DIY Dog Wearables with Upcycled Materials from Around the House

Fake leather belt decorated with rounded brass, copper, and silver studs.

Finding DIY upcycled materials for to make dog stuff is easy – all you have to do is look around for items no longer being used!

An example is the damaged, studded fake leather belt at right. This could quite easily be turned into a usable dog collar by shortening it to fit a dog’s neck and gluing the back onto woven fabric. The metal buckle is good as is.


A multitude of fabric items are discarded every day that could be upcycled into dog stuff:

  • Clothing and socks – Since dogs are generally smaller than adult humans, there is usually enough material from one old garment for a project.
  • Curtains, tablecloths, napkins, towels – Thrift stores abound with these.
  • Remnant fabrics – Fabric stores may sell a small piece from the end of a bolt at a discount or even give it away. Someone you know may have scrap fabric leftover from sewing projects.

Leather & Accessory Items

Thrift stores are again my favorite source for finding DIY upcycled materials made of leather or bling, many of which can be repurposed into something useful for a dog.

Some examples of leather options are:

  • Belts
  • Purses or pocketbooks
  • Tall boots

Bling may include, but is not limited to:

  • Fake jewelry/rhinestones
  • Necklaces and/or rings
  • Sequined straps
  • Brass curtain rings
  • Buttons


What Can You Upcycle?

  • DIY upcycled materials made of yarn can be repurposed from any kind of knitted or crocheted sweaterhatmittens or gloves, old scarves, knit dressesblankets or throws, etc. In other words, anything that is made of yarn that can be taken apart and rolled into a ball.
  • Partially used skeins of yarn from thrift shops, or garage sales – some dog projects take very little yarn so a full skein is not needed.
partially used yarn on paper towel roll.

What Are Yarns Made Out Of?

According to Wikipedia,  yarns can be made from the fibers of natural substances such as plants (bamboo, cotton, linen, soy, hemp) and animals (fur, wool) and insects (silk). They’re also made from synthetic materialssuch as acrylic, nylon and polyester. 

Modern skeins often consist of a blend of natural and synthetic fibers in different proportions to take advantage of the most desirable attributes of each.

What if the Yarn Doesn’t Have a Label?

  • You’ll miss out on washing instructions – use cold water and a detergent for wool products if you’re not sure what type of yarn you have.
  • Gauge and needle size will be absent. However, the projects on this site are based on you making a test swatch to determine your gauge and then calculating the number of stitches you need based on your dog’s measurements – just be sure to follow directions regarding odd or even numbers of stitches.

Webbing Basics

Nylon webbing is very strong and wears well so it is used for dog equipment such as leashes and harnesses as well as seat belts.

Polypropylene looks very similar but is lighter in weight, cheaper, not as strong, and easier to sew. This is the kind we use most, unless we can obtain nylon straps for free.

If you prefer non-synthetic materials, cotton is also available. However, it’s much weaker than either of the above.

Will the Webbing Be Strong Enough?

Here’s a comparison of the tensile strengths (if your dog should suddenly lunge) of 1″ wide webbing from one company, Jontay Distributing:

  • Cotton 162 lbs
  • Polypropylene 630 lbs
  • Nylon 4200 lbs

Here’s how to figure out the approximate lunging force for your dog: Simply take your dog’s weight and multiply by 5. Therefore:

  • For a 10 pound dog, cotton should work fine
  • For a 30 pound dog, it may or may not be strong enough
  • And for a 60 pound dog, it certainly won’t be

Where Can I Find Webbing?

Old backpacks or straps for luggage are possible sources. 

You can also buy webbing by the foot at hardware and sometimes variety stores such as Walmart. These woven materials come in a range of widths, commonly from around 3/4″ to 2″. If you’re looking for more colorful webbing, you can order it pretty inexpensively online from Strapworks.

How About Hardware for Webbing?

Check items you are dismantling for the parts you need and save them in a box till they come in handy. These include D-rings, snaps, sliders, buckles, and circular rings.