I've got a pair of pups at home that were in desperate need of new leashes. I wanted something strong enough to stand up to their little puppy teeth but not super bulky. This was my first experience working with paracord or leather and am really pleased with how it turned out. Even with my total lack of experience braiding i was able to knock out each leash in around two hours (plus time for the dye to dry)
Step 1: Materials
1) Paracord or similar rope - 36ft for about a 5ft final product
2) Swivel Clasp - Reccomend getting one with a thumb pull unlike mine
3) Fabric Dye - I used Rit Dye
4) Leather Scraps - Got 2lbs of scraps from Michaels for $8!
5) Wax Threads and Leather Needles
6) Hot Glue
8) Optional - Pre-existing Dog leash for length reference
Step 2: Step 1: Cut Your Cords
I bought a 100ft bundle of white paracord for $10 on Amazon. To start you'll need to cut out two pieces. 220 inches each will result in a 5ish foot leash when all braided
Step 3: Step 2: Braid Braid Braid
To start you'll want to wrap your two cord through the clasp enough times to fill out the loop. For mine i had to pull each cord through twice. Make sure all the legs are roughly equal when all flattened out. This will ensure you maximize the final length.
With the four legs hanging loosely in your hands I'm going to refer to them as A, B, C, D from left to right.
Take the furthest right cord (D) and wrap it behind B and C so the arrangement is A, D, B, C
Pull D in front of B so the arrangement is A, B, D, C
Taking A and B in your left and D and C in your right pull both as tight as you can. This will ensure you maintain tight, consistent braids throughout
Repeat these steps again in the opposite orientation.
Starting with A, B, D, C take A and wrap it behind B and D so the arrangement is B, D, A, C
Pull A in front of D so the arrangement is B, A, D, C
Take B and A in your left hand and D and C in your right and pull tight.
Repeat over and over and over and over again for about an hour until you get to only a few inches left
Take the remaining strands and tie a simple overhand knot in them. Cut the extra length and melt the ends with a lighter to seal it all up.
Grab an ice pack for your knuckles. They should be pretty sore
If this is your first time braiding like me it'll take awhile but you should eventually hit a groove and it'll become pretty mindless
Step 4: Step 3: Making the Handle
Now that you have a long braided rope it is time to make the loop at the end. Pull the free end over until you have a comfortable loop plus three inches or so. Also consider that this will determine the finished length of your leash so maybe test the length on your pup
Take the extra length and hot glue it back to the rope
Reinforce the bond. I used electrical tape but you could also stitch it together with thread or wrap it with a metal clasp. I havent had any problems after a few weeks of use now
Step 5: Step 4: Dye Them
Congrats! At this point you have a fully functional leash. The rest of these steps are purely asthetic.
I wanted to give the leashes a faded ombre look like I had seen on a few at the dog park.
I used Rit Dye for these but there are a number of Synthetic Fabric dyes out there. Just make sure to check that it works for the material of rope/cord you're using
Prepare your dying workstation per the dye's instructions
-Add a liberal amount of dye to nearly boiling water
-Add a wetted leash to the dye
-Hang dry for a few hours
To achieve the ombre look on mine I inserted the leash fully to start and removed them section by section over time. I pulled the handle out almost immediately and finally pulled out the base after 15 minutes or so. The longer you soak the darker the color will dry to
Alternatively to hang drying i had to hit it with a heat gun since i didnt have a whole lot of direct sunlight on my patio
Step 6: Step 5: Leather Decorations
I wanted some leather handles to reinforce the loop a little bit and add a little contrasting handle to the leash.
I cut two 3 inch long rectangles of leather just wide enough to wrap around the leash.
Pre-Punch holes along each end of the leather
Hot glue the cener of the leather to the back of the leash so it'll stay still while threading
Sew both ends together pulling tight to close the gap.
There are lots of different sewing options. I zig zagged up pulling each horizontal section through twice to keep the pattern consistent.
Tie a knot and cut at the end of the pattern
For symmetry i added a second leather section near the clasp.
Step 7: Enjoy!
That's it! I knocked out two leashes in an afternoon with no prior braiding/leatherworking experience. They've been holding up great so far. I tried them out on a couple of larger dogs and they hold up for them too. The braided paracord offers a good amount of stretch so you wont get yanked over by a sudden pull.
Let me know if you've got any sugestions on how to improve the design. I've already got plans to make a few more for family members.
Runner Up in the