In this tougher economic time for many groomers, many of you are trying to minimize waste and offer a quality product. Bandanas are one thing you can do to set yourself apart from everyone else in your area and if done correctly it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. While it is true that Wal-Mart is in many areas eliminating its fabric departments, which means that fabric will likely cost you more than it used to, it is still possible to offer bandanas in nice fabrics, at a reasonable cost for you and your clients!
Fabric choice is important when buying fabric for bandanas. If the fabric is too soft it will not hold up well and yet if it is too stiff it is not going to lie properly. Flannels and silky fabrics can be used if you are finishing the edges, but if you are not, they will fray and look bad very quickly. Fabrics that do not work are a waste of money, so be careful with your choices. Polished cottons and coated fabrics are my favorites. Cotton calicos and quilting fabrics are also great choices for bandana materials and tend to be the cheapest fabrics available.
I always try to find fabric on sale, but that is not always possible. I try to have a variety of fabrics for both boys and girls and every holiday gets its own fabric choices. You can buy after holidays many times for half off or even more off, if you are lucky. I have all of my Christmas and Thanksgiving fabrics bought and cut, because Hobby Lobby marked it all down after the season to 90% off, so I was able to get the fabrics I really loved for next to nothing. If you keep your eyes open and have enough room to store it, then this will help you tremendously in your budget. When storing fabric, I cut it out before storing it and always use plastic boxes with covers that seal well to keep it fresh for the next year. By cutting my fabric out when I get it home and putting it in labeled boxes I am ready to go when I do need the bandanas and I do not have to search for fabric that I know I have but cannot find, and there are no worries about it getting musty or dirty.
Fabric can be found at many different stores local to you, like Joann's, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart (in limited areas) and smaller fabric stores as well. Ebay has a great selection as well and if you know what type of fabric print you are looking for you can actually do a web search for it (ie Dog print fabric, Easter fabric, etc.) and find many choices online.
By following my instructions for cutting you will yield 8 large bandanas, 16 medium bandanas or 32 small bandanas out of 1.25 yards of fabric. You can also get approximately 18, 2 inch wide collar covers out of that same 1.25 yards. If you buy fabric at $5 a yard , it will cost you $6.25 for a piece of fabric that you can cut with no waste. This breaks down to (aproximatley) $0.36 each for collar covers, $0.20 for small bandanas, $0.40 for medium bandanas and $0.79 for larges. I use mostly small and mediums, so in the scheme of things it is really a small expense to make the clients happy. Of course, if you can get the fabric cheaper, it will cost much less per pet, and if it is more expensive, the bandanas will cost more per piece, but it is still not a huge cost per pet.
Before you can buy fabric you need to know a few things about fabric. On the end of each bolt, you will find the width of your fabric listed. Most fabric comes in 45 inch wide bolts. Some comes in 55-60, but I buy 45 inch most of the time. On each fabric you will find a "selvedge" along the open edge. This is the machine finished edge. In many cases you have to cut that off before you cut your bandanas out. If you have to remove and uneven edge, it will be beneficial to refold the fabric and iron it before cutting, but in most cases this is not necessary.
To begin, take your 1.25 yard piece of fabric and cut it along the factory crease of the fabric making two long pieces.
Then, keeping the pieces together, fold them in half and then cut them into 4 squares.
Fold corner to corner, into a triangle, and then cut in half along the fold. This will yield you large bandanas.
Fold in half again into a smaller triangle and you have mediums. Fold again, and you have smalls.
There are several different ways you can cut your bandanas. I use straight shears because we are going to use a serger sewing machine to finish the edges.
If you are not doing this, straight shears can sometimes result in fraying which will make the bandanas look shabby really fast. Pinking shears are one option that many use. It minimizes fraying and makes a cute, decorative finish. You can also use a rotary cutter to cut your fabric with and they make several different fancy edges that work like pinking shears to minimize fraying. If you use a rotary cutter, make sure you use a cutting mat to prevent damage to your table top.
For 55 inch wide fabric, you will want to buy 55 inches of fabric, or roughly 1.5 yards. 60 inch wide you will need 1.66 yards roughly. The reason I try to avoid buying these is that the bandanas you end up with are not the same size as you get from 45 inch wide fabric. You can also take the wider fabrics, and cut a strip off one side to make it 45 inches wide then unfold the fabric, refold it and press the fabric to minimize the crease from the factory fold. If you choose to do that you will have a strip of fabric 10-15 inches wide and the length of yardage you buy. You can use that for collar covers easily enough and keep your bandana size consistent.
If you are unsure what width your fabric is, ask the salesperson to measure it for you. They can tell you exactly how wide the piece is and then you want to buy your fabric in multiples of that width to avoid having extra material.
There is another common way of cutting bandanas that I personally do not like, but it will double your bandanas from the same amount of fabric. You begin by cutting the fabrics in the same way as above, then, taking the triangles, fold them in half and then cut them again, making two folded triangles out of each bandana. This DOES NOT WORK if you are finishing the edges because you cannot get into the V with your machine, but it does work with shears or rotary cutters.
One of the advantages of this type of cutting is that you can use a Medium sized bandana on a larger necked dog and will likely not need as many Larges. This will save you a lot of fabric, and will save you money. The smaller bandanas tend to lay better on the neck, as you do not have to roll them at the top before you put them on the pet.
For collar covers you have to be able to sew, but they are easy and fast. I start off with a square of fabric which I finish two (opposite) edges with my serger to ensure the fabric does not fray and allowing it to be washed. Then I cut my strips into 2.5 inch strips 22.5 inches (apx.) long. Fold each strip in half with right sides together and stitch a narrow seam along the long edge. Turn right side out using hemostats and insert collar, allowing the cover to scrunch up. This is easy and fast and since they are washable clients love them. This is the perfect solution to a dirty collar as well because it will keep the dirty collar off the clean dog. Velvets, knits and even silky fabrics and materials that you would not usually choose for bandanas can be used for collar covers since you are sewing them. If you do not have a serger you can still sew them with a regular sewing machine by simply folding over the outer edges and stitching them.
When putting bandanas on pets it is important to remember that safety is an issue. If you tie the bandanas on and the dog get the bandana caught on a fence, a stick, in his mouth or foot, then they can easily choke. To avoid this, especially on dogs that live or spend a great deal of time outdoors, I secure the bandanas with rubber bands. This also allows me to use smalls on most Shih-tzus and dogs of that size, which would need mediums without the rubber bands. That will also save you money because you get more small bandanas than mediums from the same amount of material.
My clients love bandanas and most dogs get excited when they see the bandana come towards them. I guess they know their table time is over and mom or dad will be there soon. I have found the above to be the easiest and fastest way to cut bandanas and save money at the same time. I hope this was helpful!