I have a secret: I don’t think dog leashes should have a loop handle. That might sound weird, but I don’t use them and I inwardly cringe when I see folks with the loop wrapped around their wrist (and the leash wrapped around their hand five times), because that’s an accident waiting to happen. So, outside of a Schweikert leash I got as a present, most of my leashes are homemade. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to easily make your own leash using nylon or polyester webbing. Whether you add a handle is up to you.
Skill Level: Easy / Beginner
- No-Sew version: none
- Sewn version: Knowing how to use your sewing machine.
Basic skills you’ll need to complete this project include changing your sewing machine needle, loading the bobbin and spool, threading the machine, selecting the type of stitch, sewing straight lines, and back stitching. Need help with the basics? Check your sewing machine manual (try online if you don’t have one), or YouTube.
Equipment: What do you need?
- Webbing: cotton, nylon, or polyester. Flat or tubular.
- Bolt snap: ideally a heavy-duty one. Metal.
- All of the above
- Sewing machine: install denim needle.
- Thread: nylon or polyester.
How to Make Your Leash
Step 1: Measure and cut your webbing.
Before you can start making your dog leash, you need to first measure and cut your material. You can either use a tape measure to cut a specific length or you can use your intuition to create a length that feels just right for you. The most common lengths are 4ft or 6ft for leashes and 15ft or 30ft for long lines.
Step 2: Melt the ends of your webbing.
When you work with nylon or polyester webbing, it’s important that you melt the ends after cutting, which prevents fraying. Use your lighter and pass it over the end of the webbing until it has melted. Do not do this if you use cotton – cotton doesn’t melt, it burns!
Step 3: Install the bolt-snap.
In the most complicated step, you’ll attach the bolt-snap to the leash. To do this, pull one end of your leash through the loop on the bolt snap as shown in the photo below, so you have an end of about 5″ to 7″. Bring this end around to the front, over the loose end of the leash, around to the back, then pull it through the loop and down, just like tying a tie. (Confusing? Check the step-by-step pictures!) Pull tight.
Voilà, you just finished a no-sew dog leash. Even though this leash isn’t sewn, it’s extremely strong and durable: we’ve competed with this leash and even used it for agitation work. It’s finished with a simple knot on the opposite end, so it can also serve as a drag leash if needed.
Step 5: Sewing down the loose end.
This is your next step if you want to add the extra security of sewing down the loose end. Get your machine ready with a denim needle (that’s the best choice for sewing webbing) and your thread and bobbin thread, then sew the loose end down as shown in the photo.
NOTE: Collars, harnesses, and leashes should be able to withstand a lot of use. Because a seam will always be the weakest point in the construction (meaning the seam will fail before the webbing does), using a bar tack or close-set zigzag stitch is the best and strongest way of securing the webbing. If using a zigzag stitch, I recommend going back and forth several times.
If you absolutely must have a loop handle on the opposite end of the leash, fold down the end to create a loop and sew it down the same way as above. Alternatively, a simple knot in the end makes for a good hand-hold when using the leash for tracking or agitation work.
Now that you know how it’s done, you can create many different designs using colored or patterned webbing, sewing ribbon or fabric to your leash, or add Velcro to attach a military-style name tag. Need some inspiration? Check out Etsy’s selection of nylon dog leashes for ideas.
Did you make a leash following our instructions? We’d love to see it! Send us a picture.