Bow Ties on the Bias

April 19, 2011

Last week after sewing dresses for my nieces, I started feeling a guilty pit in my stomach for not making anything cute for my own kids to wear.  Sometimes I get discouraged with boy sewing, since my boys wear really basic clothing (jeans and striped t-shirt), and as my Mother-in-law put it,
"You really need a little girl to sew for. It's pretty sad when you have to get excited about sewing boys underwear, although they did turn out real nice."  
Well, she is right.  Dresses are more fun to sew than underwear.  But, little man dress clothes are pretty fun, too.  Over the last year, I've seen lots of images and tutorials of handmade bow ties for kids.  I finally jumped on this bandwagon, and made two matching sets for my boys.

Recognize this yellow fabric?  Emily and her girls are coming to visit us in a few weeks, and I'm excited to take the matching children thing to a whole new level.

These little bow ties are such a gratifying project.  They are quick to make, adorable, and really wearable.  I make mine using button hole elastic, so they are easy to get on and off, and are completely adjustable.  In case the term button hole elastic leaves you confused, it's really commonly used in toddler's pants to make the waist band adjustable.  It's like regular elastic, but it has evenly spaced horizontal slits, that make it perfect for this project.  I bought a giant roll of it online several years ago, but I saw a small package at my local Joann's last week.  I think lots of local stores now carry it.   

Bow Ties on the Bias - Tutorial
What you need to get started:
  • Bow tie pattern.   I used the tutorial from Delia Creates to make my pattern.  Her instructions are awesome! 
  • 1/2 yard of fabric (a fat quarter will also work).  Choose something lightweight with nice drape.
  • 1/4 yard of lightweight interfacing
  • 4 3/4" of 3/4" Button hole elastic. 
  • Button (needs to fit through the holes in your elastic).  
  • Thread
  • Hand sewing needle

Real bow ties are always cut on the bias, because it gives the tie a little stretch for comfort and ease in tying, makes it drape better overall.  I think you can really notice the difference with striped or plaid fabric.  

Draw a line through the center of your paper pattern, and add several lines at 45 degrees for reference (to help you line your tie up on the bias).  Cut out the pattern from light fusible interfacing.  You need two pieces for one bow tie.  Iron the interfacing on to the wrong side of your fabric, carefully lining it up on the bias.  Use the bias lines you drew earlier on your paper pattern as a guide (you can iron on the interfacing with your paper pattern on top).

Cut out your pieces (following the lines of the interfacing).  Line these pieces up on your fabric with the right sides together, keeping everything on the bias again.  Cut out your second set of pattern pieces.

Pin and sew together leaving a gap at the square end for turning.  I recommend using 1/4" seam allowance.

Trim your pieces close to your seam, and clip the corners. 

Turn your pieces right side out.  My weapon of choice is a chopstick.  Poke out your corners (for this I use a size 3 bamboo knitting needle), and iron everything flat. 

Turn the raw edges inside your tube, and iron flat.  In one, add a piece of 'button hole' elastic.  Turn the elastic under, and pin in place.  With the other open end, pin it shut.  Sew the openings shut with a straight stitch and secure the raw edge of your elastic under with a zig-zag stitch. 

Sew on your button to the inside of your bow tie (so that any extra elastic tucks nicely under the band).

Button it up, and tie your bow tie.  I think using you ankle is the easiest, since my kids are really wiggly, and you need to tie it around something to get the knot right.  Oh, and it turns out my ankles are unfortunately the same size as my kid's (normal sized) necks.

And here we are with a beautiful bow tie!  It's comfy to wear because it has elastic, but it's also easy on and off, and totally adjustable.  Perfect!

Now find your favourite little man, and don't be surprised if he refuses to take it off!


Jennie said...

I just made one of these following Delia's instructions. Will definitely try the button elastic in the future. I had no idea that you could buy it at the store - will be great to have the tie be more adjustable. Thanks for the ankle tie tip too!

Audrey said...

Just made a green and white striped seersucker one for my 2 year old! Thanks for the instructions, they were great! Now my husband wants me to make him some...

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Jennifer Thompson said...

These are really awesome. Loved your work!
Besides I also like the fine work on bow ties on this site as well , if you are interested to buy or are in search of some decent and good pieces, make sure to visit them. :)
Good day!

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