Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The last of the dog stuff....I think....

So my colleague who dogsat my new dog for a few weeks had made a specific request for Christmas. She has a greyhound who is always cold, and she had several "winter" coats for him. But even though she keeps her apartment toasty, she wanted a "housecoat" for him. I made a tracing of his best-fitting fleece coat (using an old sheet and a sharpie) and took lots of pictures. Then I dug a striped knit out of deep stash and whipped one up for her.

Imagine that on a long, lanky greyhound. We also added three inches to the neck because she'd like it to cover his ears. I added seam allowances but no hem allowances, instead binding with self-binding. I think it looks really nice.
I found 2 inch wide Velcro for the closures (just like on the original).
Since I had no idea how much elastic to use, I simply inserted 1/8 inch elastic into a casing and added a cordlock. She can adjust it and cut off any major excess.
The final addition to her present was a zippered pouch that snaps onto a leash handle to hold plastic bags for poop-scooping. I made one for each of us and used this to test out my brand new snap press. Woohoo! Love it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More doggy stuff....

So I'm really not the pet owner who's worried about everything matching and using designer stuff....I mean, come on! My dog bed cover fabric was chosen purely on the basis of feel and price. That said, I did decide that my new dog deserved some nice accessories. ;)

Obviously, one has to have a collar. (Hopefully that's obvious.) You've gotta have a place to put the tags, in case the dog wanders off. And since I sew, I thought it would be fun to make a unique collar for my dog. I had seen a review for a sewn collar on PR, and it mentioned getting the instructions in a kit from Creative Designworks. So I looked it up and was happy to discover that a kit was only $5 (including shipping!) and contained hardware for two collars. Bonus! I had already purchased the hardware (from the hardware store) for two leashes, so I didn't order the leash kit. Besides, how hard could that be to dream up, right?

And DH also suggested a harness for her, due to her age. We didn't know if she'd be the type to be stubborn about where she wanted to go (eh, she is a little - not too much), but a harness can spread out the tension over her neck and shoulders, instead of just tugging on her neck. So I ordered that kit, too. (It contains the hardware for one harness.)

Can I just say that I'm really pleased? :) The collar went together very well, and I loved the fact that it didn't require webbing. Just fabric and heavyweight interfacing. In fact, the collar was my first completed item in my new sewing room! The instructions were great - it was easy to put together, even though I was sewing late at night on a deadline! (I needed the collar and leash finished before I went to pick her up from my buddy the next day.)

The harness took another week or so to be done, just due to sewing inertia. But it was also easy to put together, although my picky side is telling me to remove the chest strap and replace it with one an inch or two longer. Can you tell that the girth strap is being tugged forward between her legs? Anyway, that's my only gripe. And since it doesn't seem to bother her, I might just leave well enough alone.And from the top. I keep the harness in the closet with the leash, and she's already learned that when the harness comes out, she's going for a walk. She gets all excited (though quietly!) until I start to put the harness on - then she stands rock steady until it's on.
I also decided that it would be smart to have a bag holder in the closet by the leash and harness, since I recycle plastic grocery bags as a responsible dog owner's poop sacks.
My final (I think!) touch is in progress - I'm working on a zippered pouch (with a loop that will snap around the leash handle) to hold said plastic bags. I currently stuff them in my jacket pockets, but this may work better. We'll see....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Sealey Posturepedic" dog bed knockoff

So we adopted a thirteen-year-old yellow lab from the shelter where I worked. There was nothing wrong with her - her owners relinquished her because they were moving. And a sucker is born every day, right? Well, I'd never blinked twice at all the animals coming through, but a sucker was born that day, and I asked The Husband if we could take her.

Things 1&2 like the idea of dogs, but they've never had a dog, so the reality of a dog was a little difficult for them before. Thing 2 especially would freak out when a dog ran up to him playfully, and his reaction would freak the dog out, which led to more freak outs, and you get the idea. So I thought that an older dog would be perfect for a first dog for them. And so far, it looks good! They love her!

But an older dog tends to have joint issues - arthritis, weak legs, etc. So a good bed to lay on is an absolute must. However, my bank account really shuddered at the thought of buying a good one. For a good, thick dog bed for a larger dog, you will pay easily over $100. Depending on how thick you want the foam, it can approach $200. Not in my budget.

Instead, I took the advice of a colleague and bought 2-inch foam at JAF, enough to make two layers. The white poly-foam was cheaper than the green NuFoam, and more importantly, it was wider. So I bought that to avoid having to seam widths together. I cut the foam to the exact measurements of the bottom of the crate, and I used a doll/soft sculpture needle and upholstery thread to stitch the foam layers together. The foam is 28 inches wide, and I stitched three columns of stitches to hold it together. Those foam layers are not going to shift! I then stitched a permanent cover for it from muslin.

At The Husband's suggestion, I also made a waterproof cover from white PUL I bought at JAF (with a 40% off coupon, of course!). I used an invisible zipper in one of the short sides, so that I can remove it. It shouldn't be taking much abuse, so I didn't figure the type of zipper would matter much for this cover. But for the outer cover, which is also washable, I used a stretch suede/moleskin/I don't know what. I bought it for probably $1-2/yard at WM, at least 5 years ago. It feels nice, and it was in the stash and had no other use anytime soon. There is a 28-inch separating zipper in a short end, allowing easy on/off for washing. The Husband looked at it and said, "Why'd you use a dark color? That's going to grab all the hair!" Hmmm....stash equals free, right?

Here's Zoe in her new bed! As soon as I put it in her crate, she pushed past me and immediately laid down. I think it's a hit!

Total cost: Will have to see if I can find all the receipts, but I'm estimating $50-60. But to get this commercially, I would have to spend three times that much, barring an awesome sale.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More dog booties!

So apparently I know too many people with diva-ish dogs! Or maybe just too many people with very small dogs....Anyway, our realtor was mentioning at the closing on our house that her (small) dog did not like the recent cold weather and had peed on the rug by the door, presumably to avoid going outside to pee. I suggested dog booties and told her about the recipient of my original pair of dog booties and how the booties kept him relatively happy outside so that he stopped having indoor "accidents." She expressed interest in getting some for her dog and said she'd look at pet stores. So instead I made her a set, which will hopefully fit (I've never seen her dog, but these are my 50% reduction from the original pattern). They will be enclosed in our thank-you card.
And a coworker from my former job was very interested in dog booties for her little dog as well, so I promised them to her as a Christmas present. Due to moving, they became a "between Christmas and New Year's" present, but she loved them! And her little guy looks very cute in them. (These are a 45% version.)The best part? I had no idea what his coat looked like - the matching is total coincidence!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Heat therapy via corn bags

Corn bags have got to be one of my favorite "I sort of know you" gifts. Well, for women, anyway...For instance, I gave corn bags to everyone I worked with. We'd already had a Secret Santa gift exchange at the Christmas party, but especially since I was leaving, I wanted to give them all something to show that I appreciated them, but not anything that would make them feel bad about not reciprocating.
These are my standard corn bags - something like 7x20 inches - cut 2, serge them together on all sides (last short side after filling with dried corn). I make the bags themselves out of muslin (cheaper), then make nice print covers (just an overlap style). Flannel is nicest, but any woven works fine. In the above picture, the brown paw prints on the far right and the dog print on the bottom were both purchased for this purpose. I bought one yard of each on Black Friday and got four covers out of each. The rainbow paw prints in the middle was a stash remnant, the penguin and music notes flannels on the left were leftovers from other projects, and the Nutcracker woven was longtime stash. I'd bought it for an apron for myself, but let's face it - I just don't wear aprons. It had sat around long enough and was begging to be used. These were an experiment in a different design. I got the idea on the PR message boards. I forget what size exactly I made them - 10 or 10.5 inches square, I think - serged them on three sides, then sewed lines to divide them into four approximately equal channels. I filled each channel about as full as it could be and still be able to serge the top closed, then made overlap style covers for these as well. I thought they might be better for localized heat therapy than the bigger ones - we'll see...

Mostly final Christmas presents....

Yep, definitely the year of the pillowcases!
Top left: singleton for my good friend (the nurse) - only a singleton because she has another gift, shown at the end of the post. I had enough of the music notes left for one pillowcase and one corn bag cover. I paired this with a mottled red flannel that came from my very first Black Friday at JAF.

Top right: Another Black Friday purchase from a few years back - my son loves penguins, so I finally used some to make him one. (It went over very well!)

Bottom left: A Black Friday purchase from this year, also paired with the mottled red (I have a lot of it left). I made two of these - one for Thing 2, and one for a nephew.

Bottom right: A Black Friday purchase this year, again paired with mottled red. This is a set of two, for my friend from vet school. I have enough of the paw print left for matching PJ pants, though she will have to wait until next year....

Both Black Friday purchases this year, paired with stashed white flannel. The snowflake pattern is a set of two, for my aunt. There's enough left for PJ pants - I just ran out of time. Next year....The hearts/stars is a singleton, because the print is directional, and I would not have enough for matching PJ pants (birthday gift) otherwise.

And I know that I said this was the year of the pillowcases, but not everyone needs pillowcases. Besides, this has been nearly done for ages. All I had to do was finally find the right ribbing for the cuffs. Fortunately, I got this done and mailed out before the movers came and packed it!

I still have a few gifts to go, but time ran out, and hey! We were moving! Cut me some slack! I have two more kid PJ pants and two adult PJ pants and we'll be officially done with Christmas. Oh, wait - and a "housecoat" for a greyhound - which is combo birthday present/"Thanks for dogsitting for me" present. There will be pictures forthcoming....
Now I just have to find where my pattern weights got packed, along with the PJ flannels....