Have you ever needed a bow tie for a costume or event, but couldn’t find one in just the right fabric? And it’s tough to make one from scratch, because the silk fabric used to make ties isn’t usually available at regular fabric stores. What to do?
Make one out of a regular tie!
I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on a nice tie just to make a bow tie, but if you happen to be at Goodwill and find a tie with the perfect fabric for $1.99 like I did (score!), here’s how you can make it work.
First, unpick the stitches up the center back of your tie, and use a cool iron to press the fabric flat so you can see what you have to work with. I only unpicked the wide half of the tie so I could use the skinny back half as a neck strap. I removed the interfacing from the unpicked half.
Next, find a pattern for a pre-tied bow tie. I used this one , which worked great.
Get some lightweight iron-on interfacing and lay the main pattern piece on it. Cut out four identical pieces. Iron those pieces onto the wrong side of your tie fabric.
Cut out an additional small piece of tie fabric for the center– the pattern page says it should be 1 3/4″ by 3″ but I cut mine a little larger at 2″ by 4″ because I thought it needed to be bigger.
Pair up your bow tie pieces and stitch each pair together using a 1/4″ seam allowance to make the two separate halves of the bow tie, leaving the short side open. Clip the corners and curves, turn, and press.
Right sides together, stitch the bow tie pieces together at the center (1/4″ seam allowance) to make one long piece. Press the seam allowance open on the back side. Don’t worry, it’ll be covered later.
Fold your center small piece in half and stitch along the long open edge and one short open edge. Clip, turn, and press.
Fold the long bow tie piece in a Z to form your bow tie shape.
Pinch the center and wrap the small center piece around it with the ends in the back. Pin in place and hand-stitch to itself, hiding the raw edge behind the finished edge. If the center piece seems too long, feel free to trim the raw end at this point.
Next, take your leftover skinny piece of tie– if it’s the correct width you can finish the ends and use it for a neck strap as-is, but I had to unpick mine and fold it in a bit to make it skinnier. Run the strap through the center piece of your bow tie in the back and tack down with a few hand stitches. If it’s too wide to fit, just stitch it directly to the center of the bow tie.
Note: To make this tie work for my husband’s costume– Michael from The Good Place, to match my Janet costume— I used hot glue to attach some trimmed peacock feather eyes to the tie itself, hiding the ends behind the center piece. I think it turned out great!