Wednesday, 4 September 2019
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No-Sew DIY Dog Bows and Bow Ties

Dalmatian dog wearing a blue check bow tie with silver ribbons

Whilst making my no-sew recycled dress shirt dog bandanas, I couldn't resist making a bow with some of the extra material. Bows and/or bow ties are quick crafts, although attachments for dog collars can sometimes be a little trickier. We have some awesome bow tie projects coming up (including what may be my favourite upcycle thus far!), but to keep this bow project totally now-sew, we'll be showing a couple of simple attachment options.


The materials and craft supplies used in making the bows and bow ties shown are:
  • Fabric (ours were made with salvaged fabric from old dress shirts)
  • Measuring Tools and Straight Edge
  • Scissors and/or Rotary Cutter/Mat
  • Fusible Hemming Tape
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Interfacing (optional, but recommended - especially for floppy material like dress shirts) 

Unlike our some of our bow ties, like the no-sew Australia and New Zealand Flag bow ties we made years back (where does the time go?), the bow itself is the star here and not the fabric/face of the tie. I opted to make this bow a little taller than a conventional bow tie so that it has a pronounced triple accordion bow instead of just a pinched middle pleat, but you can easily adjust dimensions to suit your preferred size and style of bow. The steps here are the same as per sewing, but fixed in place with fusible hemming tape instead of actually sewing the folded body of the tie. 

No-Sew DIY Dog Bows and Bow Ties


  • Cut a rectangle of blue fabric approximately 2x as wide and 1.5x as high as you would like your finished bow tie, plus additional for fold-over hem allowances.  If creased or wrinkled, iron flat for a fresh starting surface.
  • Fold and iron to press a crease all the way around the outside seam allowance. 
  • Fold the ironed sides inwards to meet at the middle and iron again.
  • Optional: I opted to fold the ironed top to the middle and iron, then fold each half in half again and iron to press creases for a triple accordion fold. This is completely optional as folding alone is a-ok as is simply cinching or pinching depending on what style of bow you'd like.  
  • Unfold.
  • Cut a piece of interfacing (can be fusible or you can use hemming tape to fuse standard interfacing) to fit inside the body of the bow. Position interfacing, carefully position hemming tape, and refold.
  • Bond together with fusible hemming tape, taking care to ensure all edges and corners are secure.
  • Pinch the bow together in the middle and secure tightly with elastic or a complimentary ribbon.  
  • Optional: You can create a no-sew loop to secure the middle, if you wish, by creating a small fabric strip (fold like a double fold binding) in the width/length you'd like for the circumference of the loop and fusing (or gluing) it into a ring. I did not make a slide for this bow - more on that below.


Step-by-step instructions for making a dog bow tie with collar elastic

As a no-sew collar attachment, fabric slides can be tricky. There is often a lot of stress on the slide seam holding in the bow as well as working over nobby buckles on a collar. Our current collars have wide buckles, big loops, and are fitted with tags and trackers that are ill-suited to a slide, unless its very stretchy. Elastics aren't quite as pretty, but if you choose carefully the can look pretty good! Use invisible/clear elastics with a slide or skip the slide and use a pretty hair elastic instead. They're tough and secure, too, which is always handy with dogs. Self-adhesive Velcro (one piece) like the stuff used to secure cords can work as well, although secure hold may vary.


Ribbon can be used to secure the middle and then tied onto a collar (visible ends or trimmed) or trimmed and the bow secured to the collar with clear elastic. Alternatively, for a special occasion bow instead of a collar bow tie, I love the look of using a thick piece of complimentary ribbon all the way around the neck. Dapper, dressy, and easy. 

🐾 Keep it safe, supervised wear only, and make sure you can quickly untie if needed.  If you want the same look for a collar-on event (or want a safety/quick release), you can embellish an old collar with ribbon to get a similar look. As noted in our DIY Reversible Collar Bow Tie tips on attaching embellishments, good behaviour to go with the good looks is not guaranteed. Always safety first!

Step-by-step instructions for making a dog bow with ribbon neck ties

In the example pictured above, the bow is tied off-centre, so that there is enough ribbon to wrap the neck and fasten behind the bow leaving similar lengths of ribbon dangling below. Tip: It can be tricky to get a smooth wrap on the from of the bow/bow tie when tying it tight to cinch the middle, so I opted to tie and then carefully wrap around again with a smooth loop, and knot again at the back.  The wrap around the neck is flat and smooth, but not too tight. Just right for the wide ribbon to sit comfortably and hold the bow in place. 

With the recycled dress shirt check blue bow and pretty silvery grey ribbon, Humphrey is wedding ready - just needs an invite (or a pawty to crash). Hehehe... I think he'd charm a few bridesmaids (and groomsmen, family, friends, the bride and groom, staff, passing strangers...), own the dance floor, snack the night away, and steal a kiss or two!

Dalmatian dog wearing a blue check bow tie with silver ribbons

Now that we've shared our no-sew bandanas and these no-sew bows/bow ties, we're back to the sewing room for the rest of this miniseries with some pawesome dress shirt upcycles/recycles to share over the remainder of the week, so stay tuned for more!

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