Disclaimer: This guide assumes you have access to a sewing machine and at least a basic understanding of how to use it, or have access to someone who can help you with using a machine.
Things You’ll Need To Make A Bow Tie
Learn How To Make This Bow Tie:
- At least ¼ of a yard of fabric (this should make roughly 1-2 bow ties)
- At least ¼ of a yard of medium weight interfacing
- Sewing machine
- Thread to match your fabric color
- Straight pins
- Sewing Pattern (feel free to use mine or make your own)
- Scissors (rotary cutter and mat if you can swing it)
- Pen or pencil
- Chopstick or something of similar size and shape
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Iron & ironing board
- A couple free hours
Why I Started Sewing
I’ve always held the opinion that crafting something with your own hands provides a sense of gratification difficult to find elsewhere. There’s something about taking raw materials, whether they be wood, metal or (in this case) fabric, and turning them into something new. Maybe that thing is useful or practical, maybe its just creative and fun. A case could probably be made that a bow tie is all of these things, which is partly the reason for my recent “delve” into sewing as a hobby as well as a way to tie that hobby into my newfangled interest in men’s fashion.
Why Make A Bow Tie?
Interested in making your own bow tie yet? Well you should be, because bow ties are awesome and making things with your hands is manly. Combine those two incontrovertible facts and you’re in for the most genteel (yet masculine!) couple of hours you’ve had in a fortnight.
So brace yourself, because I now present you with my trial-by-error research on how to sew your own bow tie (complete with pictures, yay!).
Complete Step By Step Guide To Making Bow Ties
Step 1 - Find Some FabricFirst off, go get yourself some fabric. This can come from a chain fabric store, your local garment district, your grandmother’s sewing stuff, whatever works. I find that decent mid-weight cotton is a great material with which to start. Anything lighter and your bow will lack that full-body look and, gentleman, nobody wants that. Once you have your fabric, pool all your working materials together (along with the beverage of your choice) so you can get started. NOTE: most if not all images are clickable to make larger
Step 2 - Pattern CuttingNow the real works starts. I hope that beverage wasn’t too stiff, because you’re about to use sharp tools. Lay your pattern down on top of your fabric and cut around the perimeter so you have a piece of fabric the same size and shape as your pattern. Do that until you have four equal pieces. While we’re here, I’ll mention that my pattern was made with a 5/8” seam allowance in mind. Meaning, if you took the pattern as is and measured 5/8” in from every edge, that’s how big the actual bow tie would be once it’s sewn. Repeat that process with your interfacing until you have eight parts total: four of fabric and four of interfacing. None of these need to be cut perfectly. They’re just rough cuts that give you enough room to sew to your final size, with that 5/8” seam allowance I mentioned earlier.
Step 3 - Applying The InterfacingAt this point, you’re about done with the sharp cutting tools. Now it’s time to get into some hot steam action. That’s right fellas, it’s time to break out your iron to fuse your interfacing to your fabric. While you should follow the instructions on your interfacing, generally they have you iron the adhesive side of the interfacing to the “wrong” side of your material (the one opposite the side you want to see when you finish it) for something like 15 seconds while it’s covered by a damp towel. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine (it's a good idea to try a test piece first). Once you’ve done that for each matching pair of fabric and interfacing, you should be left with four total pieces. Each should be a piece of fabric with interfacing fused to the “wrong” side of it, so the “right” side of the material is visible on the other side. With me so far? Good. Because you’re just about to start the actual sewing, which is when the chest hair starts sprouting (your results may vary).
Step 4 - Sewing Pattern Ends TogetherAt this point you’re going to be taking two ends and sewing them together to make one long half of the total bow tie. This part can be a little tricky as you want to get the length right the first time; it's difficult to go back and fix this later. The easiest method I’ve found is to use an existing loose bow tie that’s your size and lie it next to your two ends, wrong side up, so that they match in length (while accounting for that 5/8” seam allowance). I typically just use a pen to mark where my actual seam should be. As a side note; if anyone can tell me what formula is used to come up with bow tie neck sizes, I’d love to know. For example, a size 17” neck bow measures just a short & curly away from 36” in total length. I’ve failed to figure out how those two numbers correlate but whatever. Contact me here, thanks! Anyway… once you’ve made your mark to indicate where to sew the two pieces together, go ahead and run those through your machine so you end up with two long pieces. You should have something like this (and by “something like”, I mean “exactly”) at this point, with the two middle sections sewn together. Feel free to trim the extra material off after you’ve sewn them together. It’s not really necessary to keep, and will probably just get in the way later.
Step 5 - Trace Pattern / Sew LineAlright so the next part is optional but I found it quite helpful, especially when I was first getting started and had basically zero experience in sewing at all. Essentially, you want to trace the shape of what your actual finished bow tie will be on the “wrong” side of one whole length of your material. This gives you a really clear line to follow when you’re sewing, and makes it super simple to make out your corners and curves. I made my own template out of a cut-up brown paper bag which you can download here, or you can make your own. Alternatively, if you’re confident enough to sew the whole thing by eye, knowing that you need to stay exactly 5/8” (or whatever your seam allowance is) away from the edge, have at it. Nobody (except your elitist sewing friend) will judge you for using the cheater way, though. Whatever you decide to do, the next step is to pin the two “wrong” sides together so you can start sewing them together. I think I just felt another chest hair sprout…
Step 6 - Sewing Body Pieces TogetherBefore you fire up the machine and start zipping away, take a minute to find a good starting point. Ultimately, since you’re sewing them together with the “wrong” side facing out, you’re going to need to flip it inside out before you're actually done. Personally, I start about 1” away from the middle point and then sew all the way around, stopping about 1” away from the middle on the opposite side. This leaves a 2” wide opening that you’ll end up flipping it inside out through. Something around here works (picture below). Now, just follow your seam allowance around the whole thing (or the red line, I won’t tell anyone). Don’t forget to stop a couple of inches before where you began. You’re almost ready to flip the whole thing “right” side out at this point. I suggest making a quick trim to the extra material around your seam before doing so. You don’t need to get super close or anything, you just want to take off some excess material. You’ll understand why this is important in the next step. 2 - Gently push fabric down and through inner section. 3 - Keep pushing until bow tie tip emerges from the opening. 4 - Gently pull / work the rest of the fabric through. 5 - Finally, repeat process for the other side of your bow tie.
Step 8 - Iron Flat & Close Final OpeningAt this point, your bow is going to be incredibly wrinkled, from cramming it all through a tiny hole with chop sticks. No sweat, you got this. Just break out your trusty iron again and give it a quick steamy second so it’s nice and flat. All you have left is to take care of that 2” opening. So at this point, you have a few options. You could spend some time closing the opening by hand with a blind stitch so that it looks perfect under your collar where nobody will see it. OR… You could tuck the edges in, run a quick seam across that bad mother, and give it some character (why not try a contrast color...for your own personal touch, as it were). Or maybe it’s just faster and you’re lazy. Whatever. It’s not my place to judge.
Final Step 9 - Admire your WorkThat’s it, you’re done! All you have to do now is pour another drink, bask in the glory of your awesome powers of creation, and think about what to make next.
"This is a great step-by-step guide for making your own bow tie. Anybody can follow these easy instruction and create a custom piece of clothing for themselves."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★