How to Make a Recycled Necktie Scarf

comments (8) August 25th, 2008     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Recycle old neckties into a light, flowy silk scarf. The mix of colors and patterns is really fun.
All you need to deconstruct a necktie is a seam ripper and a little time.
This scarf uses silk from eight different neckties. The colors and patterns work together nicely.
Recycle old neckties into a light, flowy silk scarf. The mix of colors and patterns is really fun.

Recycle old neckties into a light, flowy silk scarf. The mix of colors and patterns is really fun.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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I think thrift-store neckties are pure crafting gold. We've seen lots of cute skirts and bags made from the whole ties, but this project involves deconstructing the ties and using just the silk covering. Choose eight neckties whose colors and patterns coordinate together.

What you'll need:
Eight silk neckties
Seam ripper
Rotary cutter and mat
Straight pins
Sewing machine
Coordinating thread
1/2 yard silk (or poly blend) backing fabric

When you're in the thrift store searching for neckties for this project, check the labels to make sure they're silk. If there is no label, you can tell the silk ties from the polyester ones by feel: Silk has a much lighter, more fluid feeling, whereas the poly ties generally feel quite stiff.

Begin by removing the tack stitches at each end of the necktie.

So let's take a necktie apart. Most neckties are constructed in the same way. Look on the back side for a row of tacking stitches, as pictured. There will usually be a set on each end of the necktie. Cut through both sets with a seam ripper. And while you're here, use the seam ripper to remove any labels as well.

Pull the center back seam apart. This is usually easy to do with your fingers rather than a seam ripper.

The center back seam of the tie is usually hand-sewn with a thick, slippery thread, so it's pretty easy to pull out with your fingers. Just work your way from one end of the tie to the other, opening the seam and removing the thread as you go.

The interior padding should pull out easily.

Now you can get at the interior padding, which should pull right out. (Hang onto this stuff, by the way—it's a great batting for small quilting projects!)

Use a seam ripper to remove the lining that's sewn to both ends of the necktie.

Both ends of the tie will have some lining sewn to them. Just turn each end inside out, as I've done here with the skinny end of this tie. Then, use your seam ripper to take out the seams and remove the lining.

Most neckties are made of more than one piece of fabric. You can usually just ignore these piecing seams.

This is a good moment to notice that most neckties are pieced together. This one has two diagonal seams in it, placed so they'd be at the back of the neck when the tie was tied. For the most part, they aren't too noticeable in this scarf project, so I'll ignore them.

Repeat this process with the other seven neckties, and iron all the silk pieces.

Time to begin piecing. I'm making a series of wide and narrow stripes here, but you can cut and piece your silk into any patchwork configuration you like. There are just two important things to remember:

Neckties are cut on the bias, which means that your silk pieces will have a lovely drape, but they'll also be a little stretchy. We'll talk about this challenge in a minute.

• On a related note, a necktie will have been stretched somewhat during its useful lifetime of being tied and untied. So sometimes the silk you liberate from a tie will be a bit stretched out. You can actually see this in the pattern printed on the silk. If this is the case, you can stretch it in the opposite direction to help it return to normal.

Use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut two end pieces. Each one should have two square corners.

For the pattern I'm making, I need the two endmost pieces of the scarf to be square. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to create a 6-inch-wide strip with a squared end. The other end retains the diagonal edge of the original necktie.

Place the pieces side by side, right sides up. Match the angled edges.

My pattern also takes advantage of the variable width of a necktie—my stripes will be narrower on one side than the other. But I need to keep the scarf straight overall. So, join your pieces like this: Place them side by side, right sides facing up. Make sure that the angled edges of the two pieces match, as shown here.

Place the right sides together and pin.

Then, pin the pieces right sides together, as shown, and sew with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Because the fabric is bias cut, it will want to stretch as it passes through the feed dogs of your sewing machine. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the fabric with your fingers as it passes through—you want it to maintain its width as you sew. Light finger-pressure is best.

If you match the angles of the silk pieces, your scarf will have straight edges.

Continue cutting 6-inch-wide pieces of your various neckties and adding them to the scarf in this manner. The finished scarf will have casual-looking stripes: some wider, some narrower. If you match angles with every piece, then your scarf will have straight edges, as shown.

If you don't match the angles of each piece, then your scarf could become curved.

If you don't match angles, then your scarf could end up curved, like this. If this happens, you'll want to take out some seams and make adjustments.

The scarf pieces are cut 6 inches wide but will narrow a bit due to stretching.

When you've pieced your scarf as long as you want it, then it's time to add a backing. Here's where that bias thing raises its head again. Notice here: All my original scarf pieces are 6 inches wide. And this piece of backing fabric is also 6 inches wide. And they don't appear to be the same width! What happened?

It's okay—the necktie silk, as mentioned before, has a tendency to stretch. The weight of all these sewn-together pieces will pull the whole scarf so it ends up being a little narrower than when you began. We can cheat around this a bit. First, just cut your backing strip a little narrower, 5 inches instead of 6 inches.

Second, pin the scarf to the backing in a specific order: Pin the two short ends together first, right sides together. Then, fold the two pieces in half together to find the center of each. Match these centers and pin. From there, pin the rest of the edges together, stretching the scarf slightly to match the width of the backing.

Sew the pieced top to the backing fabric.

Sew the two pieces together along the two long edges, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Leave the two short ends open—this makes it so much easier to turn the whole thing right side out.

Turn under the two short ends and pin. Sew them closed with a tiny slipstitch.

Turn the scarf right side out by putting your arm through the whole thing, grabbing the opposite end, and pulling it back through. Press it flat. Turn under the raw edges on the two ends and pin. Stitch them together with a tiny slipstitch.

And have fun wearing your new creation!

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posted in: fabric, blue, red, scarf, necktie

Comments (8)

thackery writes: Here is a place to get crafting ties online for a good price
Posted: 10:32 am on June 29th
wildenfunky writes: Those are very funky ties!! How do I funk up geeky ties? Food for thought. Thank you so much!
Posted: 10:26 am on November 15th
multicrafty writes: I have at least 20 or so of my Dad's old ties and have been searching for the perfect project to "showcase" them. Thank you so much for posting about this (and taking the time to do the tutorial). I'll have to try this one out this week. Thanks again! ~Angie~
Posted: 11:06 pm on August 31st
artlikebread writes: Yet another fabulous idea. I've made a belt out of a tie before, but never a scarf. Looks great, Diane!
Posted: 7:21 pm on August 31st
Sister_Diane writes: beverlyb9, sure thing - the scarf top can be pieced any way you like. If you decide to make one with the narrower angled stripes, will you post a picture to the Gallery so we can all see?
Posted: 9:31 am on August 31st
beverlyb9 writes: I think the scarf would look much better with the pieces set on an angle and not quite as wide.
Posted: 11:13 pm on August 30th
paperrain writes: I just got my mom's old sewing machine and I'm dying to give it a run. This looks like the perfect project, and great gifts to send with holiday cards!
Posted: 7:36 pm on August 28th
ChildfreeTrophyWife writes: Great tutorial! All the pictures helped. There is a flickr group devoted to using ties called Sewing With Neckties. There are tons of great things to be made with neckties.[email protected]/
Posted: 9:05 pm on August 26th
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