Thursday, 5 September 2019
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Recycled French Cuff DIY Dog Bow Ties

Dalmatian dog wearing a blue and white bow tie

When I cut old clothes apart for materials, I usually try to salvage as much useful fabric as I can, any miscellaneous items as I think may be usable, then relegate the dregs to rags and/or scrap.  After dissecting the recent batch of dress shirts (have you seen our recycled dress shirt pillow cases?), I was left with a pile of french cuffs. Whilst sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter and fiddling with one in my hand, a light bulb clicked. They were not only a similar size to the rectangles that I would cut for making a bow tie, but also pre-stiffened similar to how I would use interfacing (or batting) in a bow tie. I folded one over and into an accordion. Sure enough, it looked almost perfect, except for the ragged cuffline cut. I decided to sew a test bow, and loved it so much I may have gotten a little carried away making bows...


Old dress shirt cuffs being made into dog bow ties

Sewing and inverting the folded cuffs to conceal the edges not only finishes the tie beautifully, it also makes the edges extra stiff, which helps the bow ties to be even better at holding their shape. To keep the project almost completely recycled, is used the button hole portion of the button plackets to make the centre slides for the bows along with a few around the neck collar bands. These bands could have been made reusing buttons to be totally recycled, but I opted for the ease and sizing flexibility of Velcro instead. Oli and Humphrey aren't quite the same size, which makes using buttons, snaps, and other set fasteners less versatile for sharing (as well as potential changes over time).

Blue and white check dog bow tie with matching collar band


The materials and craft supplies used in making the bows and bow ties shown are:
  • Salvaged French Cuffs*
  • Salvaged Shirt Button Plackets (Button Hole Side)*
  • Complimentary Coloured Thread
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Sewing Machine and Basic Sewing Tools

✂️  If you don't have french cuffs, you could adapt by joining standard cuffs (adjust fold/sew direction to better suit, if needed, seams may be visible in your bow) or use fabric with an interfacing. If you don't have plackets, you can make your own bands for the slide and/or collar by cutting, folding, and finishing strips of fabric. Use an interfacing if additional stiffness is needed.

DIY Dog Bow Ties from Recycled Dress Shirt French Cuffs


  • Cut the cuff away from the shirt sleeve  at the join. 
  • Iron flat if/as needed.
  • Fold right-side-in (if applicable) so that the cufflink edges meet in the centre of what will become the back of your bow. Iron to flatten.
  • Sew the open edges together.  Trim excess material from the corners. Optional, but helps with turning out - especially with stiff/thick materials.
  • Invert to right-side-out through the open centre gap (the cufflink edges), taking care to turn out the edges and corners. Iron to flatten, if needed. 
  • Fold like an accordion, with the cufflink edge positioned vertically down the middle of the back of the bow (will be hidden in the cinch and slip at the middle). Tip: I like to fold at the centre and then again at the quarters above/below. This gives a nice forward pleat at the middle of the bow and scrunches the top/bottom so that the edges are folded towards the back of the bow. Lots of body and neat edges.
  • Sew and/or cinch to tightly secure the middle of the folded bow in place. You can do this with elastic or sturdy thread. Mine are sewn and then wrapped/tied with the same thread for added security.

Step-by-step instructions for making a dog bow tie from an old shirt


DIY Dog Bow Tie Sleeves from Recycled Dress Shirt Plackets


  • Cut a small piece of placket, long enough to loop around the middle of your bow with a seam allowance to join. Tightness depends on personal preference. You want it semi-snug to stay in place, but don't make it to squeezy of you won't be able to fit the bow and/or band through. 
  • Sew (or fray-check) the raw ends (optional) to reduce fraying.
  • Position right-side in and sew to securely join the ends.
  • Invert to right-side out. 
  • Fold one side of the bow tie and slip/work the slide into position at the centre of the bow.

DIY Dog Collar Bands from Recycled Dress Shirt Button Plackets

  • Cut a piece of placket, long enough to fit comfortably around the neck with extra for the Velcro overlap.
  • Sew to finish the raw end(s).
  • Position and and sew Velcro into place near the ends. 
  • Slip/work into under the bow tie slide and pull through into the desired position for wear. 
✂️  If attached hook side up/loop side down, the loop will be under the top (visible when worn) of the band. Loop is often easier to sew, so the visible stitching on the back (top) will be tidier plus it will be more comfortable if the band is a little too long since loop is softer and doesn't stick to woolly fur (if you have it).


You can see the button holes if you look closely at the band, but personally I think this only adds to the charm. You can, of course, wrap the band or make a fresh one as noted in the materials above if you'd rather. The button placket collar bands look very cute on their own, and the can also be slipped under our salvaged dress shirt dog collars for a different stylish look. Doggone dapper indeed! Since my bows' centre slides are removable, they can be swapped for mix-and-match style variations as well.

Dalmatian dogs wearing bow ties and shirt collars

You can easily adapt the DIY for different attachment methods (either with modified sleeves and/or use with additional attachments) to best suit your pet and personal preferences. 

In time, I may make some additional slides with attachments for use over their actual collars, but as mentioned in our no-sew DIY dog bows and bow ties post, our preferred collars have wide buckles, big loops, and are fitted with tags and trackers. They're are ill-suited to slipping through a slide, unless its very stretchy, and the width of some collars (see the example below with Oli's collar) doesn't suit sharing a slide with the bow, which means whatever elastic or fabric/velcro is used to affix to the collar will be visible above/below the tie. Then there is the added complication that Oli and Humphrey wear different walking collar widths. 

Homemade dog bow ties on a cutting mat with sewing supplies

2 comments:

  1. I'm loving this! They look so adorable! :)

    I've never dabbled into this sort of stuff for my dog but I surely will!

    Great idea!

    /Nabil

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    Replies
    1. :) Thanks, Nabil! There are all kinds of ideas here on the blog if you decide to dabble in DIY and are looking for ideas. Have fun!

      (P.S. We just visited your site - cute portraits!)

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