I love working with leather so imagine my excitement when i realised our dog's collar was almost worn through. What better excuse to make a nice shiny new one rather than the mass produced one he was using.
I decided to reuse the hardware from the existing collar but this process can be just as easily used to make a collar from scratch, you'd just need to buy the buckle and D ring. Make sure you get nice sturdy ones so there is no danger of the collar breaking.
Step 1: You Will Need:
You will need
A piece of leather - I'm using some 5-6oz Veg Tan undyed leather
Thread - I'm using some 1mm waxed nylon thread
Dye or Finish - I haven't dyed mine but I have added resoline to the finished collar to protect it.
Gum Tragacanth if you want to burnish the edges (you can also use water)
Contact Cement ( optional but recommended)
Hardware ( if you are remaking an old collar, you can re-use your existing hardware, if you are starting from scratch, you'll need:-
- A buckle
- A "D" ring
Make sure the buckle and D-ring are a suitable size for the collar you want to make and most importantly make sure they are both the same width, mine are about 20 mm which is perfect for a small dog.
A sharp knife to cut the leather to shape
Pricking Irons or punch to make the stitching holes
A punch to make holes for the buckle to fasten
Calipers and / or an awl to mark the leather for cutting and stitching.
A lighter to burn the ends of the thread
A hammer ( nylon or hyde) to punch the holes for the stitching
A cutting mat and or some scrap leather for the cutting and punching.
Optionally, an edge beveller and burnisher for the edge
Step 2: Disassemble Your Old Collar ( or Gather Up Your Hardware)
This was my old collar ( well technically it belongs to Ben the dog but I paid for it so....). The leather had all but worn through so it's time to buy a new collar or even better to make one with a nice piece of leather.
To release the hardware from the old collar, I just cut the leather with a sharp knife.
If you aren't cutting up an old collar, now is the time to gather up your hardware ( Buckle and D-ring)and your tag if you have one.
Step 3: Cutting Your Leather
The 1st job is to work out how wide and long to make your strips.
Width - To set the width, I used my old collar and using a pair of calipers I set them to the width of the existing leather. If you are making a collar from scratch then just measure your buckle and D ring to get the width of leather needed.
Length - To work out the length of collar needed, you can either use your existing collar as a guide or carefully measure round your Dogs neck. Don't make it too tight and you need to allow a little to trim the ends ( don't cut yet)
You will need 2 strips of leather for the top and bottom, on one of the strips, allow an extra 2 inches as you won't want the join where the buckle attaches.
To cut my leather, I cut a thin strip off my piece of veg tan so I knew I was starting from a straight edge. I then marked the 1st strap using my callipers, running them carefully down the freshly cut edge to get a nice clean strap marked out.
Carefully cut the 1st strap using a sharp knife and straight edge.
Now using the calipers again, mark and cut the second piece of leather.
If you don't have callipers then just carefully measure the correct width and make your marks using an awl and a straight edge.
Step 4: Adding the Buckle and D Ring.
- Take the longer of the 2 strips of leather and feed the buckle onto the strap, so that it is about 2 - 3 inches from the end. Depending on the type of buckle you have, you may need to punch a small hole for the arm of the buckle in my case the buckle had 2 bars, one for the leather to loop round and a second bar that has the arm on it.
- I added my buckle so that the shorter end of the strip was on the under side
- Use a small amount of contact adhesive near the buckle to hold the strap around it. You don't want adhesive all along the flappy bit as you ill be adding the D ring under that shortly
- Using your pricking irons or awl, punch the holes to stitch the buckle on.
- Using saddle stitch, stitch accross the buckle using the punched holes
- Now slide on the D ring
- Again add a small amount of contact adheshive to hold the leather together, Don't get any near the D ring, you want that to move freely.
- Punch accross where you placed the adhesive for the D ring and stitch.
- Using contact adhesive, stick the remaining bit of the flap down.
Step 5: Adding the Back of the Collar
- Apply contact adhesive to the flesh side of both pieces of leather
- When it's gone off, carefully press them together
Note: when I made my collar, I made the bottom strap butt up against the top strap, in hind sight, there were 2 better options here that I could have used:-
- Overlapping the top and bottm of the strap and adding a rivett for extra strength
- Even better, if you have enough leather, use a single longer strip of leather and add the buckle / D ring at the centre of the strip.
- Trim your collar to final length and make a rounded point at the end, to do this, you can find the centre of the end of the collar and then use your sharp knife to bring it to a point.
- Using your callipers or stitch groover mark a line for your stitching about 3 mm from the edge and punch using your pricking irons / awl.
- Note, I also stitched across where I had butted the 2 pieces of leather. This would have been better as a cross stitch, or even better to avoid having the leather butted together as per points 1 and 2 above.
- Using sadle stitch sew your top and bottom together.
- Carefully mark the centre of the collar at the end and punch a series of holes for the buckle to fasten
Step 6: Finishing
- I used an edge beveller and burnished with some Gum Tragacanth to get a nice clean edge
- I then treated the whole collar with Resoline to help protect it from the elements.
I didn't appy any dye to the leather as I love the natural colour and already in the few weeks since I made the collar, the natural patina is starting to develop.
Ben is very proud of his collar and can't stop talking about how much he hopes he wins and Instructables sticker for his little house.
Thanks for reading this instructable. I hope you enjoyed it.
I am making a video of the process which you will be able to find on my YouTube channel in a couple of weeks. You can also see other leather work videos there.