Materials from old dress shirts were upcycled to make these DIY French cuff dog bow ties and button placket collar bands. Finally! A great way to recycle old shirt cuffs! And they’re doggone dapper looking, too. These DIY dog bow ties might be made with recycled shirt cuffs and other salvaged offcuts from old dress shirts, but they look awesome. Even better, they’re super simple to sew. And the materials are free scraps getting a great new useful life. Pawfect!
From Dress Shirt Dilemma to Dapper DIY Dog Bow Ties
When I cut old clothes apart for materials, I usually try to salvage as much useful fabric as I can as well as any miscellaneous items as I think may be usable, then relegate the dregs to rags and/or scrap. You’d be amazed at how much great usable material you can salvage for free crafting. After dissecting the recent batch of hubby’s old dress shirts, I’ve been having fun with the materials. Have you seen our recycled dress shirt cuddle pillows? Our dress shirt dog collars?
While plain materials are rather easy, some of the components can be tricky. When sorting out the pieces from the shirts for stash storage and use, I was left with a pile of French cuffs. Whilst sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter and fiddling with one in my hand, a light bulb clicked. They were not only a similar size to the rectangles for making a dog bow tie, but also stiffened similar to how I would add interfacing (or batting) for a bow tie. I folded one over and into an accordion to check it out. Sure enough, it looked almost perfect, except for the ragged cuff line cut. I decided to sew a test bow. I loved it so much I may have gotten a little carried away making bows…
Converting Old Shirt Cuffs into Bow Ties
Sewing and inverting the folded cuffs to conceal the edges not only finishes the tie beautifully, it also makes the edges extra stiff. This helps the bow ties to be even better at holding their shape. Unlike a sewing a looped bow tie where the top and bottom are open, these ties were sewn closed to conceal the raw edge where the cuffs were removed from the shirts. Optional of course, but more finished.
To keep the project almost completely recycled, I used the button hole portion of the button plackets to make the centre slides for the bows. I used plackets to make a few around the neck collar bands, too. These bands could have been made reusing buttons to be totally recycled, but I opted for the ease and sizing flexibility of Velcro instead. Oli and Humphrey aren’t quite the same size. That makes using buttons, snaps, and other set fasteners less versatile for sharing (as well as potential changes over time). A little safer, too.
How to Make a DIY Dog Bow Tie from a French Shirt Cuff
Supplies and Materials
To make a recycled dress shirt dog bow tie, you will need:
- Salvaged French cuffs from old shirts
- Salvaged shirt button plackets (button hole side)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine
- General cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board (optional but recommended)
If you don’t have French cuffs, you could adapt this DIY by joining standard cuffs. You can adjust the fold/sew direction to better suit, if needed, and seams may be visible in your bow. Or you can just use a cut piece of fabric with an interfacing to create a bow tie instead of recycled shirt cuffs. Easy peasy! If you don’t have plackets, you can make your own bands for the slide and/or collar by cutting, folding, and finishing strips of fabric. Use an interfacing if additional stiffness is needed. See our post on how to sew DIY dog bow ties for details on sewing a dog bow tie from scratch.
Making DIY Dog Bow Ties from Recycled Dress Shirt French Cuffs
Creating the body for the bow:
- Cut the cuff away from the shirt sleeve at the join.
- Iron flat if/as needed.
- Fold right-side-in (if applicable) so that the cuff link edges meet in the centre of what will become the back of your bow. Iron to flatten.
- Sew the open edges together. Trim excess material from the corners. This is optional, but helps with turning out – especially with stiff/thick materials.
- Invert to right-side-out through the open centre gap (the cuff link edges), taking care to turn out the edges and corners. Iron to flatten, if needed.
Forming the bow:
- Fold like an accordion, with the cuff link edge positioned vertically down the middle of the back of the bow. This will be hidden in the cinch and slip at the middle.
- Sew and/or cinch to tightly secure the middle of the folded bow in place. You can do this with elastic or sturdy thread. Mine are sewn through the middle and then wrapped/tied with the same thread for added security.
I like to fold at the centre and then again at the quarters above/below. This gives a nice forward pleat at the middle of the bow and scrunches the top/bottom so that the edges are folded towards the back of the bow. Lots of body and neat edges. The stiff recycled shirt cuffs hold the bow shape beautifully.
Making DIY Dog Bow Tie Sleeves from Recycled Dress Shirt Plackets
- Cut a small piece of placket, long enough to loop around the middle of your bow with a seam allowance to join. Tightness depends on personal preference. You want it semi-snug to stay in place, but don’t make it to squeezy of you won’t be able to fit the bow and/or band through.
- Sew (or fray-check) the raw ends (optional) to reduce fraying.
- Position right-side in and sew to securely join the ends.
- Invert to right-side out.
- Fold one side of the bow tie and slip/work the slide into position at the centre of the bow.
Making DIY Dog Collar Bands from Recycled Dress Shirt Button Plackets
- Cut a piece of placket, long enough to fit comfortably around the neck with extra for the Velcro overlap.
- Sew to finish the raw end(s).
- Position and and sew Velcro into place near the ends.
- Slip/work into under the bow tie slide and pull through into the desired position for wear.
If attached hook side up/loop side down, the loop will be under the top (visible when worn) of the band. Loop is often easier to sew, so the visible stitching on the back (top) will be tidier. Plus, it will be more comfortable if the band is a little too long. Loop is softer. It also doesn’t stick to woolly fur (if you have it), making it a better option towards the neck.
Additional DIY Recycled Shirt Cuff Bow Tie Styling Tips and Options
You can easily adapt the DIY for different attachment methods (either with modified sleeves and/or use with additional attachments) to best suit your pet and personal preferences.
In time, I may make some additional slides with attachments for use over their actual collars, but as mentioned in our DIY dog bow ties and collar attachments post, our preferred collars have wide buckles, big loops, and are fitted with tags and trackers. They’re are ill-suited to slipping through a slide, unless it’s very stretchy, and the width of some collars (see the example above with Oli’s collar) means whatever elastic or fabric/Velcro is used to affix to the collar will be visible above/below the tie. There is also the added complication that Oli and Humphrey wear very different walking collar widths.
Dressed to Impress!
You can see the button holes if you look closely at the band, but personally I think this only adds to the charm. You can, of course, wrap the band or make a fresh one as noted in the materials above if you’d rather. The button placket collar bands look very cute on their own, and they can also be slipped under our salvaged dress shirt dog collars for a different stylish look. Doggone dapper indeed! Since my bows’ centre slides are removable, they can be swapped for mix-and-match style variations as well. They’re one of my favourite upcycles to date, and DIY projects outright!