Let’s face it…this handsome spotty little elf would be cute in anything, even an ugly Christmas sweater. Or an ugly Christmas sweater bandana, as the case may be. This no-sew DIY ugly Christmas sweater dog bandana is an easy and inexpensive way to rock the holiday ugly sweater party in doggone great style. Bonus points if you make yourself a matching t-shirt. Please share photos with us! Hehe!
Speaking of handsome elves, who’s spotty photo is that in magazine print? Whoot whoot! This DIY project was featured in the Country Sampler Christmas Decorating special issue in 2018. See more of Humphrey checking out his copy of the magazine in our Instagram posts.
Sweater Weather vs. Southern Summer
Getting ready for holiday party season? Dogs included? We’re downsizing the concept of a DIY dog ugly Christmas sweater into a comfy convenient dog bandana instead. In our part of the world, it’s far too hot for a holiday jumper. Even in colder areas it’s expensive with big dogs, like ours, to buy or embellish a doggy sweater for the once or twice a year that they might wear it. And not all dogs are keen on jumping into a jumper, no matter whether it’s ugly or pretty. This DIY bandana is an easy and inexpensive alternative, no matter what your weather.
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Bandanas and More
You can easily apply the same techniques to make other clothing items, for the ugly sweater party, matchy matchy family photos, or just for fun. It’s an easy craft, and (as long as you protect your workspaces from accidental messes) the kids can get in on the creativity, too. Want to have even more fun with friends? You could have a DIY ugly Christmas sweater party and craft together. Super fun! Of course, there’s no need to limit your creative fun to Christmas. You can DIY just about anything your imagination can come up with using paint. On to the DIY details!
Making No-Sew Ugly Christmas Sweater Dog Bandana
Supplies and Materials
To make a bandana like the one shown, you will need:
- Bandana base (see ideas below)
- Dimensional fabric paint
Dimensional fabric paints are easy to use, layer well, and their raised texture is perfect for creating a fake stitched-on look for our sweater embellishments. The ones I used are also washable, which is always handy in a dog bandana. Especially if there are festive treats to drool over! Fabric paints are readily available in craft shops, department stores, and online. You can check out the dimensional fabric paints on Amazon (affiliate link) for product examples and ideas.
Looking for an easy ready-made bandana base? As shared in our easy no-sew embellished bandana post, there are lots of options. In addition to inexpensive ready-made dog bandanas, dinner napkins (used here) or full-sized human bandanas are a good fit for large dogs. Men’s handkerchiefs also work well for medium to large dogs, and women’s handkerchiefs suit smaller pets. You can also create a simple no-sew dog bandana base or you can sew base. See our other dog bandana DIYs for ideas!
My Sweater Napkin Bandana Base (and Selection Tips)
I used a red dinner napkin from the clearance bin of a local homewares store. The great thing about using a napkin instead of a plain bandana (although either would suit my dogs’ size) is that the fabric has some texture for extra style and sweater points. It’s also thicker than a standard bandana, which means that it carries the fabric paint much better.
Even though we’re going for ugly here, plain solid colours work best for embellishment. They let your ugly sweater artwork be the star feature. You can use any base colour for an ugly Christmas bandana, but red, green, white, or black are all easy options for Christmas designs. Some dogs look better in certain colours than others. Pure white bandanas tend to make my boys almost white fur look dirty. Black bandanas are immediately covered in Dali fur “glitter”. Colour works better for my black and white spotty elves.
Because the napkin is folded in half for wear, it’s also great for hiding any bleed-through on the back side of the painted designs, as shown in the collage of photos below.
This bandana was made several years B.C. (Before Cricut). Cutting and applying iron-ons would be an easy option for no-sew decorations instead of paints. See our Cricut pet crafts for ideas and inspiration. Even if you don’t have a computer controlled cutting machine, you could cut iron-on materials into strips and/or shapes. I still love this painted ugly Christmas sweater bandana exactly the way it is though!
Making the No-Sew Ugly Christmas Sweater Bandana with Fabric Paint
Preparing the bandana base:
- To make a Christmas bandana like the one shown, start with a clean (pre-washed) bandana base that suits the size of your pet. Ironing is optional, but recommended to give you a smooth surface for painting.
- Fold the bandana on a diagonal and do a test tie for fit prior to embellishing. Measure or discretely mark where the tied portion begins. As noted about, we’ll be keeping the design below that point on our bandana.
Stencilling design elements (optional):
- If you are stencilling any of the design elements onto your banana prior to painting, stencil now before you begin painting. I traced my bone shapes from a dog bone cookie cutter, but the rest of our bandana design is freehand painting. You can freehand some or all of your design. This is an UGLY Christmas sweater bandana after all, and you can’t really mess ugly up!
Preparing the work area for painting:
- Prepare a suitable area for painting, with protection from accidental messes. Make sure its an area where the bandana can rest for drying, too. You will need to allow your bandana time to dry, with potential dry-in during painting as well if layering.
Avoid painting into the corners of the fabric where the folded edge of the finished bandana will be tied. Dimensional fabric paints would make the corners thicker and harder to tie, and can stick when painted elements are pressed into contact together. We’re also going to keep our design below the folded/rolled neck edge and we’re painting on the front side only.
Painting the ugly sweater designs:
- Place a piece of thick cardboard underneath the portion of the bandana that you will be painting to protect your work surface (and/or the back side of the folded fabric if you’re working folded, as shown) from any paint that seeps through the fabric while you work.
- Paint your design. Go wild! Be tacky! This is an ugly Christmas sweater after all! You can paint in one shot (take care not to touch your wet paint while working) or allow dry-time in between if you find that easier. Our design was created all at once, but could easily be done in stages as well. Our design, as shown in the collage above was painted on as follows:
- Small green and white lines perpendicular to the bandana edge, with a line of white all the way around the edge of the design, as a faux blanket stitch edge for the “sweater”.
- White bones with small red and green lines across them to create a faux stitched-on look. The bones also have small highlights of crystal glitter inset from the curves for a little extra dimension and festive sparkle.
- Holly sprigs drawn with a freehand edge and fill of green, then a small line of green glitter for veins, dots of red for berries.
- Ornament strands created with single curvy green lines and dots of colour for lights.
- A random sprinkling of snowflake/starbursts created with white lines overlaid with glitter and coloured glitter dots to embellish the remaining open areas.
- Once you’re finished your masterpiece, allow it to dry and set thoroughly according to the directions of your chosen paint product(s). Make sure everything is fully dried, set, and cured before wear.
Painted Bandana Wear and Care
General wear and care as similar to any other bandana, but you might need to be delicate with your fabric paint. The wash and care instructions will depend on your chosen bandana base and paints. Check your paint products for any specific washing instructions. Cold washing and air drying are usually recommended for this type of fabric painted craft to extend the life of the painted designs. That’s my usual laundry method anyway – it’s energy efficient and everything lasts longer. We’ve been using our ugly Christmas sweater bandana every Christmas for years now, and the paint is still looking great.
For the painted bandana, I’d also recommend that you store it carefully. It will be a long time between use if the bandana is only worn at Christmas, and we don’t want the paint sticking to anything (or itself) from heat or compression. When stored, I like fold mine reversed to painted side in, before further folding or rolling so that the painted elements aren’t touching each other to avoid potential sticking together.