:: Save-A-Dog Bow ::
By Lynne McGuire

Show dog bows and specialty dog bows are not cheap items to buy for your dog. Some bows require extensive handcrafting and sport beautiful keepsake embellishments and this is reflected in their price. I am sure that you want your bows to last as long as possible. Perhaps you have a favorite bow that is looking rather wilted and little worse for the wear. Can these bows be saved? They sure can! Use the following information to take care of your bows so they last as long as possible, and to rejuvenate your show dog bows when they are looking worn and limp.

Taking Care of Your Bows

  1. Bands: The tiny latex bands on the backs of your dog bows cannot be easily replaced when they break, so the goal is to prevent the bands from breaking and deteriorating. There is no need to double your bands over when putting the bow into the topknot. I use very small bands on my bows so that you will not have to do this. This saves a lot of stress on the bands. Store your bows in a bow box with a snap down lid. This can be a plastic case with a tight fitting cover. This keeps your bands from drying out prematurely and "aging" quickly as bands left exposed to the air will deteriorate in strength and break easily.

  2. Bows: Once again, storing your bows in a divided bow box will extend the life of the bow. The case also keeps your bows from becoming smashed, and it separates the colors to keep them clean. When using hair spray on a topknot, try to shield the dog bow from overspray with your hand if you can to avoid a filmy, dulling finish to your bow. This is especially important with glitter dog bows which have a special finish applied to them. Hair spray will cloud this finish and subdue the shine of a glitter dog bow. Also, glitter dog bows tend to be like little "Velcro dust magnets" and you must store them in a quality container to protect them from becoming contaminated with "foreign bodies".

  3. Embellishments: Most of my dog bows have a Swarvorski crystal or vintage rhinestone center. These crystals can easily be cleaned if they become dingy from exposure to hairspray, dust, and whatever. To clean the crystals, use a cotton tip q-tip that has been dipped in alcohol and gently rub the surface of the crystal stones. Be careful not to catch and bend the setting prongs holding the stones in place. let the stones air dry and they will sparkle like new.

  4. Cleansing Your Bows: First of all, I would like to warn against washing any bow with a flag backing on it. A flag backing is the extra piece of ribbon on the back of any bow, that is cut with a "V" cut or a decorative cut. You cannot wash these bows without loosing your fray protection that has been applied to your bow flag. If you have a bow with a flag backing that is dirty, and you would like to salvage it, the best thing to do if you are going to wash the bow is to cut the flag backing off short enough so that the cut ends no longer show beyond the bow back loop. You can seal the cut edges with clear finger nail polish and that will take care of any fraying threads after you cut off the flags. You can wash any "dirty" bow to prepare it for a new life by doing the following:

  • Wash your dog bows in a solution of cold water and liquid Woolite. Dunk your bows in and out of the water gently using your fingers to work the solution through your dog bow. If you are washing dark color dog bows, do not include white or light colored bows as you may loose a tiny bit of color in the wash and it could transfer to the lighter bows. You do not have to wash the bows very long, just long enough to work off the old stiffener and any dinginess on the bow.

  • Rinse and blot your bows dry on a paper towel or any soft towel, never squeeze or wring the dog bows as you may alter the bows construction and symmetry.

  • Let your dog bows air dry before attempting to re-form them and re-stiffen them. This may take about 24 hours.

5. Re-Forming Your Dog Bows: You do not have to wash your dog bows to rejuvenate them. If your bow simply needs re stiffening, proceed to this step. If you have a dry clean dog bow, take your dry bow and thread the loops onto a fat dowel stick to open and support the loops. The stick should not be too tight into the loop, nor should there be a lot of free space. I like to use about a 1/2" dowel or form to hold the loops open on a full size bow.

6. Re-stiffen your dog bows: by applying a commercial fabric stiffener while your dog bows are on the stick forms. Let the stiffener dry completely in between coats, and turn the sticks in between coats to prevent sticking. You will probably want to apply 2 coats of stiffener, letting each coat dry before applying the next. You may purchase this stiffener at almost any craft store.

7. Misc. Information:

  • Never wash a glitter dog bow....period. Do not attempt to apply stiffeners to them either as they have been coated with a special finish that does not get along well with other finishes.

  • Never wash my silk show dog bows.

  • All directions apply to the care of and renewal of Doggie Bow Ties handcrafted satin or grosgrain dog bows. I use washable sewing grade satin ribbons and grosgrains exclusively, and I never glue my center embellishments. Glued on center embellishments will not withstand washing your dog bow. I would not encourage you to wash another bow makers dog bows as I doubt if they would hold up to the wash. I have been rejuvenating my bows using these techniques for many years, and have always had very nice results with my bows.

  • Avoid washing a dog bow with a printed pattern on it. The best kind of bows to wash are satin ribbon dog bows. Gold under lays on your dog bows will wash fine and will not slide on the dog bow if they have been attached properly. My gold ribbons are permanently attached as an underlay..

  • The inside loops of my dog bows will never fray even when washed, because they are heat sealed. Washing a dog bow that has had all cut ends fray treated will cause the dog bow to fray and unravel especially on the insides of the loops. You do not have to worry about this happening with my dog bows...they will even survive a washing machine without fraying ends, although I only recommend hand washing your dog bows.

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