Feeling stylish, furfriends? Here’s how to style a basic triangle dog bandana with four different options per bandana for more versatile wear, plus DIY instructions to sew your own bandanas.
Styling DIY Dog Bandanas for Greater Wear and Versatility
Doggy dress up around our place usually means a simple bandana. Perhaps a bow tie for extra special occasions. As much as I like holidays, it’s also nice to use each bandana more than once or twice a year. Also, as much as I like dressing our boys in matching bandanas sometimes, I’m a realist about the impracticality of having a full duplicate wardrobe. Especially given sweet senior Oli’s advancing age. My heart breaks at the thought of someday only having one of my beautiful boys. Here’s an easy compromise that lets me play dress-up with more variety and greater options.
Dog Bandana Fabric Colours and Patterns
Holiday and Event Specific Patterns
One of the easy ways to make a dog bandana (bought or made) more versatile for wear is to avoid limiting patterns. Our reversible birthday bandanas, for example only get worn for birthdays. They still get lots of wear at different birthday celebrations, but only for birthdays. That’s totally ok, as long as you make the choice consciously. We have lots of specific occasion bandanas in our wardrobe. We also have lots of general use bandanas that can be worn for a variety of occasions or just because we feel like getting a little dressed up.
Certain colour combinations have natural holiday associations. This can be a disadvantage sometimes. For example, it’s difficult to combine red, white, and green without conjuring up Christmas. In many cases, however, it can be an advantage. You can pull those colour combinations out for the occasion and feel very festive indeed. Pretty pastels at Easter? Green at St. Patrick’s Day? Red and white at Christmas? Valentine’s Day? Canada Day???
Halloween? Thanksgiving? Any Time?
For example, the bandanas in this post were made with a few occasions in mind, as well as general purpose wear. Halloween isn’t generally celebrated here in NZ (although it is growing in popularity). Nor is Thanksgiving. However, having grown up in Canada and travelled/lived around the world, there are special occasions and holidays like these that still hold a place in my heart.
These bandanas were made with these occasions in mind, using coordinating fabric colours that suit the vibe, but they’re far more versatile than a specific holiday pattern (although those are also fun sometimes). We made these particular bandanas a while back, and they were worn for Canadian Thanksgiving earlier in October and will be getting a workout this week for Halloween.
Combining Fabrics for Style and Versatility
This is where we can really have some fun! Combining fabrics in a reversible bandana is a great way to add additional style options for more versatile wear.
Matching Outfits? Or Not!
For any two bandanas, by matching one side of each bandana, Oli and Humphrey can have identical matching outfits, as shown above. Handsome? Yes, indeed. But these bandanas have more than just one doggone dapper option for wear. We can mix-and-match in eight different coordinating combos!
Reversible and Rollable DIY Dog Bandana Options
By using different complimentary/coordinating fabric on the other sides, the bandanas become far more versatile. Each basic triangle reversible banana can be worn four different ways.
When our boys wear a basic triangle bandana, I usually roll the top edge slightly before tying. If I do this inwards, only the face of the bandana shows. If the fabrics are well coordinated to each other on each side of the reversible bandana, it can be folded/rolled outwards instead. This creates an accent at the neck, similar to a bandana with binding trim ties but without any extra effort during construction or limitations on styling for wear. Nice!
Styling and Wearing the Reversible Bandanas
Style Options: Single Bandana, Single Dog
The reversible bandana can (of course) be worn with only the primary (front) side showing, but it can also be worn with the opposite (back) side folded/rolled outwards at the top edge for an accent, creating four different looks for each bandana. This works for reversible ready-made or DIY bandanas, providing the back sides are suitably coordinating colours and patterns.
Style Options: Two Bandanas, Two Dogs
Of course, this isn’t a scenario that every owner will care about, but it’s really great for someone like me who has two pets that they occasionally like to match. Even more so when the pets are similar sizes, like my boys, and can share their bandanas.
Our bandanas share one side (the orange fabric with x pattern). Four different looks for each bandana means that for two bandanas like the ones shown, there are seven different options and eight different combos (including matchy matchy) when the boys are wearing one each. Pretty doggone versatile indeed!
Plus, since the two bandanas share parts of their colour palettes throughout all their fabrics, all of the different wearing variations look good together, not just the matched set. The boys still look great and coordinate with each other even when they aren’t wearing the matched bandanas. Pawesome!
How to Make a Reversible Triangle Dog Bandana
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar basic reversible (double sided) triangle dog bandana, you will need:
- Fabric (complimentary or contrasting for each side)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine
- General cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board (optional but recommended)
Fabric selection is really key to getting the type of look and versatility you want for these bandanas, especially if you plan to roll the necks as shown above. No matter what look you choose, for the best results in ongoing wear and washing, the fabrics should have similar properties and care requirements. Washable fabrics are recommended for dog clothing. Wherever possible (and fabric permitting), I prewash/preshrink fabric and then iron flat prior to cutting or sewing.
🧩 It’s worth paying attention to the details when fabric shopping. Consider the size you need relative to the pattern orientation options for cutting the bandanas, whether using cut-to-length fabric off the roll or smaller pre-cuts. If using pre-cuts, be aware of the difference between Fat Flats (metric, half of 1/2 meter) and the conventional Fat Quarters (imperial, half of 1/2 yard).
They’re both fat because the half selvage to selvage is typically larger than the half meter/yard, making them slightly rectangular instead of squares, but the fat quarters are smaller. One yard is 91.44 cm so Fat Quarters are narrower (45.72 cm vs. 50cm).
For my big boys, I can make a single fold-over bandana or cut two triangles from a Fat Flat, but not a Fat Quarter (imperial) as it’s too narrow for the diagonal to fit. If using a Fat Quarter, I need to extend with trim ties to be large enough for their necks. The triangles for the bandanas shown in this post were made with Fat Flats. I’ve been craft stash busting and loving “free” projects!
Sewing a Simple Reversible Triangle Dog Bandana
Measuring and sizing:
- Measure or estimate your pet’s required neck size. If you aren’t comfortable with estimating the size, you can use a collar as a gauge or loosely measure your pet’s neck.
- Calculate the required fabric size for your sewing project.
You will two identical fabric triangles, one for each side of the bandana. They will need to be sized to suit your pet, plus a little extra around the edges for your seam allowances. The long edge of the finished bandana (after the seams are sewn) will need to be big enough to fit loosely around your pet’s neck plus extra to tie a small knot. Having two similarly sized dogs makes this super easy, as you just cut the correct size square, then halve it on the diagonal. See our post on no-sew dog bandanas for diagrams, if needed. Remember to add extra for the seam allowances.
Sewing the bandana:
The sewing process for these bandanas is very similar to our original DIY reversible dog bandanas. the key difference here is that the bandadas are completely machine sewn and finished with an all around topstitching. Nowadays, I almost always topstitch. It gives a slightly more finished look. But it’s all a matter of personal preference and DIY bandanas still look great without it.
- Align your triangles, ensuring that the fabric is pattern-side in if single sided.
- Sew together, leaving a gap large enough for you to reverse the bandana. Tip: I prefer to leave my gap somewhere on the top edge since this section isn’t really seen when worn. This ensures that the readily visible areas of your finished bandana are nice and neat, and will help hide any boo-boos you might make closing the gap, just in case.
- Trim excess fabric in the inside corners of your bandana to help things reverse neatly without bunching. Cut any loose thread ends.
- Invert the bandana through the opening gap to right/pattern-side out. Try to ensure all the seams are fully turned out, and take care when pointing the corners.
- Optional, fabric permitting: Iron, taking care to ensure the edges are straight and even. Ensure the raw edges at the gap are folded inside, matching up with the finished edges next to the gap.
- Topstitch around the edge of the bandana using complimentary thread(s), ensuring that the gap is properly positioned and sewn closed in the process. Tip: If you want a different visible thread colour on each side, use different colours of the same thread type on the spool/bobbin. Sew a small test piece first, if you’re unsure of visibility and/or need to check tension.
- Optional: Iron again to set the stitching.
- Trim to remove excess threads prior to use.