Making a Regular Tie into a Bow Tie

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.

bowtie-original

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.

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Flashback: The Great Hat Undertaking

table con web

Going to Anime Boston this year reminded me that I haven’t told you all about my hat project. THE hat project. The big one. The mother of all projects. The project that spanned years, involved international commerce, and still has remnants floating around my house. And it all started with a single hat. Or, the lack of one.

A few years back, as the steampunk trend was just on the upswing, I decided to make myself a steampunk costume for Anime Boston. It would have a tweed skirt, a brocade bustier, some interesting leather doodads and brass thingies, and of course a miniature top hat. The problem was, I couldn’t find a hat that I liked– the pre-decorated ones were insanely expensive and the craft-store felt ones were really cheap looking, being more like flocked plastic than real felt and too small for what I had in mind. I did try to place an order for the largest available cheap felt hat from an online supply store, but they were out of stock. That, I think, was the turning point in the whole endeavor, because I had to think outside of the box. (why I didn’t just make a hat out of cardboard and cover it in fabric, I have no idea…)

As you know, if you do an in-depth search for an item on eBay the regular results eventually give way to hits for overseas wholesalers who will sell you bulk quantities of said item. While I personally had no need for huge numbers of tiny hats, it occurred to me that if I was having a problem locating a reasonably priced, decent-quality mini top hat, other people might be having the same problem. Pretty soon I had an email conversation going with a hat company in China that could ship me 150 black felt mini top hats for what worked out to be just under $4.00 a hat, including shipping (which was the most expensive part).

Sparing you the logistics, eventually I ended up with two giant cardboard boxes of hats and about 3 months in which to prepare them for sale at an Artist’s Alley table at Anime Boston.

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