Altering a Dog Costume

tinman-costumeLast week at work one of my coworkers asked if I would alter a little costume she’d gotten for her dog. She wanted to support a friend who was running a marathon, but the costume she’d bought was much too large for her very tiny dog (going by the measurements, it might be smaller than Peter). To be honest, I’m a beginner sewer, so I don’t like having the chance to mess up other people’s stuff, but I couldn’t bring myself to say no, so….I ended up with two days to alter a little Tin Man dog costume.

It’s the kind where you just put their front legs through, and wrap it around their neck so they look like a tiny standing person:

costume-pkgShe gave me the measurements for her dog, and I made a little sketch to make sure I had them correctly. My sketching skills are unparalleled, but try not to be intimidated:


Sketch of measurements

Then I started figuring out how to shorten the body and legs. The body and legs are actually very simple shapes, but there’s a funny little piece attaching them to each other. It shapes it so the legs are in the right position for the dog, but I didn’t really want to chop into it and mess the whole thing up.

The biggest hangup came when I tried to wind a bobbin to start sewing:


The first bobbin


The second bobbin.

The first time, the thread jumped off the bobbin at some point (unnoticed by me, of course) and wound itself around the knob thing and inside the machine. The second time, it started winding on one side with weird tension that left all kinds of loops and bobbles. By that time I was so irritated I just unwound the worst of the second bobbin and got started. The third time I held the thread on it’s little guide. It worked! I was afraid I’d have to resort to sacrificing goats. Or winding by hand.

In the end, I found a relatively simple seam, cut it apart and shortened the main body part, then sewed them back together. Then I cut off the little foot part, shortened the legs, and sewed the foot part back on. Much simpler than I’d expected, although sewing around the tiny leg was a little squirrely.

Side note: when I was little, Mom made a wardrobe for my Barbie, enough to fill a whole shoebox. I have never been able to figure out how she managed to sew around those tiny neck and arm holes. I don’t even know what happened to all the clothes, but it still amazes me to this day.

I used some kind of hemming/overlock stitch that comes on the machine. It uses an indecent amount of thread and takes forever, but it looked somewhat similar to the serged seams on the rest of the costume. Hopefully it will stand up to dog use.


Overlock seam

It ended up exactly 10 inches, which is what she measured her little dog as (see brilliant sketch above). I also sewed around both arms to reattach them, since one had already come unglued.


Final measurement


Details: little heart and an axe

So, there I was. I had a tiny dog costume, perfectly sized for someone’s miniature dog. It was getting quite late, but I was jazzed up and not at all sleepy. What should I do to entertain myself?


Trying the costume on Peter – he was not impressed.



Sylvie hid in the corner and wouldn’t look at me.


Then she glared when I took a picture.

So neither of the cats especially enjoyed my foray into costume making. I tried to get Peter’s legs in properly, but as soon as one leg was in he would wiggle it out. I needed a couple more pairs of hands to get him in it properly, so I settled for just strapping it around his neck. He seemed a bit shocked, which gave me just enough time to get a blurry picture before he scraped it off. Sylvie hid her face in the corner and wouldn’t look at me until I wedged in to take a picture. It appears they would prefer we left costuming to the dogs.


Sniffing the vanquished costume.


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