Monday, 28 October 2019
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Styling a DIY Reversible Dog Bandana for Versatile Wear

Two Dalmatian dogs in matching homemade bandanas

Feeling stylish, furfriends? Here's a easy way to style a basic triangle dog bandana with four different design options for more versatile wear, plus DIY instructions for sewing your own bandanas. Pawfect! Doggy dress up around our place usually means a simple bandana (perhaps a bow tie for extra special occasions). As much as I like dressing our boys in matching bandanas sometimes, I'm also a realist about the impracticality of having a full duplicate wardrobe.  Similarly, as much as I like holidays, it's also nice to use each bandana more than once or twice a year. Here's an easy compromise that lets me play dress-up with more variety and greater options.

Halloween isn't generally celebrated here in NZ (although it is growing in popularity) nor is Thanksgiving; however, having grown up in Canada and travelled/lived around the world, there are special occasions and holidays like these that still hold a place in my heart. These bandanas were made with these occasions in mind, using coordinating fabric colours that suit the vibe, but they're far more versatile than a specific holiday pattern (although those are also fun sometimes).  We made these particular bandanas a while back, and they were worn for Canadian Thanksgiving earlier in October and will be getting a workout this week for Halloween. 

For any two bandanas, by matching one side of each bandana, Oli and Humphrey can have an identical matching outfits, as shown above. Handsome? Yes, indeed. But these bandanas have more than just one doggone dapper option for wear. We can mix-and-match in eight different coordinating combos!

By using different complimentary/coordinating fabric on the other sides, the bandanas become far more versatile. Each basic triangle reversible banana can be worn four different ways.  When our boys wear a basic triangle bandana, I usually roll the top edge slightly before tying. Typically I do this inwards and only the face of the bandana shows. If the fabrics are well coordinated to each other on each side of the reversible bandana, it can be folded/rolled outwards instead to create an accent at the neck, similar to a bandana with binding trim ties but without any of the extra effort during construction or limitations on styling for wear. Nice!

Demonstrating how to tie a visible roll-over bandana on the neck of a Dalmatian dog
Dalmatian dog showing four different ways/styles to wear one bandana

The reversible bandana can (of course) be worn with only the primary (front) side showing, but it can also be worn with the opposite (back) side folded/rolled outwards at the top edge for an accent, creating four different looks for each bandana. This works for reversible ready-made or DIY bandanas, providing the back sides are suitably coordinating colours/patterns. 

Dalmatian dog showing four different ways/styles to wear one bandana

Four different looks for each bandana means that for two bandanas like the ones shown, there are seven different options and eight different combos (including matchy matchy) when the boys are wearing one each. Pretty doggone versatile indeed!

Dalmatian dogs showing different ways/styles to wear dog bandanas

The materials and craft supplies used in making the bandanas shown are:
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Supplies  Can be fully hand sewn if you wish, but will be much quicker/easier if you have a sewing machine. 
🧩 It's worth paying attention to the details when fabric shopping. Consider the size you need relative to the pattern orientation options for cutting the bandanas, whether using cut-to-length fabric off the roll or smaller pre-cuts. If using pre-cuts, be aware of the difference between Fat Flats (metric, half of 1/2 meter) and the conventional Fat Quarters (imperial, half of 1/2 yard). One yard is 91.44 cm so Fat Quarters are narrower (45.72 cm vs. 50cm). They're both "fat" because the half selvage to selvage is typically larger than the half meter/yard, making them slightly rectangular instead of squares.  For my big boys, I can made a single fold-over bandana or cut two triangles from a Fat Flat, but not a Fat Quarter (imperial) as it's too narrow for the diagonal to fit. If using a Fat Quarter, I need to extend with trim ties to be large enough for their necks. The triangles for the bandanas shown in this post were made with Fat Flats. I've been craft stash busting and loving "free" projects! 

This basic bandana DIY is similar to the technique used for our original reversible dog bandana DIY (still in use on every birthday and looking great!), except that nowadays I always topstitch for a slightly more finished look. 

To sew your own reversible dog bandana:

  • Prepare fabric for sewing. Wherever possible (and fabric permitting), I prewash/preshrink fabric and then iron flat prior to cutting or sewing.
  • Cut a triangle (half a square on a diagonal / right isosceles triangle), such that the long edge is big enough to fit loosely around you pet's neck plus extra to tie a small knot. If you aren't comfortable with guesstimating the size, you can use a collar as a gauge or loosely measure your pet's neck.  Don't forget to add a little extra for seam allowances. 
  • Repeat for your reversible material, ensuring that both cut triangles are the same size.
  • Align your triangles, ensuring that the fabric is pattern-side-in if single sided.
  • Sew together, leaving a gap large enough for you to reverse the bandana.  Tip: I prefer to leave my gap somewhere on the top edge since this section isn't really seen when worn. This ensures that the readily visible areas of your finished bandana are nice and neat, and will help hide any boo-boos you might make closing the gap, just in case.
  • Trim excess fabric in the inside corners of your bandana to help things reverse neatly without bunching. Cut any loose thread ends. 
  • Invert the bandana through the opening gap to right/pattern-side out. Try to ensure all the seams are fully turned out, and take care when pointing the corners. 
  • Optional, fabric permitting: Iron, taking care to ensure the edges are straight and even. Ensure the raw edges at the gap are folded inside, matching up with the finished edges next to the gap.
  • Topstitch around the edge of the bandana using complimentary thread(s), ensuring that the gap is properly positioned and sewn closed in the process. Tip: If you want a different visible thread colour on each side, use different colours of the same thread type on the spool/bobbin. Sew a small test piece first, if you're unsure of visibility and/or need to check tension. 
  • Trim to remove excess threads prior to use.

Step-by-step sewing a reversible dog bandana and different options to tie for wear


  1. Oscar.and.harper.eats2 November 2019 at 03:55

    This is so useful!! Will pop into Spotlight this weekend to find some cool fabrics for my stimkies. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks! The extra styling options are super simple, but so handy.

      Be careful...fabric shopping can get addictive. :) I have a GIANT stash of fabric (and other craft supplies), but am working on destashing projects. There are a lot of bandanas in my future sewing plans. Hahaha!

      Love and pats to your golden floofballs.


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