Friday, January 20, 2012

My 1st Silk Bow Tie

With encouragement from YouTube's OffshoreOrganBuilder, I tried to make my first silk bow tie this week. A few weeks ago, I bought what I believe to be the perfect piece of silk from Paron's (W40th) on sale for $12.50/yard. Touching this fabric is better than sex. The first step is to fold the fabric, right sides together, and selvages pinned.

I used a slope I made from a McCalls vintage pattern, and this turned out to be a mistake. I should have used a pinned traced paper pattern. The fabric is so slippery that the slope moved no matter how firmly I held it down to cut.

When I was done cutting, I had four pieces in reverse pairs. I really had to study the cutting instructions. Yes, one cuts on the bias, but notice how the ends of the fish tails are parallel. It leaves the cut pieces with parallel stripes on the bias.. a good thing.

Then I had to cut my interfacing. There's only a single layer, which will be basted to one side of the bow.

I used silk thread and microtex schmetz needles.

The first step is to sew the ends together, which really isn't at all intuitive. The ends are slightly overlapping the edges, but when one unfolds the sewn pieces they are joined straight with a diagonal seam.

Let the basting begin! I tried to machine baste the interface to the wrong side of a joined pair. I succeeded in creating an enormous ball of silk and fine muslin. Even with a walking foot, the result wasn't so good. So I patiently pulled out the machine basting and rebasted the pices by hand with silk thread.

Then I basted the right sides of the silk together, often baste stitching over the same place. The pieces laid flat and then would take the machine stitching.

It helps to iron before doing the final stitch. Next, I removed the basting stitches. As I'd sewn over the baste stitches, I had to carefully pull out the baste stitches without tearing up the final 2mm stitching. I cannot praise silk thread high enough!

The last steps are to turn the tie inside out, so that the right side of the silk is now outside. I used the blunt knitting needle, but I still managed to create a small stress point at one end of the tie.

I finally pressed out the tie and stitched the center where I pulled through the tie inside out.

I'll try this a 2nd time with the same fabric, but not tonight. G'Night!


  1. Many thanks for this and congratulations.

    I guess that what you call, 'basting' I would call 'tacking.' I've never tried making a tie, but I wonder if the finished product would tie more easily with a narrower and more elongated 'neck' between the tail and body of the fish shape. It might be worth making a single-piece mock-up, in scrap fabric, to find out.

    Regarding the turning of the tie right-side-out at the end of the process, would it help to tack on a length of very thin, fabric, tape, or very strong thread, which would start off inside the tie when it was the wrong way out, running the whole length of a section of tie and emerging at the open end? You might then use this to pull the tie the right way out, and then remove it, before the final sewing? This might be better than the use of the knitting needle.

    The final result looks very good, and must have taken a great deal of time and patience. Do we get to see it, tied?!

    Well done.

  2. Lovely tie! Just found your blog through Male Pattern Boldness and I am very impressed with your sewing adventures. I too have been working on shirtmaking recently (though of the female persuasion). I'm at

    1. Thanks Ripple, you inspired me to update my blog. I've been sewing and not blogging as much as I should.