Tutorial: Easy DIY Dog Leash

I was visiting some friends with a new dog and wanted to make something for the new little guy. I thought that using some of my bag making materials I could make a custom dog leash. I saw some flannel with bicycles on it that was perfect since my friend is an avid cyclist. From project conception to completion was about 60 minutes.

Completed Leash

Completed leash, ready for a furry best friend

Supplies Needed:
Fabric, 10-12″ WOF (sturdier fabric works best, but I made it work with flannel)
Strapping, nylon, 1″ wide, 6-7 foot length
Clasp with 1″ connection (I get mine from BeingBags on Etsy)
Tube turner (I think this is a must for this project)
Sewing machine
Basic sewing supplies

1. Cut fabric. To cover a 1″ strap, you’ll need to prepare a tube of fabric. I’ve done this a few times to cover bag straps and I always use this formula: width of fabric needed = width of strap x 2 + seam allowance x 2 + a fudge factor. I use a fudge factor of 1/4″ minimum and up to 3/8″ or 1/2″ if the fabric I’m working with is thick. This fudge factor allows you to manipulate the tube around the strapping. For this project, I used 1″ wide strapping, 1/4″ seam allowance, and 1/4″ fudge factor = 2.75″ wide fabric strip needed. I cut three strips WOF (width of fabric, selvage to selvage) at 2.75″ wide. The number of strips needed depended on the finished length of your leash.

2. Sew fabric tube. Sew the fabric strips into one long strip, attaching the ends at a 45 degree angle like you were making binding. This creates a smoother finish on the leash compared to just sewing the pieces end on end where there would be a lot of bulk at each seam. Fold the long strip of fabric in half hotdog style (i.e. long ways) with right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam along the entire length of the raw edge. At this point you should have about a 100″ long tube with the wrong side of the fabric on the outside. If using a tube turner, sew on the end of the tube closed with a basting stich.

3. Turn the tube right side out. Turn the tube right side out using your preferred method. I use a basic tube turner but there are many methods. No need to iron since this will cover the strapping.

4. Insert strapping. Place a large safety-pin on one end of your piece of strapping. Feed the strapping into the fabric tube by leading the safety-pin through the tube and manipulating it from the outside of the tube. You’ll need to frequently pull the fabric along the strapping. Again, use your favorite method to lead the strapping into the tube.

5. Straighten the fabric. This was the most time-consuming part for me. Manipulate the fabric tube so the seam is on the edge of the strapping and the seam allowance lays flat on one side of the seam allowance the entire length of the strapping. Pin or clip as you go. This step shows the importance of having some fudge factor in your tube width. It takes a bit of time, but eventually everything is smooth and ready to sew.

6. Assemble the leash. Sew 1/8″ from both of the long edges of the strapping. This keeps the fabric in place and gives a finished look. On one end, place the fabric through the clasp and fold over 1.5″ of the strapping. Tuck the fabric to give a finished look and pin or clip in place. Sew a square 1/8″ from the edge of the folded over piece, right up to the clasp. Sew the square a few times and sew a large X inside this square to secure the clasp.

Detail of finished ends

Detail of the lead loop and clasp secured with square and X stitching

7. Create lead loop and finish. Decide at this time the finished length of leash you want. I folded over about 10″ of strapping to create a generous lead loop and allow 1.5″ of strap to sew everything in place. Once you’ve chosen your length and size of your loop, tuck in the raw edges and pin in place. As with the clasp end, sew a 1.5″ long rectangle 1/8″ from the edges with a large X inside to secure your lead loop. Now you have a great new DIY custom dog leash!

Leash in Action

The DIY leash in action with Carver, the cutest dog in Oklahoma

Recommendations for further customization:
– use 1/2″ or 1.5″ wide strapping for a petite or large dog
– use up some fabric scraps making the fabric cover out of bright and mixed-up fabric pieces
– add an embroidered name of the pet to the fabric tube before sewing for a custom embellishment.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY




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