Happy April! Spring has sprung. Showers and flowers will be here soon. Pretty thoughts fill our heads. So we’re making one of our favorites: marabou vests.
This one is a bit of a challenge, but challenge is good for building self-esteem. If you can cut out a shape, thread a needle and sew a running stitch, you can do this!
If you don’t know what a running stitch is, it’s just like it sounds. You poke the needle up through the cloth, then a short distance from where it went up (maybe 1/4”) you send it back down. You keep doing that and the stitch runs forward.
Are you ready? HERE WE GO! We’re giving you lots of detail. Feel free to ask questions on our Instagram page, @LolaAndPooch. Look for this post:
First, Buy Your Supplies
Buy your feathers first. If you made a ducky hat, you might already have the Marabou. These boas come in different weights. The 20-25 gram feathers are fluffier, so they are a better choice. One boa is more than enough.
Once you know your feather color, buy matching satin ribbon, thread, and a felt square. You need 3.5-4 yards of 1” ribbon, depending on your size. Matching tones look best, but you can also use a contrasting color. We made a contrasting version, and tied the two colors together, with a flower. Feel free to get creative, and add a jewel, a butterfly… really any novelty item!
For our work, we like to use straight pins with colored balls on the end because they’re easy to find when they fall on the floor.
Make Your Pattern for the Harness Base
First, fold a piece of paper in half. If you work with half of the shape, both sides will be exactly the same.
Basically, the design is a big fat heart with a base. The length for the fat part of the heart is the measurement of the front of your body plus 2” (less for a teeny-tiny pup, more for a medium size pup.)
Measure between your front legs. That’s the measurement where the base meets the heart. Then make the base 3/4” wider.
We made our pattern 5.5” long. We are 11” long. If you are a lot bigger or smaller than us, you might want to change the length to fit.
Cut out your pattern and hold it up to your dog. Do you like the size? The feathers will extend beyond it a little, so don’t go too big.
Cut Everything Out
Fold the felt in half. You can lay the full heart on the felt and cut it out that way, but by folding the felt in half and pinning the folded pattern along the folded edge, you’ll be symmetric!
Cut your ribbons:
2 lengths that measure your waist measurement + 22”
1 length that measures your neck measurement + 22”
1 18” length
Cut the ribbon at an angle. It keeps the ribbon from fraying, and it looks nice.
Stitch the Ribbons to the Body
First, you want to pin them. The picture shows where to place and where to stitch them.
You want the “heart” to extend beyond the body (as opposed to wrapping around the body), so follow the directions in the picture (the green dotted lines), where you stop your stitches for the middle ribbon 1” from the edges, and where you only stitch the neck ribbon at the designated heart edge.
Attach the Feathers to the Body
First, pin the feathers to the felt. Start at the “v” of the heart, then work around the hump of the heart.
Make a U-turn at the heart point. Then, head up the other side. When you get back to the “v”, send the feathers down the center of the heart to the bottom point. If you’re lost, take a look at the photo.
Stitch the feathers to the felt, and work from the felt side. Pinch the felt, sandwiching the feathers inside the “pinch”. This way you can stick the needle through the felt, catch the core of the feathers, and the needle will be right there, poking through the felt. Feathers are messy to sew if you work from the feather side since they get caught in the thread and it all knots up. Frustration takes over. You scream, then you throw the whole mess against the wall, vowing to never sew again. If that happens, mom says wine helps. But to avoid that, stay on the felt side.
Make the Side “Triangles”
This is where you figure out the place where the two ribbons will meet and form a triangle. First, you make both sides even. Then, fold the vest in half and pin the ribbons together at the point where they extend from the vest.
Then pin the bottom ribbons together 4” out from the body, and the middle ribbons 2.5 out from the body.
Slip the bottom ribbon in between the 2 sides of the middle ribbon (in the slot made by the two pins.)
Angle it like in the picture. You can stitch it or pin it, then try it on your dog. We have 15” waists. If you’re a lot bigger or a lot smaller than that, you might need to make adjustments.
The vest ties in the back. So this measurement doesn’t have to be perfect. You just want the angle to be such that the bottom side of the “triangle” is longer than the side made by the middle ribbon.
Stitch Feathers to the “Triangles”
First, you want to pin the feathers to the ribbons.
Stitch from the ribbon side, and sandwich the feathers between the ribbon. Stick the needle through the whole mess. The pictures make this clearer.
You can go across the base of the felt and up the other triangle sides, or stop at the base. We stopped at the base, to give the vest a cute cropped look. I have very short legs. This makes them look longer. BeaR’s vest went across the base because he has long legs.
Add the Bow and You’re Done!
Stitch the bow to the center of the neck ribbon. Add a hat like the ducky hat if you want. We used elastic instead of ribbon (this outfit has enough bows!) And added a flower instead of a duck.
Yup, that’s us! We hope, if you started, you made it to the end. Mom says hard things are worth conquering. If you got frustrated, put it down, pour a glass of wine, and pick it up later with fresh eyes. Mom does that all the time with new challenges.
That’s all for now! Next time, we’re making Easter bonnets. See you then!
Woofie and BeaR
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