Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crafting Projects, Part Two

I absolutely loathe the trend of dressing pets in people clothes, but around here it can be a necessity. I do have a little coat for the dog (which I bought in black to blend in with her hair, but am now kicking myself for not choosing something like red--for visibility, since she only needs to wear the coat when it's, duh, dark and cold) and I've bought booties in the past but they've had two major flaws. The first set of booties I got for her had this lovely stretchy Velcro which kept them on her feet. I loved it. However, the fabric that was used was super thin. All four of them had gaping holes in them by the time we got home from our very first walk with them, and one of my girl's paws had a scratched and bleeding pad. I was NOT happy. The second set of booties I bought were made of a thick canvas-y material with fleece inside for comfort and warmth. They were very sturdy. However, they didn't have the nice elastic around them so within three walks we were down to only one booty left, the others thrown off her feet and lost in the snow. Cue grinding teeth as I'm supremely frustrated.
I have not been able to find any booties for sale in this town which combine the best of them both. So, making my own was the only way to go. The fantastic M, as well as showing me how to use a sewing machine and troubleshooting all of my problems and just generally being amazingly helpful, gave me some scraps of fleece she had from a different project so that I didn't have to buy any. I used the canvas from my sandwich wrap project (I have so much left--what possessed me to buy a full yard??!!) and I was fairly quickly able to make the booties. I'm sorry, I don't have any pictures of the process. But here it is in words.
1. I cut very long strips out of all my fabric (ten total, since I made one extra "test boot"). They were probably only about 3-4 inches wide and easily 9-10 inches long. What size you need will depend on the size of your dog and their feet--I have a cocker spaniel, so these are pretty small. However, it was easy enough to eyeball what I thought I would need. I even ended up making them a bit thinner after I made the first test boot.

2. Put the fleece over the canvas and sew them together at the two thin ends. These will be the top of the boot so be sure not to sew these two seams together, just attach the canvas to the fleece.

3. Sew a long line of Velcro near the top of one of the canvas sides. The elastic will go on the opposite side, so that it wraps around the dogs' leg and holds the boot up securely.

4. Cut the elastic, about as wide as the fabric. The easiest thing to do is to sew the elastic into the side seam. As with pretty much every sewing project ever, this is sewn mostly inside out. So, bring the two thin (already sewn) ends of the fabric together (fleece out, canvas in) and tuck the elastic into the first side you'll sew, the long edge. Keep a little tail of elastic out, but most of the elastic should be on the inside, the canvas side (which will be the outside when you're all done).

5. Sew up that edge, elastic and all. I did an edging stitch with another straight stitch over the top to ensure sturdiness.

6. Sew up the other long side, but be sure not to catch the elastic. You want the second side of the elastic to be free.

7. At this point you should have a longish tube with elastic and Velcro on the inside. It sorta looks like a boot, success! Turn it right-side out, with the fleece on the inside. Almost done!

8. This is a good time to test the boot a bit. Make sure it fits your dog's foot and that the elastic is long enough to reach the Velcro but not so long that it will still be loose.

9. Once you've ensured a proper fit, sew a little bit of Velcro onto the end of the elastic. Make sure that you use the side which will attach it to the other bit of Velcro!
I used a fairly soft double-sided Velcro, so it didn't matter to me which side faced in or out. However, if you're using scratchier stuff make sure it won't accidentally catch the dog's hair.

The finished product:

The pads of a dog's feet are, apparently, resistant to frostbite down to about -35. However, that doesn't mean they don't get cold. Even worse, when a dog's paws are cold they can get scratched and torn more easily. The urgency I felt in making these booties was because I've taken my dog out walking in the past and she's come home with all four paws bleeding. She loves her walks and runs (I cannot emphasize that enough) so keeping her inside all winter would be just cruel. These aren't for fashion, they're a matter of safety for my beloved girl.
As you can probably tell from the rather grimy appearance in that photo, we've used them several times already. The dog hates them when we're in the house, comically lifting her paws way too high to walk, but she forgets that as soon as we get outside. The only problem left is that they don't have any grip on the ice so she slides around a bit. Small price to pay, in my mind, for the fact that she doesn't cut her paws anymore. And we haven't lost a single one!
At the end of the trip, my MIL very generously gave me her old serger. In case you don't know, a serger is a little bit like a sewing machine but not quite. They're a bit different and apparently the serger makes fantastic seams, better than those of a sewing machine. If you look on the inside of your t-shirt, that's a serged seam. I realized after making these booties that they probably could have been mostly done on a serger, with the Velcro added by hand later. If When I need to make more, I'll probably do it that way.
These projects which I did are, of course, not nearly all of the projects I have waiting. I found a super cute pattern for an apron, I want to make these reusable "paper" towels, I love the idea of these potholders, a kitchen wet bag (for dirty kitchen towels and such), and so many more. Hell, I'd even love to learn to quilt. (Because of this one, and this one, and this one!) But a sewing machine, even a good used one, isn't in the cards just yet. We'll see what I can accomplish on a serger, however. (She said with a mad gleam in her eye....)

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