Making a Parka for an Alpaca

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I should probably apologize right now, as this is going to be another of those oddly-specific posts that you are going to either get VERY excited about, because it’s exactly what you need, or it’s not relevant to your life at all. This post is about making coats for alpacas! ๐Ÿ™‚

These coats lay across the animal’s back and attach under the belly with a strap and fasten across the front of their chest with overlapping panels and either straps or velcro. Let’s start with the basic shape. I found this pattern image online and used it as a guideline. I would love to give credit to the originator, but all I have is this google drive link.

The U-shaped part at the top is where the alpaca’s neck will go, and the chest straps will connect across the alpaca’s chest and the belly straps will connect under the belly. You will need 2 measurements for the alpaca you are making the coat for: around-the-belly circumference and length of back (from neck to tail).

My first venture into making coats was last fall, when we knew we had a baby on the way and it would be due in October. What a heck of a time of year to be born! So I made two coats — a lightweight one and a warmer one. I used measurements off the internet for the sizes of coats that were for sale. I was so glad I did. That little guy really needed his coat! He was basically born shivering and after I dried him off, I put it on him and he perked up a lot!

Look how pink his ears and nose are!

The next day, I made him a neckwarmer and put that on him too.

As he got bigger and winter got colder, we put his thicker coat on him. This one was insulated with alpaca fibre from his mama!

Isn’t he adorable!?! He grew up really well and is still very gentle and likes to come nose-to-nose with me. I think he knows we will take care of him no matter what!

Okay, we are in danger of getting sentimental, so let’s get down to business and look at how I made these coats! ๐Ÿ™‚

I guess I didn’t take many pictures of the construction of the first coat, but here it is all finished, waiting for the little one to be born! My mom supplied the light blue fabric and wide velcro — thanks Mom!
Making the second coat: The pattern piece overlaid on fuzzy cloth.
To add an insulating layer, I hand-carded alpaca fibre and made it into mini-batts which I laid out inside the coat, overlapping a little.
I machine quilted the coat and added a windproof layer — the dark blue fabric (thanks again, Mom). It puckered quite a bit, but at least the alpaca fleece layer would be anchored well.
I underestimated how big Pigpen was getting, so it didn’t even fit him! I had to make the coat bigger… or the straps longer!

I felt pretty good about how that went! We used the light blue coat for Rupert for a few days when he was born this summer too!

I think he likes it!

If you just can’t get enough of these little ones, check out my posts here.

One cold evening last year, I noticed our elderly female, Uki, shivering. I felt so bad for her! She was still nursing little Pigpen and earlier in the year, she had been putting a lot of energy into growing him and not her coat.

The proud mama, not long after Pigpen was born! (He had just stood up!) Yes, that’s a washcloth on his back. I had to run back in the house for his coat!

So, I quickly made up a three-layer coat to help her keep warm. This year, with more time to work on it, I made some alpaca fibre into batts and added a quilted layer! I used the existing coat as a pattern and cut out the cloth from an old but very soft sheet.

Here is the coat laid out on the floor. The batts are different colours because it is fibre from different alpacas!

Using full-size batts was far better than hand-carded fibre, and I only anchored it every 3-4 inches.

I quilted the coat by hand with thread, tying small knots. I seem to love projects that take a lot of time!

I machine quilted the section at the chest, so that it isn’t quite as puffy. I figured out how to do it without the cloth puckering (thank you, internet). I then stitched it to the windproof layer in ten or so places. We put it on her tonight, even though it isn’t forecast to be too cold. She is pregnant again, with her cria due in June, so I think she might just wear this coat all winter!

An alpaca in a parka!

Last year, the coat was a bit too loose and would sometimes creep forward and end up bunched up around her neck. Hopefully now that it’s a puffy coat, it will stay put better. I did it up as tightly as I could.

I should make another one in case Daisy needs it! She is still nursing little Rupert, but at least she is not pregnant too. What a toll that must take on a body!

Now I have friends asking if I can make coats for dogs! I’m not sure I want to get into that racket… but then I hate to see an animal cold! ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care, everybody! Stay warm!

9 thoughts on “Making a Parka for an Alpaca

    Susanne said:
    November 24, 2020 at 4:41 am

    A clever and necessary thing for the more delicate creatures. They are such endearing animals!

      Teresa responded:
      November 24, 2020 at 4:44 am

      They are surprisingly hardy, and they usually have a pretty good coat on by this time of year! But the pregnant/nursing females need a bit of help. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Barbara Szijarto said:
    November 24, 2020 at 7:33 am

    If you wash them doesn’t the alpaca insulation felt and make the coat pucker? Or does the quilting hold the fibre and prevent it from felting. I wonder if you could wet felt the batts first then quilt them between.

      Teresa responded:
      November 24, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Hi Barbara! Since this was a coat for an alpaca made of alpaca, I did not wash the fibre, but you can wash alpaca in hot water as long as you don’t agitate it and it will not felt. The purpose of the quilting was to keep the batts from shifting around, and I’m happy to report that it seems to be working! I did find Miss Uki naked today however! The coat had come off her AND the quilted layer had separated from the windproof layer (and the fabric tore in a couple places, where it had been tacked)! I imagine the coat started coming forward, bunching up around her neck and she eventually had to step out of it. Possibly the velcro failed as well — because I had put it on her more tightly, there was less velcro overlap. A friend suggested adding leg straps like horse blankets have, so I think that is my next step. I’ll use elastic and keep it fairly loose and hopefully she doesn’t hate it! It would be a bit like a person wearing nylons held up with a garter for the first time!
      You know, I actually tried overlapping some batts and doing a little needle felting of them, to hold them to each other! It worked pretty well — I might try that again! I just used my multi-needle tool and punched 5 or so times in the same spot to get the fibres to interlock a bit, and I did it where the overlap of batts was. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it looks like I’ll be making a dog parka, so maybe I’ll use the needle felting method to hold the batt together! I am debating whether to wash the fibre for a dog parka… wouldn’t the dog love to smell the alpaca? Would it enjoy that? Or would it stress it out, like “this smells like an animal — where is it?!?” Our dog Jenny tore apart a cushion I made for her out of some scrap, raw wool I had lying around. I think she was looking for the sheep in it! It was very old and pretty “aromatic,” shall we say! I think I should probably wash the alpaca when I make this dog coat…

        Barbara Szijarto said:
        November 26, 2020 at 7:41 am

        Hi Teresa, velcro doesn’t hold as well as a buckle. I recall my horse blankets all had special metal interlocking buckles. Perhaps alter/shorten the blanket so it doesn’t fall over her tail and add a back strap to help prevent the blanket from sliding forward.

        Teresa responded:
        November 26, 2020 at 11:39 am

        I was thinking of changing to buckles also, but maybe it’s better to have the velcro as a failure-point? I would hate for her to feel trapped inside it or unable to get out if she got caught on something… although I can’t imagine what… But yes, I was thinking of shortening it a little and a friend also suggested straps to hold it back. So, I am going to add elastics to the back corners of the coat and then when I put it on her, I’ll run the elastics around her back legs and attach them (with buttons, I think) back to the coat. I could also buy some WIDER velcro, because all I had were narrow pieces so I used several… but it’s not as good.
        Thanks for all your comments! Are you a sewer as well as a felter? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jim Tupper said:
    November 25, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Patty and I think that coat is awesome!

    I am so glad you do this blog, it keeps me in touch where no other way is possible at this time.

      Teresa responded:
      November 26, 2020 at 11:40 am

      I agree! Keeping in touch is so important! I hope you are Patty are well. I’m glad you like the coat! Are you still making your trail camera tree-hangers?

    Barbara Szijarto said:
    November 27, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Yes, I sew in addition to felting and numerous other hobbies. It’s important for us to always be learning new things.

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