Pretty sure you and your dog love bandanas as much as we do! We’ll show you how to make two different bandanas you’ll be proud to create.

Ohh, bandanas!

They are everywhere, on every dog, in every color and every pattern imaginable. I’m willing to bet you’ve got a drawer or shelf full of them for your dog to sport around town.

Dog at the farmer's market wearing a new bandana.

It’s crazy to see how the humble bandana (thought to have originated from the Hindi ‘bāṅdhnū’ and in  Urdu ‘bāndhnū’  meaning a tied, bound cloth) has risen from a workhorse and a necessity to a fashion statement – especially for our canine companions. Their history is fascinating, especially when you discover how they got their start here in the United States – read all about Martha Washington’s contribution to their popularity here. From political intrigue to cowboys and bandits, Rosie the Riveter and flower children of the sixties, the bandana is here to stay.

When did dogs wearing bandanas become “the hot new trend?” No one seems to really know for certain – but we DO know this trend isn’t going away any time soon!

And while bandanas are fairly easy to make, most of us don’t have the time, the skills or the specialized sewing machines to produce them with the precision and quality you’ll find from some of your favorite shops around the country. You can find dog bandanas in all price levels – from the more affordable all the way to the $50 and up creations using imported fabrics from Europe, hand-woven Guatemalan weaves and personalized embellishments.

You’ll see Hundenfolk bandanas everywhere on Instagram.  They are definitely a favorite with us.

Dog and owner wearing coordinating clothing.

Shop owners Julia and Nick take great care in curating the highest quality fabrics with lovely finished edges. They also have a selection of collars and leashes.

Close-up of yellow material for a Hundenfolk bandana
Stella the Borderaussie modeling a Hundenfolk bandana

 Hundenfolk Ambassador – the lovely @stellatheborderaussie

Here in Nashville, you’ll catch Abby Walters from Furever Friends out and about at dozens of dog-friendly events. Her bandanas are clean and precise – and with so many patterns and colors, you could spend hours trying to choose the perfect one. Also check out her toys and leashes made from recycled t-shirts.

Furever Friends gingham bandanas
Dog at the FurEver Friends booth at Gulch Night Market in Nashville

Plus, nothing says you can’t  share your bandanas from Vinnie Louise with your best friend. Boutique pup.

Dog posing with her new bandana from Vinnie Louise in Nashville

But if you’ve ever caught yourself perusing the aisles of the fabric store thinking, “Oh, my dog would look perfect in a bandana with that pattern!” …or you just crave the satisfaction of crafting something special for your best friend, then read on…

We’ll show you how to make two super-simple and easy-to-sew bandanas. If you have access to a sewing machine and can sew a simple seam, you can do this!

The first is a rustic fringed tie-on bandana (perfect for the upcoming fall and winter weather) and the second is a clean and classic snap bandana.

Fringed Plaid Flannel Bandana

This one is super easy to make.

Fringed red flannel dog bandana

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You will need:

  • Sewing machine
  • ½ – 1yd. light to medium weight plaid flannel material
  • Matching thread
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper

How much material do you need? A typical square bandana is usually 22”x22”. If you already have a bandana that fits your dog well, you can use those measurements. If not, a handy guideline is to measure your dog’s neck at the position you’d like the bandana to sit and then add 6 inches. Or try this chart:

Small dogs : 15.25″ x 15.25”  

Medium dogs : 18″ x 18″

Large dogs : 21″ x 21″

XL dogs : 22.5″ x 22.5″

2XL dogs : 23.5″ x 23.5″

For reference, Chloe has a 15” neck – so adding 6” makes her square 21” x 21”.

Red flannel, measuring tape and scissors to make a bandana

A nice lightweight flannel works best here since it’s the old “fold, roll and tie” variety. You don’t want a lot of bulkiness  – and heavier flannel will add that. Make sure the plaid is visible on both sides of the fabric.

Hint: It’s generally recommended that you prewash your material before you cut and sew. This is in case of shrinkage and also to test for colorfastness. A red bandana on a white dog in the rain could be an issue you don’t want to face. Some professional sewing enthusiasts prewash, some don’t. You choose.

Lay out your fabric, measure and cut a square in the size your dog needs. Plaid is so wonderful; it gives you lots of built-in lines to follow for cutting.

Material for making a plaid dog bandana

Next, decide how long you would like your fringe. It really depends on personal preference and how large your dog is. Chloe’s fringe is ¾” long.

What you’re going to do now is sew a line of stitching all around the outer edges of the square, just a bit more than the length you’d like the fringe. For example, if you want your fringe to be ¾” long, you’ll sew the line of stitches about 1” from the edge of the fabric. Mark your fabric at this distance and sew a straight line all around the sides of the square, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.  This row of stitching serves two purposes. First, it prevents the fringe from possibly unraveling further into the bandana and secondly, it gives you a visual as to how far up to remove threads as you’re fringing.

Sewing a seam while making a dog bandana

Hint: If your machine has some fun stitches built in, you could actually choose a more decorative stitch to use – maybe in a contrasting thread color to add some uniqueness.

Now for the fringing. Take your seam ripper and beginning at one corner of the square, find the bottommost horizontal thread. Very gently separate the thread from the fabric, loosening the thread with the seam ripper as you work your way along the edge. Remove this thread. Go back and find the next thread and again carefully work the thread loose and pull it out of the fabric. You’re fringing!

Removing thread from material with a seam ripper

Sometimes the fabric and threads are rough and you’ll have to loosen the threads all along the edge before they’ll come out; other fabrics have smoother threads and you can literally loosen and pull them out in one motion.

Making fringe on a plaid bandana for a dog

Continue working your way up the side towards the row of stitching. You’ll soon see the fringe beginning to form. Stop and check your measurements occasionally so you don’t go past your desired length. You should reach your fringe length before you reach the row of stitching you sewed.

Now start on the next side of the material, loosening threads and removing them.

When you finish the fourth and final side, voila! you’re done!!

Seriously. Bandana made!

Fold, roll and tie on your puppy and admire your handiwork.

Dog wearing her new red plaid bandana

Clean and Classic Snap Bandana

When you want your pup to look more refined and polished with clean lines and classic styling, you’ll want this pearl snap bandana. This bandana has two overlapping points that gives it a jaunty little kerchief look. It’s just a bit more work but still easy to create.

Dog wearing her new science bandana outside of Adventure Science Center in Nashville
Blinded Me With Science Bandana…at Adventure Science Center
Close-up view of the snap closure of a dog bandana

You will need :

  • Sewing machine
  • ½ to 1 yd. cotton print fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Needle for hand stitching
  • Pearl snaps (hammer and spool of thread or snap tool)
  • Pattern, tracing or craft paper
  • Optional: cheap muslin or other fabric for test

The possibilities are endless when it comes to fabric patterns – so have fun choosing what will look adorable on your dog. Since this bandana will have two pieces of fabric sewn together, you can use just about any weight you’d like. You can even choose two coordinating or contrasting fabrics to make it reversible. Cotton does shrink, so prewash as you feel necessary.

Close-up of vintage blue and red material for making a dog bandana
Matching thread and material for making dog bandanas

Hint : I’m telling you this because I always forget to do it…while you’re at the fabric store, remember to look at the sticker on the end of the bolt of fabric you’re purchasing. You can see fabric content and washing instructions. Snap a photo with your phone for quick reference.

You’re going to need to draft a pattern for this one. You can use craft or pattern paper – or even an old flattened out paper bag. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

If you have a bandana that fits your dog well, you can use it to trace a pattern.  Fold the bandana into a triangle. Place on your pattern paper and trace around the edges. Use a ruler to keep your lines straight. Alternately, you can just transfer the measurements to your pattern paper.

You should now have drawn a triangle (half of a folded square bandana.) Along the edges, add ¼” for a seam allowance and trace that onto the pattern. Cut out the pattern.

The easiest way to do the next step is to fold this triangle down the middle and cut it in half. You’ll only need to use half. It’s helpful to mark the dimensions on each edge and to mark the fold line – especially if you plan to make more bandanas in the future.

Diagram of bandana pattern you can draft

Since this bandana is not going to be folded or rolled, we need to take some of the bulk of the material off the neckline so it lies very neatly around your dog’s neck. The first thing you need to do is figure out how deep you’d like the bandana to be from the point to the neckline. Check and see how far you need to roll a regular bandana to get the perfect fit for your dog. Measure from the point of the bandana to the neckline roll. This measurement will be transferred to your pattern.

Measure up from the triangle point and make a mark on the fold line. This is how deep your bandana will be.

Next, beginning at the mark you made on the fold line, draw a gradual curved line up to the edge of the triangle. Don’t forget to go back and add ¼” around the curved neckline for the seam allowance. It doesn’t have to be perfect and remember – you’re going to cut a test piece of fabric first to get the fit right. Take your scissors and cut the paper pattern with the new curved neckline. Trim off the end point at an angle. This makes it much easier to sew and takes a bit of length off the ends.

Craft paper used for drafting a bandana pattern

Now you’re ready to cut a piece of test material to see how it fits your dog. You can use some inexpensive muslin, an old pillowcase or even a cheap dollar store bandana for testing.

Fold your test material in half. Pin your pattern lining up the fold line on the pattern with the fold of the fabric. Cut the piece and unfold to see how your bandana will look. Try it on your dog for size, putting a safety pin where you want the snap to be and making sure not to have it too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers underneath the bandana.

If the size is not quite right or the depth of the neckline not where you want it, simply adjust your pattern size and try again. Keep in mind the test piece will be ¼” larger all around because you haven’t sewn any seams yet – so it may look a bit big.

Once you’re satisfied with the pattern, it’s time to cut out the real deal. Fold your bandana fabric in half and pin your pattern to the material with fold lines together. Cut two pieces. Unfold.

Pattern pinned to material and ready to cut to make a dog bandana
Two pieces of bandana pattern cut and ready to sew

With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the pieces together and sew a ¼” seam around the edges, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Most importantly, leave a 2” opening near one of the corners so you can turn the bandana right side out.

Bandana pieces pinned, right sides together.
Bandana  being sewn with machine

Hint: It’s a good idea to reinforce the seam along the point of the bandana. Just backstitch a couple times on either side of the point.

You can press your seams open with an iron or finger press them open. Trim away excess fabric at the point of the bandana and at the ends. You can also take your scissors and trim excess fabric near the seam – just be careful not to cut into the seam line!

Finger pressing a seam
Trimming excess fabric from seams

Turn your bandana right side out through the opening you left in the seam. To get your points and ends to come out nice and sharp, I can’t recommend enough that you purchase a point turner tool.

Using a point turner tool to turn out the corners for a dog bandana

This one is inexpensive and does a phenomenal job at getting the points all pointy! Way easier than trying to poke them out with a pencil or chopstick. Buy the tool – you’ll be glad you did.

Now iron your edges flat – looking more like a bandana all the time!

You’ll need to close up the opening you left in one side. The easiest solution is to just run a quick straight stitch by machine. But I highly recommend you do it by hand using a blind stitch. Also known as a ladder or invisible stitch, it’s a skill worth learning. It’ll give your bandana a polished, professional finish. It’s also super easy to learn and this tutorial is excellent.

All that is left is to add the pearl snaps. Call your dog and have them make a test run of their bandana while you place a safety pin where you want the bandana to sit. The safety pin will mark the location where the snaps will be inserted. Measure from the ends of the bandana to the safety pin and make note of the distance.

Dritz Pearl Snaps Fasteners for dog bandanas

Placing snaps is a fairly easy process and you can follow the directions on the back of the package. If you really want, you could buy a snap tool to make the process easier  – but it’s not that difficult using a hammer and spool. The nice thing about snaps? You can always add more to make the fit even more adjustable.

Using a pencil to mark the position for snaps to be placed on a bandana
Placing a snap on a dog bandana
Using common household tools to set a snap in a dog bandana

Once your snaps are in place, you are finished! Just add one happy doggie and your work is complete!

Happy dog showing off her new bandana at Adventure Science Center in Nashville

Hint : Any leftover material? Make a cat bandana using the same method. Cats appreciate the streamlined snap; easier on and off!

Cat modeling his new bandana you can make at home

Not everyone has the time or desire to make their own bandanas – and that’s a good thing, because we have lots of talented Middle Tennessee businesses (we don’t have all of them listed; let us know if you want to be added) who would be delighted to create something wonderful for you and your dog. Check out the list below and show them some love!

Tuff and Company ~ Etsy shop with bandanas, bow ties and more.

1220 Bloom Street ~ check out their IG feed to find Etsy link and see how you can use their adorable accessories.

Beephcake Boutique ~ bow ties and bandanas – so cute!

Caspers Southern Wear ~ bandanas and more…Check out the t-shirts!

Furrever Friends ~ So many bandanas! Plus toys and leashes made from recycled tees.

If you’re in the market for any of the sewing items mentioned above and purchase through the link provided, we’ll earn a small amount to help keep Go Dog Nashville up and running.

Want to keep these instructions handy? Pin to your favorite board.

Pinterest pin for making your own dog bandanas.

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