January 6, 2014

How to Make No-Sew Kid Coats

Let me begin this post by saying that the kids are now two weeks old, and only wearing coats if it is really cold, like last night's nine degrees. You might think it's silly for them to wear coats, or that I'm pampering them much more than needed, but I don't use heat lamps, and this has already been an unusually cold winter. Goat kids are born without much body fat and it can be hard to regulate their body temperature as newborns. 

After several mild winters, this winter has started off with two storms and bitterly cold temperatures in December. I've never had my goats kid in December, and I was hoping it would be another mild winter, but it wasn't to be.

Phoenix, 2012

In the past I've made kid coats in several different ways. When Phoenix was a kid, I improvised a coat from a pair of thrift store sweatpants, and that is the design I use exclusively now. One pair of sweatpants makes two coats, one from each leg.

It's getting harder to find sweatpants with elastic around the ankles. I recently found a pair of black sweatpants at the local thrift store, and made a pair of coats that are smaller than the ones I'd made for Phoenix when she was about a month old. It's amazing how fast kids grow. And since first fresheners usually have a single kid, I thought two coats might be enough, but Felicity had twins.

The twins were three days old when I next went to town, the first day that the roads were driveable after an ice storm. I stopped at the thrift store to check out the current selection. I found two pair of sweatpants with elastic ankles. For a moment I debated about which one to buy, but decided to get both, since it would give me spares for kids to wear when I washed the others.

At home I cut them into coats, and that same day both Phoenix and Firefly had twins. I'm thankful I was able to put coats on all of them to warm them up, especially Phoenix's chilled doeling. Each set of twins wears matching coats. It's nice how that worked out.

How to make no-sew kid coats:
Choose a pair of sweatpants with elastic around the bottom of the legs. This will be the neck of the kid coat. I use a large girls' size or a small women's or men's size. My local thrift store sells sweatpants for $2 a pair; one pair makes two coats, so the coats cost me $1 each to make.

Color doesn't matter to me, although I did get some comments about the violently hot pink/fuschia color of the first coats I made for Phoenix when she was young.

I make the neck of the coats longer so it resembles a turtleneck and helps to keep the kid's neck warm. I measured a kid from middle of the neck to where the tail meets the body, added an inch for growth, and cut the leg of the pants that length.

Then I cut out the bottom of the pants leg to accommodate the hind legs and the navel. For buck kids and newborns, you'll need to cut this deeper than the one pictured above; Phoenix was a month old when I made this one and she'd lost her umbilical cord by then.

I held up the coat to a kid's side to "eyeball" the best spot for the front leg holes. Sometimes I have to adjust the holes - bigger, wider, longer, or more towards the center or the other way, but it just takes some time to get it right. If the holes are a bit bigger it really doesn't matter; an active kid needs non-restrictive clothes anyway.

The easiest way to make the second leg hole is to fold the coat in half and cut a hole that roughly matches the first hole.

To put it on, put the kid's head through the neckhole, then one foreleg into one of the holes you cut, the other foreleg through the other hole, then pull the fabric back towards the tail. To remove, pull the back end off the head, then down and off the legs. (On older kids it's easier to put their forelegs in the holes first and then pull it over their head and back towards the tail. Newborn kids are easier to "fold up".) This design stays on pretty well and doesn't require straps or safety pins, both of which I try to avoid around goats. The cut edge of the fabric doesn't fray so it doesn't need hemming, but if it only lasts one kidding season, it was still a bargain at $1.

These have really been a blessing this year during the very cold winter we are having.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Cutest little coats ever! What a great idea.

  2. Thank you, Staci. They really do help the kids stay warm - and they helped me know which kid was which!

  3. Cute! I'm already worrying about how to keep our first goat kids ever warm, and they won't be born until March (which is still very icy in Wisconsin)! Now I have an idea. I'll make sure to have sweatpants on hand. :) Thanks!

  4. Erin, if you can find some thicker sweatpants they'd be even warmer. I haven't tried using fleece (such as pj's) but that might work too.

  5. What a great idea, thank you!!

  6. Thank you. It was an idea born of desperation several years ago. We usually have one really cold spell when it dips down to around 10 degrees (although it's usually in late January or early February, not this early in the winter!) People put blankets on their horses, so why not on the goat kids? I've made several different kinds over the years, but this is by far the easiest to make and the easiest to keep on the kid!

  7. Those are some lucky (and stylish) kids! Thanks for sharing this on the Maple Hill Hop! Stay toasty!

  8. Kathi-
    I LOVE this idea. Thanks for sharing it today on FARMGIRL FRIDAY. I am preparing for my first kidding season and the idea of sewing up a dozen coats was intimidating. This is going to be so helpful.

  9. I'm glad it will be of help to you, Heidi. Sewing a dozen coats would be a LOT of work! The very first kid coats I made years ago were sewn, and had a middle layer rather like a quilt... this is SO much easier.

  10. Oh, I totally LOVE this! It has upcycling AND goats--who could ask for anything more?

    But seriously, my husband and I are thinking seriously about getting goats in a year or so (if we can swing a move) and this is something I would totally do. I just love this idea. I'll bet I can do something like this with kids' sweat pants for my little dogs who are in need of some more winter sweaters!

    I wanted you to know that I'm choosing this post to be featured as my favorite at the next From the Farm Blog Hop. Come on by on Friday and check out all the co-host favorites alongside yours!

    Kristi at The Mind to Homestead

  11. Thank you for featuring this post at From the Farm Blog Hop, Kristi! I bet this would work for your little dogs too. I've thought it probably would but my dogs are too big. ;-)

  12. Anonymous7:18 AM

    That is awesome! So easy and so cute!-Stephanie

  13. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead3:25 PM

    Thank you, Stephanie!


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