Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bow Tie Tutorial

Several weeks ago, 'Stache's cousin got married. If I had been possessed of two daughters instead of two sons, I doubtless would have labored over whipped up two lovely little frilly dresses for such a special occasion. Being possessed of two sons instead of two daughters, I refrained. But something special was needed, particularly since my sister-in-law was going to do a family photo shoot.

I settled on bow ties.

Photo by Maryellyn Hawbaker

I love bow ties on men and boys of all ages. They make a man look so dapper and well-coiffed. I had never made a bow tie before, though, so I decided that as I figured out what worked, I would write it down so that the next time this comes up I could do what worked instead of reinventing the wheel, as is my wont.

I used scraps of gray dupioni silk that I had left over from making the bridesmaid dresses for my sister's wedding several years ago. (Never throw away anything!) Using silky fabric, if not actual silk, is the key to getting a professional-looking bow tie. And sorry, your bow tie models will never be as cute as mine, because that's just not possible.

Bow Tie Tutorial 

You will need:
scraps of a silky fabric such as silk, satin, or polyester, or a 15"x5" rectangle of same
a small piece of felt
2 hook and eyes or pieces of Velcro

Sewing machine, needle and thread, scissors

From your tie fabric, cut one rectangle 15"x2", one rectangle 3.75"x2", and two rectangles 4.75"x3". (These last two rectangles are the body of your bow tie, so if your fabric has a print, you will want to position these carefully.)

From felt, cut a rectangle 4.75"x3".

Take your two large rectangles and layer them with their right sizes together. Put the piece of felt on top. Secure with pins if you wish.

Sew around the edge with a 3/8" seam allowance,* leaving a 1" space to turn the bow tie right side out. Trim the felt to very close to the seam. Turn bow tie inside out, using a pair of closed scissors or a knitting needle to make the corners neat and sharp. Iron flat. Sew the opening closed using mattress stitch
Before trimming the felt.

After trimming the felt.
 Fold the long rectangle in half lengthwise, with the right sides together. Sew the edges together lengthwise, with a 3/8" seam allowance. Do the same for the small rectangle. Turn them both right side out and iron flat.

Sew two large stitches down the middle of the bow tie piece, positioned like so:

This is the front side.
 Tighten your thread and tie off the end, so that the bow tie piece is now shaped like a bow tie.

This is the front side.
Sew the small rectangle around the middle of the bow tie, turning under the raw edge to make it neat.

This is the wrong side.
 Sew the middle of your long rectangle to the middle of the back of the bow tie.

Hem the ends of the bow tie strap. Sew on your hooks and eyes or your Velcro. The way I figured out the right spot to put these is I buttoned the top button on my sons' dress shirts and put the strap around the collar and positioned my hooks and eyes so that the strap would be snug against the collar. This seemed to be a good measurement, as the ties were neither too loose nor too tight.
You could sew one end of the bow tie strap to the middle of the bow tie, but I thought since I was putting these on two wriggly bows, they would behave better if I wasn't trying to fasten something right under their chin.

*This is the width on my machine from the needle to the edge of the sewing machine foot. If yours is 1/4", just use that.

Photo by Maryellyn Hawbaker

Monday, November 2, 2015

Works in Progress

So many projects going on! The number of WIP's (Works in Progress) around here is getting a little excessive.

1. The adoption! (Longest. WIP. Ever.) We're still waiting (waiting, waiting ...) to be matched with a child, but we have made a little progress recently. I sent off our I800-A packet today, which is a stack of forms and documentation that goes to U. S. Citizen and Immigration Services. The next thing on the to-do list is assembling the dossier. (DOSS-ee-ay) Many forms, much paperwork. Actually, there are 24 separate forms or documents that we have to fill out/acquire for the dossier. 2-4. 24. Some of which have to be notarized.

These are 4 long-sleeve t-shirts for Munchkin and Twinkle that I've cut out but not sewn together yet. I cut these out from some hand-me-down t-shirts from my brother. I love making clothes out of clothes. Not only do I often get to reuse the hems (definitely not my favorite part of sewing), but it's an awesome way to recycle clothes that still have life in them. They are baseball style t-shirts, so all the shirts, so all the shirts except the white print t-shirt are two colors, with the sleeves and body cut from different t-shirts, so I'm actually reducing the number of t-shirts in the world!


These are the fabrics for a project I'm super excited about. Ikat Bag, one of my favorite sewing blogs, has a fabulous stuffed animal pattern for sale. It's called Menagerie, and it is one pattern that lets you do many many different animals by switching out the ears, noses, tails, etc. The plan is to transform this little stack into a fox, a blue jay, a penguin, a cat, and a blue raccoon (Twinkle's request). I've cut out the many many paper pattern pieces, but that's as far as I've gotten.


This is a sweater that I'm copy-catting. (I checked, there is a free pattern, but it's adult size and in Norwegian.) I'm aiming for a child's size 5. What's that? You in the back? Yes. Yes, the sleeves do not match. Let me explain. The vision for this sweater is that it is a dark gray sweater with a light blue round yoke that will be patterned in a way so that it seems to fade from blue to gray, even though you're only using two colors. I had 2 skeins of gray and one of blue, which seemed sufficient. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I knit the body and the first sleeve, and a wee prickle of concern began to make itself known. There was definitely not going to be enough gray. So, I went back to the drawing board, and designed a little cuff that would echo the idea of the yoke, and would take up some of the gray. A full cuff, plus several rows more. Surely that would be enough, yes? I would knit this sleeve, then I would take out a chunk of the bottom of the all-gray sleeve, and knit the blue pattern in reverse, (going top-down instead of cuff-up) and I would unravel the chunk and add it to my gray ball to knit the yoke.

Awesome plan. Except. I ran out of gray before I even finished the second sleeve. Which meant that one chunk of a sleeve was definitely not going to be long enough to finish the other sleeve and do the yoke. Which means I now have to find another ball of Cascade 220 Superwash 900 Charcoal dye lot 150158. Should be a walk in the park.