If you’d like to skip straight to the creative project and learn how to make a dog lead from fabric then scroll down until you see Blue’s paw print below.
This episode is subtitled: ‘Wish I was glamorous…’
So there we were at the public meeting, keen to have our little protest about the proposed new supermarket. Kim was looking radiant, I was looking like I’d walked through a waterfall and out into a gale, and who should be hosting the meeting but Shaun McArthur.
‘Let’s nab him at the end and call in a few favours,’ said Kim, excited by this new opportunity.
‘What favours does he owe us?’ I said, pointing out the obvious flaw in her suggestion.
‘Well, having a friend on the planning committee’s got to be worth something,’ she replied.
Friend? I had one slow dance with him over 30 years ago, which Kim probably doesn’t even know about. And I bet she’s never spoken to him in her life. My mind was whirring. Friend. I would love to be his friend but I’d like to be in fresh dry clothes with my hair not plastered to my face for my next encounter. Talking to him tonight was out of the question.
With the shock of seeing Shaun again I’d stopped paying attention to the meeting so I’d missed what the representative from the supermarket had said. I snapped back to the proceedings when Roland from the Chemist’s head office stood up to speak. That’s a relief, I thought, at least they’ve sent someone with the guts to protest.
‘Where’s Sandra?’ whispered Kim. I looked around but couldn’t see her anywhere. It wasn’t like her to miss an opportunity to be smug. This time it would have been justified since she was responsible for persuading their head office to take an interest.
‘We think the supermarket is a great idea,’ said Roland.
‘What?’ said Kim. But Roland continued to talk, citing job opportunities, more choice for shoppers and Skolkensson’s track record of charitable donations as three of the reasons for the local community to get behind it. He continued, ‘George Smithers from the hardware shop can’t be with us tonight but I’ve assured him we’ll let attendees know that he is in full support.’
‘What?’ exclaimed Jaz, unsure how Roland had succeeded to win over Old George where she had failed.
Roland continued, ‘And I’m delighted that Skolkensson has agreed to house our local chemist within their store. Our staff will continue to provide the best level of pharmacy service to the community.’
‘What?’ I yelled, and instantly regretted my outburst as Shaun looked over and raised his eyebrow in recognition. But recognition of what? That he’d heard me? That he’d realised I was the florist who’d sold him the flowers recently for his wife’s homecoming? Or that he recognised me from the last slow dance of our fifth form end of year disco?
‘No wonder Sandra hasn’t turned up,’ snarled Kim. I wish I hadn’t either, I thought.
I’ve known Kim long enough to understand why she didn’t retaliate there and then, not from the back foot. She realised she needed a new plan of attack. I turned to scurry out as soon as the meeting finished but Kim chased after me. ‘We have to speak to Shaun McArthur,’ she said, but I was in no mood to hang around.
‘I must get back to Blue,’ I said, even though, ordinarily, I’d have jumped at a quick glass of wine with Kim first.
But I hadn’t even got to the door when I heard Shaun behind us. ‘Jenny, please wait,’ he urged.
‘Oh Shaun,’ gushed Kim. ‘It’s so good to see you again.’
‘Sorry, do I know you?’ he said to Kim. I had to stifle a giggle but then was totally embarrassed when he looked back at me and pointed to my bedraggled hair. ‘Copper,’ he said, ‘suits you.’ ◊
How to Make a Dog Lead from Fabric
I seem to spend my whole life trying to blend into the scenery and not be noticed. Why I decided to make such a jazzy ‘look at me’ new lead for Blue I’ll never know, but here it is. I have Sew Can She to thank for the idea. I was so impressed with hers I decided to have a go myself.
Do you remember the curtain samples I got for £1? Well, I really didn’t think I’d get to use this piece of fabric from the set but it’s perfect for this project. Caroline (from Sew Can She) used fabric scraps/squares but you get the same effect from this stripy fabric with fewer pieces to sew together. And because the fabric is quite thick, I didn’t need any interfacing.
I wanted my finished lead to be about 180cm long and 1.5cm wide. The width was determined by the size of the ring in my lobster claw clasp. That meant starting with a width four times the measurement (6cm).
To create a finished length of about 180cm you need to have a strip of about 225cm. This will allow for turning in the raw edge at each end and folding and stitching a section at the bottom for the clasp and one at the top for the handle. Don’t forget to add your seam allowances. My fabric was 45cm so five strips wasn’t quite enough.
Here are my six strips.
To create the width, you need to fold and iron the strip in half, open it out and fold each edge to the centre crease. I decided to do this with each strip before I sewed them together. The photograph shows a flat strip (top), one folded and ironed in half (middle), and one opened up then edges folded and ironed to the middle (bottom).
I stitched all of the strips together with a 1cm seam allowance then ironed the seams flat.
I chopped a bit off each end to get it closer to my original measurement but I didn’t cut enough off so my lead is a bit long.
Next you need to turn the raw edges in at each end. I had plenty to play with and made these overlaps quite large.
Then I re-ironed any sections that had come unfolded due to stitching the strips together and folding the ends in. And then made sure it was ironed in half with the raw edges on the inside. Check that the width is now the right size for your clasp.
Now it’s time to pin and sew two straight lines down the whole length of the lead, one close to each of the edges. The problem with a stripy strip is that your stitching is going to show up on some colours! I took Caroline’s advice – I lengthened my stitch and sewed both rows from the same end to reduce the risk of ripples.
Now for the clasp. This one is from an old work’s lanyard that I acquired from somewhere. But it’s strong and more than sufficient for a small dog like Blue. You could use the clasp from an old lead if it’s still working properly.
Slip the clasp on, fold a section over and stitch it into place. Ideally you should sew a square with a cross (as you would for a bag strap) but my lead is too narrow so I did a few vertical lines and a few horizontal lines. Not very pretty but I know it’s safe.
Then do the same for the handle.
And there you have it!
Shame Blue was too camera shy to be photographed with it.
- This tutorial from Sew Can She is very good.
- Make sure your clasp is secure.
- My fabric was upholstery weight but you may need interfacing to stiffen up thinner fabric.
- Curtain sample fabric (you can use fabric scraps)
- Lobster claw clasp from an old lanyard
Please show us all on Facebook if you make one.
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