Introduction: Leather Light-Emitting (LED) Dog Collar
Winter is coming, the nights are rolling in and if your dog is half as crazy as my nutty spaniel you've also been starting to notice how easily they can disappear from under your nose on a walk.
Armed with a single CR2032 battery, a couple of LEDs, some aquarium tubing, some leather, a 10mm snap, thread and a buckle I show you how to make a bright light-up dog collar which will make it just that little bit harder for your loving pet to slink away out of your sight on a dark nights walk.
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
- Cutting Mat
- Hole Punches
- Snap Setting Tools
- Card (For creating a cutting template)
- Strong, thin, flexible leather (i.e. Goatskin)
- Impact Adhesive
- 1 * 10mm Snap
- 18/3 Linen Thread
- 5mm Aquarium Tubing
- 1 to 2 5mm LED(s)
- 1 * CR2032
Step 2: Measuring Up
Measure you pups neck and create a card template. I measured my pups neck at 33cm (13 inches) so my collar will need to be at least this length with the buckle. Generally, you'll have a few extra holes either side of the main hole to allow for size adjustment, whether it be for your dog growing or getting fat...
I went with 3 holes for the buckle, the middle one being at the 13" mark and the others being 1" either side of the middle hole. So the middle hole is 13" from the tip of the buckle to the middle of the middle buckle hole. The last hole therefore is at 14" and the first is at 12".
My buckle was 3/4" wide so this is the width I needed the collar to be where it will be inserted into the buckle. The part of the collar which will house the battery and the 'light-tube' I offered up the battery to the drawing to work out where to place it and then gave myself an extra 1/4" each side for stitching and the thickness of the battery and also where the tube is housed I also gave an allowance of 1/4" each side of the tube for the stitching and the thickness of the tube.
(I have uploaded my design as a line drawing, however you'll probably want to modify this to suit your dogs size and the size of the buckle you are using - plus, it may not be precisely to scale, it's just a guide)
Step 3: Mark & Cut the Leather
Moisten the leather with a sponge (slightly) and place the cutting template onto a long enough length of leather to be able to cut both sides of the collar in one piece and then mark the perimiter of the cutting guide using a scratch awl (Alternatively, on the flesh side of the leather mark the perimiter using a pen as this will not be visible when sewn)
When you are satisfied with the marking out, cut the leather using a sharp knife - it's not a race, take care and there is no need to cut through the leather in the first pass. You can make multiple passes to cut through the leather - this is easier to manage and often necessary if using thicker leather.
Step 4: Attaching the Buckle and Setting the Snap
Next we'll attach the buckle and the snap. The buckle is obviously there to allow us to close the collar and the rivet will be used to allow us to insert and secure a battery.
To attach the buckle we'll simply cut a 1/2" oblong hole in the center of our leather that will wrap round the buckle and allow the catch to poke through around the circumference of the buckle.
To attach both halves of the snap we'll simple punch two suitable sized holes 1/2" either side of the oblong buckle hole and then set using appropriate setter tools.
Step 5: Bodging the Electronics Together
I don't own a soldering iron, and the last time I did electronics of any description was at least 10 years ago so forgive me for this is truely shocking... However on the plus side it's going to be so basic that anybody can do it!
I pulled out the brightest LEDs I had, which happened to be pink - perfect for a girl dog and I bought a small CR2032 battery which is a great size to slip in between two pieces of leather and I figured I could probably get away without using a resistor keeping the circuit really simple.
I just pushed a 5mm LED in each end and used two lengths of wire tangled around the legs of the LEDS - not ideal, but it'll do for now - plus the tube is removable so I can 'upgrade' it eventually - maybe eventually I'll make a seperate pouch to attach a rechargable 9V battery and use a battery clip - this will be far cheaper to run then!
I was going to use 1 LED, but I figured actually, with a couple of lengths of wire I could attach 2 in parrallel and the brightness will be much improved - or at least symmetrical.
Step 6: Go to Town on the Perforations
In the portion of the collar where the 'light-tube' will be, go to town with the perforations and come up with whatever pattern you like to show off that fancy LED light in your collar. I choose simple to have big holes every inch with 6 surrounding smaller holes - somewhat flower shaped to fit my girly-pink LEDs
Step 7: Glue the Edges (Optional)
This step is not essential, however made life easier when it came to stitching the two halves together inline.
I applied contact adhesive to 1/4" of the perimiter of the collar (leaving enough to be able to insert and remove the battery at the buckle end), allowed it to set and then starting with the top edge I aligned the two halves and pressed together, then with the bottom halve open I inserted the 'light-tube' and finally pressed together the rest.
Step 8: Mark the Stitches
Finally using an adjustable creaser I marked abough 1/16" in from the edge and using an overstitch wheel marked along this crease where my stitches will go.
Step 9: Stitch, Stitch, Stich...
Then with a length of waxed thread at least 3x the length of one side of the collar I saddle stitched up each edge - remembering to leave enough of a gap to be able to fit in the battery when the snap is undone - but not too much that the battery will slip about and potentially fall out.
I removed the 'light-tube' by pulling out the end by the buckle which I hadn't glued.
Step 10: Push the Gizmo Back in and Insert the Battery
Finally, push the 'light-tube' back into the collar and insert the battery.
Step 11: Go!
I chose not to apply any finishes to the leather and wish instead for it to darken naturally to a nice tan colour over time in sunlight.