K9DIY: Fabric Dog Collars

My name is Lindsey, and I’m addicted to dog collars. And by addicted I mean.. I have a trunk full of them. My dogs have wardrobes- collars for Christmas, Halloween, Independence Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Snowmen collars, palm tree collars, striped, spotted and argyle collars. Some of my collars are hand me down collars from my previous dogs, and a few are even nearing 20 years old.

My trunk of collars

My trunk of collars. To be fair, I also have harnesses (tracking, walking, and guide dog varieties), a few backpacks, some puppy coats, and two search and rescue jackets underneath all those collars. So it’s not *all* collars in that pile.

A sampling of a few collars

A sampling of a few collars

I even have a bookmark folder chock-full of bookmarks of dog collar websites such as http://upcountryinc.com/ and http://www.felinefido.com/ among others. My favorites are the nylon with ribbon collars, but I also have leather collars, fabric collars, polypropylene collars, grip-rite collars, ASAT (all season, all terrain) collars, and even plastic collars.  I am addicted. It wasn’t long before I decided to start making my own, both nylon ribbon and fabric varieties. If you’d like to learn to make a fabric one, grab some fabric and your sewing machine, and follow along!

Materials:

  • Sewing Machine (while you can probably do this by hand- I’m not that patient, and my hand stitching is not that strong. I recommend a sewing machine!)
  • Fabric, if buying new fabric, I recommend buying about 1/2 a yard- even then you’ll have plenty leftover. Long scraps work well, too.
  • Thread (and an empty bobbin you can load with with your thread)
  • Collar hardware- a triglide slide, a side release buckle, and a D ring.

First- you need fabric. You don’t need much, even scraps will work, depending on the size of your collar and/or dog. I usually go and buy 1/2 yards of types I like, and have plenty of fabric to make lots of collars off that 1/2 yard. You want to go for fabrics that have a narrow pattern. As the collar will be at most 1-2 inches wide, if you have a large, elaborate design on the fabric, you won’t see it well once it’s made into a collar. I like to judge the pattern by how it looks on the skinny edge of the bolt at the fabric store. While you’re there, you’ll need to pick up some thread, and some medium to heavy weight iron-on interfacing. I’ve made them with sheer weight as well, which works, but the stiffer the interfacing, the stiffer the collar, and the better it stands up to abuse.

Fabric!

Fabric!

You’ll also need some collar hardware. If you have an old smelly collar lying around, you can wash and reuse the hardware if it’s still in good shape. If not, you can order from a variety of places on the internet- my favorite is Country Brook Designs: http://www.countrybrookdesign.com/. They also sell nylon webbing for ribbon collars, but that’s for another tutorial.

Materials

Materials (note, my buckle here is not from country brook- it’s a recycled buckle that came off a collar from a dog I once pulled from the pound for a rescue group. It was too decrepit to save, so I salvaged the hardware).

Your thread color is up to your personal preference. Some people may like a matching thread color, some may like a contrasting color. It’s entirely up to you- for this tutorial, I’ve chosen a red that matches the candy canes on the fabric I’ll be using.

Make sure to wash and dry your fabric first, so that any sizing is removed from the fabric, and so that it shrinks if it has a tendency to do that.

I have pre-measured patterns that I made out of the paper that comes with interfacing that I usually refer to for collar sizes. You can use my sizes here, or you can measure a current collar your dog has. You want to add a couple inches to the length to account for folding and sewing the edges, and you want to multiply the width by 4.

Or you can use my pre-measured sizes here:

Large (1″ wide collar) : 4″ x 34″
Medium (3/4″ width collar): 3″ x 25″
Small: (5/8″ width collar): 2.5″ x 19″

I’ve never had occasion to make anything smaller. Being primarily a Dalmatian/Labrador & Golden Retriever/German Shepherd owner I have one or two tiny collars that most of my puppies grow out of inside of 2-3 weeks (or they’re large enough to fit a ‘small’ size as soon as they come to me), so I’ve never made a tiny-size collar, but if you have a collar you can measure- go for it!

Once you’ve cut your fabric out according to the size you’re making, you’ll want to cut an identical one out of the interfacing.

My cut fabric

My cut fabric

My interfacing

My interfacing

Because the interfacing will be ironed onto the inside, you can cut two or three different pieces, as long as the total length and width of your fabric is covered with interfacing. I cut two 4″ x 17″ pieces instead of a single 34″ piece.

Once you’ve got your pieces cut, follow the directions on your interfacing for the correct iron temperature, and iron the interfacing to the backside of your fabric.

Ironed on interfacing.

Ironing on interfacing- the first piece.

It should look like this when you're done- interfacing all along the backside of your fabric

It should look like this when you’re done- interfacing all along the backside of your fabric

From there, we want to set the iron to the correct temperature for the type of fabric you’re using. My fabric is cotton, so I set my iron to the cotton setting. Once your iron is heated, fold your fabric in half “hotdog style” a.k.a. along the long side of the fabric, just once, and iron a crease. (and you thought after elementary school, you’d never use the phrase hotdog style to refer to cutting and folding again!)

It should look like this:

Ironed in half

Ironed in half

IMG_7311

After this, you want to fold in and iron over your edges, like this:

IMG_7338

Once you have a nice crease, open your fabric, and fold the edges of the fabric into the center one at a time, and iron, like so:

IMG_7313

 

That center ironed crease should help guide you as to where to fold the leading edges of your fabric to in order to make sure your collar is even.

IMG_7314

If you’re very dexterous, you can probably do both sides at one time, but I’m not, so I do one side, then the other. However you do it, you want to end up with both sides ironed down.

From there, fold it like a taco, with the edges tucked inside, and iron the whole collar:

IMG_7315

One long collar

One long collar

After the ironing and folding you should gather your other materials. You collar should look something like this, at this stage:

IMG_7334

Load your bobbin full of thread, and set up your sewing machine.

Loading my bobbin

Loading my bobbin

While you can use any variety of stitches for a collar, I prefer a straight stretch stitch- it’s much stronger than a regular straight stitch.

My sewing machine's settings.

My sewing machine’s settings.

Load your collar under the foot, position your needle, and prepare to sew all the way around the edges of your collar.

Ready to sew!

Ready to sew!

Sew down the side, sewing closed the opening. When you get to the end, position the needle down into the fabric to hold its place, then lift the foot up, and turn the collar 90 degrees.

End of the fabric

End of the fabric

Needle down, foot up

Needle down, foot up

Turn fabric 90 degrees

Turn fabric 90 degrees

Sew like this all the way around the collar. Back stitch the final narrow side, and trim your loose threads off.

Sewn all around

Sewn all around

The first piece of hardware we’ll sew is the triglide. Thread one side of the fabric around the middle.

IMG_7345

Pull it through about an inch or two:

IMG_7346

Again, you can use any type of stitch you like. I prefer to use a small zig zag stitch for this part, and keep the stitches tightly together, almost like applique. Stitch down the width of your collar, sewing the loose end back to the collar itself.

Like this

Like this

I like to add a second line for good measure.

IMG_7348Next, string the male part of your side release buckle through your collar, then fold the fabric back through the triglide

IMG_7349

IMG_7350

Next, slide the D ring onto the collar. *Make sure to put the D-ring on next, BEFORE the female part of your side release buckle.*

D-ring first!

D-ring first!

Next, the female half of the side release buckle

Next, the female half of the side release buckle

Pull the end of the fabric through the buckle, then sew the free end back to the collar. Again, I use my zig-zag stitch.

Sew the free end down to the collar

Sew the free end down to the collar

Slide the D-ring down against the end you just sewed, and then sew another line next to the buckle end. Sew as close to the buckle as you can get.

Second line- nearest the buckle.

Second line- nearest the buckle.

It should look like this

It should look like this

 

Next, we’ll sew one side of the D-ring, again with another line of zig-zag stitches. Move your needle over a tad bit, and make another line of stitches.

Now it should look like this

Now it should look like this

As soon as that is done- you want to push the D-ring up against your line of stitches, and sew the other side of it. You want to make sure to sew as close to your D-ring as possible, so it’s in a nice, tight, pocket. This will keep it from sliding around when you clip a leash to it. I often have to manually hold the foot of my sewing machine up a bit to get the needle close enough to the metal ring to sew.

One side of my foot is up on the metal ring- I often have to hold it partially up to get in close enough.

One side of my foot is up on the metal ring- I often have to hold it partially up to get in close enough.

Ta da!

Ta da!

Now clip your ends together, and you have a collar!

IMG_7362

 

Dierdre models the new collar.

Dierdre models the new collar. A bit too big for her!

Fits much better on Hawkins. He's ready for Christmas!

Fits much better on Hawkins. He’s ready for Christmas!

 

46 thoughts on “K9DIY: Fabric Dog Collars

  1. I bought a collar with that exact same pattern at a dog show a couple of weekends ago! Even the D-ring and buckle look identical. I had to do a double take when I saw it on this post.

    Anyway: I’m not at all crafty, but I will for sure pass this along to my sister who is. Could be some great handmade holiday presents for the pet lovers in her life. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this Lindsey!! I love this fun idea – finding an awesome fabric fit for our pooches. Your instructions are so clear that I’m going to have to try VERY hard to sew something on backwards. Thanks again!

  3. Your instructions are spot on. Thank you! Even though I’m using a mid weight interfacing, I keep breaking needles.I was using heavy weight ones…any thoughts?

    • Try purchasing a leather sewing needle, they’re much more durable, and should punch right through that heavyweight interfacing no problem!

  4. I love this! I’m a beginner at sewing so, this will take practice for sure. I was wondering what type of fabric do you recommend to a pooch that tends to chew her collars off!!! I don’t know how she does it. The collars aren’t too loose. I was wondering about a combo chain/fabric collar?

  5. Saw this yesterday, made two collars last night. Had to go out and scrounge hardware this morning and of course picked up a few Halloween fabrics. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I’m hooked. Can’t wait for my order of hardware to get here.

  6. This is one of the best explanations on line ever. Not too know it all attitude but really easy to follow. Will be making lots for Christmas presents for family members who love their dogs! Such a fun project!

  7. Do you have any directions on how to add a bow tie to this collar? Thank you for sharing your talent with us, I can’t wait to try to make one for my puppy.

  8. Thank you so much for this. Ive been making bandanas and beds for my dogs for a while. Iv always wanted to make collars as we foster dogs aswel as having our own and the foster dogs are normally Street dogs. They have a habit of chewing leads, collars and such so this way it’s not going to cost a fortune every time they do. If o make a few extra I may be able to sell a few to raise funds for these poor dogs x

  9. Yes a fantastic tutorial. I decided to make a bunch to donate to a no-kill shelter. I used the nylon webbing for these. Ordered on EBAY it was only 10-20 cents a yard. Then I hit the resale shops. I could buy a backpack with the hardware for 2 collars and snap hooks for leashes for couple of bucks. So a matching collar and leash was CHEAP. 6 foot leashes about 50 cents and collars less than $1. Old purses often have snap hooks, too.
    I will be making the cute holiday collars shown here as Christmas gifts for all my doggie friends. Again, you did a terrific job on the tutorial.

  10. Just a note to make sure the D ring is *welded*! D rings for purses etc are not always welded shut, and even a small dog can bend them open when determined.

    I’m excited to test drive this tutorial :D I’m so bad about collars too…I find a new one I love every few days haha!

  11. I’m excited to try this! I have an addiction to collars for every occasion and would have so much fun making them myself. Do you find easier and/or cheaper to make….cotton with interface or nylon webbing with ribbon??

    • My local fabric store does not carry nylon webbing, only poly webbing, which is nice because it floats, but not as thick or heavy duty as nylon. While I love the nylon and ribbon ones, I find them much more expensive to make just because I have to special order the nylon to my house. But that could be different if you have a local supplier!

  12. Thank you so much for this! I am an experienced sewer, but I could never figure out how sew all that buckle hardware on! Directions are EXCELLENT!!

  13. Thank you for such awesome instructions! I made my first dog collar for our lab, Max, and posted a pic on FB & IG and gave your site credit for the great instructions.

  14. Using a shim of the same material and thickness helps a lot for sewing close to the D-ring. (It keeps the presser foot up.) I started out using a denim needle (size 16) (assuming it would be hard to sew through all the layers), but I found that with cotton it leaves littles holes at every stitch, so I switched back down to a size 11. I did a few collars fine, and now it’s skipping and shredding thread. I don’t know if it’s the tension or the needle.

    I’ve found that sewing a thin strap like this is tough – my feed dogs have a hard time catching and moving the fabric appropriately, especially on the ends. I end up having to manually push and pull the fabric. Any ideas about this?

    Fabulous tutorial though! Both of my dogs have gorgeous collars now, and everyone I know with a dog is getting Christmas presents this year :P

  15. Darling! I have re-sewn some store bought collars to suit my dog better but never done one from scratch. Both my dogs have long-ish hair (BC/Aussie) so you can’t really see their collars which makes it not too pressing for me to do this but.. leashes.. well now!

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  17. For Sewing close to the d ring , is there a better foot for a closer seam? You mentioned a shim- I’m not sure I understand, but I will try it later today .

  18. I really love this. Thank you so very much. I am new to sewing and very excited ti give this ago. May I please what is the best sewing machine to use and which is the best thread and needles? Thanks heaps :)

    • Hi Tanya- I have been making collars for a few years now and I started out with a Singer. My Mom gave me a Brothers embroidery machine and Iv’e only used it for straight stitching. I do like my Singer better for making collars. I think you should decide on a budget and visit fabric stores and
      talk with the employees . All of them use sewing machines. I have learned a lot talking to women in fabric stores! If you have any questions or need help finding supplies, feel free to contact me. I will help you in any way I can. it’s a lot of fun making your own collars and shopping for the fabric. I have two hairless Chinese Crested dogs and a German Shorthair Pointer, and I make collars and bandanas to match. i HAVE THE BEST DRESSED DOGS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!

  19. Hi there, thank you so very much for your reply :) I am going to take your advise and head onto some fabric store etc.. I will take you up on your offer of advice if I need it in the future, thanking you so very much, so grateful :) I have 3 fur babies as well. I have a Kelpie x staffordshire Bull terrier, Australian Cattle Dog x Labrador Retriever and a Labrador. I so can not wait to dress them in my my own handmade Collars etc.
    Kindest regards Tanya PS I would love to see some photo’s of your beautiful fur bubba’s

  20. Great tutorial! It can be tough to see close to D ring, an option is to use the zipper foot. Most sewing machines come with one.

  21. Thanks, I did try a zipper foot. I found the work slipped, I neede the weight of the full foot. So far using the wedge as suggested has worked the best so far.
    thanks Terri

  22. Hi.. I’m a beginner and finding my gifted machine is struggling doing the zigzag through the layers. I’m having to pull/push the collar through and it makes the zigzag uneven. It’s a singer if that helps

  23. Hi fantastic instructions and lovely fabric collars, I have made a few and im really pleased with them. Do you find the fabric ones with the interfacing strong enough? Just wondered as a few of my friends have asked me to make them for their dogs, advise greatly appreciated. x

  24. Yes they are strong enough. I have been making collars for my dogs for years. Dogs that are not well behaved should always be on a leather buckle collar when out in public for control. That is my experience.Enjoy making your collars.

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