Category Archives: Neckties

The Path Taken

4 ties Starry Path BlocksAn old Sears’ catalog said: “an untied man is an untidy one.”  Men have been wearing neck-wear for the last 300 years. This means this has been a source of fabric for quilters for a long time.  So, where are the quilts? Crazy quilts are often from dress fabric, and designed for embroidery and embellishment.
I know ties wear out, but with birthdays, Father’s Day, Christmas and other gift giving occasions, do all ties go away?  Is having a closet full of neckties something from the latter part of the 20th century? Did soiled ties get tossed because dry cleaners are expensive? Am I the only one that wonders why this source is not “mined?”

Over 20 years ago, I received a box of 178 ties from my best friend’s father.  I remembered Yogi Berra’s quote, “When you come to a fork in the road, Take It.”  So, I took the path to become an advocate of using neckties in quilts, pillows, table runners, handbags, garments, all things. I wanted to tell all that the fabric is full of wonderful colors, textures, and intricate designs. If the previous owner is known, there are memories and stories. His necktie shows his personality or mood, regardless of whether he purchased it himself or a gift. Making items of this fabric would be environmentally correct—Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.

And, the “duh” question — much of the fabric was silk and could easily be worth $ 80. /yard and it is given to you for free.  NOTE: this disclaimer is written to tell you FREE means only that little or no money was exchanged in acquiring the fabric.  My purpose was to find out why everyone did not use discarded ties.

Of course, the fabric is slippery and difficult to handle.
Many ties are polyester; therefore offering little proper snob appeal. Ties are made to attract attention – usually worn with a dark suit and light shirt. Most fabric companies design fabric where all designs play nice with other selections, and provide coordinates. Most ties were meant to stand-alone – a pleasing design is often difficult (IMPOSSIBLE!) to coordinate with other tie fabrics. One tie, “harvested”, yields 1/8th-1/16 of a yard.5 ties Starry Path Blocks

HMMM — there really may be something to There is no such thing as a Free Lunch (or free fabric).

The Starry Path workshop yesterday had amazing students. Their blocks were spectacular. Their insights will lead me to re-edit my pattern and techniques. We started with these WIP 12” blocks. Soon I will share some of their work.  Do you have a comment?

Interfacing Men’s Ties

I make table runners, pillows and quilts from men’s ties.  I use fusible Interfacing — often I use what I have in the house.  This is a good thing.   It is  possible to construct almost any quilt pattern you can imagine — and the choice of which type makes less difference — decision is similar to choosing the right batting.

Here is summary of what I have found and can recommend:

Fusible 906F Fusible Sheerweight – best for  simple straight line sewing blocks that are not pushed and pulled.  However, if you are making entire quilt of ties, go for this because this adds the least weight.

Pellon SK135 Sheer-Knit is often choice for tee shirt quilts, and you may have on hand or find easily.

Pellon 880F Sof-Shape – heavier than Sheerweight, probably best all-around for variety of tie blocks

Pellon 44F – a basic interfacing that is the least expensive.

And I use 987F Pellon® Fusible Fleece or 973F Heavyweight Fusible Fleece as my batting for many of my table runners.

Stripes in Ties

Working with straight StripesI am still working with the Starry Path Quilt Block.  Many of my ties have strong contrasting stripes.  When I change the alignment along the edges of the triangle, things happen with the energy, the motion.  The smaller star points offer another design challenge.    Computer graphics show choices.  Now, I start the serious playing and use fabric.   Wonder what will happen when I make these blocks?

Working with straight Stripes 45 degrees

How Many Ties Will I Need for Starry Path Block?

How many ties do you want to use?
Do you have STRIPED ties?
Big Geometric ones?
Will you make one pillow? Wall hanging?
Shown are 5 different arrangements of single block. All require the same amount of fabric and patience. Which layout best uses the ties you have?
When you decide, you will know how many ties you will need for a block. Note: this design, as shown, uses a non-tie-like fabric for the background of the star.

2 ties5 ties common backgrounds

3 ties4 ties colored block


8 ties colored block

Closet Full of Neckties

This October I will talk to the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston on

Free Fabric?
Piecing with Men’s Ties

The following is written to entice people to attend:
Is your closet full of neckties?
Have you been saving the ties of someone special?
Do you have a bunch?
Is the fabric calling to you?
Do you want to see them to bring back memories?
Are you thinking Free Fabric?
Learn what to do with them. Techniques for taking them apart (deconstructing), washing and stabilizing will get you ready to use them. Come see quilts, pillows, table runners and objects d’art using these wonderful personal unique fabrics.
Feel free to bring one of your own and learn to fillet your tie.

Piecing with Neckties Workshop

There will be a workshop Saturday, October 17th.  This will cover pressing and piecing with non-traditional quilting fabrics.  Students make 8” or 12” Starry Path blocks, using freezer paper for pillow, wall hanging, or table runner.

A kit for $ 5.00 includes patterns to construct either the large 12” or smaller 8” blocks. Finished size will be determined by the number and arrangement of blocks.

Hopefully, I will not need to repeat my mantra: Your mom told you there is “NO FREE LUNCH”.  When you look at the box of neckties, remember those words.   Free fabric implies that no money changed hands.  This free fabric requires an investment of “sweat equity”.  That disclaimer repeated again, everyone will get ready to enjoy using those small slippery, cut on the bias, not intended for handling, used fabrics.

Starry Paths Wall Hanging


Getting Ready

Before class, students will need to deconstruct their ties.  The following lists the procedure.
• Remove label carefully. (Save label)
• Open seam. Clip tacking at both ends.
• Beginning at the smaller end of the tie, find the thickish thread that runs the length of the tie. Pull.
• Remove interfacing. (If saving, ask yourself, why?) Leave the lining on tie.
• Wash ties (or be the one who wished they had washed the ties)
In washer,  with regular laundry
7-10 ties per lingerie bag
Regular detergent, cold water
Gentle cycle
Hand wash ties,  if this would be more comfortable to you
• Dry
Drip dry on hangers
In dryer, still in bag! Ties tangle too easily!!)
• Press on wrong side.
Mark tie tack holes with marker unless you will cover hole with something
Spots – Fading – does it add? Answer often depends on intent
Cover the ironing board with towel.
Check iron temperature
Use mist, if ties are dry
Great opportunity to fuse stabilizer to ties
• Sort pressed ties by color
• Store on hangers, in box to prevent wrinkles, handling
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