I am going to try something new today.I am going to give instructions on how to make a wool coat or capote for your dog. Roxy is always warm and stylish in hers.
First, I need to explain what exactly a “capote” is. We go to mountain man rendezvous, and a capote is the preferred, and period correct, warm coat to wear. The word capote is french for cape. When the fur trappers came to the western United States, they wore capotes because they are made from wool blankets, and are very warm. The original capotes were made from Hudson Bay blankets, had a hood, a couple pockets, and were even adopted by some of the plains Indians as time went on.
Now a days, capotes are seldom made from Hudson bay blankets because they are very costly, and getting rare. Pendleton blankets are a great choice because they colors are generally good, and the wool is a nice quality. I made my capote about 5 years ago. Al found a very nice Pendleton blanket, on sale, that I used. I added the red trade wool hood, and leather fringe at the shoulders to personalize it for me.
Yes, I am throwing a knife. And you can see my beaded buckskin dress and leggings, underneath.
When I finished my capote, I wanted to make one for Roxy. She’s such a little fart and gets cold pretty easy. She LOVES rendezvous and needed something to keep her warm and dry while we are there.
Here we are in our capotes, our friend is getting a face washing.
When I decided to make her a capote, I needed some kind of pattern. She had a sweater that buttoned underneath, so I used that. I don’t sew so I had to figure this out as easy as possible. I layed the sweater out on the piece of blanket. Here is Roxy’s capote on what I have left of the Pendleton blanket. Sadly, where the stripes are is not wide enough, so this will be just green.
Depending on what type of material you use, you will have to find something that will mark it, and trace around your pattern. Cut it out, plus cut the holes for the arms.
The red hood I made, is really just a triangle of red wool I sewed on. Hoods don’t really work very well on Roxy anyway.
Figure out where the buttons need to go, I used deer antler buttons to stay authentic to rendezvous. Make the button holes on the other side. This is were having the dog right there comes in handy. You can put the capote on, and figure out were you need to be with buttons and stuff.
Sew a piece of leather on the edge where the button holes are. I actually just did this. The button holes are the one place were there is stress on the wool. The wool is not very strong once it’s cut, and the holes were starting to give out. Five years later.
Lastly, put the harness, if you use one, on your dog and figure out were the leash needs to clip. Roxy’s harness is under the capote, so I made a slit for the d-ring and bring it up to hook the leash on.
The ideas can be your own as far as fabric choice, decoration, buttons, trim, whatever. Roxy wears hers a lot in the winter. It’s warm, comfy, and pretty waterproof. I love that she can wear her harness underneath, and still have a leash.
I can use this last piece of the Pendleton blanket to make a custom capote for someone. I can trim it with red trade wool or leather, your choice. And do different buttons too. Roxy is between 7 1/2 and 8 lbs, so your dog can’t be much bigger than that. I have a few inches to work with in both directions. I also have navy blue trade wool, and of course the red, either would make a great capote. The trade wool is not as thick however. A capote for a small dog would start at $40.
Just send me an email, or leave a comment, if you are interested in having me make one for your dog.