Monday, 2 December 2019
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DIY Dog Bandanas with Serged Edges

Homemade Christmas patterned dog bandanas with overlocked edges

Serging the edges of DIY dog bandanas can be a great option for speed, style, or material factors. Plus it's incredibly easy, if you have a suitable machine. If only it was just as easy to get these two rascals to smile at the same time when posing together! Haha!  Humphrey is always such a serious young lad:

Two Dalmatian dogs wearing matching bandanas with overlocked edges

When I make dog bandanas, I often use a hidden hem (see our post on styling a reversible DIY dog bandana for a how-to example). It's a clean look, quick and simple, and easy for anyone with standard machine sewing equipment and basic sewing skills to tackle as a DIY.  An alternative option for finishing the edges (whether reversible or single sided) is to use a serger/overlocker. You'll see this style of bandana edge finishing used in some of our upcoming special projects, so I thought it would be best to share a little introduction to making a bandana with a serger first.

✂️  No serger? No worries! If you don't have a serger/overlocker, when you see that style of bandana in one of our project posts, you can swap the base bandana for one of our other DIY dog bandana making methods (sewn or no-sew) or use a ready made bandana as your base instead.

Serging is super quick. It takes longer to press, measure, and cut the fabric than to finish the edges this way.  Super speedy, yet well-finished (and versatile for many other sewing uses, too, of course).  On the downside, good sergers/overlockers are expensive and I resisted investing in one for a long time, but when I took the plunge, I was hooked from the get go. I have a Brother 4234D overlock and like it very much.

The serged edge will be visible, so you can chose the size and thread colours to blend subtlety or as a pop of contrast. Instagram furfriends may have noticed the occasional serged edge bandana popping up in pics, including our "Property of Cruella de Vil" bandanas from our Halloween stories, where we used a wide white overlocked edge as an accent with our white Cricut iron-ons. Typically, I'll opt for a less conspicuous narrow hem for a visible edge, like the examples here.

Serging can be a great option for finishing a single layer without fussing with double fold hems and corners, to avoid unwanted bulk in thicker singles or double layers, or for materials that are can be otherwise difficult to hem, like stretches and knits. Corners aren't turned or inverted, so you have perfect points (especially if you're careful with how you rotate at the corners and how you finish the thread chains (a matter of personal preference).

Making a DIY reversible dog bandana with overlocked edges

Making a DIY Dog Bandana with a Serger


Sergers aren't usually part of the craftroom equipment for beginner sewists, so this DIY is more for inspiration on why/how you can use it for making a bandana rather than detailed instructions. However, just in case you're playing with a new serger or borrowing access, I've included links to additional details on how to serge and finish (additional resources can be found on our Pet Craft + Doggy DIY Pinterest board). Other than shaping and sizing the bandana to suit your pet, the basics are the same as you'd use on similar projects, such as napkins, tablecloths, etc.

The materials and craft supplies used in making the bandanas shown are:
  • Fabric
  • Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
  • Sewing supplies, including a serger/overlocker 

If shopping for fabric or selecting fabric from your stash (I've been fabric stash busting and am loving the "free" projects), pay attention to the size of fabric you'll need (see below) relative to the pattern orientation options for cutting fabrics to make your bandanas. Sometimes, patterns can be difficult to work efficiently with and retain their orientation, especially for bandanas that are usually shaped on a diagonal.


Making serged dog bandanas:
  • Wash/dry fabric to preshrink, if/as needed depending on fabric type.
  • Iron flat, fabric permitting. If the fabric is heat-sensitive, smooth out the wrinkles as best you can for even measuring and cutting.
  • Cut to preferred shape/size (see below).
  • Configure and set your serger for a narrow overlock (or alternative seam of your preference). Follow the specific instructions for your machine. 
  • Sew to finish the edges. Here's a great visual from Sew Mama Sew for any readers who may not be familiar with serging narrow and rolled hems.
  • Secure loose tail(s)/thread chain(s)
  • Trim any loose threads.

Depending on the fabric and your preferences, you can make your bandanas single layer or reversible (using the same or different fabric). It works for cut triangles, fold-over triangles (square sewn folded into a triangle), square bandanas (folded over when worn), and it also works well if your partial to shaping bandanas with a curvy neck instead.

A basic bandana shape will either be square (folded on a diagonal for wear) or triangular (half a square on a diagonal / right isosceles). The squares diagonal fold or the traingles long edge needs to be 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. Add extra for the knot and a wee smidgen for the serger's trimming.

When I make dog bandanas, I usually work with a straight-edged triangle and just let the bandana naturally fold/roll around the neck and chest. It's flexible for different sizes, allows more versatility in how it's rolled/worn, simple to cut/sew, and has less off-cut waste. If you prefer a flatter fit when worn or if your pet has a different neck-to-body built, a curved neck might be a better option. 

Dalmatian dogs modelling different DIY dog bandanas with overlocked edges

With Christmas coming up, it's the perfect time to create a few new bandanas for holiday wear, festive photos, or gifting to furfriends. If you're doing the latter, bandanas (especially squares) make great fabric wraps for small gifts like books, treats, or little toys. 

DIY dog bandana used as furoshiki gift wrapping

See our partner blog Creativity Unmasked to see a few of the bandanas featured in this post doing double duty as beautiful fabric gift wrapping. Unlike our dogs beloved riptastic paper fun, these are better opened with care by the humans, though! Also, depending on the material, wrapping style and object, fabric wrapping can be wrinkly after unwrapping and stylish pups might like their people to give it a quick pressing before dress-up.

DIY dog bandana used as gift wrapping with matching fabric ribbon/bow

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