A Billy Wolf DIY: Embroidering Your Pup’s Bandana

So, you want to personalize your dog’s bandana, but you have no known embroidery skills? Well, you’re in the right place my friend, because I am here to show you how easy it is to essentially teach yourself how to stitch your little guy or gal’s name onto a bandana in just about an hour. Once you get the swing of things, it’s a portable activity you can take anywhere. I’ve stitched on the beach, on airplanes and you guessed it, on the couch.

Your generously self-proclaimed instructor today is me, Sara. I met Lyndsey in the early days of Billy Wolf and loved her bandanas so much I tried to enlist my cats to wear them (cats being cats, it didn’t work). When I met my future husband, I suspected things might work out between us, as his first date suggestion was a trip to the Brooklyn Bazaar where he planned to pick up a Billy Wolf coat for his dog. If ever there was a sign! This man was a fan of my dear friend’s bourgeoning company AND he had a dog I could now offer up as a brand ambassador.

But enough about that - you’re here for the DIY. The chambray bandana has always been my preferred choice for Hunter, the beagle basset I now claim as my own. It coordinates with my husband’s and my personal style and is a suitable weight for Hunter to wear year-round. Personalizing his signature bandana takes the style to the next level and can cover stains or holes, extending the life of the bandana.

Beyond the bandana, I have always loved the personalized touch an embroidered design brings a gift. Lately, I’ve been finding vintage treasures for my friends’ young children and embroidering a canvas bag with their name to gift them in. I also gifted Lyndsey and her husband Miles an embroidered bag containing their wedding gift. The possibilities really are endless. (In fact, as I was working on Hunter’s bandana, my husband brought over a jacket he wanted me to add his name to…!)

One last note before we get started: I am completely self taught. I am sure there is a better and more proper way to embroider, but the fun for me is figuring it out on my own. I also love that this style betrays its handmade origin, so the recipient knows you put in a little extra effort on their gift.

Gather your supplies

You’ll need a freshly ironed bandana, scissors, a needle, embroidery floss and an embroidery hoop. The hoop is optional - I typically use it when creating a dense design where there’s more opportunity for bunching.

Sketch your letters & thread your needle

If this is your first time embroidering, it may help to prepare a guide. Using a machine-washable fabric marker or pencil, draw your pup’s name or design on the bandana. I freestyled on mine. Then, thread your needle. Sometimes I’ll split the length of a floss into just three fibers when doing this, but since my dog’s bandana sees a lot of activity, I used the floss as-is to give it some more bulk and durability.

And away we go…!

Push the needle up through the reverse side at the start of your design. If it helps, map out the word you’re stitching on paper and draw directional arrows next to each line so you can plan your stitches in a way that creates as little excess floss on the back as possible. This is by no means necessary, and something you may pick up on naturally with more experience.

Pull floss through completely

With every stitch, make sure you’ve pulled the floss through completely. Otherwise you’ll end up with a bumpy, loopy mess on the back (that makes it especially difficult to undo your work if you want to backtrack at all). Once the thread has been pulled through to the face-out side, push the needle back through along your guide to create your first stitch.

Keep moving along

To create your second stitch, you’ll want to push your needle up in the middle of your first stitch. This helps create a continuous line. If you try to come up as close as possible to your first stitch, you may end up undoing it.

Knot it off and voila!

When you’ve completed your dog’s name, it’s time to knot off your work so it doesn’t come undone. To do this, I’ll weave the floss under a couple of the stitches on the backside and then knot it off once or twice.

Admire your handiwork

And there you have it. In just a short period of time and with a little bit of love, you’ve personalized your dog’s bandana.