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Luke and I have decided we want to adopt a puppy! We've been dog owners before. I rescued my sweet Willow from a shelter where she was sitting in her own poop and fifty percent off. My heart broke for her and I knew she had to come home with me. She lived a good, long, eight years with me through a bit of high school, a bit of college, my first teaching job, and into my marriage, before we had to say goodbye last year.
With Luke's allergies, we've decided to adopt a puppy that is low to non-shedding so we're on the list for either a Goldendoodle or a Labradoodle. I know we have a bit of a wait ahead of us but I just couldn't keep myself from getting a few things ready.
There are a zillion different options for dog leashes and dog collars. They come personalized, in every color of the rainbow, funny prints, and various styles but none of these can compare with a special, handmade set from loving dog owner to precious pooch. I love to spoil the people, and pets, in my life with labors of love. This duo, however, didn't take me too much time at all and it was so fun that I had to make a couple.
This is a fairly quick project that can be done with minimal sewing skills.
Here's what you will need:
For the collar:
- One 4" wide piece of fabric that is about 6"-10" longer than you want the finished collar size to be (for folds and adjustability)
- Optional matching size interfacing to reinforce the fabric
- One 1" wide by length of fabric above size piece of batting or fleece
- One 1" Buckle
- One 1" D-ring
- One 1" adjustable buckle slider
For the leash:
- Two 4" x 36" pieces of fabric
- Optional matching size interfacing to reinforce fabric
- 1" strip(s) of batting equal to six feet in length
- One 1" leash clip
Other helpful tools:
- Needle nose pliers (especially if your fabric is really thick)
- Rotary cutter & mat
- Walking foot
- Sewing clips
You can find these materials at various stores: JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, or Walmart. These are great places to buy individual buckles/clips/sliders. If you are going to make a bunch at once, however, I highly suggest ordering in bulk. Amazon has a ton of options. Here are just a few:
Picking Your Fabric
Find fabric you love! You can use a wide variety of fabrics. If you pick a cotton, light, or slightly stretchy fabric, I recommend using an interfacing (which could be bought at a fabric store) to reinforce it, especially if your dog likes to pull! There are a lot of different kinds of interfacing to choose from. Go by the way it feels. You don't want interfacing that is too thin - it won't help you out enough. On the other hand, if the interfacing is inflexible, it won't make for a nice leash either. Look for a supple yet supportive option that irons on to your fabric.
I like to use a slightly heavier fabric that more resembles duck canvas or an outdoor fabric. If your fabric itself is pretty heavy, you may want to skip the interfacing. Fabric that is too thick can make it difficult to sew.
Sizing Your Dog Collar
There are a few different ways you can go about sizing your dog collar. The good news is, they are adjustable within several inches! If you have a collar that fits your dog well, you could measure that, then add 6" - 10" (for folds and room to adjust).
Another option, if you don't have a template, is to measure your dogs neck. With this method, you'll want to add an addition 1" - 2" for fit.
You could also check out this super helpful sizing chart from PetSmart. This is especially helpful if you don't have a dog to measure or your making this as a gift for someone.
*Note: if you have a small dog, you may want to reduce the width of you collar to 1/2 - 3/4 quarters of an inch. This would affect all of the hardware sizes. To figure out how wide your fabric strips would need to be, just multiply your finished width by four.
Make the Base
Start by sewing your two strips of fabric (4" x 32") together. Place right sides together and sew a straight stitch, doing a backstitch at the beginning and end, with a quarter inch seam allowance. Press the seams open to reduce bulk.
Take your long strip for the leash and the strip for the collar and treat them both the same for the following steps:
Iron the strip in half. Open, then iron both long edges in towards the center fold mark.
Place the strip(s) of 1" batting under one of the folds (it doesn't matter which one). If you are using multiple strips of batting to equal the six feet, don't overlap the ends, just butt them up next to each other, making sure you place a pin or a clip there to keep it in place.
Fold both ends in to the center, then fold in half again. Pin or clip ever few inches to keep in place while you sew.
If your sewing machine needle can shift, set it so that it falls far to the right, making the stitch as close to the edge of the fabric as it can be while still being consistent and straight. If you needle doesn't move, find a reference point on your foot or place a piece of masking tape under the foot so that your stitch is even.
Stitch all the way down the side of the leash that is folded together first. Once finished, flip the leash over and sew down the leash in the same direction as the first stitch on the opposite side (going in the same direction reduces the risk of tension waves forming in your fabric).
On each of the four ends, stitch a tight zigzag, backstitching on both sides, to keep the ends from fraying. If your fabric is thinner, you could fold about a half an inch on each edge, still doing a zigzag stitch on the raw edge.
Making The Collar
Thread your adjustable slider onto one end of the collar base. Fold the end over, pin, and stitch a box with an "X" through it. This should make it very secure. I go around the box two times for good measure and always backstitch at the beginnings and ends.
On the other end of the collar base, thread on the male end of the buckle. It should be facing towards the slider and on the side with the folded over edge. Then, thread the free end through the adjustable slider. My fabric here was very thick so I just made it through the slider once but if you're using a thinner fabric, you can fee it through twice.
On the free edge of the collar base, put on the d-ring followed by the female end of the buckle. Make sure the d-ring's curve is on the outside of the collar. Fold about two inches or so of the edge over to the wrong side of the collar. Sew another box with an "X" through it to hold it in place, making sure the d-ring stays out of the way. Then, pull the d-ring as close to the box as you can and stitch a straight line on the opposite side of the d-ring to keep it in place. Make sure to backstitch!
Trim up all of your threads and you're done! You can go adjust it to fit your precious pooch.
Making The Leash
Did you make it through the collar? Well if you did - the leash will be an absolute breeze!
Take one edge of the leash base and loop it through the leash clip. Fold over two inches or so and make one of those fancy boxes with an "X" to secure it down.
One the other edge of the leash base, fold over several inches. Use your hand as a guide here. With it pinned into place, put your hand through the handle and see if it's the right size for you!
Once you've decided on your size of handle, finish her off with...you guessed it...a box with an "X".
Now that I've made three different sets of matching leashes and collars, do you think I'm ready for the dog!?!? Each one I made is a slightly different size (with the grey and white being pretty petite for a young pup) so hopefully between the three I'll have one that fits perfectly. Although, if none of them fit perfectly, I suppose I'll just have to make another set (oh bummer)!
I would LOVE to see your handmade dog collars and leashes. Post pictures below! Also, if you have any tips on raising a puppy, have at it!