Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Slightly oversized on me!

It has become a bit of a custom that I make my boyfriend a handmade gift each year on his birthday.  It all started with him requesting I make a cross stitch of a 'Dictionary of Love' which appeared in Cross Stitcher a few years back now.  I made that design into a bolster cushion which has come in handy.  Last year it was a graduation cross stitch designed especially for him by Emily Peacock.  It is beautiful and bright, Emily is my favourite designer.

Onto this year...!  I thought I'd put my new dressmaking skills into practice and make him a shirt.  However, seems as though I want this to be a surprise, I would have had great difficulty measuring him in his sleep!

So I've settled on a tie instead.  It's made using Liberty fabric, bought from Standfast and Barracks (see Liberty Loveliness post from April 2012).  I've used a lightweight interfacing to stiffen the fabric and a thin (100%) wool, bought from Leon's (see I do like a fabric shop... post from March 2012). One metre of each of these fabrics is more than enough to make a standard 57 inch long tie.

On the internet I have found instructions for making a tie from 4 different websites.  All of them (except for the last one in the list) had a link to a pattern you can download and print off:

Despite all of these patterns, it was horrible trying to get a workable pattern and took an entire day.  The pattern from Puking Pastilles is wider than a usual tie, so I didn't want to use that.  See Kate Sew is a nice pattern I'm sure, but it's for a skinny tie and I was after a traditional pointy one.  The pattern that I tried to use from the Purl Bee simply doesn't line up when you print, cut and selotape it together as you can see from my practice run on yellow fabric.  

So to get my pattern in the end I had to cut open a tie of my Dad's and use that to measure angles, length etc.  Then I drew the pattern with a ruler and set square onto thin card and cut it out.


For the construction I used the instructions from David Hober and The Purl Bee.  Followed in isolation, both sets of instructions are disappointing.  Combine them together, and it is possible to make a satisfactory tie.

I can tell that David Hober ties are high quality but his instructions are a very brief overview and they need a leap of imagination together with trial and error, to bring them to life.  I liked the use of 6 pattern pieces which I cut out on the bias of the fabric and then backed with iron on interfacing.

6 pattern pieces, cut out of fabric and backed with iron on interfacing

I also liked his method for tipping the tie.  I drew a line 1/4 inch in from each edge of the tip of the tie.  I then drew another line 1/4 inch in from the first line.  I drew a horizontal line where the inner lines meet.  This is where the tip of the tie will be.  I then continued to follow David Hober's instructions to complete the tip. 

Purl Bee tipped the tie in a way which did not appeal to me at all and their instructions lacked some fundamentals, such as a keeper for the short end of the tie.  I found the instructions useful for the positioning of the pattern pieces to sew them together and the method for closing the tie.

I encountered even more difficulties when it came to lining the tie.  I had to make another pattern for the lining and again, there was a fair amount of trial and error involved.  Closing the tie with an invisible stitch felt like a walk in the park compared to the rest of the process. 

Thankfully all of this hard work paid off as my boyfriend loved the tie.  However...if you were to ask me if I would make a tie again, it would be a definite NO, unless I had a pattern off the internet which lined up perfectly and required no adaptation.  Or unless I had software to make my own pattern without having to rely on GCSE protractor skills.  So be warned if you are thinking of making a tie pattern, it's definitely not a job for the impatient.  

Has anyone else had difficulties making a tie?  Please do share your comments and photos...