MP's bow tie

Speaking of sewing your own bow ties…

by Cat on June 15, 2011

in 2011 projects, sewing

I think I’m on a roll. I found a free pattern for a bow tie on called “David”. Click here if you want to download it.

I had a thrifted silk dupioni jacket which, while beautiful, was way too big for me – and heaven help me if I ever grew into it! When I purchased the jacket it was with the idea that, if it fit, fine – if not it was fabric. Fortunately, it was fabric! And since ties need to be cut on the bias, although the patterns are, relatively speaking, “small” they take a little more real estate to cut out. So, this too-big, $2 silk jacket worked out great for the first bow tie. And, now Jordan has his red tie. :-)

This one actually ties, but is also adjustable.

red silk dupioni bow tie

I had intended it to be for my husband, but it is too small for him. It probably will accommodate up to a 15-16 inch neck and hopefully will adjust down to small enough for a little boy. I haven’t seen Jordan yet to try it out.

Meanwhile – I wanted a pattern for my “super size” husband. As nice as this one is, it was definitely not happening for him. So, I experimented with my all in one copier/printer and found that if I set it to 110% I got a pattern that looked bigger, and in the proper proportions. (As far as length size goes – that’s an easy enough adjustment – just add or subtract length to the neck piece – but I also wanted a larger proportioned bow and I didn’t really want to draw my own – although admittedly that would not have been all that difficult.)

So, I played around with the copier, got a size I liked – cut it out of paper and put that up in front of my husband. Looked about right – added 1/4-inch seam allowances and then got ready to cut it out.

In the meantime, I’m not sure why I was looking further, but I found this pattern too (PDF to download). This one was hand drawn by this guy and he had some interesting construction tips posted on a blog post from 2008. I particularly liked his idea of beveling the end of the pattern piece at a 45 degree angle so that as you lined that up with the cross-grain your tie pattern lands on the bias. What a great idea!

I ended up using his pattern, modified just a bit, since it was almost exactly the same as my enlarged pattern, but the bow looked a bit fuller and I just made it to my husband’s neck size – rather than making it adjustable. Seems to have worked!blue bow tie

I also used the center back seam he talks about in that blog post to turn the tie right-side out and it was an easy bit of hand sewing to close it up (neatly) with a needle and thread when it was all said and done.


  • If you decide you want to try making a bow-tie or any project that is cut on the bias (regular neckties come to mind) – lay some tissue paper down first (I use exam table paper which, believe it or not, can be purchased from – I have also used it for years for tracing patterns), then your fabric on top of the paper, and cut the pattern out including the tissue paper. That will stabilize the fabric and it won’t be as likely to stretch out of shape while you are handling it. Remove the paper before pinning the pieces right-sides together, but handle the fabric gently. Be careful not to stretch or iron the fabric (which will stretch it) – just gently lay it down and pat things into place if it gets out of alignment.
  • One side of the bow tie is interfaced. Stitch the center back seam on the interfaced pieces, and save the non-interfaced seam for hand sewing after you’ve finished the tie. Be sure to turn back the center back seam allowances while stitching the tie together on the non-interfaced pieces.
  • I used a fusible interfacing. Naturally, a sew in interfacing could be used, but the fusible worked great for both types of fabric – so it’s my first choice. Use a press cloth for this – and spray the press cloth lightly with water before fusing. (A scrap of any 100% cotton fabric will work – I think I’m using a scrap of handkerchief linen right now – and that works too, plus it’s nice because I can see through it a bit.) This press cloth accomplishes a couple of things – 1) you don’t run the risk of distorting the fabric if you forget and push your iron around (pressing means you lift the iron off the fabric to move it – as opposed to pushing the iron around on the fabric) 2) it protects delicate fabrics from the hot iron to some extent, and 3) it also protects your iron from the glue on the interfacing.
  • After you have carefully pinned your pieces right sides together to sew them, lay the NON-interfaced side down against the feed-dogs of the sewing machine, and stitch with the interfaced side up. Again – less distortion and puckering likely this way.
  • I pin in the direction I’m sewing inside the seam allowance. That way, as I get to a pin, I just pull it towards me to slide it out and continue on my way.

Last, but not least – I could not decide which of these videos I liked the best – I particularly like the accent of both speakers. I was a little surprised at how MANY videos there are on Youtube for how to tie a bow tie!

How to Tie a Bow Tie

How to Tie a Bow Tie – Fully Explained

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