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How to Make an Adjustable Fabric Dog Collar and Leash

March 31, 2008

Jasmine Models Her New Collar and Leash
Jasmine looking spiffy
My husband and I recently visited our favorite vacation spot–Maui. During our visit, we happened upon a dog boutique in Paia that had the cutest dog leashes. Being the crafter that I am, the first thing that came into my mind was “I can make that.”

I went on the Internet to look for the right findings and accessories for making my own custom collars and leashes and found a great site with very reasonable prices–Creative Designworks. They also have kits that include detailed instructions on how to make the accessories. I just bought the “refill” kits. I also found a nice little video on YouTube that showed one crafter’s process for making the collars.

Armed with my tools and some great sushi print fabric, I cut the fabric, used some fusible webbing to back the fabric with heavy interfacing, then pressed, folded and sewed the collar and the leash. The learning curve has to do with understanding how to put the hardware on. However, a great little blog called Dogged Knits had some excellent instructions and pictures on sewing the collar.

Here are my instructions for both a sewn dog collar and a sewn adjustable leash.

Adjustable Dog Collar and Adjustable Leash Tools and Materials

  • Dog Collar: Dog Collar Hardware Refill set from Creative Designworks -or- one side release plastic buckle, one slip lock buckle, and one metal D-ring (all in the desired width of your collar)
  • Dog Leash: Adjustable Leash Hardware Refill set from Creative Designworks -OR- one swivel-ended metal snap hook, one slip lock buckle, and one strap keeper (all in the desired width of your leash)
  • Quick Link or Split Ring
  • Fabric (I used basic cotton fabric)
  • Medium- to heavy- weight fusible interfacing (or interfacing plus fusible webbing)
  • Rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler
  • Iron, ironing board and pressing cloth
  • Sewing machine, coordinating thread and scissors

Step One: Determine the length and width of your collar and leash.

I measured my dog’s neck and doubled that measurement for the length of fabric for the collar–18″ for my petite pooch. For the leash, I decided that I wanted a 6-foot(ish) leash, so I added an extra foot in length for the handle and for some “play” in the adjustment–for a final length of 7 feet (84″). I decided to make both the collar and the leash the same width–5/8″. This decision was based upon the collar and leash my precious Jasmine was already wearing.

Step Two: Measure and Cut Your Fabric

The width of your fabric strip for both the collar and the leash should be 4 times the width of your final piece. For my 5/8″ set, 4 times 5/8″ = 20/8″ = 2 1/2″. Using your rotary cutter, ruler and cutting board, cut even strips of fabric until you have the length you need for BOTH projects. Unless you have a very long piece of fabric from which you can cut a single strip for the leash, you will need to cut two or three strips and sew them together to create one long strip.

Subtract 1/4″ from your width measurement for the fabric strips and cut the fusible interfacing strips (or both interfacing and fusible webbing). For my project, this mean that my fusible interfacing strips were 2 1/4″ wide.

Step Two-Point-Five: If Required, Sew Your Leash Strip

Sew together your shorter fabric strips, right sides together, to create one long continuous strip for the leash. I like to use the “bias” strip method of creating a diagonal seam (aids in strength), but you don’t have to be as picky as I am. Trim the seam allowances to about 1/4″.

Step Three: Fuse and Press Your Strips

Press open the seam allowances for the leash strip. Lay the leash strip out on your ironing board, right side down. Place the fusible interfacing adhesive side down onto the back side of the fabric strip. If using fusible webbing, place it paper-side up onto the back of the fabric strip. Place your pressing cloth on top of the assembly and fuse the interfacing or webbing to the fabric, following manufacturer’s instructions on time and temperature. If using fusible webbing, let it cool, peel off the paper and place the interfacing strip on top and fuse the interfacing to the fabric. Do the same for your collar strip.

Step Four: Press Your Strips Into Final Form

Fold your strip in half lengthwise, interfacing sides together and press with a hot iron. Open up the strip and fold one raw edge to the center and press the fold. Turn over so the first finished side is on the bottom. Fold the top raw edge towards the center, all the while matching the edge that you made with the first side. When complete, you will have a neat strip with one folded edge and two folded seams with the raw edges folded inside. Do this with both the leash and collar strips.

Step Five: Sew Seams

Thread your sewing machine and bobbin with coordinating thread. Sew both the open seam and the folded seam of the strips so you have two parallel lines of stitching down the length of the strips.

Step Six: Sew and Assemble Adjustable Collar

Okay, this is the hard part. I’ll detail the process here, but the Dogged Knits blog has lovely photos.

  1. Decide which side of your collar is the “right” side (facing out) and the “wrong” side (touching the dog’s neck).
  2. Place the “wrong” side of the strip up and slide on the slip lock buckle on the right-hand end of the strip, threading the strip under the edge of the buckle, over the center bar, and under the other edge. Fold the end of the strip to the “right” side of the strip and sew the end down, using a zig-zag stitch to finish the raw edge. I made two parallel rows of zig-zag stitches and then straight stitched a big X between those rows.
  3. With the wrong side still facing up, place the “female” end of the slide release buckle through the other end of the strip. Have the buckle right-side up and thread it from bottom to top. Pull the slide release buckle down towards the sewn slip lock buckle. Fold the fabric strip back towards the slip lock buckle and thread it through the slip lock buckle–over the previously sewn strip (again under-over-under).
  4. Thread the fabric strip through the D-ring and then through the “male” end of the slide release buckle–under the edge, over the center bar, and under the edge. Make sure that you have the buckle right-side up–if in doubt, make sure it fits correctly with the secured “female” end before sewing. Fold the strip under, leaving a tail that’s long enough to secure both the buckle and the D-ring. Sew to secure the buckle (zig-zag edges and straight-stitched X) and then sew the end to secure the D-ring and finish off the raw edge. You now have an adjustable collar for your pet!

Step Seven: Sew and Assemble Adjustable Leash

Now that you have the hang of sewing the collar, the leash is a breeze. While you theoretically have a wrong and right side for the leash, it really isn’t a big deal.

  1. Pull the end of the strip through the slip lock buckle (under-over-under). Fold the raw edge to the other side and sew using parallel zig-zag stitches and a straight stitch X between. Make sure to capture the raw edge under the zig-zag stitch.
  2. Thread the other end of the leash strip through the strap keeper, through the snap hook, back through the strap keeper and through the top of the slip lock buckle.
  3. Fold the end of the leash strip to create a handle. Secure the end of the strip using the parallel zig-zag stitches and a straight stitch X between. Make sure to capture the raw edge under the zig-zag stitch.

Step Eight: Tag and Enjoy!

Use the optional Quick Link to secure your dog’s tags to the collar. The Quick Link allows you to move the tags quickly and easily from collar to collar. The Split Ring is more secure. The choice is yours!

Make lots of collars and leashes…you can change them out at will. These are inexpensive and fun items to make!

6 comments

  1. I love it!!! Thanks for the details and links!!! Do you happen to remember the youtube tutorial you found helpful?

    Thanks,

    Selina


  2. Hi, thank you for the wonderful instructions. I looked at the fusible interfacing at the fabric store and couldn’t decide if I should get the regular weight or the Heavy Weight? I was thinking the heavy weight might be too stiff for the collar? Have you had this experience? I didn’t buy either one, hoping to clarify this and go back to the store later for the best solution?? Any help would be appreciated! thanks.


  3. […] […]


  4. Thanks for this! I’ve been making dog and cat collars, and bought the kit from Creative Designworks. Like you say, their prices are great — but the pattern and instructions in the kit were horrible, not worth it at all. I had to figure it out for myself (well, my smart husband figured it out). Your instructions are clear and complete, very helpful.


  5. […] Lo and behold, I found a site with instructions on How to Make Your Own Adjustable Fabric Collar. […]


  6. God bless you!!! I purchased a pattern from someone on the internet and couldn’t for the life of me get the hardware on correctly even with their directions. You saved me and my collar looks perfect on my little schnauzer, Howie. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Lori….and Howard Eugene woof woof



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