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Dawn's Diary: GBSB Episode 4 - Canine Couture

Dawn's Diary: GBSB Episode 4 - Canine Couture

Episode 4 ~ Technical challenges

What did you feel about this episode after Episode 4's theme was announced the previous week? Did you feel the same way after having watched it? I wasn't so sure of what to expect with the phrase technical challenges. Something along the lines of sequins, lace and beaded fabrics was my first thought, but I also had a feeling that they would introduce more modern fabrics, the ones that are seen as "high fashion", such as neoprene and other man made knits. The contestants did use some neoprene fabrics later on for the luxury tracksuit challenge, something that we know a lot about, however in this blog post we're covering all things canine couture, as was the the theme for Episode 4. (No swim suits or tracksuit talk here - if you're looking for fabrics suitable for either swimsuits or tracksuits please see this collection).


Technical Fabrics & Canine Couture:

Both technical in terms of fabric and process. I really enjoyed this challenge (part 2 of Episode 4), mainly because I am a dog owner myself, and I have also experienced these same challenges that the contestants encountered, having made dog coats for my own fur baby, and let me tell you it can be quite tricky.

As we saw with a few contestants, there isn't much room for error, especially if your dog is small. I'd definitely recommend taking all measurements twice or even practice with a toile first. Make a mock version to see if it is actually a good fit. (A topic that we've covered in previous blog posts, it's better to take the time to do it thoroughly than waste fabric on a rushed job, not something you want to learn the hard way!)

You can draft the pattern yourself, taking careful measurements, or even find a pattern suitable. The contestants did make it look harder than it was as there was no pattern available for them to use, or even a guide, just the vague body form (of a dog).

My attempt at a self drafted dog coat pattern using scuba for the body and cuffing for the edges
The cuffing is still available to buy online here. The main body of this dog coat was a scuba fabric that we stocked last year, now all sold out - sorry!


The whole tent situation... Did this upcycling challenge leave you feeling dismayed or were you inspired by it? Cutting up an old tent did seem a bit of a waste in my opinion, but the fabrics and accessories on an old tent are perfect for this type of project. The primary focus of a dog coat is for protection against the elements as well as your dog looking swish. The toggles, elastic, panelling, clips & mesh could all be upcycled to great effect. In this scenario the showerproof / waterproof fabrics were free / upcycled. Genuine tent material is not cheap to buy, nor are you likely to be able to buy one metre at a time, but there are multipurpose showerproof and waterproof fabrics that will definitely do the same job, only these fabrics are originally designed for clothing, and not necessarily for us humans). Clothing fabric can be for dogs too!

You can go out and buy your own showerproof and waterproof fabrics, or alternatively choose to cut up your old tent! Fabworks does have a range of showerproof fabrics available online, there is also an even bigger collection at Fabworks Mill Shop in West Yorkshire, that includes showerproof dressmaking cottons, lightweight mackintosh fabric, coated and uncoated rip-stop nylon (originally manufactured for tents, flags, hot air balloons and kites).

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge and agreed that Jen's dog coat was definitely the best. You could tell that Jen is a dog owner because of the practical purposes that her design had; a good fit, good look, cool design and some inventive use of fabric. It does help when you are a dog owner, as we saw with some of the finished items from other contestants.

The contestant's dog coats under close scrutiny from Esme and Patrick.


Dawn's Take: My thoughts and approach to Canine Couture

I suppose if you don't have a dog then you probably haven't read this far on, but you get the idea... The outfit should have practical purposes, otherwise you're just signing your dog up for the fashion world which it really isn't interested in.

If do you fancy having a go, here are links to Fabworks' showerproof fabrics and faux furs too. There are endless options for accessorising dog coats, as there are with our own clothing. Try lining with a warm fur, added ear holes or a hood, etc.. Let your imagination run wild.

My dog is tiny, shes a Chihuahua, hence taking double measurements or making a toile first. Self drafting the pattern is a good idea if you have a clear design or style in mind, but it can be tricky, as contestants on the GBSB demonstrated. I've found some Burda patterns online that will definitely be a great starting point. Here's one pattern and here's another one. Look at my pictures (below) of Teddy the Chihuahua for inspiration. Of course there are many other reputable patterns available on the market, these are two examples of what I think looks good. The end result is great, and you're proud of your companion and its new outfit to boot.

Teddy's dog coat made using Burda 7752

These are my thoughts on dog coats, the do's & dont's, a few little pointers, and emphasis on Episode 4 of Series 5 of The Great British Sewing Bee.

Here's a great excuse to share with you a few fun images of dogs that we found on the internet wearing their very own canine couture outfits. Just a bit more inspiration if weren't already 100% set on making one for your fur baby. You won't regret it!

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