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This step-by-step bow tie tutorial will guide you through the process of making your own set of bow ties using one of my DIY bow tie kits.
Note: Although my DIY bow tie kits make it very easy because the sewing pattern and instructions are printed right on the fabric, you can also follow this tutorial to create bow ties with your own fabric using one of my printable bow tie patterns.
Before you begin the bow tie tutorial:
You will need…
- The printed fabric from shop.Lavaguy.com (or your own fabric)
- The hardware included in the kit to make the bow ties adjustable in size. There are 3 pieces in each set, so you should have a total of 21 pieces. You can purchase extra sets from me here, or buy them elsewhere.
- An iron and ironing board with cover
- A sewing machine, properly threaded with matching thread
- Scissors, or preferably a rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Pins and pincushion
- A loop turning tool (You can make one from a coat hanger too.)
The following items are optional, but will help you make more professional-looking bow ties faster and easier:
- Light-weight or medium-weight interfacing. It can be sew-in or iron-on. You can even use some scrap fabric that isn’t too heavy.
- A set of my laser-cut acrylic bow tie templates for cutting fabric. The shapes correspond to the pattern pieces printed on the fabric. They make cutting the fabric with a rotary cutter a breeze. If you don’t have them, don’t worry. You’ll just take it a little slower when you cut out the fabric pieces. If you’re using your own fabric, you’ll need to download and print my bow tie patterns.
Unfold the fabric and press any wrinkles out, using an iron set at the recommended temperature for the fabric (cotton). Do not pre-wash the fabric, which could fade the colors or shrink the fabric.
In the next step, you’ll begin cutting the pieces from the fabric.
Cut apart each section. I use a 28mm rotary cutter with a new blade, and large cutting mat. Scissors work fine too. Optional: If you are using fusible interfacing iron it onto the back side of the fabric before cutting out each piece. If you want to use sew-in interfacing, simply use one of the bow tie sections as a template to cut a piece of interfacing the same size and shape.
If you plan to make a lot of ties, or you’re making them out of your own fabric instead of my DIY patterns, consider investing in a set of laser-cut acrylic templates I designed to speed up this step. The shapes correspond to the patterns printed on my DIY bow tie fabric (as shown below).
Otherwise, just use a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat to carefully cut out the shapes.
Next, we’ll pin the pieces together and get ready for sewing.
Pin the pieces together, right sides facing. (Not shown in photo: If you’re using sew-in interfacing, place the interfacing on top of the fabric.)
Now, we’ll move to the sewing machine and start stitching!
You should now have two halves of the bow tie (one long and one short). Each half consists of two fabric pieces pinned together with the unprinted side facing out. Get ready to sew!
You’ll be sewing each half separately. (They’re only joined together by the hardware in a later step.) Starting at the end, align your fabric under the needle. Use the guides on your sewing machine so that the line of stitching will be 1/4 inch from the edge. Go as slowly as you need to… accuracy is important here.
You can see in the above photo that on my machine, a 1/4 inch seam allowance aligns with the edge of the presser foot. If your machine doesn’t have a guide to follow, you can put a piece of masking tape on the bed of the machine at the proper distance from the needle and follow that.
Use a small straight stitch and go all the way around the tie, until you reach the same end that you started on (but don’t close up the end). If the tie has corners, stop the machine and lift the presser foot to turn the fabric. If the tie has curves, just go slowly enough that you can keep the seam at 1/4 inch from the edge.
If you’ve sewn accurately 1/4 inch from the edge, the two rows of stitching on the long tail should be about 5/8 inch apart. If they’re more narrow than that, you’ll have a difficult time inverting the pieces. If they’re too wide, it won’t fit into the hardware.
In the next step, you’ll trim the seam allowance.
Snip the corners and trim the seam allowance to avoid bulkiness. This will make inverting the tie easier, and eliminate bulk in the corners. Be extra careful not to accidentally cut any of the threads from the seam you just sewed.
Next you’ll turn the two halves of the tie right-side out.
This is where you’ll use a handy tool you can easily make from a piece of stiff wire to invert the bow tie halves. With a pair of pliers, straighten out a thick piece of wire (the plastic coated wire hangers work great for this). Bend the end back on itself as shown in the photo inset below, to insure you won’t poke a hole in your bow tie fabric. Make your inverting tool as long as practical (mine is about 25 inches long).
Insert the tool into the fabric tube, all the way to the end. Using your fingers and the tool on the inside, invert the end of the tie. Remove the tool, and use it to push the rest of the tie into itself to turn it right side out.
Repeat with the other half. It’s beginning to take shape!
Now that the tie halves are right-side out, they look a little puffy, right? Let’s iron it flat next.
With an iron set at the recommended temperature for the fabric (cotton), press both pieces flat.
Next we’ll install the adjustable hardware.
There are three pieces in each set of hardware. The hook (seen on the left in the photo) goes on the short end of the bow tie. Notice that the slide (on the right in the photo) has a bar in the middle that protrudes slightly on one side.
Let’s start with the hook, which goes on the shorter half of the bow tie. Slide the end into the slot on the hook, about 1 inch.
Use a zig-zag stitch on your machine to secure the end as shown. Go back and forth a couple of times to make it sturdy. If you can, tie the threads together neatly in a knot to secure, otherwise just clip them as close to the fabric as possible.
Study the photo below to see how the long end of the bow tie is threaded through the other two pieces of hardware.
Holding the slide with the protruding bar facing down, thread the fabric up and over to the right through both sides of the slide. Then thread the loop piece on, and finally thread the fabric back up through the slide’s left side again, and back out the right side.
Secure the end with a zig-zag stitch just as you did on the short piece.
Almost done! Now let’s set the initial length of the tie…
Adjust the length of the bow tie. As a general rule, add 20 inches to the desired neck size. For instance, for a 15½″ neck size, I would adjust the tie so it is 35½″ long overall when you hook the two pieces together. You may need to fine-tune the length if it’s too long or too short when you tie the knot.
In the last step, you’ll tie the knot.
Ta da! Now all you have to do is tie the knot! Once the bow tie is adjusted to length and tied, you can unhook it from the back to avoid having to tie it each time it you wear it.