Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to Sew Your Own Bowties

UPDATES (11/19/08): Note that I realized I wrote down the wrong seam allowance (although it doesn't matter much what you use) and it's now corrected in the text. Also, see the comments section for a printable pattern you can download!

I've been wearing bowties for years now and the majority of my collection are homemade ties. I started making my own bowties for multiple reasons:

  • Bowties are hard to find in stores
  • Bowties in stores are expensive
  • I don't have enough hobbies (yeah, right...)
Here is my brief tutorial on how to sew your own.

Pattern
Sure, you can probably buy a pattern somewhere probably. But if you've got one bow-tie handy, you can just make a pattern. You'll just have to do this for your first project anyway. Set your presumably adjustable bowtie to the length designed for your neck size and trace one half of the length of the bowtie onto a piece of paper. At the middle of the tie, cut the paper at a 45 degree angle (not perpendicular to the bowtie) since you're going to want to cut your material on the bias. Then add whatever seam allowance you want as a border; I use a 1/8" 1/4" seam allowance.


Material Bowties should ideally be made of silk, but you can make them out of whatever material strikes your fancy. I've made some ties that I like quite nicely out of cotton as well. Truly anything works. The key to a tie that will tie up well is good stiff interfacing. The worst bowtie I have is a storebought one that has terribly thin interfacing (or maybe none at all?) and it won't hold a good shape at all. I usually buy half a yard of material, which gives me plenty of room to cut on the bias and I have lots of leftover if I want to make more ties or a pocket square to go along with the tie.

If you have no idea about sewing (like I did when I started this a few years ago), when you cut out the material, the material should be folded in half (so you'll get two things for every one you cut out). When you cut on the bias, that means to lay your pattern on the material at a 45 degree angle from the grain of the material.

Cut out 2 (you get four pieces) of your material from the pattern and 1 (you get two pieces) of your pattern from the interfacing.

Cut your material:
Cut your interfacing:

Ready your sewing machine You'll need a sweet sewing machine like mine. This was my grandmother's machine and it is fabulous. It doesn't really matter what color thread you use because your seams will be hidden if you follow my directions below. I like to be in the ballpark in case some of the thread peaks out.


Connect the Pieces
You'll now have 6 pieces, each of which are half of the bowtie. You'll want to sew them into 3 pieces, each of which is the shape of a bowtie. Two will be your material and one will be your interfacing. To do this, pin your pieces together as shown below and sew a seam 1/8" 1/4" in.

When you unfold the pieces, they should look like this, with the "right" sides facing the same direction and the seam on the "wrong sides".
Next, flatten out the seam by ironing it down. You can trim off the corners that stick out of the edges at this point as well.

Sew in the Interfacing Pin the "wrong" side of one of your pieces of material together with the interfacing. Sew the material and the interfacing together. I like to stay further to the outside than my seam allowance because it prevents this seam from showing when I do the final seam that will be the actual border when the tie gets inverted.


Sew on the Final Piece of Material Pin the "right sides" of the tie material together and sew the whole thing together. You'll have the "wrong" side out on one side and the interfacing on the other side, with your other piece of material sandwiched in between. Halfway through the neck portion, leave a gap of a few inches because you'll need to invert your tie through that space. Here, you'll want to make sure your entire seam is inside the previous seam that you sewed or you'll end up with that seam showing on your finished tie.


Trim Trim away excess material, particularly around the corners. This will prevent you from having lumps in your tie when you invert it.

Invert Pull your tie inside-out through the gap where you didn't sew on the neck so that the interfacing goes inside and the right sides of your tie are now out. This part can be tediously difficult because you have to pull the "bow" parts out through that narrow little neck opening and it can be hard to do. Have patience, though, because you're almost done! I use a chopstick to help me push the tie through.

Hand-stitch the opening Now you need to sew up the opening that you just pulled everything through. It's okay if you're terrible at this part (I am!) because this is going to hide inside the collar of your shirt anyway. This is the last step. You'll just need to iron it to flatten the whole thing out.

Tie! The last step is to tie your tie. Hopefully if you're up to sewing a bowtie, you already know how to tie one. I'm sure you can find a video tutorial somewhere (perhaps I can make my own?). I found that it's easier to practice on your leg than on your neck while you're first learning. I also like to throw in a pocket square. You don't actually have to sew this; just fold up a scrap of your material!

119 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post proves how cool you are. I have always known it.

Anonymous said...

http://www.kingsmeadow.com/2007/11/how-to-tie-bow-tie.html Enjoy!

Kristen said...

I agree with the first comment. You are so cool! I haven't spoken with you in forever. I hope all is well...

Rebecca said...

greg...you will never cease to amaze me...and to think i knew you when ________ (fill in the blank for relevant childhood escapade!)

cheers,

bucket

Stephanie said...

Hey Greg,

I was searching for how to sew a bow tie and I came across your article. My assistant manager at "menswear store chain" says it's impossible to make your own because of neck size. I just want to know if you know how to adjust it to your neck size if you already have the pattern. Thanks!

Steph

Greg said...

Stephanie,

Absolutely. It's quite easy to make a bow tie of any length to fit any neck. For instance, I have a 15.5" neck. I made my pattern by setting a store-bought adjustable tie to 15.5" and making my pattern half the length of the tie (plus seam allowance). From this same pattern, I made a tie for a friend who had a 16.5" neck. When I traced the pattern to cut the material, I simply added half an inch to the "straight part" of each piece that I cut out. If you wanted to make one for a 15" neck, you would simply trim 1/4" off the end of each piece.

You can also make adjustable bowties that will fit any arbitrary neck size, but it's less trivial. You have to shorten one end of the tie and make the other end much longer (so that the sum of the two pieces makes the maximum size neck you want to fit it to). On the end of the short piece, you have to sew in a flattened loop the width of the tie and you have to put a notch in the inside of the tie every half inch. The long piece gets threaded through that loop and you put a hook of sorts on the end that you hook into the notch on the other side depending on the neck size you want it to currently fit.

I hope that explanation is straight-forward enough. If it doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll post a more complete explanation along with pictures.

It's definitely possible to make your own ties and you can make them however you want. For example, a friend of mine needed a tie for his Mad-Hatter costume for Halloween. I modified my pattern to make the bow part of the tie really huge and he ended up with a really fun looking goofy bowtie.

Making your own bowties is a lot of fun, super cheap ($1-$2 per tie, compared to $45 at the store), fast (I can do them in about an hour now...and I don't even know that much about sewing), and high quality (some of mine are much nicer than some of my store-bought ties).

Good luck!

Greg said...

I got an email with several questions about the way I do things. In case it helps anybody else, here are my responses:

1) What weight interfacing should I use? Featherweight, lightweight, medium weight, or heavy weight? I don't know the exact weight of the interfacing I've been using is, but it's definitely on the heavier end of the spectrum. The ties simply hold their shape much better when they are stiffer. I suppose if they were way too stiff, you might not be able to tie a sharp knot in it. I've never had this problem. The interfacing I have right now is stiffer than the duck fabric I recently used to make cornhole bags.

2) Does it matter if I use the sew-on kind of interfacing or the iron-on kind of interfacing? I don't think it matters. I've always just sewed in some good thick material, but I don't see any reason you couldn't use iron-on interfacing. It would probably save some time, in fact, and would get held firmly in place by the seam that holds the outer material together.

3) When I fold the material in half, what side(s) of the material will face inside the fold: the "wrong side" or the "right side?" When you sew your material together before inverting, it should look like this:

material wrong side
material right side
-----------------------------this is where the inversion will take place
material right side
material wrong side
interfacing

When you flip it inside-out. It will look like this:

material right side
material wrong side
interfacing
material wrong side
material right side

4) When cutting the folded material using the pattern, how do I prevent the folded material from sliding around so that the material that is cut has the same stripes or pattern for each piece? In other words, after cutting the folded material, if the material slips/moves as I cut it, how can I have two pieces that are symmetrical with respect to each other? When I look at store-bought bowties, the bow parts of the tie are pretty symmetrical. Quite frankly, this is something I've never thought about and I have no idea. Now I'm wondering how symmetric my ties are (I'm in my lab right now and don't have a tie with me), but I've never noticed it as a problem. Funny that it's never crossed my mind since in my branch of chemistry we worry a lot about molecular symmetry.

5) What is the purpose of having a 1/8 seam allowance (that is, the white pattern is larger than the actual bowtie from which it was created)? Is there any danger in simply cutting out a white pattern that is the same size as the tie from which it was traced/created? A seam allowance is of critical importance (as is true anytime you are going to invert what you're sewing). Suppose you trace a bowtie of the size you want onto the material and cut it out at that size. You cannot sew your seams directly at the very edges, you have to move into the material a little bit in order to sew the seams. By moving in, you've now made your bowtie narrower by the amount that you moved in. The amount you move in from the edges of the material is called the seam allowance. Everything inside the seam while you are sewing ends up on the outside of the tie and everything outside the seam ends up inside the tie as excess material when you invert it. By adding the seam allowance onto the pattern, when you move in 1/8" from the outside, you're actually now making the tie the size you want it. 1/8" is somewhat arbitrary and you can choose whatever seam allowance you want. There are two guidelines to keep in mind, though. First, if the seam allowance is too small and you sew too close to the edges, your seams may come apart. If the seam allowance is too large, you'll end up stuffing lots of excess material inside the tie. You can always trim off excess after sewing if there's too much material inside the tie. I always trim off excess around the corners so that I don't get bulky corners after the inversion, just be sure you don't trim so close that your seams can fray apart. The fabulous thing about the seam allowance is that it gobbles up everything at the edges of the material, so I don't have to be really careful when I cut the material; jagged edges are no problem because they end up inside the tie!

6) If I understand your process correctly, there are two seams: 1 outer seam for the interfacing attaching to the "wrong side" of the tie and 1 inner seam for attaching the two "right sides" of the tie together. If my understanding is correct, can you tell me how to I sew the inner seam so that when I invert the tie, the tie is symmetrical considering either end alone or both ends together. Is there a line (imaginary or real) that I can follow when using the sewing machine to create this inner seam or is it just by eye-balling? Technically, you should be sewing the second seam directly on top of the first seam. The problem with doing it this way is that if you stray just barely to the outside of the seam that's already there, you'll end up with thread showing at the seam wherever that happens. To be safe, I sew right next to the already existing seam on the inside edge of it. This ensures that when I invert the tie, no thread from the seams shows. If you use iron-on interfacing, you'll avoid this problem entirely and you'll just need to use the 1/8" guide on your sewing machine. Most modern machines have little markings for seam allowances just inside the needle. My antique Singer does not, so you can see in the picture of my machine a piece of blue tape with a white line on it. The inside edge of that tape is my 1/8" mark and the white line is my 1/4" mark for other projects. (If you didn't figure it out, you can zoom in on any of the images in my post by clicking on them.)

Anonymous said...

this was right on the money. thanks for the tutorial, man.

Anonymous said...

hmmm, that sounds not too complicated,
I wanna make a yellow bowtie to fulfill my best mate's long time dream, but...i don't have any to use as a base, could you tell me the measurments so I can make a sewing pattern?
thanks loads
Myriam

Greg said...

Myriam - absolutely. When I get a chance I'll post the dimensions of the pattern here. And if I think of it and get a chance, I can make a printable pattern that you could download, print, and cutout. It may take me a day or two to get you the info. I've made myself a yellow bowtie and love it. I'm sure your mate will too and hopefully you'll find the project fun as well.

Anonymous said...

wow, thank you so much!!!
what a fast response!
I was distressed because something so simple was getting so complicated
I'm so excited now, to be able to do this for my friend, he talks about it since such a long time.
you're a saver
Myriam

Greg said...

Myriam, et al.,

Here's a downloadable PDF file of a pattern that you can print and cut out for making your own bow ties.

Pattern

Published under a Creative Commons License

Anonymous said...

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA great!!!!!!
thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greg said...

My link for the downloadable pattern went down. (Thanks for pointing that out, Kayli.) Here's a new link:

Downloadable Pattern

Published under a Creative Commons License

Anonymous said...

Hello there... I just wanted to say that you are very talented! Not to mention a cutie! :)

Megan Okimoto said...

Thanks for the pattern! I will have to adjust it significantly--for my two year-old, but it's so good to have *something* to start with. Whew! I'm glad there are chemists with time on their hands and inclination. Sewing is sort of like taking medicine for me...worth it, but boy would I rather not.

suemac said...

HI Greg,
I have to make a yellow bowtie for prom: so we cut 2 patterns and 1 of the interfacing. Sew the interfacing on one wrong side material, the sew two pieces together with good print facing each other. Leave neck open for pulling through. Ok how do i measure the neck size, do I add anything for allownace. Can you use an adjusting kit in back, the slide. I appreciate any help. I tried downloading the pattern but it didn't come through.

Sue

Greg said...

Hi Sue,

Glad you're taking on the project! I really like the yellow bowtie I made myself years ago. I just went back to the download page to check and it took me four tries to figure out how to download it. I've now added some additional instructions there that should make it more straightforward. If you still have trouble, give me your email address and I'll email you the pattern.

As for measuring the neck size: Supposedly this is done by wrapping a tape measure around the neck and sticking a finger in between. I did this last night measuring for a tux rental for my brother's wedding and discovered that it comes up too narrow! I measured 14.25" where I'm definitely a 15.5" neck size. Does the person have a dress-shirt that fits properly in the neck (comfortably snug?). If so, read the neck size out of the collar. Add or subtract from my pattern as necessary for larger or smaller necks.

If you want to make it adjustable (something I've never done, but is very doable), here's how you'll have to modify my pattern:

The bow-tie will now have to be two separate pieces. In my instructions you start with four pieces of material (+interfacing) and you sew them together to make one long tie. Instead, you'll make two short ends. You'll need to make them square at the end instead of diagonal (which is used for the purpose of sewing the pieces together). You'll need to make one of them a little longer and you'll put a hook of sorts (most use a t-shaped hook...perhaps I can take a picture later) and along the length of it, you'll need to cut and reinforce slots that it will loop into. The other piece will have a rectangular bracket that the first piece will loop through, come back around and hook into the appropriate slot. If you need, I can take pictures of what this looks like.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Must be fate. I was looking for a pattern to make a bow tie for my 8 year old son, Gregory, for a school play next week, called Going Buggy. Picked up some nice fabric with some snazzy six legged friends. Other connection is that my brother, Gregory's uncle, earned his PhD in Chemistry at Univ of IL at Champaign-Urbana. Small world. Wish me luck with the sewing and good luck to you with the chemicals!

Greg said...

Anon, what serendipity! Good luck with the sewing!

Barry said...

I have made 4 ties now with your pattern. GREAT!!! I have used iron on interfacing, and it works fine. Since I have been knitting for nearly 25 years, I have found a trick for turning the tie right side out. I use a needle with a plastic wedge opposite the point (Susan Bates brand, I think) and start at the butterfly end to get the outside out. Then I go back and use the point to make sure the corners and wings are all as they should be before ironing flat. Keep up the fine job! Barry

Greg said...

Barry,

I'm glad to hear you've had so much success! This post gets a lot of traffic, but this is the first report from the field I've heard on someone actually making a tie from my instructions. Thanks for the report!

I like the knitting needle suggestion. I often use a chopstick to achieve the same thing :).

Anonymous said...

Greg, thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

I made a polka dot bowtie out of quilting cotton and heavyweight fusible interfacing; I needed to use a larger seam allowance as the seams pulled apart under the stress of turning it right side out. I used a knitting needle and tweezers to help turn it. It looks great!

Greg said...

I'm glad to hear your bowtie was a success! After years of doing this, I discovered just the other day a better way of doing the inversion. I've always started at the opening in the middle of the tie and pulled stuff up through. It's much easier to start at the bow end and push it up into itself. Then using a chopstick or something similar push it up out through the center. It pops out easily and is all over within a few seconds (I used to spend a good 5-10 minutes working it out through).

Anonymous said...

That's how I turn things; start at the end and push it toward the middle. I think it was the cotton and interfacing that was so 'grippy' that caused me some trouble. But my friend loved it!

Toby said...

Having searched for several hours for a self-tie pattern this blog is a godsend! Now I have to give this to my Indian tailor to make 30(yes 30) in bright yellow for a fancy dress party in Southern India. Lets see how he does!! (PS self-tie bow ties are unknown here so putting them on will be fun..).

Greg said...

Toby, that's the largest-scale production of ties from this tutorial I've heard about. Good luck and have fun!

Emily said...

Greg- Thanks for your bow-tie posting. Your's is the first I have found that is not a pre-tie. I'm making a couple of bow-ties for my brother for Christmas to help him diversify his "Bow-tie Friday."

Greg said...

Emily, glad to hear you've found what you're looking for. I hope the ties turn out well and I like the idea of Bow-Tie Friday!

Anonymous said...

Hello Greg,

If one is making a bow tie pattern from scratch, and will not use hook and metal adjuster, is the length of the narrow/straight part the same measurement as the neck size?

Thanks,

Anonymous

Greg said...

@Anonymous: Roughly, yes, although there can be a little play there. If you download my pattern, it's for use without a metal adjustment, so you could measure and adjust for neck size.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am trying this for the first time and I am confused about where to actually sew the first seam. I placed the material together @ a 45-degree angle, but dont know where to sew!

Greg said...

@anon: If you look at the photo where the two pieces are pinned together, you'll see a triangle of the table below and a straight line in the fabric at the top of the photo. You want to sew a seam parallel to that straight edge of fabric (basically where the pin is in my photo...click on the photo to enlarge). After you sew the seam and you unfold it, it should be one big straight piece as shown in the following photos.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic!

People like you make the world a much more bearable place to live in..

Great job!

dms said...

Greg -
Seriously u are the bomb. I've been looking at bow ties for my husband and honestly all the formal ones are boring and he has a ginormous neck so would have needed an icky adjustable one. Ur pattern is perfection. I DO sew and think this will be easy, particularly with ur handy pattern. Thanks thanks thanks.

:)

Greg said...

@dms I'm glad my pattern will work for you. Good luck!

Episome1 said...

Hey Greg,
This is so great I cant wait to try making my own bow tie. Thanks for posting.

Nigel Parsons said...

Hi, Greg
Great page, I've been looking for a bow-tie pattern.
In answer to Q4, you seemed unsure about symmetrical patterns on the two halves. This isn't a problem because, when tied, The 'front' of the bow is all from one end of the tie. This is made clear when you look at some 'officer's bow ties' (search "officer bow" at Ebay) These only have a 'thistle' shape at one end, the other end being straight (simplifies the sewing as well!).

Cheers
Nigel Parsons

Greg said...

Nigel, thanks for your comment. I'd never heard of an officer's bow tie before. And yes, you're exactly right, the two sides don't have to be perfectly symmetric (it helps if each side of the bowtie has two-fold symmetry down the centerline, though). I do like having the bow on both ends, though, because it adds some fullness to the fully-tied bowtie, but it's certainly not necessary.

I discovered that the two ends can be different when I was making a striped bowtie at one point and cut the fabric to make the stripes run vertical on the tie. The way my fabric was folded, the other half ended up with horizontal stripes. I thought this was a problem at first, but then realized that now, depending on how I tie it, I can either get horizontal or vertical stripes. The neat thing about that tie is that it gets the opposite effect in the knot. Here it is:

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/PTwu8oI5-shwl5sywzgiZA?feat=directlink

I also really need to update this post now that I've gotten good at making adjustable bowties (the one in that photo is, in fact, adjustable!). It's really not much harder than a fixed-length tie and I don't do it the way I'd described in other comments previously.

KON said...

Made my first Bow Tie thanks to your awesome instructions!!! I would like to send you some pics of it if thats cool...

Greg said...

KON, congrats! I'd love to see the end-product. You can email photos to: FotoFinishTies .at. gmail.com

rstroh said...

you gotta love a man who sews!

1. making bow ties are fun! i used to make them for one of my co-workers back in the seventies. he wore one to work every day.

Thanks for being a Teach for America corp member - my gal is currently in her second year of teaching chemistry in New Orleans.

joan
momomadeit.com

rstroh said...

p.s. your grandmother's little machine is a much sought after singer "featherweight". you are a lucky guy!
joan

Greg said...

Joan, thanks for your comments. And you're exactly right! It's a Featherweight 221 and based on the serial number and the tables in "Featherweight 221, The Perfect Portabe and Its Stitches Across History" by Nancy Johnson-Srebro, it was made between 1938 and 1941. My mother has made it abundantly clear that nothing should happen to this machine! :)

Glad to hear your gal is a part of the movement!

Kent said...

why cut 4 pieces of material? Couldn't you cut two full length pieces?

Greg said...

Kent, sure you could, but as a practical matter there are two reasons that would be difficult. The first is that since you're cutting along the bias, you're going to need twice as much material. The second is that getting everything laid out and cutting it would require a big table and a long reach to cut it. That said, I don't see any reason you couldn't do it the way you've suggested.

Ryan said...

Hi

Great post. Is a sewing machine necessary though? I'd love to try this but don't want to bother buying a machine, and sewing by hand isn't hard. Thanks,

Ryan

Greg said...

Ryan,

Thanks for your comment. I don't think you would necessarily need a sewing machine. It would certainly take longer sewing by hand, but it's not an inordinate amount to do. Machine stitching gives you a speed advantage as well as nice tight stitching, but hand sewing should work. I've sewn neck ties before as well and the vast majority of the sewing there must be done by hand.

Sara said...

Great Post! My brother is a bow tie wearer. He handed me a bow tie he wears and some fabric and asked me to make him a bow tie out of it. I will give it a go with your awesome instructions. (I went to UIUC for grad school, and my sister in law did her PhD in Chemistry at FSU, small world.)

Greg said...

Sara,

Thanks for the comment. From the looks of your blog, you'll have no trouble with it! Let me know how it turns out. Pretty funny that an Illinois alum found her way here.

Carl Gopal said...

thanks for the tips, i'll give it a go.
Carl-W.Aust

Spencer McKay said...

Great Tutorial! i'll be working on making one this week!

Anonymous said...

how my heart pitter-patters at your diy tutorial. i used your pattern last year for some gifts and i am doing that again this year too. clear and concise instructions thanks!

J E S S I C A said...

Hey Greg! Thanks for posting this! I found it a few days ago and worked on the pattern last night. I was wondering if you could tell me what the total length end to end is of your 15.5" bow tie? I made mine a little bigger and I want to figure out what size it is.

Thanks a mil!

Anonymous said...

Hello im jeremy. do you have any photos of your other bow ties? I all so want to say THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH GREG !!!!!!!!
your my new best friend lol I have looked every where on the net to find how to make a bow tie but with no luck at all. My email is ijgamajf2@yahoo.com. Thanks greg

Greg said...

Jessica: I just grabbed one off of my rack and measured it at 33". There's definitely a little play that will allow you to tie it up properly if it's close enough in length.

Jeremy: I'm glad you like the ties. I've made a variety of ties and perhaps I'll get around to photographing some of them.

J E S S I C A said...

Thanks Greg! You're awesome for getting back to me so quickly!!

Anonymous said...

HEY GREG!!! YOU SHOULD MAKE A U TUBE VIDEO OF THIS. would you?

Anonymous said...

If you want to get started Go to http://www.thetiebar.com/
they have bowties for 15$ no lie and they look great!

I would buy a bow tie there and thin follow gregs list to make your own sense they are normal around 40$ in a store. Hope it helps!

Stefan said...

Thanks a lot Greg!

This was very helpful, and now I have a denim bowtie.

I made it without interfacing, but it holds up anyway.

Thanks again!

// Stefan

Anonymous said...

hello its Jeremy again Greg. With your bow ties is there not away to have the Material on both sides? Like with the one that is on here is there blue on both sides of the bow tie or is it just on one side and theirs white on the other side?Thanks

ijgamajf2@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I seem to be having a very hard time comprehending how to make a bow tie. I hope at some point you can make a video so I can see everything step by step! The photos you have are great but I still can not seem to comprehend it. Thanks greg!

Greg said...

Jeremy: Turn your pillowcase inside out and notice that there are seams that run along the inside and it's the ugly side of the fabric. That's what you're doing when you sew the bowtie together starting out and is why you have the white (interfacing) on one side and everything looks ugly. After you do the machine sewing and leave a little hole, you turn the whole thing inside out and the white part goes inside the tie as do all the seams, so you get a really nice, clean finish to the edges, just like the edges of your pillowcase.

Perhaps I'll get around to a video at some point, but it'll definitely have to wait until after I've finished my thesis :).

Cinema said...

Hi, Greg
How are you?
I'm braziliam and I saw your post about bow tie. Would you send me a picture of a bow tie mold, with the sizes, or write blogs or sites address, that I could find it. Thank you.

my e-mail: althair2008@hotmail.com

rattytude said...

Greg, it seems you haven't added anything for a while; but here is a link to an interesting technique for turning a bow tie:

http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/turn-points-when-sewing-a-bow-tie

Greg said...

rattytude - That's a clever trick! That would certainly help with what is the hardest part of the whole task.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the pattern. it should simplified the process for me. no trial and error mock up! i was albve to go straight to the finished product!

Anonymous said...

THANKS!!!!! OMG so needed this pattern! :)

teresa. said...

Sew excited!! (sorry about the pun) I am making ties for my niece's wedding!

teresa. said...

made a trial run out of scrap material...easy and cute! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bow ties are cool. The Doctor says so.

scott said...

Hi Greg--

Can anyone give me ideas where I can find silk fabric? I have visited or called fabric shops around Boston and cannot find appropriate material. I have been using cotton and it's good, but I'd like to use silk. Thank you for the pattern and instructions. I could not have done it without them. Proust.

Elaine said...

Thank-you, My son wanted a Yellow Bow tie and I was able to make a nice silk one from some scrap silk fabric and yellow silk dye from dharma trading. Your directions and pattern worked perfect.

http://www.dharmatrading.com/info/microsilk.html

Anonymous said...

I searched f-o-r-e-v-e-r to find a pattern on line, and finally got to your site. Thanks so much. My darling 70 year old Southern gentleman husband wears nothing but bow ties, and he is getting flamboyant in his golden years and tired of paying $45 to $60 for ties. I am about to give it a try. Thanks again. Kaye Burton, Little Rock, AR

Greg said...

Elaine, thanks for the tip on the silk. I just noticed that Spoonflower (spoonflower.com) now does silk if somebody wants to try making their own pattern. I've used Spoonflower before to make my own cotton pattern, but now they can print on silk, which could be pretty cool.

Good luck, Kaye. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to make quick, easy, and cheap bowties!

Paul said...

Greg - your bow tie in this post looks great.

The link to the pattern .pdf seems to be broken. Would you email it to me?

silkregimental@gmail.com

John Gray said...
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CupcakeMom98 said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the instructions. I have a little boy that learned to tie a double Windsor on U-Tube before he could tie his shoes. He has been begging me for a bow tie that he can learn to tie himself, but finding a kids bow tie that is not a clip on has proved impossible. I'm just going to scale down your pattern. Thanks so much! You have made one quirky little boy very happy when he gets his first bow tie.

Greg said...

I'm sure he'll look quite dapper in his bowtie. The pattern is really easy to modify if you want to make a scaled-down version. I once made the bow portion much fatter for a friend for a Mad-Hatter Halloween costume and it looked great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these instructions, I can only find nasty ready made bow ties and wanted a proper one to use as a pattern for my choir. Only one problem - the link to the pattern you posted doesn't seem to want to work in the UK. Any chance it's an international copyright thing rather than operator error?

Greg said...

Anonymous, there are two links in the comments and one of them works and the other does not. If you cannot get either one to work, send me an email at FotoFinishTies .at. gmail.com and I'll send you the file.

klj said...

hey Greg , How do I download the pattern to size?

Greg said...

klj, I don't know what you mean by 'download the pattern to size.' There is a link in the comments (there are two, one of which works and one of which doesn't) where you can download a pdf to print out and adjust as necessary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the PDF pattern. I've been looking online for a long time to find this!
BTW...is that random picture on the Yakima River, WA? Just asking!

Thanks a bunch!

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg; Thanks. It worked. Next one will be better. Had too thin silk. didn't sew curves sharp enough. I have a new tie; better on next.
You introduced me into a new horizon - thanks hugely! Paul

Matt said...

This is so helpful! one question, i saw online that there are companies that will convert straight ties into bow ties and some can even keep the print facing the correct direction (like for critter ties). I was wondering if you had tried this or if you have any tips or advice on how to make this work at home?

Thanks,
Matt

Greg said...

Matt, I've never done this, but I like the idea of up-cycling the old ties. Taking a necktie apart is very easy (the backside is usually just a basted blind stitch) and will substantially widen the amount of material available. If you have trouble laying out the bowtie pattern enough times, you will want to be sure that the bow portion looks good, but you could hack together the narrow part that will hide under the collar.

Matt said...

Greg, one more quick question. i want to make bow ties for some friends so i need them to be adjustable. i noticed you said you'd gotten pretty good at them in a previous comment and i was wondering what hardware you use to make them adjustable and where you get it from, i can't seem to find the standard T hooks or metal sliders anywhere?

Greg said...

Matt, great question. At some point, I should definitely update this page. I do make my ties adjustable now (I wear one every Friday and if I'm out in the evening and somebody gushes over the bowtie, I've gotten in the habit of just giving it away; so it's handy to make them adjustable). I don't actually use the hook method. Until I get around to putting up pictures, I"ll just try to describe it.

For each adjustable tie, I use two 3/4" metal tri-glides that I order from here:

http://myebestbuy.com/metaltri-glide-2.aspx

I made a simple modification to the downloadable pattern. At the end, instead of cutting it off at a 45 degree angle, I just got it off straight at the end. I make one piece about the length of the pattern and another piece several (~6?) inches longer.

Then instead of sewing the two ends together, I sew the two ends separately, leaving only the very end open. So for one half, I sew the interfacing on, then do the pattern sides together and invert it through the end (which will become the middle of the tie in the back of the neck eventually). Then I repeat again for the other half of the tie. Note the big advantage here: no blind stitch required!

Now comes the part a bit hard to describe: threading the tri-glides. The short end is easy. Just loop the end of the short side through one half of one of the tri-glides back onto itself and sew it closed to the main part of the tie. Let's call this piece tri-glide 1. Now take your long half of the tie and thread it through one side of tri-glide 2 and back out the other side. Then loop it through the open side of tri-glide 1. Now take the end and loop it around the center bar of tri-glide 2 and sew it off to itself.

I know that has to be a confusing explanation without pictures! I'll try to update this at some point, but wanted to post a quick answer. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Greg,
This is an awesome post.
Going back to the whole sizing thing...I wanted to make a bowtie for a gift. I can't just go wrapping tape around people's necks, and I don't have a bowtie that fits him. When you made your 15" bowtie, how long was the strap in the middle? That is, where did you measure from? Did you just measure the skinny part, before it bulbs out for the bow? If so, how long was it? I made a tie, and my skinny strap part is 18.5", but when I tie is up without a neck, it looks so small!

Anonymous said...

Thank you? i was looking for this information/

Greg said...

Anon: I just quickly measured one of my fixed-length ties. To have a standard point of measurement, I went from the fattest part of the tie one one end to the fattest part on the other and it was 24" and I have a 15.5" neck.

Sorry I don't have better adjustable-tie instructions on here yet (though see the long comment from before if you want to try). One sneaky way to get a neck size is to look at the tag inside a dress shirt.

Anonymous said...

Greg,
Thanks for your fast response about the sizing. I measured the tie I made in the manner you suggested and I got 24.5" so I think that's just about right. You guys must just be masters of tying things close to your necks! :)

خياطة وتفصيل said...

thanks it's a nice idea i'm so excited to begin one like it

K said...

Where do you get your silks and if there are multiple types, what type do you choose? Same question for cottons?

Thanks,

Karl

Greg said...

Karl, I buy whatever fabric strikes my fancy. For the inexperienced, fabrics that are really stretchy are hard to sew, but otherwise it doesn't much matter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. My husband loves his new tie and keeps asking for more! And I love the Singer - I have one just like it and its my favorite machine. :)

Darci said...

So glad I made my way here. I have 7 bow ties to make for my wedding in 50 days! I can't wait to give this a try...any suggestions on where to get the fabric? I LOVE the blue and white stripe fabric in your pics...it's exactly what I need!

Greg said...

Darci, just find your local fabric store and let your imagination run wild! You can use just about any kind of fabric that you like. I'm quite certain that shiny blue/white striped fabric came off of a sale rack. Probably a couple of dollars/yard. You can pull off 7 ties for under $10 if you want to!

Tessa said...

Hey, Greg, Thanks so much! I'm making this for a costume for a play, but I know I will get lots of serious requests!
Tessa

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bowtie tutorial, and the instructions for making adjustable ones. I have not tried an adjustable one yet but the sized ones have all come out great! And I have a Singer like yours too. It was my great grandmother's and is easily my favorite machine!

Maggie said...

Oh Greg I'm so pleased you've posted this tutorial. I've been asked by my fiancee to sew a bow tie to match my dress (yellow) and this sort of blog post is EXACTLY what I wanted. Straightforward, informative, well written, AND with handy dandy pictures.

Maryanne said...

I was looking for the downloadable instructions. I want to make one for a cousin for Christmas and I even have some nice silk with a small grape pattern that I think would be great. I need to take the directions to my sewing instructor so I can be sure I am doing it correctly. I have only just learned to sew. I have already downloaded the pattern.

Anonymous said...

Greg, have you ever looked at deconstructing a favorite long tie?
Bob

Greg said...

Thanks to all for the nice comments and I hope your ties have turned out wonderfully!

Bob, I haven't tried re-purposing a necktie to make a bow tie, though I know that it is doable. Having sewed neckties on one occasion, I know that there is a lot of fabric hidden away to make the blind stitch up the back. Let me know if you give it a shot!

Ashleigh R said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am going to make a couple today and give to my boyfriend for Christmas. He wears bow ties often when we go out! Maybe one of my new homemade ones will make the NYE wardrobe.

Dale said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have 18 ties to make for my son's wedding, and I'll be doing adjustable ties. You said you use 3/4" tri-glides, but it appears that the tie strap will measure 1" when it's finished. Does the strap fit through the tri-glide okay?

Greg said...

Dale,

The tie strap ends up being a little less than 1" after folding the seams over, but you're right, it's still a little wider than 3/4". Still, you want to use the 3/4" tri-glides. 1" will be too bulky under a collar. The fabric squishes through the 3/4" glides and holds well that way. I have a few pictures here to try to show you how I use the tri-glides:

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

The first photo shows you the overall layout of the tie. The second and third ones show close-ups of the adjustable area. Between the 2nd and third shots, I flipped the tie along the axis of the strap.

Sew the shorter piece directly to the end of one of the tri-glides (we'll call it tri-glide 1). Take the longer piece, feed it through tri-glide 2, then loop it through tri-glide 1, then bring it back and sew it to the center bar on tri-glide 2. The fabric can get a little bunched up and hard to sew this seam, so it helps to not have any interfacing at the end of the tie to cut down on how much fabric is squished together.

In the 2nd and 3rd photos, tri-glide 1 is on the left and tri-glide 2 is on the right.

You'll probably want to make one tie first and make sure you have the adjustable portions in the right part based on the length of the tie. If you're not careful, they get too close to the front of the neck.

Also, if you're going to make 18 ties, let me suggest the strategy I use. I have made a cardboard cutout of my bowtie pattern. I use a rotary cutter to trace the outside of the cardboard cutout and I can cut out several bowtie patterns quickly.

I hope that helps!

Dale said...

Greg, thank you so much for all the helpful information and photos. I'll be starting the bow ties this week, so we'll see how it goes! Thanks again!

Melissa H said...

Hello! I just printed off your pattern and I was wondering if the long straight part(A) was the one you would adjust for different sizes.
Hubbs is 19inch neck and son is 14 inch neck.
Also, for my sons, does the bow need to be smaller in width? I dont want him looking like a clown with a to large of a bow.

Greg said...

Melissa,

Parts A and B are part of the same piece; you will want to read the instructions on the pattern and see the photos in the post.

Making it adjustable is slightly different and described above in the comments.

You can certainly make the bow narrower to suit your tastes.

verdette bagley said...

Recently made my first bowtie for my husband. Used a bowtie adjuster. Do you know where I can purchase some from a reputable dealer.

James Schroeder said...

hey Greg. Thanks for all of your info. I usually wear the regular ties, but want to explore the bow tie look. What I want to know is ... to get the double bow look - do i need a different pattern or is it tied differently or both? (one design over a different color)

Greg said...

James,
All bowties have the 'double bow tie' look; you often do not notice it when all of the fabric is the same color. When you tie a bowtie, the bow shape from one end of the tie ends up in the back and the bow shape from the other end of the tie ends up in the front. If you want different colors in front and behind, it is as simple as using different fabrics for the two different ends of the tie. If you want to make the two tones stand out, you can tie it so the back bow sticks out a few mm wider than the front bow. I also like using striped fabric and making it horizontal on one end and vertical on the other. It makes for a fun reversible option.

Unknown said...

Just a quick question. I have been looking and trying to find exactly where a person measures a bow tie for length. In other words, where do you measure on the pattern from point A to point B for the neck measurement. You would not measure for a 16 1/2 neck on the pattern end to end of the pattern. There has to be a point a and b for the neck measurement. HELP!!

Greg said...

The pattern is for a 15" neck. If you want to make it for a 16.5" neck, add 0.75" to piece A.

Anonymous said...

Made my first bow tie, and it "works"!! Thank you for all your guidelines, details and suggestions. My own finding is that fabric, non-fusible interfacing is increasingly hard to find. In my mind, fabric is better than the papery fusible interfacing, because fabric on a bias has nice stretch, whereas paper has no stretch. As a substitute, I successfully used muslin for the interfacing. Thanks again, making this was fun - and useful!