Monday, December 10, 2007

Sewing with Neckties

I've had quite a few people ask me for information on projects and instructions for making quilts and other items from recycled neckties.
So I'll share what I know.
I will probably post more on this soon, as there is much to say.

Why sew with neckties?
Well, first off it's a great form of recycling, and it's a fun way to use whimsical fabrics that often make bizarre neckties, but great quilting fabric.
Too, it's often a cathartic project in that people often use ties to memorialize a loved one (a mourning quilt, for example).

Are there any books available with ideas and instructions?
Most of the books with instructions are currently out of print, but you can sometimes find them on ebay or places like bookfinder (or their affiliates, like Alibris).
Unfortunately, they've gotten quite expensive--far more so than what they originally cost new.
These include:
Quilts from Neckties, by Sharon Newman (1995)
Tied Up!, by Gail Ellspermann and Frances Krupka (a Design Originals booklet, 2002)
Love to Quilt: Necktie Sampler Blocks, by Janet B. Elwin (1996)
Ties, Ties, Ties: Traditional Quilts from Neckties, by Janet B. Elwin (1996)
Threads and Ties that Bind: Exquisite Quilts from Tie Fabrics, by Jean Johnson (currently surprisingly affordable on Amazon)

and the only one in print:
Daddy's Ties: a Project and Keepsake Book, by Shirley Botsford.

How do I use the ties?
There are two ways of approaching sewing with ties:
using them as is,
or removing the 'guts' and using the fabric (including cutting templates, etc)
I do both, though surprisingly I more often just use the fabric.

How do I clean neckties, especially the fragile silk ones?
You might want to wash your ties first.
I combine all the fabrics in my projects--cotton, wool, silk, and polyester, but you can certainly only choose the silks if you so desire.
I throw all of them into the washing machine--the ones that disintegrate, well...better now then in your project. There may have been worn areas not visible to the eye.
Yes, I wash the silk ones too.
Don't just toss the ties in loose, or you'll get one big knot.
I take five or so, place them in a pillowcase, and close it somehow (rubberband or a knot).
Hang to dry.
The polyester usually washes beautifully.
The silks may come out all twisted, but if you're going to take them apart anyway--it doesn't matter (if you're not taking them apart, you might want to dry clean).
article about cleaning neckties

How do I take the ties apart?
Let them dry, then clip the two anchoring stitches on the top and bottom of the underside (horizontal tack stitches).
Once the tacks are snipped, you can usually take the thread and just pull it out in one swoop, thereby freeing the lining (so much easier than seam ripping).
Now you can iron the fabric and cut as desired.

What if I don't want to take the ties apart?
If you're making a skirt, or if you just want to use the ties 'as is', you can butt them up tightly next to one another and stitch them together with a triple zig-zag or similar type stitch.
And, as I just stated, you might want to dry clean.

Now, how about some inspiration, eh?
I love this unusual quilt by Lori Mason, called Ronny's Ties.
Ronny's Ties, by Lori Mason

Dragon Top by Amy Weis of To Tie For
Dragon Tie Top by Amy Weis
Skirt also by Amy Weis (her website is not longer active)
Necktie Skirt by Amy Weis of To Tie For

Maylina has some brilliant designs

Incredible rugs by Eileen Away
Rug with maker

"straightjacket" by Bespoke by Brouhaha (I like this back detail)
Fit to be Tied - detail

pillow by Carol Sews
Blue Vest
and Green Jacket by Joan Wells
Liturgical Stoles by Janet Armstrong
picture frame
Prom dress made from neckties on craftster
dress by Deviant Art
Vest by T Vindy
tampon cozy on craftster
Quilt on Dacia Ray
Quilt by Precious Relics

Items for sale
Fit To Be Tied--hand sewn clothing line out of Seattle
Necktie apparel
handbags from KB Originals
pail pattern, and crazy necktie pattern, from Henrietta's Handbags

HGTV project for necktie handbags
handbag by Sonya Style
Schoolbag on CraftBits
Backpack with necktie handles, by Crafty Gal
Tie angel project
Snake toy
DIY project for reupholstering a chair
another source for reupholstering a chair

article about designer Frances Krupka

article about Pillows of Remembrance

article about bags made from Rudy Giuliani's neckties

My past posts about inspiration for sewing with neckties:
magazine projects
images inspiration
Easter eggs
my bookmark
my first log cabin block
my second log cabin block
quilt photo
my pincushion
my owl coin pouch
quilted box
tons of Laura's tutorials for purses, skirts and accessories
also Laura's zippered clutch

Posted on one of my other blogs:
Ipod cozy

There are also more inspirational projects (especially clothing) posted to my Flickr group, Sewing with Neckties.

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Blogger cynthia korzekwa said...

great post!

3:48 AM  
Blogger Kristina B said...

Thank you for the kind credit on my vest (the one with the tail: I'm Brouhaha!).

What a great post. Very informative. I would think about submitting it for publication in if I were you :-). I found it inspiring - the necktie quilt (first piece that you displayed) is the first quilt I've ever seen that truly made me want to take up quilting! (am primarily a knitting). And I love in particular the necktie skirt - am in the process of collecting ties for something similar. ;-)



4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Kristina. Thank you for the credit on my quilt.


5:10 AM  
Blogger kt said...

Yup, you should send it in! I think I found you via ties, too!

And there's RickRackRuby's site for cool tie stuff, too....

10:52 PM  
Blogger woof nanny said...

I wish I had thought of Whip Up--it would have been perfect. Once info is posted and in the public realm, however, it is no longer eligible for Whip Up. I asked them just in case, saying I'd remove this post, but I'm too late. Perhaps I can come up with a tutorial or something in the future and submit it then. But thanks for the votes of confidence and the idea!

11:16 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I'm going to ahve to take the time to check out all of the links. At the craft shows I did this fall, the bags and scarves I made from neckties were a big hit.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Gina E. said...

Hi Barb,
This is great!!! I've often wondered how you know what to do with all those ties, and this post tells all! You should put all that on a separate blog just for ties stuff, and put a link on the sidebar, so your readers can find the info. they want easily, without having to scroll through this blog.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love this article! I'm a quilter and my favorite fabrics to work w/ are clothes. I was inspired to start quilting w/ clothes when my sister died last year. I took her clothes, cut them up and made quilts from the pieces for my family. I now make these memory quilts for friends who've lost loved ones. I use men's ties to make pillows that go /w the quilts.
Again, great article, from one animal lover/ artist to another!

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great! I LOVE those rugs. I found your blog by way of a Google rabbit-hole...please take a look at my vintage neckties clutches, which I've been making since 2003.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Cheap Neckties said...

There is a familiar quote saying: “There is no delight in owning anything unshared.” This quote 100% applies to you. I am amazed to see your humbleness and generosity in sharing your precious knowledge with others. Valuable information! Let me also share this information with my friends who are very mad at neck ties.
Cheap Neckties

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Mens Fashion said...

Its really a creative work.
I never realized that the neckties are useful this way also.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

i'm trying to make a rug out of ties and i'm finding that the ties are curving one way. Also that i have cut them evenly but when i sew them one is longer. They are also seem to be puckering. HELP. I'm just using a simple zigzag stitch and butting them together.

6:13 AM  
Blogger woof nanny said...

Alicia, your email address doesn't come up in my notification, so I hope you get this message. The best thing to do would be to ask one of the ladies here who made rugs. If you click on the links, it will take you to their Flickr page. I have a group there that is just pics of projects made from ties. If you don't have a Flickr account, it's free to join. I haven't made a rug yet, so I can't really answer your question.

9:46 AM  

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