Happy Sunday, lovelies – and a happy Mother’s Day to those of you in the US!
My brother finally arrived into town on Friday, motivating me to get the bow ties sewn and finished up. Fortunately, they went down very well, making the effort more than worth it!
In the end, I referenced a few different tutorials and found that I had to muddle them together in order to get the best results. For those of you who are interested in making this simple, but truly effective, nod to vintage fashion, the rest of this post is a tutorial detailing the steps that worked for me.
- I used the Men’s Bow Tie pattern from Sew Like My Mom, available for free through Craftsy.
- 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of fabric – this should be a medium weight fabric and non-stretchy. I used cotton poplin.
- 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of medium-weight, iron-on interfacing
- Fabric marker (tailor’s chalk, or even a biro will do – shock horror!)
- Hand-sewing needle
- Fabric scissors
- Chopstick/blunt ended skewer/knitting needle
Cut out your pattern pieces (fabric and interfacing). If you use the pattern I linked to above, cut out all pieces on the fold of the fabric (despite what it says on the pattern). This will leave you with two pattern pieces from your fabric, and two matching pieces of interfacing.
Pin your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric pieces and iron on. Be careful not to get the interfacing glue on the ironing board (and don’t, as I did, iron over your plastic pin heads and melt them).
Pin your fabric pieces together, right sides together.
At the centre of the length of your bow tie, make marks 7cm apart (that’s roughly 3 inches). This will serve as a gap for pulling your bow tie through to the right side.
Starting at one of your marks, sew around the length of the bow tie, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If it helps, mark the seam allowance prior to sewing. When you reach the corners of the bow, raise the foot and pivot to help keep an accurate seam. Finish sewing when you reach your second mark (preserving the gap).
Snip off the corners of the bow tie and cut notches around its length (without cutting through the seam line!). Try to keep the notches as equal distance as possible from one another. This will help the bow tie lie flat when you turn it the right way round. I won’t lie, this was by far the most time consuming part of the whole process. But it’s unavoidable if you want the finished product to look as crisp and shapely as possible.
Now for the tricky part! Start feeding the ends of you bow tie through the gap that you left open. It can take a while, particularly since the length of the tie is so narrow in comparison to the bow. Use a blunt-edged tool to help feed it through (I used the blunt end of a skewer, because I’m a scavenger when I’m in Missouri). Use the tool to help push the corners out, making sure they have a shape and definition that you’re happy with.
Now slip stitch the gap closed. This can be fiddly. If you aren’t sure how to slip stitch a gap like this (my previous experience was only with slip stitching a hem), take a look at this great tutorial from Professor Pincushion.
Iron! Now I know that this violates the law of sewing that says pressing is always the right way. But I found a method that worked excellently for getting the perfect shape: iron along the seams of the bow tie and, while still hot (not so hot that you burn yourself!), rub the seams between thumb and finger. This ensures that the bow tie doesn’t come out completely flat (it basically gives it a little volume, which helps the shape when its tied), and also gives a really defined curve to the tie and the bow.
Done! Enjoy your gorgeous, self-made bow tie!
*Any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com*