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Making a dog t-shirt

It's been a wet miserable weekend, and so I thought I would brush up on my pattern making and sewing. I've been meaning to make Shelby a t-shirt for some time, and the weather forced me back to this half finished project. Shelby doesn't really fit store bought dog clothes. If she were a human, she would be a plus sized petite. And manufacturers don't make dog clothes in those sizes. Steven tied this little shirt to her, just for fun. (She looks a little bit 80s.) If you're interested at all in how I did this, then read on...otherwise, I think I probably lost most of my audience when I mentioned the word "sewing" :)

Fitting Shelby meant making a custom pattern for her. Something that could accomodate her larger girth, and her small frame. I started with a Simplicity dog pattern, and made massive modifications. I then sewed the pattern in muslin. The first version didn't fit her at all, but by marking it up where it was too small, too big, and where seams were not positioned correctly, the second muslin fit as well as could be expected. I safety pinned her into the muslin, and let her run around in it, to make sure that she could move comfortably. Here she is sitting next to the heater, testing out the muslin.

There's an inherent problem with sewing for Shelby. Her skin is so loose that when she sits down, all her meat slides down to her butt. This makes fitting really tough, because she's an entirely different shaped dog in this position. You can see in the photo that this muslin doesn't fit as well when she sits. Also, her fur drags the shirt down her body, so that eventually, her neckline is at her chest. (I have and idea of how to get around this, but I have to test my theory first.)

I then took the little tshirt, and cut the pattern pieces out of it.

It worked out pretty well.

January 4, 2005 | Permalink


Her shirt looks great Winnie!

Posted by: Amanda | Jan 4, 2005 5:25:53 PM

I pity anyone in the audience who tuned out at the word "sewing" and didn't click on the "continue reading" link, thereby missing these photos! Shelby looks so cute in the finished product.

If there is not eventually a Shelby book from all of this, complete with sewing projects, then there is no justice or fun in this world. :)

Posted by: Heidi | Jan 4, 2005 8:51:53 PM

Shelby must be very patient to sit still for you to make a pattern for her, Daisey May would wiggle all over the place! We bought her (and Chloey the lab) a sweater for Christmas and she just thought she was so beautiful! She struts around when she wears it! It's so cute, we're ready to try t-shirts now!

Posted by: Lisa | Jan 5, 2005 4:55:22 AM

U didn't lose me! I am just beginning to get back into sewing (and just now learning how to knit, too) and so I always love hearing about it, especially when it comes stuff for dogs!

Posted by: Riley's Mom | Jan 6, 2005 1:08:59 PM

Oh that's a riot about the "meat sliding"! LOL I can see that Riley is going to have that. He has a nice big "neck roll" as I call it, a roll of skin under his chin which goes like a ring around his whole neck, and when he stands on his hind legs, he gets three full wrinkles of skin under where his tail curls. The dogs in his family line are QUITE rolly!

Posted by: Riley's Mom | Jan 6, 2005 1:11:48 PM

your comments andhotos are just great,keep up the excellent work...a pug owner ourselfs,,thank u

Posted by: vince and lyn | Jan 16, 2005 3:59:08 PM

I am attempting to sew a hawaiian type shirt for my pug Willus, and the fitting has not been easy. I did the same thing; with the muslim sloper, but gave up after the first one (at least for the day!) I was having serious trouble getting accurate measurements, as Willus is barely 6 months old and won't sit still! Great job on the shirt though, and thanks for the inspiration!

Posted by: DeeDee | Jun 1, 2005 11:32:45 AM

Love your stories and photos of Shelby. My son and DIL have a pug named Rawley. He is adorable, just like Shelby. I just get all excited each time I see you have posted a new photo!! Keep up the swell job and hugs and kisses to Shelby!

Posted by: Maggie | Oct 9, 2005 8:53:58 PM

How awesome I came across your site! It's neat that Shelby was born in the town my grandparents live and this shirt you made was for Monterey Bay, the area I live! And pugs are so cute, too!

Posted by: val | May 14, 2006 10:10:18 PM

I was just googling dog patterns with no luck until I found your write up. You helped me figure out how to start out on my lil guy. I think I will also attempt to make a piece by piece pattern from an existing tshirt that fits him good too. Thanks for the pics, what a cutie!

Posted by: Melissa | May 17, 2006 2:34:02 AM

My name is Brittany and I love dogs. Especially, smaller dogs here lately, with meeting my boyfriend's Pekinese, Buddy. and I want to make him this cute blue shirt. Is it really that hard? Please respond...By the way, Shelby is really cute...how could someone not write a book about her...lol...Hope we can become dogloving friends...bye...Brittany

Posted by: Brittany | May 21, 2006 6:48:12 AM

Hi Brittany,
It's pretty easy to make a doggie t-shirt. There are some patterns at the fabirc store but you're welcome to use the one I made for Shelby. It's downloadable here...

Posted by: Winnie | May 21, 2006 10:23:52 AM

u dont kno how many times i have tried to make lucy a shirt but she does sometimes fit into the clothes that i buy her but within the hour she has 1 leg through the neck line and she hoping around and falling on her face so i give up and take the shirt off but you should try a robe for shelby i have 1 for lucy and it held up very well and stays on longer!!!!!

Posted by: karelle | Jul 8, 2006 10:58:51 PM

that is the cutest shirt.I am making on for my pug rite know.

Posted by: mugsy's mom | Sep 25, 2006 4:57:15 PM

adorable. looking for some stuff to make for the rescue fund raiser.

thank you for sharing.

Posted by: cindy | Oct 10, 2006 12:02:31 PM

Your blog came up first when I googled "dog shirt patterns!" I have 2 pugs and clothes just fit them funny. I once crocheted a sweater for my girl pug Sox, without any patterns and it turned out really well. But this time I wanted a bit more guidance. THANKS for your post, I will follow your steps :-D

Posted by: Melanie | Nov 29, 2006 7:17:17 AM

Awesome idea! I was looking into making some clothing for my mini fox Pixy. I hate all the prissy crap out there for teeny dogs (she's 3 lbs) and now I can make her fun shirts! Thanks for sharing this pattern!

Posted by: Sarah K | Dec 30, 2006 11:43:43 AM

I am starting my own business. I love design and have so many ideas for dog clothes, but was having trouble making a pattern for my 2 Chihuahuas. I took their measurements and then tried fitting them with paper and making the pattern on the paper like that. It sucked. I love the muslin idea. I will totally try it. Right now I am buying from another company because I can't find a seamstress and I'm not that good yet. Thank you so much for the tips and let's all give Shelbey some coo dose for being ever so patiant.

Posted by: Lisa | Aug 21, 2007 12:07:44 AM

hi, ran into this when i was googling patterns- i have a weeneewawa (mini weenie dog chihuaha mix)and thinking i will have to custom make. oh shelby was SO patient with you what a love, what a face! great pictures!

Posted by: pj | Sep 16, 2007 9:09:43 PM

hi, ran into this when i was googling patterns- i have a weeneewawa (mini weenie dog chihuaha mix)and thinking i will have to custom make. oh shelby was SO patient with you what a love, what a face! great pictures!

Posted by: pj | Sep 16, 2007 9:11:27 PM

This is a really cool shirt. I am doing the same thing with my dachshunds. We really love our dogs. :-)

Posted by: Shawnee | Nov 24, 2007 11:39:18 AM

I so want to take a pattern making class... I am looking every where for a class in Chicago... can you please tell me where you took your class? Thanks!

Posted by: Nan | Jan 4, 2008 10:22:23 PM

I took a class on the West coast at CaƱada College. The teacher who taught me is now in New York. His website is www.kennethdking.com, and sometimes he travels to give classes.

He wrote his own textbook which is affordable which is available on his site. If you like to sew, it's a really great class.

Posted by: Winnie | Jan 5, 2008 9:37:23 AM

That's impressive that you have the skill set to do that. I can't even sew a hole in my shirt right.

Posted by: Joey Dog Man | Sep 17, 2008 2:18:59 PM

Thanks for the great pattern! I made our pug Charlie a T-shirt yesterday, and it fitted him perfectly! You can see a photo here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1132703&l=19eea&id=716183332

Posted by: Thea | Nov 5, 2008 10:44:32 AM

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