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Old Ties – Warm Memories

Denim Tie Jacket


My denim jacket with Tie Embellishments. Click for more views.

During the gifting season, I am often looking for gifts that delight the eye and touch the heart.  Digging out a box of old neckties is a good place to find lovely tidbits of sentiment and they work great as embellishments on Tabula Rasa Jackets (TRJ) and Tabula Rasa Vests (TRV)

When we were in the early stages of development for the TRJ pattern, I made a TR vest decorated with ties for my mother-in-law for Christmas.  She had given me a bag of her husband’s old ties after his death the previous February.  I chose the best ones, found a coordinating piece of raw silk in my stash, and stitched it up in short order.

Vintage Tie Vest - back
Vintage Tie Vest – back

She tells me that whenever she wears it at the retirement community where she lives, people stop her to take a closer look.

The following year I made a TRJ for my mother using my father’s ties and a wool tweed fabric.

My Mothers wool Jacket.
My Mother’s wool Jacket. Click for more views

Since then I have made a TRJ with ties for myself and one for my mother-in-law’s sister, both using denim as the base fabric.

Perhaps the most bittersweet was a TRJ that I made last winter for my friend Cheryl, whose husband died of cancer 20 years ago at the age of 39.  She was to speak at a church service honoring his memory and wanted to wear a jacket featuring his ties.  She had saved a lovely assortment.

Designing the back of Cheryl's coat.
Designing the back of Cheryl’s coat.

We started with a red tie she had made and gifted to him for Christmas over 30 years ago.  We selected a piece of black raw silk suiting from her stash to complement the group of 7 ties.

Here are some tricks for making a terrific tie jacket or vest:

  • Find 5-7 ties that coordinate well. Ideally at least one with a novelty print, one foulard, one striped and one very simple.

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    Testing ties for the band and side seam inserts.
  • Identify one or two for the front band. If your jacket is short, one might be long enough but for a longer jacket, you will need two.
  • Arrange some of the ties on the back before construction. Use the ends from these ties to decorate the sleeve if you are making a jacket.
  • If you wish to piece ties together to form a longer embellishment, piece them along the straight of grain, which looks like the bias.

    Pieced tie for long front band.
    Pieced tie for long front band.
  • Deconstruct a tie to use as flat piping along the side/sleeve seam if you do not want to use complete ties for each side.

    On the finished jacket, notice the sleeve details and piping.
    On Cheryl’s finished jacket, notice the sleeve details and piping.
  • Insert the selvage edge of the fabric between the jacket and lining to support the tie that forms the decorative front band.

    The tie has been folded back to reveal the selvage base and the button loops.
    The tie has been folded back to reveal the selvage base and the button loops.
  • Hand or machine stitch the ties to the jacket or vest.
  • Close the jacket with small buttons and loops or an inside tie.
  • Save the labels from each tie you use in the jacket and stitch them into the lining or back facing.

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    Labels lined up on the facing.

Love this idea, but don’t have your own stash of ties?  Contact us and we will put together a collection in your desired colors from our extensive stash.

What have you done with old ties?  What other sentimental fabrics have you repurposed as gifts?  In this season of sharing we thank you for sharing the Fit for Art journey with us.

Happy Sewing, RAE

6 thoughts on “Old Ties – Warm Memories

  1. I have used a tie as bias trim along the front band of a TRJ in wool herringbone. The red and blue paisley tie really set it off. One of thee best places to get ties for your stash is the thrift store. We have Goodwill where silk ties are often just $1. And on sale days they are just 50 cents. At that price, you can buy a lot of ties to fill your stash.

  2. So very clever!

  3. Do you leave the ties in tact, or do you remove the interfacing before attaching them to your jackets? This is one of the best applications I have seen. Love your creativity.

    1. If I am using the ties as appliques, I do not deconstruct them, I like the body and loft a complete tie adds to a garment. If I am using the ties as a flat piping or other insertion, I will deconstruct the tie. On the denim jacket, I only took apart one tie, the orange foulard which is in the center back and as flat piping between the body and the sleeve/side sections.

  4. Would you have a pattern for a repurposed necktie vest for a man? I have a retired man asking. I’m a quilter and do very little clothing sewing. So looking for something not too difficult. Thank you.

    1. Grace, There are a number of mens vest patterns and you could construct it from ties or decorate it with ties. Our jacket, with the dart folded out can be made for a man as well and the directions to leave off the sleeve for a vest are a download from our helpful hints jacket tab. What a great idea.

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