Monday, 9 September 2019
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DIY Waterproof Dog Raincoat

Smiling Dalmatian dog wearing a raincoat with umbrella print

Weather smeather... With two big dogs and the typical New Zealand climate, wet walkies are a regular occurrence. In the past, we would just suck it up (admittedly, Humphrey rather reluctantly so) but with the chilly wet winter/spring weather in our new town, Humphrey's dislike of rain, and Oli's age/health, a warm dog raincoat was a welcome addition to our walking equipment. It is a custom fit, but created with enough versatility so that both Oli and Humphrey can wear it comfortably despite the differences in their build.

Dalmatian dog wearing a raincoat

The cost is made using the same pattern and methods as our DIY double-layered fleece winter dog coat, but with waterproof softshell on the exterior for our wild wet and windy days. Although softshell has a soft underside and can be used alone, I opted to give this coat a fleece inner liner for winter wear (I have an old damaged raincoat put aside to hack apart in the future for a lightweight doggy shell for our warmer seasons). I included recycled high-visibility strips on the collar, leash hole shield, and belly closure bands. Our winter days can be rather dark and dreary, so a little extra visibility can be a good thing. It has a popped collar to keep the neck snug (and water out) without getting in the way of movement or causing an annoyance around the ears.  The leash hole allows easy access and use with our double loop and large collars, and the shield helps buffer that gap. This is especially handy in wet weather wear.

We've been using both new coats for several months (through our winter and into spring here in NZ) and are loving them. They're well-fitted and comfortable when standing/walking, still comfortable when in a seated position, no issues with toilet time (even with a high leg up), collar loops are accessible and don't poke or bunch, the shield keeps things nicely covered, and the popped collar doesn't bother our ears. Pawfect!  The only issue we've had is the occasional heavy tailwind flipping up the back of the coat, but that's to be expected. I briefly considered weighting the hem when planning the design but decided that was an unnecessary discomfort for the occasional tailwind flip. The high vis strips are really great on soggy dark days as well. As an unexpected bonus, the leash hole does a great double duty for hanging the coat to dry when dripping wet.

Dalmatian dog wearing a raincoat walking on a leash

The details on measuring dogs and how my customised dog coat pattern was developed are shared in detail in our earlier post. There is no free pattern download because the best shape and size will vary greatly between different pets, so it's much better to help you create you own perfectly fitted individual pattern.

✂️  If you'd prefer to simplify, you can switch from a popped collar to a basic wrapped collar, or skip the collar all together. Without the collar, you may no longer need to create access (or covering) for your leash. You can also can modify (or omit) the leash grommet and/or cover flap. 


Diagrams for measuring a dog and making a dog coat pattern


The materials and craft supplies used in making the jacket shown are:
  • Butchers Paper (or suitable alternative) for Pattern Template
  • Waterproof Softshell (or fabric of your preference)
  • Polar Fleece (or fabric of your preference)
  • Optional Washable Sew-On High Visibility Tape (I recycled some from an old vest)
  • Optional Interfacing for Popped Collar
  • Complimentary Coloured Thread
  • Sew-On Velcro / Hook and Loop
  • Sewing Machine and Basic Sewing Tools

Sewing materials for making a dog raincoat with picture of the finished coat

My high vis strips were cut from an old vest that was kicking around, but you can also buy this buy length or by roll from sewing/speciality suppliers or online. I used a cute umbrella patterned softshell material for the outer layer of this coat - it is waterproof and windproof. It has a soft underside and could be used on it's own, but I thickened up this winter raincoat with a fleece inner. Softshell is thick and stiff, making it awkward to hem, especially on a tight curve. Turning out the two layers works well and is softer on the dog's body too.  If you prefer to work with softshell unlined, consider using a pliable binding or overlocking the edges to give them a finished look instead of hemming.  Tip: Yes, those are clothes pins you see with the project supplies in the photo above. Clothes pins are my secret weapon when tailoring for the dogs. They're far more dog-friendly (and me friendly!) than a ouchy pins, easier to attach/release than safety pins, and work as my second (third, fourth...) set of hands when checking sizing and positioning.

Creating and Assembling the Custom Dog Raincoat



✂️  To maintain water resistance, with the exception of necessary needle holes for our stitching, we want to make as few perforations as possible in our raincoat. This means minimising the use of pins where possible and/or ensuring that pins are kept within the seam allowances rather than the body of the coat by altering placement and/or orientation.

  • Measure and customise the pattern, as detailed in our earlier post. 
  • Source materials and, if appropriate for your chosen fabrics, prewash/preshrink prior to use. 
  • Cut pieces using your measurements and pattern template. Double check the body for fit.
  • If using the optional high-visibility tape, sew the strips into your desired positions on the outside of your top layer fabric prior to joining layers for assembly. 
  • If you wish to include an optional sleeve on the belly band for additional flexibility and security for different belly fits (as detailed in the modification at the end of our fleece dog coat DIY), create the strip for the sleeve, sew the extra piece of Velcro to the belly band beneath, and layer the strip into position before joining that belly band piece. I included on on this raincoat during construction.
  • Layer the belly band pieces right-side-in and sew to join, leaving the top edge open (will be sewn when layered into the finished jacket). Invert to right-side-out. Top stitch around the joined edges. 
  • Layer the leash hole shield pieces right-side-in and sew to join, leaving the flat/inside edge open (will be sewn when layered into the finished jacket). Invert to right-side-out. Top stitch around the joined edges. Unlike all other pieces of this coat, I used softshell with high visibility tape on both sides of the shield.  I thought this would be better than having a potentially soggy underside in blustery wet weather.  
  • Layer the collar pieces right-side-in, add optional interfacing if using, and sew to join, leaving the bottom/neck edge open (will be sewn when layered into the finished jacket). Trim excess from corners to aid in turning out.  Invert to right-side-out. Top stitch around the joined edges. The popped collar stands naturally on the finished coat. The stiffened materials help hold it firm, but it naturally wants to pop because it is a straight rectangle sewn to a curve, creating the (partial) side of a cylinder. For a fold over collar, you can do the same without stiffening. For a lay flat decorative collar/trim, you can use matched curve instead.
If you are using a different more heat tolerant material, you can press prior to top stitching; however, my materials are ill-suited to ironing so I just flatten as best I can and try to keep the edges evenly positioned for top stitching.

Step-by-step making a dog raincoat collar

Because their position is so visible and the items have bulk, I'm attaching the shield and collar before layering, unlike the belly bands which are just sewn into place during assembly of the coat body.

  • Position the prepared leash hole shield at the center of the neck on the top piece (the waterproof side of the softshell) of your jacket, both materials right-side up. Pin (or clip) into place. Optional: Sew using a very narrow allowance (I did) or baste into place so that the shield is secure without having extra pins in the way when you join the collar. Ensure the seam will be hidden in final assembly.
  • Sew a narrow seam inside the bottom/neck allowance of the prepared collar. Slit the fabric in the allowance, ensuring you don't cross the stitched line, to help it spread when sewing it around the curve.
  • Position the collar at the center of the neck, above the leash hole shield, on the top piece of your jacket, with the collar inside facing up. Carefully curve it around the neckline and pin (or clip) into place. Sew using a narrow allowance to ensure the seam will be hidden in final assembly. 

Step-by-step sewing a dog raincoat

  • Double check your belly band position and length. Layer the prepared belly bands onto the top piece of your jacket so that they are both right-side-in, with the bands turned inwards to the coat body and the attaching allowance sticking out over the coat edge. Pin (or clip) carefully at the joining edges and (optional) use a little bit of temporary tape in the middle so that nothing shifts to be accidentally caught when sewing.
  • Layer the inside fabric piece of the jacket body over the top piece right-side in and pin (or clip) to secure. Working carefully, especially in the bulky areas around the neck and at the belly bands, sew to join the edges, leaving a gap in a discrete area that will be sufficient for inverting. Tip: With the shield an collar attached, the bulk can be deceptive about sewing the two layers of the coat. It's essential that you ensure these are cut identically so that when you layer the coat body pieces together you can trust your edges and seam allowances. Line the edges up, pin, and sew.
  • Invert the jacket through the gap. Check (once again) that everything is correctly joined and that you are happy with the fit, as it is easier to adjust now if needed than after topstitching.
  • Pin (or clip) the gap into position so that it will be sewn closed during top stitching. Topstitch around the edge of the coat body. 
  • Cut and position Velcro. Sew to secure into place. Tips: I gently rounded my Velcro, which matches the rounded ends of my closure tabs and avoids having any sharp pokey corner bits. I prefer to have my Velcro hook side up, loop side down. Loop is usually easier to sew, so having it facing in keeps the visible stitching on the top of the fabric tidier. It also won't catch on fluffy fur the way hook may, so it's better for the dogs as well.
🧩 When not in use, keep your Velcro pieces attached together. This helps to protect the stickiness of your Velcro by reducing unwanted fluff and link sticking in the hooks and also reduces the risk of accidentally damaging something else. Velcro should also be securely attached when washing and you may want to pop the whole thing into a lingerie/sweater bag for an extra layer of protection just in case something pulls open in the rough and tumble of the washing cycle. You can also use a microplastic filter bag in the wash, if you prefer.

Dalmatian dog wearing a raincoat with colourful umbrella print pattern


Special Customisations on our DIY Dog Coats


As learned when making my fleece coat, the compromise to fit both dogs securely means that Oli's belly band attaches shy of the full length of hook and Humphrey's attaches slightly past when snug. Because of this, my lower band has a little belly band sleeve which forms a loop to hold the end of the upper band when fitted tight. It has Velcro loop on the inside and there is Velcro hook on the band below. This holds it firmly together when not in use or when Oli is wearing the jacket and hold's the end neatly in place when Humphrey is wearing the jacket. You can see close-up photos of a sleeve in our fleece coat post.

The position for the collar/leash hole was checked and measured with the partially completed coat fitted, so that I could be the placement as close to perfect as possible for our type of collars and walking style. I did this before attaching the Velcro, so the coat was a little easier to work on without  worrying about catching/sticking. The leash hole itself is sized to fit Humphrey's double-loop collar (and also works great with Oli's extra wide collar). An oversized buttonhole would be a good alternative for a different style of collar/harness (and may not need any covering shield), but it wouldn't be wide enough for our double loops, which would lift and shift awkwardly under the coat. 

Although it was a challenge when I made the fleece DIY Dog Coat, once again, instead of just sewing my circle, cutting the hole, and leaving it with with unfinished edges (my materials don't fray), I created a fleece binding to wrap and reinforce the hole. I layered two pieces of the same polar fleece as my liner (very forgiving material), sewed an inside circle, cut the top layer into a ring , opened the ring, inverted the pieces, and topstitched the inside curve.  I then popped it into position inside the hole with the untrimmed/large side down, basted the upper ring to secure in lieu of pinning, then sewed the edges into place, trimmed excess from the inside to match the ring stitch line, and hand stitched the join (positioned under the shield). This takes advantage of being able to trim the fleece inside to a perfect match on the stitch line without having to worry about whether I've caught all the edges during sewing. It was particularly helpful with the softshell, since I didn't want to use pins nor do any picking/rework.

Ste-by-step creating a hole for using a leash with a dog coat

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