Thursday 30 September 2021

What's In A Necktie? Advice on Upcycling


I love Pinterest. It allows me to satisfy my inner hoarder without actually accumulating objects.  lol!  It's also my go-to search engine for creative ideas.

I watch Pinterest for upcycling ideas but I'm afraid that when it comes to upcycling neckties the offerings are rather disappointing.  Almost every project uses the ties in their finished form and, other than joining them together, little alteration is made. Neckties are made up of several layers of fabric and a layer of interfacing, making an assemblage of unaltered ties quite heavy and rather inflexible. 

Neckties are constructed in a standard form, with two or more long narrow pieces of bias cut fabric joined to make a tapered strip between 5-1/2 feet and 6 feet long (168 cm and189 cm) with points at either end. Many ties are narrowest at their mid-point, flaring in both directions, wider at the end that will make the front of the tie and less wide at the other end. The outer fabric of the tie is folded, meeting at the center of the reverse side of the tie and tacked into place with a series of long stitches. 

Good quality ties are usually made from silk, but in some cases also from very fine woven tartan or textured woolen knits. Less expensive ties are often made of polyester. It's best to check the labels before making your purchase, leaving the polyester ties behind for someone else to use.

If you open up a tie along its center seam, you'll find a facing at each pointed end and a woven interfacing in the dimensions of the finished tie laid along the center of the fabric.  The outer fabric is 2-1/2 to 3 times wider than the finished tie. You can see how it has been folded over the interfacing. 

If you remove the facings and interfacing and then press the outer fabric, you end up with a good sized piece of useable, fine quality fabric. 

Because necktie fabric is cut on the bias, double fold bias tape is the easiest way to make use of it, and very practical, too. The lightweight silk used to make neckties is admirably suited for bias tape. The finished tape is very flexible and has enough stretch to form around curved seams without making notches or folds. 

I also piece salvaged necktie fabric into yardages and use them to make linings for jackets and purses.

If you choose to make linings from pieced necktie fabrics, you'll need to allow sufficient yardage to cut your pieces on the straight grain.  The fabric grain crosses the diagonal of necktie fabric pieces as indicated by the ruler in this picture. You'll need to stagger your tie fabric pieces diagonally when assembling them, to accommodate the shapes of the lining pieces you plan to cut.

I hope this post will help you consider neckties in a new way next time you're out thrifting. Silk yardages can be very expensive while neckties can be purchased for a dollar or two at thrift shops. Even though it takes the fabric from several ties to make a metre of lining fabric you will still have spent significantly less than you would buying new fabric, and you'll be giving something once discarded a new lease on life.

If you have any questions about making bias tape or assembling the salvaged fabric into larger pieced yardages, please share them in the comments.  I'll do my best to address them for you in future posts.

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