Ahh ze ineffable necktie. First we have the traditional tie. That utterly incomprehensible piece of silk worn around the necks of men and bois everywhere. Next, we come to the ascot. Seen at polo matches, horse races, and on the uniform of one Mr. Fred Jones (of Scooby-Doo fame), the ascot says “I have money and I’m not afraid to use it” unlike anything else. And the bolo tie. Who could forget the bolo? Once the domain of cowboys and their southern counterparts, vaqueros, bolos are making their sartorial comeback with the rockabilly set. Finally we arrive at the bow tie. While skinny ties and scarves each have their place in a dignified queer’s wardrobe, it’s the bow tie that lends a certain je ne sais fab to any outfit. But where does one find a bow tie? How exactly does one procure a properly sized and attractively styled cravet? Thrift stores, to be sure. Perhaps at the shop of a gentleman’s clothier. But there is another way to go about the selection of a bow tie. It is, of course, to create one with your own hands.
A Dandy Bowtie
1/2 yard of cotton fabric
1/2 yard of non-woven fusible interfacing
A pencil or chalk
Scissors or a rotary cutter
An old t-shirt or pillow case
1. Download and print out the pattern. Cut out the two pieces and tape them together so you end up with a long strip with a sexy curvaceous end.
2. Measure your neck (or the neck of whoever’s going to wear this tiny piece of dashing). Are you ready for some math? Okay! When everything’s all stitched up, this pattern makes a bowtie that’s about 14 inches long. If you’re neck’s longer than that, subtract 14 from your measurement and divide that number by 2 (since the pattern’s going to be doubled): this is your magic number. If you’re neck’s shorter, subtract your measurement from 4 and divide that number by 2. You see that perpendicular line along the end of the strip? Make a cut across that and then add your magic number in with a tape extension or subtract it by cutting that much out and taping everything back together. Your pattern’s ready to roll.
3. Iron the fabric flat and then position the interfacing on top of it, sticky side down. Put the old t-shirt or pillow case on top of all of this to make an interfacing sandwich. Putting an extra layer between your fabric and the iron will keep the interfacing from getting too hot and shrinking. I thought I was cool (get it?!) enough the first time to skip this step and ended up with a wrinkled mess of fabric that I had to throw away.
4. Trace the pattern onto the fabric. Trace it with the side that has a scribble on it facing up and then flip it over and trace it twice with the blank side up. Cut out all four pieces of fabric.
5. Pin the two pairs (the two that were traced right side up go together as well as the two that were traced flipped over) together at a 90 degree angle with the right sides facing each other. In order for everything to come out at a straight line, you’ll have to overlap the acute angles slightly. It’s kind of hard to explain, so take a look at the picture below.
6. Once both sides are sewn together, pin the right sides together and sew almost all the way around the edge of the bowtie. You’ll want to start after the diagonal seam, sew around the whole thing (leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance) and stop before you get back to the diagonal seam. You’ll end up with about a 4″ hole on the side of your hollow bowtie.
7. Turn the tie inside out, one half at a time. Use a dull pencil or chopstick to make sharp corners.
8. Turn the unfinished edges of the 4″ hole in, pin them together, and sew along the side. Chances are your bowtie’s pretty wrinkly right now. You can fix that with a little bit of starch or water and your trusty iron.
9. Learn how to tie a bowtie. It might take a little practice, but it’s a quintessential gentlemanly skill that’s worth mastering. Now put that baby on; you are one foxy fox.