Fashion From Old Ties

If you're handy with a needle and thread and have an eye for design, you can recycle old ties into new clothing and accessories. Here are some project ideas.

| March/April 1980

Men's neckties have a funny way of going out of style, and—since the cravats are usually made of the most luxurious fabrics available—a craftsperson can always look to such castoff clothing for high-quality material. Because, with a little work, neckties can be transformed into quilts, pillows, rugs, place mats, wall hangings, necklaces, Christmas tree ornaments, headbands, toys, and—best of all—elegant fashions.

Gettin' 'Em Together

First, of course, you have to collect the ties. Just think for a minute, and I'll bet you can come up with some great sources. I, for instance, got my initial supply from a friend's father .. . who's a retired insurance broker and a member of a popular men's lodge. He and his associates provided me with a couple of bushel baskets full of old ties, most of them beautiful. Many of them were 100% silk, and a few were even hand-painted.

Once you have a number of cravats on hand, you'll want to sort them. Since I'm particularly fond of silk, I put all the ties made of that material into one "special" pile. The other two groupings consisted of "pretty ones" and "ugly monsters". I'm using the former pile of ties in quilts, necklaces, ornaments, etc .... while the homely heap is hidden away in the attic, waiting to be transformed into a braided rug.

Gettin' 'Em Apart

To prepare the material for use, the ties must be ripped open, washed, and ironed. You'll need a pair of small, sharp scissors to remove the tags and open up the back seams. (A plastic-handled "ripper" is helpful, but not really necessary.) Some hand sewn ties are put together with a single piece of strong, fine, silk thread which can be pulled out and saved for use as embroidery floss . . . while others will have to be clipped open.

Inside the tie, there'll be one or two strips of interfacing. (I save such material for tying up the tomato plants in my garden.)

You'll also find little triangular pieces of lining that are usually sewn in with a chain stitch (like those on feed bags). Just clip two or three links in the top of the chain, and the rest should come out easily when you tug on the thread ... though some stitches will have to be cut out. If you save all such lining pieces, you'll eventually accumulate enough to back a quilt top.

1/29/2009 2:45:41 AM

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