A blog about the things I make and modify, with occasional thrift purchases that I am especially proud of. Some things I make to hopefully sell, others I just want to show off, but the right price will take anything--shoot me an email if you are interested!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bow Ties New and Old

I recently realized two things. First, I have made a good number of bow ties for the Spring-Summer season that are unwearable in Fall and Winter (pink seersucker is definitely not going to fly in the snow). More plaids and small checks in subdued colors are needed for the coming weather!

Second, I haven't posted the majority of my early bow ties which I like and which see regular wear. The remedy to both is below:

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All were cut from four-in-hand ties thrifted for a dollar each except the right-most, which was cut from a big hunk of flannel that I also got at a thrift store.

This one was one of the first. I made it with some thrifted interfacing that isn't well suited to the task, but I like the pattern, so I still wear it.

The two above were made with the tie interfacing I bought a few yards of online, and thus have a much better hand. I also thought it might be a little funny to put the tags back on so it looks like I have Gant and J Crew tags that have actually never been manufactured. Maybe I just have a horrible sense of humor.

I think this is the only bow tie I have made with this pattern, which I think I adapted from a Burda Style pattern. I made it a little flatter, for reasons I will discuss below.

[The one on top is sold, and I've been wearing the bottom one.]
These are the two newest editions which I made in the past week. I made a new batwing pattern which was supposed to be one quarter inch wider than the standard pattern I have been using, but I think these came out closer to a half inch wider. The lower one is a bit more brown in reality, and has subtle blue and gold over-check. I like it and have already worn it to class. The top one is a classic herringbone pattern. I may have to keep it, too.

I have come to like this shape for a few reasons. For one, the narrower version can be cut entirely from a neck tie, which makes procuring material easy. I still haven't found a place to buy tie silk, so all of the bow ties I make are from other materials or neck ties. Even ties that have seen some wear and are frayed at the edges can be cut around and still work for bow ties, so landfill space is conserved.

There are aesthetic considerations as well. The straight sides allow the tied width to be adjusted to taste because the knot does not have to be at a certain place on the shape of the tie. More importantly, however, the knot really pinches the bow, creating dimples which are not achieved with an exaggerated butterfly pattern with a very narrow waist (I may have just coined that term). This is one of the things I really enjoy about my bow ties--there are variables like how tight the knot is made, and a certain amount of fiddling can achieve different results, much like the various knots one can tie in a four-in-hand tie. I find the soft curves of the dimples flowing out of the knot quite beautiful.

I also think the variety of possible looks hints at the history of the necktie. The cravat could be tied in any number of ways. Even later, there was a greater variety of neckwear to choose from. I like old things and old dress in particular. I think dress was much more interesting a century or two ago, and even a bow tie itself is an intentional anachronism, reminding us of a time when they were more much more legitimately. I am somewhat tempted to play with some more anachronistic items of dress, like removable shirt collars and floppy bows, but have thus far refrained. We will see what the future brings!

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