I’ve just finished sewing a second coat for Ruby (she’s a beautiful russet coloured King Charles Spaniel, so this autumn coloured Harris Tweed really looks gorgeous on her). When she goes on her walks and strolls, she wears a harness, so when making her coat I made sure to include an opening for her lead to clip onto her harness.
The opening I favoured is called a Welt buttonhole, it can also be used for pockets (zips insert really nicely if you aren’t using welts)
Firstly, mark out the size of the opening, I’ve drawn it on some light weight wool suiting which I’ve also used to line Ruby’s coat. The opening for her coat is about 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide. Make sure the drawn opening is exactly where you want your “buttonhole” to be.
Pin, and then tack in to place.
Using a sewing machine, carefully sew around the drawn line. Keep to the drawn line as steadily as possible.
Fold the sewn fabrics together and snip across to make a small gap. I find this is always easier and neater if I fold the fabric in half first. (I’m using some rather grand buttonhole scissors from Merchant and Ivory. They’re perfect for buttonholes but also for cutting notches in fabric, their blades aren’t very long but are sturdy and sharp so cut extremely precisely)
Continue to cut a straight line in either end of the sewn rectangle. You want to cut up to about 1/2 an inch from the end.
Then carefully cut up to each corner edge, cutting as close as you can, maybe a 1/16 th of an inch away. Make sure you do not cut right through the stitches.
Then push the the top fabric through the hole you have sewn (this bit is pretty good fun)
Once the fabric is all pushed through the hole it looks a bit more like a buttonhole or pocket opening.
From the back it’ll be all messy, gently flatten it out with your fingers.
Smooth out the fabric and carefully pin it. I prefer to pin it quite close to the seam as that way when I sew it into place it doesn’t feel like I’m holding a hedgehog as the pins tend to prick the palm of my hand.
Once the fabric has been pinned flat, then from the front, the buttonhole already looks much better.
Using a very fine and sharp needle and a thread that matches as close as possible (I’ve favoured a thread that blended into the Harris tweed as the underneath of this buttonhole won’t be seen) sew a small stab stitch around the edge of the buttonhole.
I use applique or “sharp” for this as they are finer and like their name, are indeed super sharp.
Knot the thread and sliding the needle up under the lining, bring it out near the edge of the buttonhole. Insert it through the two layers of fabric and push the needle through. Then working to the right, make a tiny stitch in the tweed before pushing the needle all the way through slightly on the diagonal to the left side.
When you bring the needle out through the lining, make a tiny stitch over to the right before inserting the needle upwards with a diagonal slant to the left.
The stab stitch is worked round the button hole in a chevron pattern which looks a bit like this \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
The finished opening looks like this.
From here you can add welts to close over the hole, or you can insert a zip (this is often found on outdoor or sporty wear)
You could even leave it as it is (especially if your dog coat will always be worn with a harness underneath)
From the back it looks like this.
Ruby’s coat is lined so this doesn’t get seen but is all hidden away in the coats construction.
I think from the back view, you can see how easy it is to then add a piece of fabric to make a nice pocket, especially handy if this is worked on the lining of a tote or shopping bag