides be symmetrical. Then, do a second fold to eliminate the raw ends of the fabric. Use the fusible bonding web and an iron to secure these edges.

This will create a cleaner look when your bandanna is complete. Sew a straight seam down each side of the bandanna. Sew closer to the fold rather than at the edge of the bandanna. Be sure to make it even on both sides.

After sewing the side seams, fold the bandanna in half so that the right sides are on the inside, and then pin the diagonals together. The short vertical sides are meant to create a pocket, so don’t pin them together. Sew a seam up each diagonal edge, and then trim off some of the excess fabric around the point. Then your bandanna is ready to be turned inside out.

Insert your dog’s collar through the pocket to determine how wide it should be, and then mark it. Sew horizontally across this mark so that the collar can be placed into the bandanna easily. Then simply feed your collar through it and attach it to your dog, and you’re done!

Dog booties

When the weather gets a bit cold outside, it can be important to keep your dog’s feet warm. But don’t invest on those expensive pairs of boots or those flimsy plastic coverings. You can make your own doggy booties with a few simple materials, and they can be any color you want to match your dog’s style. Each boot only takes about ten minutes to make, so your dog will be ready to be out and about in the snow in no time.

What you’ll need are:

  • several feet of fleece in any color
  • suede, canvas, or cloth-backed vinyl
  • Velcro
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • pencil and paper

The first step is creating a pattern for your boots, and that means getting your dog involved. You need to create a pattern that fits your dog’s paw snuggly, but not too tightly. To get a good measure, place a piece of paper on the floor and trace the dog’s foot. It should be a little bigger than his paw in order for him to move his foot comfortably. The length of it should be from the end of the paw to just under rear leg joint, which can differ depending on the size of your dog.

Choose design

The top part of the boot should have a slight flare outwards to make it easy to get the boot onto your dog. Once you’ve gotten everything drawn, use scissors to cut out the pattern. This will only form half of the boot.

Fold the material in half and place the pattern along the fold, with the end of the paw near the fold. Carefully cut the pattern out of the material, making sure that the pattern doesn’t shift in the process. This needs to be done once for each boot that you’re making.

Creating a wear pad of the bottom of the foot would be essential so that your dog has a covered surface to walk on. Traction can also be added to the wear pad in order to prevent your dog from slipping on the icy surface. The wear pad should be roughly the same size as the dog’s foot. Using an old roll of electrical tape as a pattern, cut out circles from the suede, canvas or cloth-backed vinyl.

The last thing you’ll need to cut is four piece of Velcro that is twice the width of the narrow part of the pattern. This should be at least one inch below the flare at the top of the boot. The Velcro will be used to fasten the boots so that they can remain on your dog’s feet while they are in use.

The first step in the sewing process is to sew the wear pad into the foot area of the boot. A straight stitch will work around the perimeter to secure it in place. Then, add the Velcro boot straps to the narrow portion of the boot material. This puts the strap at the narrowest part of the dog’s foot.

Then, fold the material over the toe edge so that the wear pad and boot strap are on the inside. Sew along the edge from the toe fold to the top of the flare. Sew 1/4″ from the edge to create a hem. At the flare, reverse the sewing machine for about 1/2″ to 1″ to lock the edge and provide reinforcement. Sew the other edge in the same manner. Repeat with all the other boots.

Making booties

Turn the boots inside out and slip them onto your dog’s feet. Use the Velcro to wrap around the foot and strap closed. Making it too tight can cause some discomfort to your dog, so be careful with how you use the straps.

Making clothes for your dog can save you on a lot of money in the long run, and it makes it easier to fit the clothing to your dog instead of having to guess the right size. You can also choose which fabrics you like, allowing you to coordinate your dog’s outfits with your own or give him a style all of his own. Your dog will also appreciate the extra attention you put into DIY dog clothes.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.

  • Jane Lewis

    Doggy clothes get pricey, especially when you’re on your third shirt and matching headband and your former puppy has outgrown them! I love this idea of making personalized clothes, definitely on my to-do list! my only concern is using hot-glue exclusively, as hot glue (although convenient) may not hold up a dog’s clothes in the long-term.

    • Emily Young

      While I don’t necessarily discourage investing on high-end clothes, making your own dog clothes for your fur baby is a great learning experience. You just need to understand the basics of dressmaking, and to use the correct materials to personalize the articles you’re planning to make for your fur baby.

  • Margaret Aniston

    I’ve made clothes for my little guy before and as soon as I put in on him, he becomes lazy and sleepy. He just lies on his pet bed and won’t play. It seems he’s so calm and that’s kind of weird. After I take the clothes off him, he’s back to his old self – so I know he’s not ill or anything.

    Has anyone experienced this with their dogs? I’d say, this might come in handy when he’s nervous!

    • Emily Young

      Make sure that the clothes you put on your dog is not restrictive. It should be snug enough not to be easily removed, but loose enough to allow freedom in movement.

  • CyndyPrinceton

    Am not being a party pooper or something but I just want a factual answer: “do our dogs really need clothes in winter?” Even expensive designer ones? In winter, do smaller dogs or short-haired breeds need the extra layer? Thanks for any input!

    • Emily Young

      Short answer is yes, they need clothes in winter. Dog clothes encourage warmth, especially for dog breeds with very short hair. While considered as warm-blooded mammals, dogs will benefit from a layer of clothing to keep their temperature stable.

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