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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Simple DIY No-Sew Denim Dog Toy

Update: We finally did it! In collaboration with our partner blog Dalmatian DIY we revisited this popular DIY knot toy for easier-to-follow instructions/diagram (shared below).  Don't forget to like/follow the dogs at Dalmatian DIY for all the latest pawesome doggy DIY ideas!

If you have a tired pair of denim jeans and not-so-tired dog, then this simple no-sew DIY dog toy is the perfect fit...even if the jeans aren't! All you need are some tatty recycle-ready jeans (give the good ones to charity and save the scrap ones for crafty projects), a pair of scissors, and a few minutes to make this quick toy. Our spoiled (but very loved!) dog now has his very own denim toy collection for playtime thanks to an old pair of my jeans. This toy works for us as an interactive toy for playtime together and since our dog is a problem-solver who enjoys trying to untie or open things, the giant knot it particularly tempting.

I rarely use denim for no-sew pet projects these days, preferring to work with other materials instead (see Dalmatian DIY for more DIY toy ideas).  Tough denim holds up pretty well (depending on the denim and the vigor of play), but not nearly as well as some other materials in our experience; however, variety is the spice of life! No matter what your personal choice of toy(s), always choose based upon your particular pet, supervise carefully, and ensure safe play. Unfortunately, denim frays - sewing the edges definitely helps, but then this isn't no-sew anymore. :) Pinking helps, but just a little. You can also cut wider strips and  fold/iron inwards like a double fold binding so the raw edges are less exposed. As a tip for toughness, I like to use the leg seams. The strips are a little more rugged for play and hold together better.  As a bonus, this is a great use for the seams if you would like to use the "good" material for other projects.

To make your own denim knot toy, cut two extra long (leg length) strips of denim from a leg of your recyclable jeans. My strips were approximately 5+ cm wide and wherever possible I purposefully include the rugged seams/cuffs for extra fun toy texture and durability as noted above.  Lay the two strips in a cross (one strip horizontal and one vertical, crossed in the middle) and then "box weave" aka "square knot" or "box braid" per the diagram and instructions below:


  1. Spread the strips in a cross (+) shape 
  2. Fold the top of the vertical strip towards the bottom
  3. Fold the bottom of the vertical strip towards the top
  4. Fold the right end of the horizontal strip towards the left, passing over then under
  5. Fold the left end of the horizontal strip towards the right, passing over then under
  6. Pull to secure.  The stands should now look like a woven square, but don't worry, Fido and Fluffy won't judge if you didn't get it right on the first few attempts. :) 
  7. Flip the knot over and tidy your strands back into a neat cross (+) shape. 
  8. Repeat the steps, watching your denim "ball" grow by wrapping around itself.  If you wish, take a little extra care on the final layers to twist/flatten the denim for an attractive finish.  Leave a few tempting ends for your pampered pup to carry and grip.
Alternatively, if you aren't comfortable starting straight in with the square knot or would just like to make life a little easier, you may find it helpful to tie your strips together in the middle with a quick loop knot first (it will just be absorbed into the denim ball) so you have four definitive ends to worth with right away, and/or you can mark your strands/ends.

Didn't turn out quite as pretty as you had hoped? No worries! You dog will love it even if its a bit ugly, and you can just grab your scissors and try again. After all, two toys are double the fun of one!  Find more fur-friendly DIYs in my recent Six for Saturday (or Sunday) post and my growing Pet Craft board on my Pinterest.  Play safe, and happy creating! 

Note: These toys are for supervised interactive play. Like any toy, it may not be suitable for some dogs. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy and remember, toys are for playing and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Foreign objects are hazardous if swallowed, and linear materials like string, thread, ribbon, rope, etc can be particular dangerous.  You can read more about dog toy safety and safer playtime here.


  1. Oh I am terrible at knots and weaving and braiding but you are right! Pets don't judge. :-)

  2. For tons of fresh new doggy DIY ideas and homemade pet recipes, head to our new partner blog Dalmatian DIY ( and be sure to like/follow for all the latest pawesome ideas!

  3. We finally did it! In collaboration with our partner blog Dalmatian DIY we revisited this popular DIY dog toy AND created two more DIY denim dog toy ideas: DIY Denim Dog Toys (Guest Collaboration + Blast from the Past). We tweaked the content/photos here a little as well, but head to our update for the full scoop and links. Enjoy!

  4. Thanks to Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance for including our DIY link in their Resources and Information on Dog Training, Behaviour, Playtime & Socialising for Dogs & Humans along with other tips, resources, and links on responsible pet ownership. See the post and comments above for updated links to instructions for this toy and more pawesome DIYs, recipes, and other pet posts. :)

  5. Thanks, this toy is getting a lot of love from our dog. I did need to really tighten the knot because the first time it came apart very quickly. What really worked well for me was to make the fabric wet before tightening it. When it dries it becomes really tight and solid, so it can take all the biting and shaking.

    1. That's a brilliant suggestion for tightening up denim, K! Thanks for sharing with our readers.

      Denim can be hard work, and I'm sure the water trick will be very handy in the future! I've also found that taking a little extra effort to position the strands as flat/smooth as possible instead of letting them twist on their own is helpful with getting a tight toy as well, especially when I'm working with thick seams or stiffer pieces material.

      Thanks again! :)

  6. Great idea for a free toy and good instructions especially the diagrams. Recycling is great. The best free toy in our house is an empty cardboard box! No trouble breaking it down for collection after Fancy Nancy has her way with it! :-)

    I wanted to leave a comment to say that I love that you included safety and the link. Homemade toys are no different than the toys from stores or other things a dog could steal from around the house. With my dog my homemade toys often last longer than most I buy but she kills them all eventually. Some sorts I don't even bother anymore because they only last minutes. Even very expensive ones. Indestructible ha! Checking and playing together is always important.

    Thanks for your post and I will be visiting your dog blog.

    1. Thanks, Judith! Boxes are always popular around here too, as are paper rolls... Fancy Nancy made me giggle - my niece would love that! She's a big Fancy Nancy fan. :)

      I agree with your comments about safety. Both of our dogs have quite different preferences and behavior with toys/play and that means different toys and play styles are better suited to each, and different safety considerations. They also evolved with time/age. Soooo very very important to play safe as well as keep random objects of temptation out of reach around the house.

  7. Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Romilda. If you're keen for more ideas, there are also tons of fun doggy DIYs, recipes, etc. on our new partner blog Dalmatian DIY.

  8. Oh my, love this! My dog is a big breed and he loves chewing things with his strong jaw. I often give him his favorite dog chews to keep him busy, but most of the times, the toy gives up too soon! That's why this denim dog toy chew is a splendid idea! I've seen similar ones in the internet and other DIY dog toys that I can easily make at home. Here's one site that I saw that has a lot of cool treats for all kinds of dog breeds

    1. Thanks, James. We'll definitely check it out. :)


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