Weather smeather… With two big dogs and the typical New Zealand climate, wet walkies are a regular occurrence. With the chilly wet winter weather in our new town, Humphrey’s dislike of rain, and Oli’s age and health, this warm DIY 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. Here’s how our DIY dog raincoat was designed and made.
DIY Dog Raincoat Design and Features
Coat Design and Pattern
Details on measuring dogs for cost and how we used those measurements to create a custom dog coat pattern were shared in an earlier post. I’ve included general diagrams, but 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 create you own perfectly fitted individual pattern.
Practical Features for Comfort and Use
Our DIY dog raincoat is made using the same pattern and methods as our DIY 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 dog rain shell for our warmer seasons.
Like our fleece coat, I’ve included recycled high-visibility strips on the collar, leash hole shield, and belly closure bands. A little extra visibility is helpful is dark and dreary wet weather. 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.
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 Raincoat Supplies and Materials
The materials and craft supplies used in making the DIY dog raincoat shown here are:
- Butcher’s paper or similar (paper pattern template)
- Softshell 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
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 its own, but I warmed up this winter raincoat with a fleece inner. Softshell is thick and somewhat stiff compared to a standard fabric. This makes 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.
You can also use a raincoat fabric or old raincoat to create a waterproof outer layer, if you prefer. Softshell was on sale for less than plain raincoat material when I bought my supplies. I was waiting and watching the store emails for a sale! Mooohahah. It’s also more durable than most plain raincoat materials, which can be helpful with wild dogs, shrubbery, and occasional playful paws and claws from furfriends encountered along the way.
Sewing a DIY Dog Raincoat with Full Lining
- Measure and customise the pattern, as detailed in our earlier post.
- Source materials as listed above, or preferred alternatives.
- If appropriate for your chosen fabrics, prewash or preshrink prior to use. Neither fleece or softshell require washing, but you may want to clean off any residue from manufacture and retail. If washed, select suitable temperatures (see care notes at the end of the post).
Cutting the Fabrics
- Cut pieces using your measurements and pattern template.
- Double check the body for fit before sewing.
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.
Sewing the Components of the DIY Dog Raincoat
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. Ironing isn’t safe or suitable with the materials used here. Instead, 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.
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:
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 fleece underside in blustery wet weather. Totally optional, of course.
- 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 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. 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 or clip 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 or clip at the joining edges.
- Optional but recommended: Use a little bit of temporary tape to hold the bands in the middle so that nothing shifts to be accidentally caught when sewing. We don’t want a pinhole anywhere on the body of the raincoat.
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 or clip to secure.
Tip: With the shield and 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 or clip 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 Raincoat
The steps above create a finished and ready to wear dog raincoat. Our DIY dog raincoat, however, has a few extra features designed for how we use the coat. These are all completely optional, of course!
Belly Band Sleeve
As learned when making the boys their 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, the lower band has a little sleeve which holds 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 coat, and holds the end neatly in place when Humphrey is wearing the coat. You can see close-up photos in our fleece coat post.
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.
Binding the leash access hole:
Although it was a challenge when I made the fleece coat, once again, I opted to bind the hole. Instead of just sewing my circle, cutting the hole, and leaving it with unfinished edges (these 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. This was positioned inside the hole with the untrimmed (large) side down and basted the upper ring to secure in lieu of pinning. I 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.
Dog Raincoat Wear and Care
Happy Cosy Dry Dogs
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 or 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 visibility strips are really great on soggy dark days as well.
Care and Cleaning
The raincoat can be easily hung using a hangar (close the Velcro) or draped over a drying rack. As an unexpected bonus, the leash hole does a great double duty for hanging the coat as well, if needed.
When needed, our raincoat can be machine washed and dried. I’d recommend avoiding harsh cleansers and taking care with temperatures, just to be on the safe side. Softshell has, in our experience, been very durable, but we wouldn’t want to damage the waterproof outer of our handy raincoats. 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.