Phoebe Moon Quilt Designs

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"Tie"ing Up Loose Ends - Using Men's Ties

Ideas for using mens ties in quilts and other creative sewing projects.

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Picture courtesy Linda A.  Click on the thumbnail to see it up close.

Have you ever been to a garage sale or auction and seen a box full of old silk ties? The fabric in them called to you but you didn’t know what to do with them, so you passed them by. If that memory still haunts you, go ahead and buy them next time!  Use these tips for making projects out of mens ties. 

Kay is trying to decide which side of the tie to use for a pillow cover. Silk ties come in different sizes, styles and weights. Try to work with all the same weight if you can. Carefully unpick the stitches on the back of the tie when you take it apart. Remove the lining and the label and save it for use in  another project. You should get about an eighth of a yard of silk fabric to work with. Check it over for stains or holes.  It's always risky washing silk.  Test a small area first.  You might be happier just cutting around any stained area, or maybe appliquéing the label over the hole.  If the front of the tie is stained, check the back.  Sometimes the pattern on the back is just as interesting as the design on the front.

Sister Clementine's centerpiece of ties.  Click on this picture thumbnail to see it up close.Should you cut off the triangle end? That depends on what pattern you choose.  A Dresden Plate design or a three dimensional Dahlia  can use the end pieces intact. To avoid cutting your ties, try a Dresden Plate or Sunburst design. Leave the end of the tie intact and just sew the edges to a foundation for a three dimensional effect. Why not put the tie label in the center of each circle?  Click on the picture thumbnail to the left to see one made by Sr Clementine, CSJ, Rochester NY.



Graphic of mens ties used to make a quilt blockGraphic of mens ties used to make a dresden plate quilt blockBefore choosing a pattern, remember that silk ties are cut on the  bias. Bias edges have a tendency to stretch which means you either need to be very careful when handing your cut tie pieces, or you need to stabilize them. This can be done by ironing a very lightweight fusible to the back of the tie before cutting it. Do not try to use fusible interfacing as a foundation - the fusible melts at a lower temperature and will cause your project to buckle. 

If you don’t wish to add bulk to the fabric, consider sewing your cut tie pieces to a foundation, either paper or fabric.  Foundation by the Yard is a fabric panel which is pre-printed with sewing lines.  It is the same thing as paper piecing, only you sew on fabric and do not remove the foundation later.  This keeps your blocks stable and square.  Each panel is 45" x 46", and includes foundation patterns, instructions for piecing, and fabric requirements. There are 13 different styles available.

Click here for a paper piecing idea Click on the picture thumbnail to see this quilt block up close.Choose a pattern for your ties that will use them to their best advantage. Remember that silk ties tend to be narrow  and slippery, so choose a pattern that uses narrow strips firmly secured. For example, a sew and flip technique, like a crazy patch.  For example, the crazy patch design to the left will make the wall hanging to the right.  Use those specialty stitches on your machine to embroider the seams.  (Click on the picture thumbnails to see them up close.)

CC with her tie blockHere is a picture of CeCe with her tie block made using the paper piecing pattern above.  Click on the picture thumbnail to see it up close.

The log cabin design (below) also uses narrow strips. There are several types of log cabins: the traditional; the off center; the pineapple; and courthouse steps. There is no rule that says an item made with men’s ties has to be ALL silk ties. You can mix and match fabric types - if you need to buy additional fabric to make the design work or as an accent, do so! 


Traditional Log Cabin

Traditional Log Cabin

Off Center Log Cabin

Off Center Log Cabin

Courhouse Steps

Courthouse Steps



How about a Chinese Coin design with the pieces set in black velvet?  The miniature done below by Helene L used tie scraps sewn to a foundation using a flip and sew method and a black wool tie for the sashing and borders. Click on the picture thumbnail to see it up close. 

Chinese Coins Quilt

Consider cutting your tie into squares cut on the diagonal of the tie. That puts them back on the straight of grain, doesn’t it? Now you can make a simple block quilt.

Click on the thumbnail to see this quilt up close

Do you need batting for your tie quilt?  That's up to you!  It really depends on what you plan to do with it. 

Whatever you choose to do with your ties, enjoy the process - and send me a picture! I would love to show off your project on this page. Be sure to click on the picture thumbnails to see these up close.

Be sure to visit the Artful Ties blog, too.  She has some great ideas.

Doreen Birnie of Manchester MI made this quilt for four daughters from their late fathers bow ties.

This wall hanging is courtesy of Doreen Birnie of Manchester MI.  She made this quilt for four daughters from their late fathers bow ties. See more of her work below.

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Ann of Fayetteville GA made 39 Teddy Bears from her fathers ties. 

Pat Fay of Quilters Compass made these from her late fathers clothing

Pat Fay of Quilters Compass made these from her late fathers clothing.

Doreen Birnie Quilt made of ties

Doreen Birnie of Manchester MI made this small quilt for the daughters of a friend who had passed away.

Memories of Dad

This quilt was stolen 8/9/07.  If you see it, contact the Quincy Police at (617) 479-1212

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She also made 40 pillows from his shirts - click on the picture thumbnail to see it up close

Doreen Birnie Quilt made of bow ties

Another one of Doreens.  She used his bow ties.

Joys tie quilt

Joy made this from silk ties, lightweight fusible onto a muslin foundation. The mauve sashing is a satin prom dress phoenixed into a new life.

quilted_pillow-back.jpg (78221 bytes)

Isn't this a clever back for those pillows?  The pocket can be used for the tooth fairy or for prayer requests.

More tips, tutorials and techniques are available at
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Have another tip or a picture to offer? Send it me, and I will add it here. 

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