Today we’re sharing how to sew a dog bow tie. We’re making DIY dog collar bow ties, different collar attachment options, plus easy sew matching fancy dress collars, too. Here’s how to style and sew different types of DIY dog bow ties. Pawfect for doggone dapper dogs, special occasion wear, or just because.
Wardrobe Refresh and Blog Post Update
Dapper Dog Flashback
This post was first shared many years ago as one of the earliest sewing projects on the blog. When the blog transitioned to the new website, new bow ties were made for updated photographs using the same techniques. Handsome Humphrey and Professor Oli are modelling the original ties in the collage below. As luck (and crash stash hording) would have it, I still had some of the plaid material when this post was updated. You can see fresh new ties, slides, and collars in the same fabric later in this post. Yay for craft stash busting! I also made ties in different material to show the right/wrong sides during construction since the plaid is patterned on both sides.
Fresh New DIY Dog Bow Tie Instruction Additions
In addition to our instructions on how to sew a dog bow tie, I’ve created and added instructions for DIY fancy dress dog collars. These are super cute and provide from scratch instructions for a style like the placket collars used with our DIY recycled dress shirt dog bow ties. There are also a variety of different options included for attaching bow ties to dog collars. Different dogs, collars, occasions, and personal preferences call for an individual approach. Now you can see demos of several over the collar bow tie attachments. After reader feedback, I’ve also added diagrams to help understand the different material cutting and folding options. I’ll put diagrams on the to-do list for our other dog wear DIYs, too.
DIY Dog Bow Tie Sewing and Styling Options
Design Options and Versatility
Dog bow ties can be designed with detachable elements for easier cleaning, different attachment options for varied use, or interchangeable parts for style. For example, ties can be designed for reversible wear or with interchangeable slides for different looks. Attachment methods depend on the type of collar(s) you’ll be using with the bow tie as well as your preferences for security, durability, and materials. You can also vary the shapes and size of the bows. Although mimicking the layers of a real bow is my default for making a bow tie, flat folded ties can look great, too. Or you can make the tie using special shapes instead of a traditional bow. Heart bows, anyone? It’s on my to-do list.
Any material that suits your style could be used for sewing a bow tie. That said, dog clothing and accessories are more durable for long term use if they can be washed. Small crafts like bow ties are also a great opportunity for using up leftover materials from your craft stash or recycling/upcycling.
Pattern Orientation and Design
Smaller patterns and designs usually work better than larger prints that can’t show their full beauty in a small finished bow. If your pattern is directional, you’ll need to consider this during cutting and assembly to make sure things are right-side-up. If your pattern is a strong geometric, the orientation of the pattern on the tie and any optional attachments can also significantly alter the look. Play with your materials by folding and testing to see what looks good to you before committing to cutting and sewing.
How to Sew a Dog Bow Tie
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar dog bow tie, you will need:
- Interfacing (optional but recommended, especially for floppy materials)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine
- General cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board (optional but recommended)
For stiff and sturdy fabrics, you may be able to omit the interfacing, but normal materials are floppy without a little help. If using a thin and pliable interfacing, you can cut it to match your fabric pieces full size. If you are using a thicker stiffer interfacing, as shown in this post, you can layer it in during the sewing process. This helps to avoid unwanted bulk at the seams or accidentally making things too stiff as layers are folded.
In addition to the materials above, you may also want Velcro (hook and loop tape) for making collar attachments and/or fancy dress collars, elastic, and/or other optional attachment accessories.
No Sew Alternatives
The instructions and step-by-step photos below show how to sew a dog bow tie, but if sewing isn’t your thing, you can create a similar look with some clever no-sew tricks. See our post on no sew DIY dog bows and bow ties for ideas.
Sewing a Double Loop Dog Bow Tie with Sleeve
The geometric diamond patterned tie in the collages below was created as a demo for this post (and for Humphrey’s dress up wardrobe). The material has a distinct right/wrong side. The plaid used in our original ties is double sided, making it difficult to distinguish what was being sewn or inverted. I’ll share plaid collages in follow-on below for extra step-by-step looks at the sewing work in progress.
This style of DIY dog bow ties uses a single piece of fabric for the body of the bow. The piece of fabric is first sewn lengthwise into a loop or tube, inverted to right side out, and then sewn again widthwise. This stepped process lets you conceal all the seams within the body of the finished bow. The finished loop can then be compressed at the middle using your preferred style of sleeve or other fasteners, and the body will mimic the double looping shape of tied bow.
Sewing the Body of the Bow
- Cut a rectangle of fabric approximately 2x as wide and 2x as high as you would like your finished bow tie, plus a little extra for seam allowances.
- Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, so that the top/bottom edges meet. Sew along the seam allowance of the aligned raw top/bottom edges. Invert to right side out through one of the open side edges. Position the fabric so that the sewn seam is oriented on the middle of the tube shape, and then iron flat. By rotating it to the middle of what will become the inside of our bow, this seam will be hidden inside the folded tie when finished.
- Cut a piece of interfacing so that it fits inside of the fabric loop you just created, stopping just shy of the side raw edge seam allowances. Position the interfacing inside, taking care to ensure it is aligned for a nice flat fit. Press again to iron smooth if/as needed.
- Fold the fabric in half width wise, with the middle seam side out, so that the raw side edges meet. Sew along the seam allowance of the aligned raw side edges. Invert to right side out. You now have the finished loop that will be folded to make the tie. Yay! Position the fabric loop so that the seam you just sewed is oriented on the middle (future centre of the bow) and iron flat. This seam will be hidden inside the centre of the folded tie when finished. Optional: Top stitch along the midline of the tie for extra security and to reinforce the internal raw edge.
Sewing a Basic Loop Sleeve
A strip of material for a basic loop sleeve can be created by folding a strip of material lengthwise like making a binding. Fold the raw edges inwards to the middle, and then fold the fabric at the middle and press flat to create a long narrow strip of fabric with the raw edges touched inside, then topstitch the lengthwise edges. Alternatively, a long narrow strip can be folded and sewn lengthwise and inverted to right-side-out. If needed, interfacing can be used to stiffen the loop to help hold the tie straight and/or support elastics with less compression of the sleeve.
The easiest way to sew the strip of fabric into a closed loop is to simply sew the ends together and flip the joined raw edges inside the finished loop (shown below). Easy peasy! Alternatively, you can finish or tuck if you have the patience for hand sewing the loop securely closed, like our single layer bow tie example loop below. See other alternatives below, including a Velcro closure sleeve.
Folding the Bow Tie
To secure the tie in a bow shape, you can pinch or fold. For most styles of tie, I like to fold. Pinch or fold the body of the tie like an accordion. I like to fold at the centre, then again at the quarters above and below. This gives a nice forward pleat at the middle of the bow and scrunches so that the top and bottom edges are folded towards the back of the bow. Easy, neat, and lots of body in the bow.
Although the slide will hold the bow in shape, I like to pre-secure the middle for extra hold. After folding, you can (optional) sew and/or cinch to tightly secure the middle of the folded bow in place. You can do this with elastic (geometric example shown in the collage below) or you can sew/wrap with sturdy thread (plaid example later in this post). Both have pros and cons depending on your personal preferences. Elastic has less finesse, but is very easy and also removeable if you’d like the ability to iron flat or change the folds. Sewing or cinching with thread is more durable.
Adding (or Securing) with a Slide
- Squeeze one side of the bow to the middle along the folds.
- Slide the folded bow through the slide loop to the middle of the bow.
- Rotate the bow into the correct position and smooth/fluff the bow shape/if as needed.
Depending on your collar and how you plan to attach the bow, it may be easier to slip the slide into place over the collar before adding the bow (see example with our fancy dress collar below). If the slide is shared, this lets you take advantage of the extra room in the slide loop to pass over attachments and reduces wear and tear. See the end of this post for other ways to attach bow ties and accessories to different types and styles of dog collars.
Matching Fancy Dress Dog Collars (Optional)
I created these collars as an example of how a collar similar to the upcycled plackets from our DIY recycled dress shirt dog bow ties could be made from scratch, but I’m smitten. We don’t keep collars on around the house, so these soft, comfortable, and cute collars are perfect for special occasion dress-up instead of attaching a bow tie to our rugged walkies collars. These are, of course, optional, and for fancy dress only. I don’t trust my DIY skills enough for actual walkies/control collars or leashes with my big strong dogs, but there are some pins on our DIY for Dog board on Pinterest if you’re keen. See below for options on attaching a bow tie to any collar.
Basic Loop Dress Collars
A basic loop for a fancy dress collar is like the little loop we made for the slide, just on a bigger scale and with detachable ends. Super simple, but oh so doggone dapper! They can be sewn by folding a strip of material lengthwise like making a binding, which is the method we used for this geometric collar. Alternatively, a long narrow strip can be sewn and inverted to right-side-out. Interfacing helps to stiffen the loop to help things lie flat and hold the tie straight. By carefully sizing the slide, a simple slide works perfectly slipped over both the collar and bow. I like a slightly snug fit to keep the bow securely in place without slipping or slopping during wear. Pawfect!
Sewing a Simple Fancy Dress Collar (Optional) for a Bow Tie
- Cut a long narrow rectangle of fabric approximately 4x as high and the designed length of the completed collar, plus extra for seam allowances and Velcro closure overlap
- Fold the rectangle lengthwise like a binding, with a midline fold, and the raw edges folded in again towards the midline.
- We’re going to finish the ends before we sew the strip, so double check the sizing for your collar and adjust if/as needed. Then, with the folded strip temporarily inverted to inside out, separately sew each end along the seam allowances. Trim excess from the corners to help invert to points. Invert the folded strip back to to right-side out.
- Cut a piece of interfacing so that it fits inside of the fabric strip, tucked snug to the folds and finished ends. Position inside the folded strip. Press again to iron smooth if/as needed.
- Topstitch around the exterior edges. This will close the open side of the binding. Doing all the edges matches them up for style, reinforces the seams, and secures the hidden interfacing strip.
- Sew to add Velcro (hoop and loop) or alternative closure.
Securing a Bow Tie with a Slide on the Fancy Dress Dog Collars
I prefer slipping the slide into place over the collar before adding the bow. This lets you take advantage of the extra room in the slide loop to pass over attachments and reduces wear and tear.
- Slip the slide loop over one end of the fancy dress collar. Slide (hehehe) it into position at what will be the middle of the front when worn.
- Squeeze one side of the folded bow (see above for folding tips) to the middle along the folds.
- Slide the folded bow through the slide loop to the middle of the bow.
- Rotate the bow into the correct position and smooth/fluff the bow shape/if as needed.
Pawfect in Plaid
As promised, here’s a look at the same sewing techniques used to create a similar bow tie and accessory set with the original plaid fabric. There are a few subtle design differences. Since this lightweight material was prone to ravelling, I pre-finished the side raw edges instead of joining raw and concealing them in the middle of the loop. Everything is still hidden under the sleeve. Easy peasy. I also sewed and wrapped the middles with thread instead of using a removeable elastic.
The simple slides and fancy dress collar were made with the same design and techniques as above. Since I was using up the last of the leftover plaid fabric, I made two bow ties. Note the big difference in look between the two ties based upon how the fabric was cut relative to the pattern of the material.
Sewing a Single Layer Dog Bow Tie with Sleeve
Looped Bows vs. Flat Bow Ties
The double looped bow ties shown above mimic the appearance of a real tied bow. Alternatively, you can still create a dapper looking bow tie using a simple flat (no loops) piece for the tie. Flat ties use less material, which can be helpful if you’re working with small pieces of fabric or stash busting. To make sure that the tie still has a nice shape when folded, use a sturdy stiff fabric or interfacing (as shown). Alternatively, you can go for different approach on stiffening the blow, like the soft but full-bodied look like our reversible padded dog collar bow ties.
Preparing Materials for the Body of the Bow
- Prepare fabric for the body of bow. Depending on your fabric(s), pattern orientation, and material size, options include:
- Single rectangle of fabric approximately 2x as high and as wide as you would like your finished bow tie, plus a little extra for seam allowances. The double height is folded at the middle, right side in, for sewing.
- Single rectangle of fabric approximately 2x as wide and as high as you would like your finished bow tie, plus a little extra for seam allowances. The double width is folded at the middle, right side in, for sewing.
- Two equal rectangles of approximately as wide and as high as you would like your finished bow tie, plus a little extra for seam allowances. The pieces are layered together, right sides in, for sewing.
- Cut a piece of interfacing to fit inside the body of the bow. As note in the material section above, Thin pliable interfacing can be cut it to match your fabric pieces. Stiff interfacing can be layered in during the sewing process, as shown in this post. For stiff interfacing, you may want to keep it slightly smaller than the tie to avoid unwanted bulk in the seam allowances.
Sew-in interfacing can be layered and sewn while fabrics are joined or tacked into place after joining Iron-on interfacing can be pressed into place prior to inverting. Note that if you are using a single piece of thick interfacing with a middle folded bow and want to rotate the seam before finishing (like the looped ties above), you will need to sew, rotate, invert, and slip it into place through the gap instead. The instructions and example photos below show simple edge seams with topstitching. I’ve sewed two bows, using up lingering stash material. The bows have opposite fabric orientations, showing the effect of pattern orientation of the look of the finished bow ties.
Sewing the Body of the Bow
- With the materials prepared as above, sew along the seam allowances of your aligned raw edges. Leave a gap large enough to invert the bow to right side out.
- Invert to right side out via the gap of the open side edges. Press flat, with the raw edges of the gap carefully folded inwards to match the neighbouring seams.
- Either close the gap with an invisible hand stitch or machine topstitch to close the gap. If topstitching, you can do just the gap edge, partner opposite edges for symmetry, or the whole tie for a uniform topstitched edge all the way around.
Folding, Finishing, and Attaching
The flat bow body can then be secured in the middle to shape the bow with a slide or other method, just like the double looped dog bow ties above. Unlike the double loop bow ties, your flat bow won’t mimic the looping shape of an actual tied bow, but if stiffened, it will still look the part.
Options for Attaching a Bow Tie to a Dog Collar
Simple Loop Slides
Simple loop slides in the middle of the bow tie can be used to attach a bow tie to a collar, but only if the collar and slide are compatible. The slides shown above are great for the fancy dress fabric collars. They’re not so great for our bulkier walking collars.
If the collar is wider than the height of the slide, clearly things won’t work, and giant slides can look odd. Oli’s super wide collars never worked for conventional slides. If the collar is a similar height or shorter than the slide, it can still be tricky working the slide into place over knobby buckles and other features on a collar. Our current collars have wide buckles, big loops, and are fitted with tags and trackers that are ill-suited to a slide, unless it’s very stretchy.
Simple loops can be adapted to make stretchy slides by swapping the material if you don’t mind a mismatch or by sewing elastic into the back of the slide loop. You can make a very simple elastic backed loop slide by preparing a similar strip of fabric to the loop above, but folding the end edges inwards before sewing lengthwise. This leaves a pocket at the ends, into which you can sew a short piece of elastic. Size carefully for a snug fit.
Elastic Collar Attachments
Instead of sewing a stretchy slide, you can sew an elastic loop to the back of a standard slide, but I find this method kind of floppy for a bow tie. It can also detract from the look if the collar is wider than the slide (like Oli’s) since the elastic is visible above/below the middle of the tie. An easy alternative is to use double loops of elastic instead. Passing a sturdy hair tie through the back of a standard slide works great for our collars. Extra awesome that it’s super simple, removeable to wear the tie in other ways, and easily replaced or swapped for different colours.
Alternatively, if you’re only going to use the tie with elastics, you could sew a loop of elastic to the side of the tie instead of the slide. This takes care of the flop factor and visible elastic, but limits versatility. If you have a snap press, you can do this with detachable loops (fabric or other) instead, leaving only discrete snaps when the loops are removed.
Instead of working a slide over a collar, you can make a detachable slide. This is basically a mini version of the fancy dress collar DIY detailed above. Very easy! The example below is Velcro, but you could use snaps instead if you have suitable tools.
Instead of sharing a loop, you can also combine a simple loop with a detachable slide. This lets you keep the middle of the bow snug in the slide instead of potentially slopping around the shared space with the collar in a simple detachable slide. That can be particularly handy if the collar is wide.
Depending on your tie, you could use a single strip sewn to form both a closed loop (slide) and a detachable loop (collar). Our padded reversible dog bow ties use this method, taking advantage of the padding for a very tight hold that resists drooping. To avoid drooping for a standard bow tie, using a loop that is attached in two points (as shown) is better to hold the tie in position than a single seam. Alternatively, you can create a similar combo that detaches using Velcro or snaps. A front connection will be easier to accidentally detach, so use with care. It may not be suitable for some pets.
Safety Over Style
Good behaviour to go with the good looks is not guaranteed. Hehehe… Seriously though, furfriends. Always put your pet’s safety first. Whatever style or attachment method you prefer, keep it safe, secure, and limit any accessories to supervised wear only.