I’ve been a fan of rope leashes for a while now and have been noticing them all around on dogs in the city, at parks and even at the beach. In the past we have made our own leashes out of climbing rope and old carabiners we had laying around, but this time I wanted to use a different kind of rope…some dock line. So, we went to the hardware store and picked up some nylon rope and a brass clasp, then to the craft store for some waxed thread and tools, then took some leather from a bag we found on the street and made a rope leash of our own.
Here’s what you’ll need:
At least 10 feet of triple strand 1/2″ thickness nylon rope for a medium/large sized leash. 3/4″ thickness for a x-small/small size leash.
Leather (we used some from an old bag found on the street, but you can find some good pieces here and here). Pro tip: if you desire thicker leather, you can cut 2 pieces and glue them together using rubber cement.
Leather stitching awl
2 Large stitching needles
Scissors and/or rotary cutter
A ruler or yardstick
Tan waxed thread for leather
A fine point fabric pen (in white or another light color)
One clasp (your local hardware store will have an array to choose from depending on the size of leash you are making and color you prefer)
To start, measure out and cut 8 feet of rope. Most standard dog leashes are 6-8 feet in length, so 8 feet will allow extra room to splice your two end loops. Once you’ve made the cut, start with the end that you wish to make the large loop (the part you will hold while walking your dog). Unravel the strands about 5 inches, giving you 3 separate strands. Tape the end of each strand using masking tape. You can use markers to color the strands different colors to make the next step easier (remember to allow the marker to dry if you do this, as it will stain the rope if not). Now you will need to splice your rope – here is the tutorial I used to do this. It explains it in depth. Repeat this step on the other end of the rope, this time only unraveling 3 inches. Before you splice your small loop, add the brass clasp. Now splice together this end. With two spliced ends, it is now time to add leather! Take the leather and wrap it around the top of the leash where the ends of spliced strands are exposed. Measure the length and width of leather you will need and cut accordingly (this can vary depending on how much of the leash you want to cover with leather). It’s better to cut the leather to fit exactly the width you need, as you will be lacing it together and naturally it will pull any excess together, so you don’t want to over lap too much. Next, using a ruler and your fabric marker, make dots every .5″ and 1″ down the lengths of both sides of the leather. This will be your guide for where to poke holes for lacing up the leather. Before the marker dries, use a paper towel or cloth to rub most of the marker off until you can only see the faint outline of the marker (this is so the marker doesn’t show). Now, using one long piece of waxed thread (it’s better to have too much than too little here), thread one large stitching needle on each end of the thread. Next, you want to alternate needles down the length of the leather, creating “X”s as you go, lacing as if you are tying a shoe. Remember to pull tight after each “X” you create. When you have laced down to the end of your leather, tie off and cut excess thread away. You can tuck the ends of the thread underneath your last lace if you need to. Now, cut out leather and repeat the lacing on the bottom loop where your spliced strands are exposed. And viola, your very own rope leash!
Don’t be afraid to let your rope drag on the ground, get tugged through the grass, etc. Rope leashes look better with wear!