DIY Dress Shirt Dog Collars (and How to Adjust Collar Size)

DIY recycled dress shirt dog collars including resizing

DIY dress shirt dog collars from old shirts? A doggone dapper recycling idea!  In this post, we’re looking at how to make DIY dress shirt dog collars, including size adjustments to make a collar larger or smaller as a custom fit for different sized pets. We’ve got special mini-series coming your way, using materials salvaged from old shirts for a combination of sew and no-sew projects.  All of these crafts are made with materials from the shirts we cut apart to make our Pillow Daddy recycled dress shirt cuddle cushion covers.

Dressed for Success (and Snuggles)

Daddy’s Boys

For years, I’ve had the occasional giggle from putting one of my husband’s laundry-bound shirts onto Oli (and now Humphrey). I’d button the collar onto a smiling dog with the shirt flapping like a Daddy-scented cape. When the time came to cut apart some of his old shirts for recycling, of course I was going to keep the collars for the dogs. Hehehe… I mean, seriously. How could I not? Look how cute the boys are in this Father’s Day photo, recently shared on our social media. Doggone dapper doggos dressed for success!

Dalmatian dogs wearing dress shirt collars

Shirts and Sizing for DIY Dress Shirt Dog Collars

By luck, they fit our boys well with no alterations needed making this a quick no-sew craft. However, a smaller owner (like me) and/or a different sized dog would need some adjustments. You could buy a thrifted shirt in a more suitable size, of course, although that’s not quite the same as being wrapped up in a little bit of owner love, is it? Plus, we’re using shirts that were not suitable for donation, so we’re giving these collars a new life instead of cutting up wearable clothes. Win win! You’ll see other salvaged shirt materials in some of our other recycling and upcycling projects, too.  Look how cute the collars are with these recycled shirt cuff dog bow ties

Dalmatian dogs modelling bow ties made from old work shirt materials

Choosing a Shirt for a DIY Dog Collar

Different Types of Shirt Collars

For shirt collars to work well as repurposed dog collars, they need to be stiff and sturdy. Lightweight collars can lose their shape when trimmed from the shirt body and just look sloppy. Options include thick fabric, like a heavy flannel or drill work shirt, or a quality dress shirt with a stiff collar. The collar also needs a top button closure rather than an open neck, so that it can be buttoned onto the dog. Alternatively, you’ll need enough excess at the neck so that you can add a button and buttonhole or other closure.

I’m using men’s dress shirts with two-piece collars. They’re stiff through both the collar stand (around the neck where the shirt meets collar) and collar (the visible fold over collar leaf).

Finding (or Making) the Right Fit

Fitting around the neck should be snug, but comfortable. Much like fitting for other items, like a collar or bandana. The circumference of the collar can be adjusted for a better fit around the neck, as we’ll demonstrate later in this post. Changing the height is much trickier, so look for a collar that works height wise without any adjustments.  Adjusting the folded over collar height requires significantly remaking the collar. The vertical size is unlikely to be an issue for most larger dogs, but may be problematic for certain body types or small pets.

DIY Dress Shirt Dog Collars (and How to Adjust Collar Size)

Removing a Shirt Collar for Use as a Repurposed Dog Collar

Carefully cut the collar away from the shirt just below the collar stand. Trim to tidy the cut line if/as needed and (optional) apply fray-check, if needed. My collars are not fray checked. It’s really that easy! As long as the collars fit, of course. If not, see below for resizing ideas.

How make a recycled dress shirt dog collar

Adjusting the Size of DIY Dress Shirt Dog Collars

If your shirts are the right size to fit (like mine) then the recycled DIY dress shirt dog collars are completely no-sew. If the shirt collars you want to recycle into DIY dress shirt dog collars are a little too big to too small to fit properly around your dog’s neck, you can adjust the sizing.

There are different options depending on how good looking and/or durable you’d like the collars to be after resizing. You could do a temporary resize with elastic, Velcro, fusible tape or other shortcuts. But we’re going to do some simple but great looking demo adjustments to our dog collars so that you can barely tell they’ve been altered when in use. They’ll also be durable and washable, just like the original shirts. Pawfect for reusable dog wear! For this you’ll either need a sewing machine (affiliate link), or some patience for hand sewing. 

Since our dogs and their Daddy share a similar collar sizes, these resizings are for demo examples only and there are no modelling pics (and less than perfect temporary sewing). I show different demo methods below, but it’s worth nothing that if I actually needed to resize a collar for long term use, I would personally opt for some form of facing. It’s only a little extra effort for a much nicer finish. I will likely be patching up with facing to return these example collars back to their original size at some point. Then they can go back into our boys’ wardrobe.

DIY recycled dress shirt dog collars sized to fit different necks

Resizing a Shirt Collar to Fit a Larger Dog

Resizing DIY dress shirt dog collars can be as easy as cutting and adding some elastic or Velcro, as noted above. But if you want the collars to look good all the way around, you can add an extension piece using matching fabric.

To mimic the stiffness of the base and collar, I’m using a piece of the interfaced cuff from the same shirt to create the example extension. Keeping it simple, totally recycled, and bonus prefinished matching edge. No cuffs on your shirt? Want the cuffs for something else? You can create a stiffened extension piece with a small piece of iron on or sew-in interfacing. The extension can be sewn direct with visible seams semi-hidden under the folded collar (as shown below) or by using a facing to conceal the extension (like our resize to small). Visible seams are quick and easy, but are not as tidy a finish and have added bulk. That said, from an as-worn view, quick seams look fine and these are just old off cut collars, so really anything goes!

Resizing a Shirt Collar for a Larger Dog With Visible Seams

  • Cut the collar in the centre (midpoint, back of collar).
  • Position the extension piece (see above) so that the right-side-out will be the inside and visible fold of the collar. If you are resizing a collar with patterned fabric, you can try to match patterns if/as you wish.
  • Sew into position. Trim and finish edges if/as needed (optional).
  • Iron to flatten the seams. Sew down the seam allowances to secure bulk if/as needed (optional).
  • Topstitch to match the edge of the collar (optional).
  • Iron collar back into folded position.
How to resize a recycled shirt collar to fit a larger dog

Resizing a Shirt Collar for a Larger Dog With Faced Seams

In the resize above, the joining sides of the seams between the the extension and collar are under the fold. You can’t see them at all when worn. Totally fine for a dog collar. It’s easy, durable, and looks great in use. If you want an even more finished option, you can use a facing material with your extension.  You can use one facing and wrap the whole extension. Or you could use a narrow facing for each seam and leave the main part of the extension visible. You could even use the facing as an accent feature!  You can also customise your extension piece so that the collar ends can be tucked in for sewing as an all in-one extension and facing. 

Modifying the Extension Method Above with Facing:

  • Cut the collar in the centre (midpoint, back of collar).
  • Position the extension piece (see above) so that the right-side-out will be the inside and visible fold of the collar. 
  • Sew the extension onto the collar. Since this will be covered by facing, consider using a low bulk seam, like a butt seam or lapped seam.
  • You can use ready-made binding facings, but it’s also easy to cut and iron your own. Especially for short facings like these. If making the facings, create facing piece(s) by cutting strips of matching (or complimentary/contrasting) material and ironing edges inwards. Optional: Pre-finish the visible wrapped end edge.
  • Wrap facing around the extension/seam, matching any patterns if/as you wish. Ensure the visible overlap end is positioned so it will be hidden somewhere either at the bottom edge or under the fold of the collar.
  • Sew into position. Trim threads. Repeat on other seam if using two facings.
  • Topstitch extension and facings to match the edge of the collar (optional).
  • Iron collar back into folded position.

You can see pictures of a facing being applied in our smaller resizing example, below. In that version, we use a single wide facing to cover the seam joining the collar after cutting out a segment to make it smaller.

DIY recycled dress shirt dog collars

Resizing a Shirt Collar to Fit a Smaller Dog

Sizing smaller can be done using either of the method above for the seam. Instead of cutting and inserting an extension piece, you’re cutting out excess circumference for a smaller fit. Other than that, the general process for sewing the collar pieces back together is the same depending on whether you want visible or covered seams. Neatly joining and finishing thick collar materials can be tricky because of the bulk. Using a facing would be my preference here. 

Resizing a Shirt Collar for a Smaller Dog With Visible Seams

As noted above, joining two collar pieces can be bulky. I prefer using a facing (see below). To join the cut down collar without using a covering facing, you can align the edges with a slight overlap or use a butt seam when sewing. A butt (abutted) seam has less bulk. If overlapping, you can pre-finish the raw edges in your preferred method.

  • Cut the collar in the centre (midpoint, back of collar).
  • Trim to remove excess length from the circumference of the collar. To keep the joint roughly centred at the back when worn, take half of the required from each cut edge so that the cut remains centred.
  • Position the collar pieces together insides facing, so that the right-side-out will be the inside and visible fold of the collar. 
  • Sew into position, noting method options above. Trim and finish edges if/as needed (optional).
  • Iron to flatten seam, if needed. Sew down the seam allowance to secure bulk if/as needed (optional).
  • Iron collar back into folded position.

Resizing a Shirt Collar for a Smaller Dog With Faced Seams

  • Trim to remove excess length from the circumference of the collar. To keep the joint roughly centred at the back when worn, take half of the required amount from each cut edge so that the cut remains centred.
  • Position the collar pieces together insides facing, so that the right-side-out will be the inside and visible fold of the collar. Align edges.
  • Sew the cut edges together. Since this join will be covered by our facing material, consider using a low bulk seam such as a butt (abutted) seam or lapped seam.
  • As noted above, facing can be purchased or ready-made. Making it is easy. You can create the facing piece by cutting strips of matching (or complimentary/contrasting) material and ironing edges inwards. Optional: Pre-finish the visible wrapped end edge.
  • Wrap facing around the seam, matching patterns if/as you wish, ensuring the visible overlap end is positioned so it will be hidden somewhere either at the bottom edge or under the fold of the collar.
  • Sew into position. Trim threads.
  • Topstitch to match collar (optional).
  • Iron collar back into folded position.
How to resize a recycled shirt collar to fit a smaller dog

Size Limits 

Sizing up is pretty much unlimited, as long as the collar can be safely won by your mega monster. Ultimately, there may be a limit to how comfortably a collar can be resized for a smaller fit, depending on the body shape of the pet, as noted in the tips for fitting above.  The circumference can be adjusted as above, but adjusting the folded over collar height requires significantly remaking the collar. The vertical size may be problematic for certain body types or small pets. DIY dress shirt dog collars are cute, but safety and comfort always come first.

DIY recycled dress shirt dog collars including resizing larger or smaller
author-sign

You might also enjoy: