It’s hard to toss away old neckties, especially if they belonged to a loved one or are made from 100% silk or are beautiful/amusing. My loved one is alive and still hanging on to a handful of classics, but last year winter’s clean-up yielded five ties that were ugly, yet made from silk. This year’s winter clean-up coincided with my looking for an easy project.
There are many videos on upcycling old ties. Go searching or follow along with what I did.
Nancy Gamon’s video instuctions were very helpful. Note, she does not remove the lightweight facing at either end of the tie.
Sewing into a strip
I was then inspired by Gamon’s video on strip piecing the ties. Because I clumsily hacked away the end facings, I had a harder time puzzling through the joins. Any method works, as long as there is a reasonably smooth transition along the outer edges from tie to tie. (My deviations from her method continue below the video.)
Five ties made a very long strip, but they were only enough for a narrow scarf. And they were dull. I decided to jazz up the project by adding a strip of shantung silk from my stash. If you add extra fabric, cut it on the bias to match the drape of the ties. That was especially important for the shantung, which ravels badly.
For this project, I cut the shantung roughly along the bias, without a ruler, in the spirit of improvisation. Then I joined them into a strip the length of the ties, trimming edges around the joins as needed. Then I sewed the two long strips together.
Unlike Gamon, I chose to make classic quilting seams. Right sides facing. 1/4″ wide. I pressed the seams as sewn, then to one side. (I edge-stitched the first seam after pressing, but decided it wasn’t worth it.)
Because the edges don’t match, you need some faith that this will work out (and some trimming if the match looks too far off). Steam pressing helps flatten out the lumps and bumps (taking care not to scorch the silk). Creativebug has a good video course that coaches you through this process: Patchwork Improv: Working with Strips by Sherri Lynn Wood.
Cutting and joining
Valerie Nesbitt gives a good demonstration of joining long strips in this video:
I stopped when my cloth was eight strips wide, approximately 64″ x 25.”
I wanted to line it with more silk, but didn’t have enough available. So I stitched the length into a tube and did not iron it flat. It has a wonky shape and pressing it flat would have fought against that. On the assymetrical ends, I turned up a hand-stitched hem.
The joy of improvisation, especially on something so simple as a scarf, is that you can always recut, add, subtract, etc. So there is really no risk.