Monday, 4 December 2017
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DIY No-Sew Ugly Christmas Sweater Dog Bandana

Smiling Dalmatian dog wearing an ugly Christmas sweater bandana

Let's face it...this handsome spotty little elf would be cute in anything, even an ugly Christmas sweater, or ugly Christmas sweater bandana as the case may be.  In our part of the world, it's far too hot for a holiday jumper and even in colder areas it's expensive with big dogs, like ours, to buy or embellish a doggy sweater for the once or twice a year that they might wear it. This no-sew DIY doggy bandana is an easy and inexpensive way to rock the holiday ugly sweater party. Bonus points if you make yourself a matching t-shirt. Please share photos with us! Hehe!

 This DIY project was featured in the Country Sampler Christmas Decorating special issue in 2018. See Humphrey checking out his copy of the magazine in our Instagram posts.

The materials and supplies used in making the bandana shown are:
  • Cloth Dinner Napkin (or Alternative)*
  • Dimensional Fabric Paints
  • Cardboard

Looking for an easy no-sew bandana? Dinner napkins or full-sized human bandanas are a good fit for large dogs. Men's handkerchiefs also work well for medium to large dogs, and women's handkerchiefs suit smaller pets. You can also sew a base to custom fit - see our other bandana DIYs for ideas! 

To make a Christmas bandana like the one shown, start with a clean (pre-washed) bandana base that suits the size of your pet. I used a red dinner napkin from the clearance bin of a local homewares store. The great thing about using a napkin instead of a plain bandana (although either would suit my dogs' size) is that the fabric has some texture for extra style and sweater points, and it is thicker than a standard bandana which means that it carries the fabric paint much better.  Plain solid colours work best for embellishment. You can use any base colour for an ugly Christmas bandana, but red, green, white, or black are all easy options for Christmas designs.  Dimensional fabric paints are easy to use, layer well, and their raised texture is perfect for creating a fake stitched-on look for our sweater embellishments. The ones I used are also washable, which is always handy in a doggy bandana - especially if there are festive treats to drool over!  

✂️  The same techniques can be used to create a not-so-tacky Christmas bandana, or a custom design for just about any piece of clothing or special occasion you'd like - dog or non-dog. 

Step-by step making an ugly Christmas sweater dog bandana with fabric paint

🧩 Avoid painting into the corners of the fabric where the folded edge of the finished bandana will be tied. Dimensional fabric paints would make the corners thicker and harder to tie, and can stick when painted elements are pressed into contact together. We're also going to keep our design below the folded/rolled neck edge and we're painting on the front side only. Additional photos below. 
    • Fold the bandana on a diagonal and do a test tie for fit prior to embellishing. Measure or discretely mark where the tied portion begins.
    • If you are stencilling any of the design elements onto your banana prior to painting, stencil now before you begin painting.  I traced my bone shapes from a dog bone cookie cutter, but the rest of our bandana design is freehand painting. You can freehand some or all of your design. This is an UGLY Christmas sweater bandana after all, and you can't really mess ugly up! 
    • Place a piece of thick scrap cardboard underneath the portion of the bandana that you will be painting to protect your work surface (and/or the back side of the folded fabric if you're working folded, as shown) from any paint that seeps through the fabric while you work.
    • Paint your design. Go wild! Be tacky! You can paint in one shot (take care not to touch your wet paint while working) or allow dry-time in between if you find that easier.  Our design was created all at once, but could easily be done in stages as well. Our design, as shown in the collage above was painted on as follows:
      • Small green and white lines perpendicular to the bandana edge, with a line of white all the way around the edge of the design, as a faux blanket stitch edge for the "sweater".
      • White bones with small red and green lines across them to create a faux stitched-on look.  The bones also have small highlights of crystal glitter inset from the curves for a little extra dimension and festive sparkle. 
      • Holly sprigs drawn with a freehand edge and fill of green, then a small line of green glitter for veins, dots of red for berries.
      • Ornament strands created with single curvy green lines and dots of colour for lights.
      • A random sprinkling of snowflake/starbursts created with white lines overlayed with glitter and coloured glitter dots to embellish the remaining open areas. 
    • When you are finished your masterpiece, allow to dry and set thoroughly according to the directions of your chosen paint product(s) before wear.
    Homamde ugly Christmas sweater dog bandana with fabric paint

    🧩 When stored, fold reversed to painted side in before further folding or rolling for storage so that the painted elements aren't touching each other to avoid potential sticking together.

    "What?!? You calling my bandana ugly? I make this thing look good!"

    Dalmatian dog wearing an ugly Christmas sweater bandana


    1. I love this! Making a bib for our baby and bandanas for our three dogs but no shirts for us. We have "great" Christmas sweaters. ;-) Thanks for the ideas! I might just buy a pack of napkins and tie a fourth bandana onto the baby instead of a bib. Awesome!

      1. Awesome! Full festive family! Merry Christmas to all! :)


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