Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah: December 2011

Dec 14, 2011

12/14/11: Sewing a U.S. Marine Dog Coat -- the Pattern

So what's been happening with my sewing lately? My current project is an U.S. Marine dog coat for an English bulldog. See my other post to learn more:

The task of altering the pattern should have been done last week but I ran into a couple problems. Mainly caused by my ignorance of altering dog clothes and going through one of those moments of "I don't know if I am doing this right. . . Can I really do this?" I searched all over the internet to find information on this and came out empty handed, which was a real bummer. I guess I am those people who need instruction and have a hard time just winging it. But after much encouragement from my sisters who kept on saying, "You know you are going to figure it out in time," I managed to extensively alter Simplicity 9520 to fit Corporal Jazzmin. 

Simplicity 9520 is this:

I chose to use view E of this pattern which has sleeves, an extended back, and a collar similar to that of my inspiration found in Chesty's uniform. The coat is made up of four pattern pieces, BACK, FRONT, COLLAR, and SLEEVE. 

According to the pattern envelope, this pattern was meant for large dogs with a 16" to 23" neck, 13" to 15" body length measured from shoulder to just behind last rib and a 24" to 28" chest and weighing approx. 30 to 46 lbs. 

So, yeah, Jazzmin should fit in this category just fine, I thought. But with almost every pattern you need to do some alterations and 9520 was no exception. There was need to alter the neckline, collar, leg openings, sleeve cap, sleeve length, sleeve width, body width, and body length. Whew! And at the very beginning, I had no idea how to do this! But then I thought, why would it be so different from any "human pattern" alteration? Especially when I knew Jazzmin's neck circumference, neck to back measurement, weight, and chest circumference? Couldn't find any real answer for this question, so I just pulled back my sleeves and never looked back. 

So right now I have the pattern pieces all altered (yay!) and I just used them to cut out some fabric for a muslin. Haha. A muslin. Didn't think I would be doing this but I just couldn't see myself going through all my navy blue fabric and come out with something that doesn't fit. Ugh, that wouldn't be great now, would it? So I am going to make this "mock" dog coat, have Jazzmin try it on, and see if any other changes are needed.

Now onto the sewing machine (the fun part)! Will be back to show you some muslin details. 

Jump to next post by clicking link below:

1/16/12: Sewing a U.S. Marine Dog Coat -- Finished Piece

Labels: ,

Dec 12, 2011

12/12/11: Listen While You Work

Let's talk crochet for a minute.

I've been doing this type of needlecraft for many years now and I think have gotten farther along with it than any other type of craft I do. I don't know if this was caused by the amount of interest I showed, but rather, by the fact that it is easy to do. Really it is. And now I'm hovering back and forth over the idea of going further into this topic right now. Hmm, it sounds very tempting to me but I have an inkling it will take the rest of the evening to finish. So I will postpone that thought until later. You can exhale now. :)

The real reason why I want to talk crochet concerns the events of last month. During most of the month I was trying to squeeze in as much crochet time as possible to make some sets of handwarmers. I was to sell these handwarmers at a church bazaar on December 3 and wanted a good assortment. (I didn't wind up making as much as I wanted but I did sell a couple pair!)

The pattern I used was the Cabled Mitts by Brenda K. B. Anderson featured in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Crochet Today. I made them before as you can see here. It is a fantastically easy pattern to follow and memorize so there were many a moment when I was looking for something. . . You know. . . Something to preoccupy your mind when your doing "straightforward stitching."

I've noticed that many stitchers like to watch t.v. or listen to music when they're doing rows upon rows of stockinette or single crochet. Believe me, I gave the t.v. a try and I really couldn't pay much attention to either the program or what my hands were doing. And I am not a huge music fan (just can't seem to stay interested in most songs!), so what other choices were there?

Then audiobooks entered the scene last year. Received some free audiobook offers from so gave The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and The Canterbury Tales a try. These books did perk my interest but they just didn't seem to work well when I was busy crocheting. If I missed hearing just a couple sentences I lost track of the story and I felt, because it was a book, I was missing out on a lot. And it was doubly hard to do this when there was a need to stop every twenty minutes or so (i.e. cooking, family, chores, etc.).

So there I was during November, busy crocheting away with a pattern in hand that enabled me to let my mind go gallivanting, and nothing was there to tame it.

Then the "Aha!" moment came. I remember searching through some knitting blogs during late October and found some authors compiling their very own podcasts. Yes, podcasts all about yarn, knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning. . . All the fun subjects. This whole podcast thing got me intrigued. So I downloaded a few and listened to a couple of their episodes. At the beginning I wasn't much impressed. I don't remember the names or whatnot, but I thought some of them were lacking in real content. A good portion talked about their latest WIP or UFO's, a yarn they love, or a festival they just came back from. All fine and good but nothing wasn't relating to me. It is hard to pinpoint where I found the problems.

Anyway, I last came to The Stash, the blog of the KnitPicks yarn company. Oh, I heard of this company from way back. I think it was the first yarn catalog that I ever saw and I have contemplated about buying their colorful, straight-from-Willie-Wonka's-Factory needles. But up to this date in time, I haven't bought a single skein or needle from them even though their forever in my yarn source list.

And guess what I found on their blog. Oh yes. A podcast. And it has to be my favorite one to date, even down to the opening, transition, and ending music. I've already listened to an insane amount already. . . About 34 episodes. Yeah.

What I think is so remarkable about this podcast--besides having the ability to keep my mind preoccupied while crocheting--is the main host's infectious love for all things knitting and fiber. Her name is Kelley Petkun, and from what I've learned she is Irish, loves lace knitting, wears shawls, has a hubby named Bob, and has the unknown attribute to make anyone excited about what she's excited about. The last bit of info about Kelley may lead some people into trouble because on more than one occasion, I've felt very compelled to buy every yarn, book, or pattern she talked about on the show. I have to mentally restrain myself constantly!

The other KnitPicks staff members--Kerin, Alison, Jenny, Hannah, etc.--also host and are guests on the show. I really like when the in-house designers come in and chat (usually bringing along a sock to knit), because I am really intrigued about the thought process and design plans of knitwear designers.

Above everything else, I enjoy the interviews with book authors and designers the most. I like to keep a close eye on who designs what and it is always a pleasure to get to know the designers a little bit more.

So after about a year's worth of searching for a crochet/knit companion I think I found it in knitting podcasts. Now I am looking for more podcasts to listen to and maybe even find a good one in the realm of sewing. Let me know your favorites by leaving a comment below! 


Dec 5, 2011

12/6/11: Sewing a U.S. Marine Uniform for the Four-Legged Type

Everything is finally here to start my marathon of sewing some blues for Jazzmin the bulldog. Last month I received an order (by way of my custom sewing ad), from a Marine veteran to sew a U.S. Marine Corporal E-4 styled uniform and a camouflage suit for his bulldog, Jazzmin. After a few chuckles--sorry, had to. Didn't expect my first order to be something like this!--I set to work in procuring all the necessary materials.

Jazzmin's owner wants this to be as authentic as possible so I made sure to ask him exactly what he wanted. We came to a design that mimics the US Marine's mascot's former attire:

chesty the mascot in his blues. source found here.

Because I have never done dog clothes before I bought two sewing patterns to use as a basis of this design. I chose Simplicity 9520 and 2519.

That second pattern envelope certainly is uh, strange? I really had to see beyond the original designer's "party" inspiration to find something suitable for my bulldog uniform. 

Now, onto the fabrics. . .

I bought all my fabrics from my old tried and true source: I love that site! I think I might have spent too much time there to tell you the truth. :)

I bought four different fabrics to be used for these two outfits, but one, unfortunately, didn't turn out to be what I wanted. I'll get to that in a bit. But first, let me show you the fabric for the blue uniform:

medium blue cotton/polyester twill
navy blue cotton/polyester twill
bright red premier broadcloth
And I also bought webbing to mimic the pant leg on Chesty's outfit:

So about that camouflage fabric. Because of the poor image, I picked out a black and white camouflage in large scale that will definitely, absolutely, positively, NOT work with my project. So I must find another source for the second outfit and I'm casting my eyes on Hopefully it will prove fruitful!

And to add some authenticity to the blue uniform some trinkets were necessary:

left to right: Navy and Marines medal and Medal of Good Conduct

US Marines chevron rank patch for a Corporal E-4.

So that's that. Now off to doing some pattern alteration, pre-washing fabric, ironing, and all the fun stuff. Actually, for me, everything after threading and preparing the serger/sewing machine is when the real "sewing" begins. And that part is the best part.

Jump to the other posts of this series by clicking the links below:

1/16/12: Sewing a U.S. Marine Dog Coat -- Finished Piece

Labels: ,