How to Make Dog Bows

Learn how to make dog bows for a chic dog look!

Types of Bows     

There are so many varieties of bows – you’re limited only by your imagination! A good place to start is by making simple dog bows from a ribbon. 

Dog Bow Design: The Flat Bow

A ruffled flat bow for dog in red
  • Fold your piece of ribbon in half and mark the centerline.
  • Turn the ribbon so the wrong side is facing up.
  • Put a thin line of glue down the centerline.
  • Fold each end of the ribbon inward to the center and glue it down.
  • Do the next layer but make it a little shorter to the outside than the layer beneath it.

Dog Bow Design: The Bow Tie

INSTRUCTIONS

A DIY bow tie for a dog.
  • Follow the instructions above to make a flat bow but only make one or two layers.
  • When the glue is dry, take a threaded needle and wrap around and sew through the center several times.
  • Cover the constricted area with a pansy,  rosebud, or button.

Dog Bow Design: Pansy or Carnation

A DIY carnation dog bow

This uses about 3.5 inches or 90 mm of ribbon and a sturdy thread (color does not need to match).

You are basically going to sew through the ribbon with thread and then pull the material to bunch it. This can be done by hand or with a machine – either way, it should only take a few minutes.

  • Start about 1/8 inch (4 mm) from one of the long edges and do an even running stitch about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long. 
  • Leave at least 3 inches (75 mm) of loose thread on each end.
  • When done, pull on both thread ends at once.
  • Your ribbon should bunch up and form 3/4 of a circle.
  • Tie the two ends of the thread together in a knot and cut off the rest.
  • Experiment with different lengths of ribbon for larger or smaller pansies or carnations.

Dog Bow Design: The Rosebud

A DIY dog bow made out of rosebuds.

This design starts in the middle, using one end of the ribbon, and then you form a spiral around it.

  • Secure your thread at one end of the ribbon.
  • Keeping even tension as you twist, wrap the ribbon tightly in a spiral around the end you’re holding. Make sure to keep the same side facing you (i.e., keep the wrong side out of view).
  • Sew through the middle of the ribbon to hold this first wrap.
  • Wrap another section of twisted ribbon and sew through.
  • Keep adding until you’re done. Secure your thread.
  • Note: If any parts are sticking out, you may be able to sew them back down.

Dog Bow Tips

If you get frustrated, walk away until you calm down. You may be surprised how much more easily you can complete your bow after that.

Doggie bows can be fastened with latex rubber bands or a coveredelastic band (used for holding hair) to attach to your dog’s fur. Please don’t use regular rubber bands as they will pull and hurt the dog.

Now that you have some basic design patterns, you can experimentand make dog bows in different combinations, at different angles, etc. Go wild – you may surprise yourself!

How to Size Your Bows

Before you start, there are a few things to consider:

Determining the length:

  • A bow that is too long may dwarf your dog.
  • A bow that is too short may get lost in your dog’s fur.
  • A 2.5 inch (65mm) long bow may work well for a single bow in the topknot between your dog’s ears.
  • For two bows on a small dog, make each under 2 inches (50mm) long.

Determining the width:

  • 1.5 inch (38mm) wide ribbon would probably be the widest you’d want on a small dog.
  • You will want to keep things in proportion for a balanced look; in other words, a wide ribbon may look ridiculous if it is too short, whereas a skinny ribbon might look silly if it is too long.
  • If you have a bunch of old ribbon of varying widths, why not experiment to see which looks best?

Dog Bow Designs

There are a few basic designs that I’ve dubbed the bow tie, pansy (or carnation), flat bow, and rosebud. Learn how to make dog bows like this at Make Dog Bows.

You can also add designs to barrettes. Options are the Layered Barrette and the Ruffled Barrette.


Materials to Use

ribbon from an old plaid shirt

As mentioned above, standard ribbon works well for constructing bows. 

Make Your Own Ribbon – However, if you’ve made your dog some clothes and have enough leftover scrap material, you can easily make your own ribbon for a matching outfit. Talk about inexpensive and stylish!

It’s easy to do:

You can use just about anything:fabric remnants, old clothes,  or buy a piece of cloth 1/8 to 1/4 yard (about 110 to 250 mm) long.

It helps if the fabric is not too thick; cottonsacrylics and satiny types should work well.

Instructions for making your own ribbon:

Besides fabric, you’ll need an iron, cloth scissors, and either fabric glue or sewing tools.

  • Heat up your iron to the setting suitable for your fabric.
  • Cut a strip of fabric 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) wider than the width of ribbon you want and 1 inch longer than the length wanted.
  • Fold one edge over about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm); then press flat with the iron.
  • Likewise fold the other edge over 1/4 inch and press it. Make sure both folded edges end up on the same side of the fabric!
  • Glue or sew the pressed sides in place.
  • For the pointy ends, cut either in an arrow shape or half arrow.
  • Fold the edges over 1/4 inch and press, then sew or glue.
  • Cut off any loose thread ends or fabric that is sticking out.


How To Make Dog Bows: 
Alternative Materials

Consider trying out other materials to make bows such as:

  • crocheted, knitted or woven yarn 
  • nylon or polypropylene webbing
  • pipe cleaners
  • plastic ribbon
  • sturdy paper

How To Make Dog Bows On Barrettes: 

A ruffled dog bow with a button in middle. Made from old plaid shirt on a barrette.

Style 3: Ruffled Bow

You can easily learn how to make dog bows on barrettes. 

As with the Layered Bow, there are many variations possible.

The ribbon used in the photos was made from an old plaid shirt.

I didn’t have any ribbon on hand so I rummaged around until I found that shirt, and then made my own ribbon for this project. I had intended to make a matching bandana or perhaps a doggie shirt – one of those back burner things that will likely never happen… But please don’t let that stop you!


Materials and Preparation

MATERIALS

  • Ribbon: About 14 inches (350 mm) long and 1 inch (25 mm) wide
  • Needle and Thread
  • Metal or plastic barrette
  • Straight pins or a pen for marking

INSTRUCTIONS

RIBBON PREPARATION

  • Cut your ribbon ends at matching angles so you have two points. 
  • Use pen or a pin to mark the ribbon an inch (25 mm) from each point.
  • Between those first marks, make four marks at 2-inch (50 mm) intervals.
  • For each mark, take about 6 inches (150 mm) of double thread and sew a line.
  • Sew back across and leave the thread ends loose.
  • We used blue thread to demonstrate. You can use a thread that matches your ribbon.

Creating the Ruffles

Ruffles on a dog barrette
  • Start with one end by pulling your first thread tight.
  • The ribbon should bunch up.
  • Add a needle to this thread and wrap around the bunched area twice.
  • Then take the needle and thread and weave under the barrette and over the bunched area a few times.
  • You can take your needle through the bunched area a few times as well. Just make sure you are not getting the thread around the clasp or spring.
  • When done, secure your thread and cut off the excess.
  • Continue with the next threads, folding up the ribbon in between each time.
  • You should end up with six ruffles and two pointy ends.
  • Adjust the spacing of the ruffles along the barrette and glue your ornament in the center.
A dog bow on a barrette with a flower in the middle.

Above is a picture of the same bow as at the top of the page with a different ornament in the middle. 

When I showed Comet the first one I’d made, he gave me a look that said, “Not in my fur, Mama!” So I gave it to a more appreciative doggie…

I must say, I found it amazing that it was so easy to teach myself how to make dog bows on barrettes. Why not give it a try – it’s much less complicated than it looks!


How to Make Dog Bows on Barrettes:
Variations

The whole idea is to keep your measurements symmetrical so the final effect looks good. Some possible variations for how to make dog bows on barrettes are:

  • Use thinner ribbon and space things a little more closely, say 1.75 inches (45 mm), or use wider ribbon and put spacing at 2.5-inch (60 mm) intervals.
  • Your ribbon could be shorter or longer so you have between four and ten ruffles on the barrette.

Video Tutorials on How to Make Dog Bows

Here are a couple of tutorials found on YouTube that I thought might be helpful to you.