There’s No Business Like Sew Business

I have a bad habit of conceiving of grand “do-it-yourself” and craft projects, buying all the necessary components and tools, and then never starting the project. I have a room in the basement littered with the detritus of countless unfinished or never begun projects.

Being the kind of mumma that “dresses” the kids in cute coats or holiday themed frocks, one of the projects waiting to be started was the sewing of dog coats. Understand that the last time I tackled any sewing project was in high school in home economics (Do they have that sort of thing these days? I’m dating myself here). I began a quilted tote bag which my mother completed for me at home. I got an “A.”

Since I had that huge sewing success under my belt, I was very optimistic that I could easily create a pattern from one of our existing coats and free form some cute fleece into a smashing coat for Bettina. I am very, very optimistic, what can I say.

I started by improvising. I traced the outline of an existing coat onto the back of wrapping paper. (It was the only paper in the house large enough to trace and cut the pieces as a whole.) Once I had my pattern pieces, I laid out the Christmas fleece. I didn’t know how much I would need for the coat so I got 2 ½ yards. Those of you who sew are probably laughing right now. For those of you who don’t sew, that doesn’t sound like a lot but I had to rearrange the living room furniture to spread it out.

It was right about here that Bettina, being the beneficiary of my creative genius, decided to assist me. She sauntered over to the spread out fleece. Seeing something nice and cushy on the floor, she promptly lay down on it for a test feel. Finding the material to her liking she resolved to stay right there in the center of the fabric. Excision of a medium sized greyhound from cushy fleece is not easily accomplished. I tried cajoling. I tried begging. I tried reasoning. I even resorted to trying to push her, if not completely off the fleece at least to an end so I could still cut out the pattern. She dug in with her saber-like claws and I feared for the continued integrity of my fleece.

I resorted to prying her off the floor and dragging her to a carpeted space. Bettina immediately headed back for the fleece. But I was ready for her and protected the perimeter like some demented Twister player. Only it turns out it is humanly impossible to protect the full square footage of 2 ½ yards of fleece.

In a show of good judgment on my part, I conceded one end of the fleece to Bettina. I laid out the pattern and worked on cutting out the fabric pieces for the new coat at the other end of the fleece. In my peripheral vision I could see Bat Girl slowly edging closer to get a better observation position.

I was forced to switch to alternately cutting a little, then giving Bettina the hairy eyeball which would temporarily freeze her in place. I’d return to cutting and Bettina’s nose would stretch out, followed soon by the rest of her scooching forward a few inches. Another hairy eyeball would freeze her in her place again. Eventually, and no thanks to Bettina, this part of the project was completed.

That was followed by an epic struggle between me and the sewing machine. This is a machine that I begged for one Christmas and had never used until this moment. I got to work on piecing the jacket together. The majority of the jacket was completed with amazingly little difficulty. I was so pleased with myself. I’m a frickin’ genius when it comes to sewing. Then I got to the Velcro. I had been lulled into a false sense of security. Oh accursed Velcro! In the process of trying to get the bleeping Velcro attached to the jacket, I broke two machine needles as well as being stopped short countless times due to the thread breaking or balling up.

After two separate trips to the craft store to purchase various kinds of heavy duty needles and several types of heavy duty thread, I remained stuck. Nothing worked. So I cursed and raged while sewing a couple stitches, then stopping to re-thread the machine when it broke again. A few more stitches, rinse and repeat….

Bettina and Blue opted to keep their distance while I was sewing this part of the coat, much to their credit. Sweating and swearing I finally got the Velcro secured. Convincing Bettina it was safe to come near me again in order to try the coat on her was almost as challenging as the Velcro.

The end result actually looked pretty good for my first try. I also think, after consultation with my mother who is the real seamstress in the family, I may have the Velcro problem licked. Last night I created a pattern for Blue. I got the cutest green plaid fleece on one of my trips to the craft store for stronger needles and thread. It will look perfect on him. I must admit, standing in the craft store, fabric bolt in hand and gazing at a wall of sewing notions, I did seriously consider putting snaps or buttons on his coat. But I’m a glutton for punishment and as they say, there’s no business like sew business.


  1. I've sewed coats for our girls in the past, and I started laughing when you got to the Velcro before I even knew what would happen! At least you didn't accidentally buy the self adhesive velcro like I did. That stuff doesn't do too well in a sewing machine. :P I have gotten fairly decent at it, but it takes me a while to do one.

  2. looks great! i have the same syndrome - buy craft supplies, get excited and then find something else shiny to look at ;)


Bark Back and Let Us Know Whats on Your Mind!