Your Coat, Your Majesty

This week’s post took me out of my comfort zone of making clothes for people, and instead gave me the challenge of fitting a creature that I have way too much love for.

Leela’s a very special dog – in many ways, including the window-licker sense. She lives in London now, but was born in Borneo, Malaysia – we lived there for a couple of years and during that time found her as a stray, tiny, starving puppy. We guessed she was about four weeks old – she had no teeth yet, that’s for sure. Riddled with lice, fleas and worms, we cleaned her up, fed her back to health and brought her back to the UK with us when she was two years old.

Being a mongrel, she’s a bit of a weird shape. And by a bit, I mean she’s a complete, 100%, freak of dog-nature. She looks like an oversized Jack Russell terrier that’s been fed steroids, with a massive barrel chest that’s disproportionate to her length, and has a deep booming bark typical of a dog twice her size. She’s a dog version of one of those babies that you have to put a pink headband (collar) on so that people know she’s a girl.

Despite her beginnings (or because of? Or maybe because my husband spoils her), Leela is a lady that likes luxury. Furry blankets, cuddles, and most importantly being warm. Borneo has a tropical climate, and it never gets colder than about 25 degrees – so you can imagine how impressed she was when she landed at Heathrow to be greeted with minus temperatures and snow on the ground. If she could speak she would have said “put me back into the metal crate I’ve just spent 18 hours in and take me back to the hot place”. For sure.

Wrapping her up in a blanket in her bed while she sleeps overnight is the norm in our house, and when it gets REALLY cold we have to put a hot water bottle in the base of her bed for extra heat. She’s figured out that underneath the human duvet it’s always warm overnight, so if she deems that we’ve failed in keeping her warm to a satisfactory standard (or if she gets up in the night and loses her blanket) then we wake up with a dog curled up against us, under the duvet with her head on the pillow. I’m not even joking, this genuinely happens. Regularly. Sometimes I look at her, being snuggled by her human-slaves, all warm and comfy and safe and fat and snoring, and think: you don’t know how lucky you are. What would your mum say if she could see you now, from her bed on the streets? ‘Two meals every day given to you, and a loving home – you’ve hit the jackpot, my little one’ would be her words. Then looking at Leela makes my heart ache for all the ones that aren’t so fortunate and I cuddle her a little tighter.

If she’s this cold indoors, you can imagine the dramas of getting her outside for winter walks. The vets here advised us that she should have a coat with a panel that comes down from the neck and covers her chest, to keep her heart and other chest organs warm – finding a coat that fits her full stop is hard enough, let alone one of a certain style. Most dog coats fasten at the neck, superman-cape-style, and leave the chest exposed. She’s had a few coats over her seven years, but none that really fitted her like they should – so as her carer/servant I thought I should make her some doggy couture as it’s technically my fault that she’s no longer in the hot country, basking in the sunshine.

With winter rapidly approaching (I read on the news recently that it’s meant to be the coldest in five years?!) I decided not only should I make her something that fits her properly, but actually looks nice too. I searched and searched through all the dog patterns available (dog tutu, anyone?) trying to find one of the right style that was actually graded to a size big enough for her… for some reason, it looks like the pattern companies think that medium and large-sized dogs don’t need a winter coat.

I eventually found Burda 7752 which fit the requirements, and I chose my materials from the selection available at Minerva Crafts. I don’t usually (ok, ever) do practice runs of clothes for me (who has time for that?! Life’s too short), but I knew that because Leela is such a weird shape I’d have to do it for her coat. I made a couple of test coats, and then for the final fitting – the armhole placement and size was the last thing to nail – she was so over being made to get up out of her blanket, put a coat on and then sit back down that we resorted to putting the pattern pieces on her while she lay on the floor. She didn’t even move, she just let the servants get on with their work.

But it was all worth it, because Her Majesty now has a coat that is warm (SUPER warm), fits her how it should, and actually looks quite nice on her. She almost passes for a pretty girl, as opposed to the grumpy, spoilt, opinionated personality she actually is. To read the full story and hear about the construction dramas I had with this pattern (why oh WHY do Burda insist on writing such rubbish instructions for their patterns?!) head on over to the Minerva Crafts blog through the link below. It remains to be seen whether she deems the coat worthy of getting her outside when it’s freezing cold though – I’ll let you know the verdict in a couple of months…

Click me to be taken to the full post!

(in the photo below she looks a bit stare-y because she’s just spotted a squirrel lol)

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a whole lot of Autumn colours going on with my Victory Patterns Madeline Skirt! 😍 Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!


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  1. Celia
    November 5, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Sarah, I loved reading your post! Leela certainly landed on her feet when you found her despite her feeling the cold in the UK! Love this trendy canine coat you’ve designed and made for her!

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:37 pm

      Thanks Celia! I’m hoping that Leela loves the coat as much as I do! I keep hoping every year that her body will adapt and she will grow a ‘winter’ coat… but it never seems to happen πŸ™‚

  2. Janey
    November 5, 2017 / 9:46 am

    Now that’s a coat!!!! She looks very snuggly!

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:37 pm

      Thanks Janey! Honestly, the fleece that it’s lined with it SO soft and snuggly. I was tempted to buy a metre just to wrap myself up in! The cat got the leftovers as a blanket πŸ™‚

  3. November 5, 2017 / 10:20 am

    Very entertaining post, I enjoyed reading it 😊 Leela looks like a sassy wee madam πŸ˜‚ πŸ’•

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:38 pm

      Thanks Charlotte! You’ve totally nailed it with the phrase ‘sassy wee madam’… that sums her up perfectly!!

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:48 pm

      Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying the blog πŸ™‚ Leela is currently asleep, under her blanket, as per usual. I think my other dog is a bit jealous of her new coat so I might be making another one soon…!

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      Haha yes! I did actually buy her a set of shoes, for the snow, but she wasn’t too impressed with them. She made out like her legs didn’t work anymore abd refused to walk πŸ™‚

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      YES! Then I could get matching Converse’s and we’d be complete πŸ™‚

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      Ahh I know, I do tell her that but I don’t think she listens πŸ˜‰

  4. Anita Westerveld
    November 5, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Wonderful to read Sarah, hugs for the furries❀️

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 2:48 pm

      Thank you Anita πŸ™‚ Leela is currently snoring away under her blanket!!

  5. Nancy Hurt
    November 5, 2017 / 3:21 pm

    I just found your post and loved the picture of dog and coat. I also have a similar version of a big chested jack russel terrier, but up until your last picture I thought they were just alike! Mine is abit smaller in the back! Love your story! Will have to try a coat for mine now.

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 7:58 pm

      Thank you Nancy! Ahh bless, is yours a mixed breed too or β€˜normal’ JRT? 🐢 I had to make the size large for Leela, to fit her chest, and then alter everything else to fit. Their wiry fur just isn’t enough for the UK Winter is it ☹️

  6. November 5, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    This has been my favorite blogpost of all time, thank you for sharing!

    • Sarah
      November 5, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      Ahhh you’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed it! ☺️☺️

  7. cat
    November 5, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    OH what a story! and oh what a doll! So regal and gorgeous and perfection coat! You should make some dog patternsa and make a fortune!!! XXOO

    • Sarah
      November 9, 2017 / 8:02 am

      Haha I’m not sure I would describe Leela as a ‘doll’… more like a stroppy little madam!! I am pretty pleased with her coat though πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  8. November 8, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    This read was fabulous!!! Really, funny and quirky and I can almost imagine her personality. =) Love dogs, yours is a special one too! And the coat is brilliant. My family dog is one with … uh … undefinied roots as well. Long as a dachshund, but a bit “higher”. They are all great and the loves of our lifes! Anna

    • Sarah
      November 9, 2017 / 8:04 am

      Ahh I love the phrase ‘undefined roots’! Yours sounds totally cute πŸ™‚ Like you say each one is different and just as special as the next! Have you sewn/knitted anything for yours? Glad you enjoyed the blog post! πŸ™‚

  9. Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
    November 8, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    What a great post! I have a larger (90 pounds) version (mutt) of your Leela. I should make him a vest, but he is getting old and the cold weather makes him at least walk a little faster !!!!! Roscoe is a boxer/pit bull/? mix, and his favorite snuggly thing is a human body for warmth – he has been banished from the bedroom at night, however as he snores!

    • Sarah
      November 9, 2017 / 8:06 am

      Ahh bless him!! Leela snores too, but I’m too soft hearted and instead of banishing her I just wear earplugs lol πŸ™‚ Roscoe sounds just like Leela with loving the cuddles… although Leela is only about 20kg (and heavy enough when she’s laying on you) so I can’t imagine having a 90lb dog across your lap!! I bet he looks cute though πŸ™‚ It’s good that the chill in the air makes him walk a little faster – with mine you either can’t get her out the front door or midway around she will just sit her bum down and refuse to walk! They are all characters in their own way aren’t they πŸ™‚

      • Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
        November 9, 2017 / 5:15 pm

        They are characters, aren’t they??? Inspired by you, I think I will make him a vest! If there was some way of making it heated……

        • Sarah
          November 10, 2017 / 8:09 am

          Ahh sounds fabulous! Leela would LOVE a heated vest… so if you figure that one out, let me know! Can’t wait to see what you make for Roscoe πŸ™‚

  10. November 13, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Well this is heartwarming in every sense of the word! Xxx

    • Sarah
      November 17, 2017 / 8:35 am

      I’m such a sucker for an animal in need lol… I’d love one day to just have a big farm somewhere and I’d take in all the animals that don’t have a home! xx

  11. Deborah
    December 10, 2017 / 4:38 pm

    I’m so enjoying reading your blog Sarah. Leela looks great in her jacket. Definitely a trendsetter amongst pooches. It was so lucky she found you and your hubby to love her and it looks like she brings you much joy and happiness. I’ve had my dog over 17 and half years now from a pup he’s been my best friend. I have to always put a jumper on him now. As he feels the cold so bad. Bless him.

    • Sarah
      December 11, 2017 / 8:20 am

      Thank you Deborah! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog πŸ™‚ Leela is like my child, she’s so spoilt haha. So lovely to hear that you have had your doggo for almost 18 years πŸ™‚ What breed is he? Do you knit him his jumpers? I’ve knitted Leela one before, I’d love to do her a pink one with a big ‘L’ on the back haha!!

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