Bow Tie Cat Collar Tutorial

 ... This is Owen's "moody model" face.

Everybody's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed cat!

Everybody's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed cat!

We have four cats.  Which is a lot.  And one of the things common to all of our cats is that they can remove themselves from a breakaway cat collar in record time.  They're all indoor cats, with very little interest in the outside world, so this wasn't a huge deal, but having four naked cats running around wasn't really ideal either.

Enter my mother in law, who is an awesome art quilter.  Before our wedding, she made all of our cats seersucker bow tie collars, so that they would be appropriately festive and theme-appropriate for our big day.  Since then, we've gone through a number of collar iterations, which the cats seem more or less indifferent to, and thus take them off much, much less frequently.  Here's the skinny.

Bow Tie Cat Collar Tutorial

This is a pretty straightforward process.  Start by measuring your cat's neck (or a previous collar), and gathering your materials.

Polka dots are super in this summer.  At least, they are for our cats.

Polka dots are super in this summer.  At least, they are for our cats.

In terms of materials, I use two different patterned cottons and 1/2 inch wide elastic.  Tags can be attached via a D-ring or a key ring type attachment, depending on preference.  You're also going to want to have a safety pin handy.

Start with the elastic.  Owen's neck measures around 10.5 inches (I say "around" because he's not really a "keep calm and be measured" kinda fellow), so I cut my elastic at 9.5 inches.  You want it to be tight enough that they won't be able to hook it on something and pull it off.

Take the fabric that you want for the collar itself (I used the green and white), and cut a 1.75" sleeve, if you're using 1/2 inch elastic.  If you're using a different size elastic, double the width of the elastic you're using, and add 3/4 inches to the width.  The length of the strip should be twice as long as your elastic, plus about an inch.  So, my green strip was 20 inches long.

Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides facing inward, and sew the two raw edges together, using a 1/4" stitch.  This should form a long tube.


Once you've done that, turn the tube right side out by pinning a safety pin to one end, and using that to guide that end through the tube.  Once it's fully right side out, cut five inches off the end of the tube (so I had two tubes, one 15 inches and one 5 inches).  Use the safety pin again to guide the elastic through the longer tube, making sure to leave an elastic tail outside of the cotton fabric.


If you're planning to attach tags using a D-ring, thread the D-ring on to the tube here.  If you forget (as I do, pretty much every time I make one of these), I have opted for the key ring attachment with great success in the past.

To ensure that the elastics don't separate, sew the two ends together.  I usually use a zig zag stitch here.  Once they're sewn, it's a good opportunity to try the collar on your cat, and make sure that the sizing is correct.  If it seems a little loose, just trim the elastic and sew the two ends back together.


At this point, you should have plenty of scrunched up cotton on the elastic.  Take one end of the cotton, and feed it inside the other, leaving a continuous collar with only one raw edge.  Stitch the raw edge down (again, I used a zig zag stitch).


Now for the bow tie.  Take your second fabric, and cut a 9 inch strip, at the same width as your first strip (so mine was 9 inches by 1.75 inches).  Follow the same process used above to create a fabric tube.  Once you have that, cut a two inch piece off.  These are the tubes that you'll need to create the bow.

Using the two longer pieces, form rings by inserting one end of the tube into the other.  Place the shorter ring on top of the longer ring, and wrap the shortest piece of fabric around both of them (as seen below).


If you have one, now is a good time to switch your regular sewing machine foot out for a walking foot.  If you don't have a walking foot, either go really slowly, because it's a lot of fabric for the machine to work through, or consider attaching these by hand.

Sew the bow tie together.  I used a straight stitch, and stitched a box and an "X" over the center orange fabric.  This catches all layers, while still allowing the "bows" to be fluffed for some depth.

The last step is to attach the bow tie to the collar.  Try to line it up so that one of the ends of the bow covers the collar stitching that you've already done, but don't center the bow on the existing stitching, as this just adds additional layers for the needle to get through.  Use the walking foot, or sew the two pieces together by hand.

I traced the box and the "X" when attaching the two pieces.

I traced the box and the "X" when attaching the two pieces.

And there we have a pretty handsome collar!  Overall, this project took me approximately one episode of CSI: New York (currently my go-to sewing show).

And, because everyone needs this, here are some other pictures of Owen, who is also very handsome.

I'm not going to say that he's my favorite.  But we both know.

I'm not going to say that he's my favorite.  But we both know.

That's it!  Anyone have any other cat collar alternatives?