DIY Fleece Dog Coat Design and Features
Dog Coat Design and Pattern
The details on measuring dogs and how this customised dog coat pattern was developed are shared in detail in our previous post. Although I’ve included general diagrams, there is no pattern to download. The best shape and size will vary greatly between different pets, so it’s much better to help you understand how to create you own perfectly fitted individual pattern. The basic coat and belly bands are very simple to size and sew, so don’t be intimidated by the idea of creating your own custom fitted DIY dog coat pattern.
Practical Features for Comfort and Use
The DIY dog coat is constructed with a sports fleece outer (tracksuit or hoody type material) and a polar fleece inner. I also 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 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.
To simplify the coat for easier sewing, 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. A basic buttonhole is an easy alternative to the leash grommet if access is required.
DIY Dog Coat Supplies and Materials
The materials and craft supplies used in making the DIY fleece dog coat shown are:
- Butcher’s paper or similar (paper pattern template)
- Sports fleece or preferred alternative fabric (outer layer)
- Polar fleece or preferred alternative fabric (inner layer)
- Washable sew-on high visibility tape (mine was recycled from an old vest)
- Interfacing (stiffens the popped collar)
- Sew-on Velcro / hook and loop
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
Notes on Material Selection
This particular coat is warm and somewhat water-resistant, but not waterproof or windproof. You can switch materials or use an inner lining with similar materials if you’d like to add those properties.
I used sports fleece on the outside of this coat instead of double layers of polar fleece. Sports fleece is a little more fur friendly than polar fleece (total fur magnet!). It’s very similar to work with, so it pairs great with the fleece inner. It also washes and wears well. All parts of the lining are a matching red fleece, except the inside of the collar. I used a red and black buffalo check because I had it some scrap on hand and felt like doing something a little different at the neck. Just because!
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 ouchy pins, easier to attach and release than safety pins, and work as my second (third, fourth…) set of hands when checking sizing and positioning.
Sewing a DIY Fleece Dog Coat
- Measure and customise the pattern, as detailed in the previous post.
- Source materials as listed above, or preferred alternatives.
- If appropriate for your chosen fabrics, prewash or preshrink prior to use.
Cutting the Fabrics
- Cut pieces using your measurements and pattern template.
- Double check the body for fit before sewing.
Sewing the Components of the Coat
If you are using a different more heat tolerant material, you can iron if/as needed during the project. Ironing can be particularly helpful prior to top stitching. For the materials used here, ironing isn’t well suited. I just hand flattened and tried to keep the edges evenly positioned for top stitching.
Note: 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. Beware – it can be very slippery. Not my tidiest sewing. Oops.
Preparing the belly bands:
- Layer the belly band pieces right-side-in.
- 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.
- See note at the end of this post if you wish to include an optional sleeve on the belly bands for additional flexibility and security for different belly fits.
Preparing the leash access hole shield:
- Layer the leash hole shield pieces right-side-in.
- Sew along the curve to join, leaving the flat neck edge open (will be sewn when layered into the finished jacket).
- Invert to right-side-out.
- Top stitch around the joined edges.
Preparing the stiffened collar:
The popped collar stands naturally on the finished coat. The stiffened materials in the collar help hold it upright, but it naturally wants to pop. 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, you can use matched curve instead.
- Layer the collar pieces right-side-in.
- Add optional interfacing if using.
- 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.
Attaching the Shield and Collar to the Neck of the Coat
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 centre of the neck on the top piece of your jacket, both materials right-side up. Pin 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. Cut small slits in the fabric inside the allowance, ensuring you don’t cross the stitched line. This will help it move into position when sewing the straight edge of the collar around the curve of the neck.
- Position the collar at the centre 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 into place.
- Sew using a narrow allowance. The seam will be hidden in the final assembly of the coat layers.
Layering the Jacket and Adding the Belly Bands
Positioning the belly bands for sewing:
- 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 at the joining edges as well as in the middle so that nothing shifts to be accidentally caught when sewing.
Layering the coat’s inner and outer fabrics:
- Layer the inside fabric piece of the jacket body over the top piece right-side in and pin to secure.
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.
Sewing the coat together:
- 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.
- Invert the jacket through the gap. Unpin the belly bands and return to normal position.
- 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 the gap into position so that it will be sewn closed during top stitching.
- Topstitch around the edge of the coat body.
Adding Velcro / Hook and Loop
- Double check the required positions and sizes for fasteners on your coat. Bigger strips are more adjustable and secure (perhaps too secure sometimes!), but may not be necessary for your fit.
- Cut and position Velcro.
- Sew to secure into place.
- Reinforce stitching (optional) for added security when pulling the Velcro apart during use.
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.
Special Customisations on Our DIY Dog Coat
The steps above create a finished and ready-to-wear dog coat. Our own DIY fleece dog coat, however, has a few extra features. These were designed specifically for how we use the coat and are all completely optional, of course!
Grommet Style Leash Access Opening
The leash access hole 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 or 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.
The position for the leash access 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 step of construction before attaching the Velcro, so the coat was a little easier to work on without worrying about catching or sticking.
As a total sucker for punishment, instead of just sewing my circle, cutting the hole, and leaving it with unfinished edges (my materials don’t fray), I decided to create a fleece binding to wrap and reinforce the hole on my stretchy jacket materials. I do love the end result, but it was painful getting there!
Binding the leash access hole:
To create a tight curvy fleece binding for my small circle, I layered two pieces of the polar fleece (more forgiving than the sports fleece), sewed an inside circle, cut a ring (one side slightly wider than the other), opened the ring, inverted the pieces, and topstitched the inside curve. I then popped it into position inside the hole with the wider side down, sewed the edges into place, and hand stitched the join (positioned under the shield).
With the raincoat version of this DIY dog coat design, I simplified this by not cutting the bottom of the ring until after it was sewn into place. 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. Lesson learned from making this fleece coat first!
Time for Some Test Walkies!
Done and looking sharp, the jacket went into winter service straight away. The only thing that wasn’t quite perfect is that in the compromise to fit both dogs, the belly band needed to be super adjustable. Oli’s belly band attaches shy of the full length of hook. Humphrey’s attaches slightly past when snug. The flappy little end (see the pre-modification photo below) is not really a problem, but I had an idea…
Adding a Belly Band Sleeve
I modified the lower belly band with a little sleeve. It forms a loop to hold the end of the upper band when fitted tight. It has Velcro loop on the inside and I sewed a piece of hook to the band below before attaching. This holds it firmly together when not in use or when Oli is wearing the jacket (third photo in the collage below) and holds the end neatly in place when Humphrey is wearing the jacket (fourth image in the collage below). It works perfectly and was included when making the follow-on raincoat.
Dog Coat Wear and Care
Happy Cosy Dogs in Coats
I love everything about it and the boys seem to find it very comfortable. Humphrey has been known to nudge the storage box where I keep them by the door when we’re getting ready for walkies in cold and wet weather. I think he asking to have a jacket too please, Mom. Hehe!
The coat does have a tendency to occasionally flip up at the tail when there is a strong tail wind (literally) but I knew that would be an issue when I made the coats. It’s a common issue for blanket-style coats. Adding hem weights would be uncomfortable bouncing by the bum. Leg straps would also be uncomfortable (I think anyways) and wouldn’t work for versatile fit between bot dogs.
Care and Cleaning
If we get rained on, the leash access hole makes a great hanging point for drying. Surprise bonus! When needed, our coat can be washed and dried like any other fleece clothing. Easy peasy. I usually cold wash and line dry, as is the norm with all of our household laundry. Tailor the washing settings to suit your materials, if needed.
Of note, Velcro should be securely attached when washing. If you’re washing with other items, you may want to pop the whole thing into a lingerie or 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.
When not in use, also keep your Velcro pieces attached together. This helps to protect the stickiness of your Velcro by reducing unwanted fluff and lint sticking in the hooks. It also reduces the risk of accidentally damaging something else from sticky scratchy Velcro contact.