Hey everyone!

Sarah from Wanderstitch here, can you believe another month has rolled on by?! It's time for another Minerva Make - this time it's Burda Sewing Pattern 7752, a dog coat for the approaching winter. I make coats for myself and my husband, so it seemed only fair that I make one for one of the furry members of the family!

I've made view C, which seemed to be the warmest of the designs and the most practical for the UK's bitter winter. Leela is a bit of a special case when it comes to coats, because she was born in Malaysia - we rescued her when we lived over there and brought her back with us to the UK. 

Malaysia has a tropical climate so she's built for 30-plus-degree-heat rather than minus temperatures in the winter! View C covers the chest area rather than leaving it exposed as most coats do, and the fleece will definitely help to keep her roasty toasty.

Fabric wise, I went with a burgundy stretch Faux Leather Fabric and some Sherpa Fleece Lining (which, by the way, is AMAZINGLY soft and snuggly). The pattern actually states that it's for 'leather with backing', which I didn't figure out until after I'd made the second toile actually means leather with a furry layer already attached to the back. I really liked this leather and fleece combo though, so figured that I would wing it and make it work.

My dog is a really weird shape, and coats that I've tried her with before just don't fit her. She's got a really deep barrel chest, but if you get a coat to fit the chest it ends up being way too long as the manufacturers expect a dog with that size chest to be much bigger overall. I knew it wouldn't fit straight out of the packet so I made a test run. On the first test run, I discovered that there was too much fabric between her front legs, as her chest may be deep but it's also very narrow. On the second test run, I altered the length and the curve of the chest, and was happy enough to make the last couple of alterations on the actual fabric.

Because I'd chosen separate leather and fleece, I had to think about how I wanted to go about putting the two together. I did briefly consider glue, but didn't want the soft fleece to get all sticky or alter the feel of it. Instead I looked at the way the coat is constructed - the fleece 'edging' you see around the coat is actually the 'wrong side' (ie the fleece) just turned to the outside and stitched. Based on this, I decided to cut all the body pieces out twice - once out of leather and once out of lining - baste the two together at the edges and then zig-zag the fleece down after it's been turned.

This plan seemed to work out fine, and didn't look any different to the 'leather with backing' on the pattern envelope. For the front armholes though, the pattern instructed you to cut small strips (much like a furry bias tape) and stitch this around the opening - no way was I attempting that with two layers of fabric so instead I just clipped the leather and turned the fleece to the outside. This did make the holes a little bigger than the pattern intended, so I deliberately cut them smaller when I was cutting out the pieces.

I did a lot of the basting by hand, as getting the sticky leather and bulky fleece through the machine together proved a tad difficult. With a sharp needle it was really easy going though - hardly any resistance from the leather and the needle went straight through.

There's a flap that goes around the belly of the coat, and fixes to each side. The pattern suggests you use snaps for this, but I didn't want to be pushing snaps into her ribs every time I need to do the coat up so instead I used Velcro. I sewed the strips onto the flaps by hand, but it was much harder to get the needle through the velcro than it was the leather, so I took a different direction for the corresponding velcro strips on the body to save the skin on my fingers.

Out came the roller foot. This helped the leather move a bit easier through the machine, and also gave me peace of mind that the velcro would be more securely attached to the body with machine stitching than my hand stitching! It would be subjected to daily fastening and unfastening and I could just imagine the velcro coming away from the leather so I was happier that I could run it through the machine.

The front of the coat fastens with snaps - three, if you go by the pattern instructions, but this wasn't enough for my coat. There was a bit of flappiness going on in the chest area, which was unsurprising given that this was the tricky area to fit. In the end we put six snaps in - two in the furry collar, and then four down the body. We used metal snaps for strength, as they will be subjected to a lot of pulling and pressing! It's a bit tricky to get to the extra snaps that are further down the chest but it's a much better fit with these, and it helps keep her a little bit warmer! I let the husband install the snaps with a hammer but it was pretty easy and done within a few minutes - I would however recommend a practice run on scrap fabric just so that you know what you're doing though!

I'm really happy with the overall fit, it fits her much better than any other coat she has had previously! The leather is a bit wrinkly in places (especially around the chest) where the coat is perhaps ever so slightly too big, but I'd rather she had room to move than have it too tight. The sherpa fleece is so lovely and warm that hopefully she will actually look forward to winter walks now rather than pretend to be asleep when it's walk time! (yep, that happens).

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and maybe it's inspired some of you to make some uber-trendy winter warmers for your pets?

Until next time... happy sewing!

Sarah @ Wanderstitch