Suey, My Unphotogenic Muse

As a veterinarian, of course I love dogs. But I always considered myself to be a “cat person” until I lived with this amazing little guy.

My husband had wanted a Chinese Crested for many many years, and I thought it was a silly idea. Hairless dog? Gross! I knew a few Mexican Hairless dogs who were not very attractive, and they had lots of weird health issues.

However, I eventually supported his decision, and we adopted Suey when he was 8 weeks old. He stole my heart quickly, and now I can’t imagine life without him. His joy for life is inspirational to me. I think he makes me a better doctor for my patients, too – he taught me to truly appreciate the bond between dogs and their people.

He doesn’t really have to wear clothes, but he likes to. When the AC is on inside, he tends to shiver if he’s naked. He has allergies, too, so he’s prone to making a mess of his skin when he has a flare-up. The clothes help to protect him from scratching so much that he gets secondary bacterial infections.

This outfit is still one of my favorites that I’ve made for him. One of his nicknames is “Monkee,” so it amuses me to dress him in monkey-themed fabrics. The turtle neck collar I improvised on this one makes for such a cozy fit, and it’s just so sweet on him.

Here he is wearing the same outfit on a chilly morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

My favorite fabric for making his clothes so far is fleece. It’s thick and some of the seams can be tricky to maneuver in the machine, but overall the fabric is very forgiving. I love that the seams and hems don’t require a lot of work.

I also love that I can go to my local fabric store, Hancock, and rummage in their fabric remnant bin to find lots of cute fleece pieces. It takes less than a yard of fabric to make something for Suey, and I can usually find a big variety of fleece remnants that are perfect for this. They typically only cost $1-3 since they’re leftover bits from someone else’s purchase.

Here’s a few more fabric pieces I’ve done for him:

This was from a new pattern, and it was awful! Whoever designed the hood for it clearly wasn’t thinking about dog heads. This one went into the scrap pile.

I designed my own hood for this one – much better! And there’s my husband wearing some pajama pants I made for him out of old bed sheets.

This one was a gift for a friend’s dog.

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Learning to Make Dog Clothes

When I took that sewing class at a local university in summer of 2013, my main goal was to learn how to make clothes for Suey, my hairless Chinese Crested. Here’s a few samples from my initial journey.

All of the fabrics for these are either fabric remnants from my local fabric store (cheap!) or repurposed old human clothes from my closet.

This is the very first outfit I made for him, and it was also the first thing I completed using a pattern. It was a little too small for him, so this is the only time he wore this one.

Here’s the second attempt, also using fleece. I used the large instead of the medium size pattern, and the fit was much better.

I used one of my husband’s old shirts to make this one, loosely following a pattern for a shirt. This material was way too flimsy for an active dog, and it shredded quickly.

This one is in flannel. Cute, but this fabric is also not sturdy enough for Suey. He has allergies and can be pretty itchy sometimes. He tore a hole in the back very quickly, and the fabric just doesn’t give enough.

This was a different shirt pattern. Cute and cozy, but the fit was all wrong. I tried a zig zag stitch around the edge of this one – not too thrilled with that effect, but part of that was my inability to sew a straight/consistent line at this point.

The accessory “flower” didn’t last long on this one. It came off the first time he played rough with the other dog.

This pattern is definitely my favorite, but I don’t like the collar design on it, so I’ve learned to modify it every time I use it. This was an experiment with a big 70’s collar.

And lastly, a toy I made with some of that remnant fleece. The dogs happily destroyed it pretty quickly.

Lots more clothes to come…

Little Chair Quilt and the Digging Dog

Suey, my 7 year old hairless Chinese Crested, sometimes likes to dig when he’s trying to get comfortable on furniture. He doesn’t stay home alone often, but it’s been enough for him to do some damage to my beloved recliner.

Here’s Suey, cozy in my chair (wearing an outfit I made for him).

I tried protecting the chair with a variety of blankets, but they never stayed in place very well (especially with Suey digging at them). So I decided to make a small quilt (my 3rd) for this purpose. Also a good project for practicing my free motion quilting on.

This was my very first practice attempt at free motion quilting. Very rocky at first!

Michael Miller Gem Tones charm pack. I decided to use a disappearing 9 patch.

the quilt top

the quilt sandwich

free motion quilting – still rough in spots

Brain likes it!

I wish I’d made it just a little bit bigger. It fits well and stays in place better than the blankets did, but without safety pins holding the corners in tight, it moves around. In the picture above, Suey is actually lying on the foot rest, and that’s little Raoul cuddled against him.

just had to throw in this pic of a slightly older Raoul

And there’s one last picture of the quilt on the chair with Suey (modeling another outfit I made for him). The quilt is starting to show signs of wear, but I’m glad it’s there. My dad moved in with us in February after he had a stroke, and he spends many hours in that chair every day.

here he is in my chair, hanging out with Vigilance

My First Quilt (finished January 2014)

This is actually a picture of the first clothing I ever made for Suey. I took a sewing class in the summer of 2013, and my main goal was to get comfortable with a machine so I could make little jumpsuits for Suey. It’s not hard to find dog clothes in his size, but the 4-legged jumpsuits don’t always fit well when purchased from the rack.

So far, fleece is my favorite material for making his clothes. It’s warm, it holds its shape well, and it’s very durable (unlike knits). ┬áPlus, it’s very convenient to buy fleece remnants from the local fabric shop for just a few dollars each. It takes less than a yard to make a full jumpsuit for Suey!

After 6 months of making clothes for him, I had lots of fabric leftover. And I realized… I should learn to quilt and make good use of those scraps!!

I bought a quilting book, but I wrapped it up and put it under the xmas tree. In the meantime. I found a free mini-class on Craftsy (Piece, Patch, Quilt: Basic Quiltmaking Skills by Gail Kessler), and it was all I needed for real inspiration and understanding of how to get started.

I was home alone on New Year’s Eve, recovering from the flu, when I started cutting my pieces. I used a piece of cardboard for a square template (since I didn’t have any awesome quilting rulers yet).

I used the guestroom bed to figure out the layout of all the pieces.

And then I started sewing them together for the top. I realize now that fleece wasn’t a good choice for my first quilt. I did try ironing the seams and such, but I don’t know how much difference it made. Luckily, I had this fancy new machine I’ve just received as a gift from my husband, and it handled the challenge beautifully!

I decided to use fleece backing, and even though it was already super thick, I still added batting. Machine quilting it was tough! Thank goodness I had an excellent walking foot that was able to help move the huge bulky fabric and seams along.

I really enjoyed sewing on the binding, as did many of my pets.

And here’s the finished project! I’ve learned that unless I lock Suey in another room, he’s gonna pose with my quilts, too.

This quilt is insanely thick and warm. It’s almost too hot to sleep under, but we sure have appreciated it a few nights when the power was out! It’s very sturdy and has held up wonderfully to multiple washes. Plus, I love looking back and seeing fabric remnants from Suey’s old clothes (plus a few outfits I made for dogs of family, too).