Bow Ties · Sewing · Slow Fashion

How to Sew a Bow Tie

After sewing over 100 bow ties last year for Ryan, AKA Dr. H (see all the bow ties here), I inevitably wanted to challenge myself a bit. I have basically worked through all the cute quilting fabric that would make a decent bow tie and now the only way to get a pattern is to design it myself. Instead of just designing fabric, Spoonflower let’s me print the bow tie and pattern directly on the fabric. It is a pretty ingenious method for making bow ties–saves on time and money. I’m really excited about this project since I not only get to design bow ties, but I’m also able to share my designs with the whole world! Sewing a bow tie couldn’t be easier either. Here’s a brief tutorial on how to sew a bow tie using one of my fabric designs.

I am waiting for my pattern samples to show up before I make them available for purchase. As I make my bow tie patterns available for purchase, I will be featuring them on this site! For now, you can check out all the neat patterns I’ve designed: Sesame Street, Star Wars, Christmas and Thanksgiving, the Muppets, etc.

Wash Your Fabric

Make sure to sew your raw edges so they don’t fray in the wash. Wash your fabric in cold water with gentle detergent. Hang your fabric to dry. Once dry, iron out any crinkles.

Interface One Side of Bow Tie

Using only super thin interfacing, I used Pellon PLF36 Fusible Ultra Lightweight Fusible Interfacing (Pellon 906F works as well), iron to only one set (so only one left end and one right end). If you interface both sides of the bow tie, you will not be able to flip the bow tie from inside out. If you want a lighter bow tie, you can skip interfacing all together. I just did not like that the bow tie was a bit see-through without interfacing. sample00

Determine Your Neck Size

I find it easiest to use a well-fitting button-down shirt to make this measurement. Unbutton your shirt and lay the collar out flat. Measure from the center of your button to the center of your button-hole. This is your actual neck size. For this tutorial I will be using 15 1/2″ for my example. IMG_0676 The longest length on the right end of the bow tie neck measures 13 inches (see location of red arrow). Don’t change this length. I’ve provided a general guide for where to cut for neck sizes 14 through 20, but here’s the calculation if you want to re-measure or need to cut for a size smaller than 14 or larger than 20. The total length of the bow tie neck should measure your neck length + 5″. For a neck size of 15.5″, my total length should be 20.5″. Since the right end is fixed at 13″, my left end should be cut to 7.5″ along the shortest length (see location of red arrow).

Cut at a 45º angle. The cut arrows are pointing in the right direction to help you to remember. sample02 Here’s a table to help figure out what length the short side of your left end should be:

Neck Size Length of Left Side Neck Size Length of Left Side
14″ 6″ 14 1/2″ 6 1/2″
15″ 7″ 15 1/2″ 7 1/2″
16″ 8″ 16 1/2″ 8 1/2″
17″ 9″ 17 1/2″ 9 1/2″
18″ 10″ 18 1/2″ 10 1/2″
19″ 11″ 19 1/2″ 11 1/2″
20″ 12″

Sew Left and Right Ends Together

The seam allowance for the bow tie is 1/4″. With right sides together, sew your left and right ends together at the neck. You want to offset the ends by 1/4″ (see image below). Do this for both sides of the bow tie. sample03

Sew Front and Back Together

Place right sides together (i.e., printed design sides together). Again using 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the front and back together, leaving a few inches along the neck open for when you have to turn your bow tie inside out.

sample04Clip and Flip

Clip your corners and along any curved edge so the bow tie will lay flat when it is flipped. To turn the tie inside out, pinch the end of one side, separating the material, then use a stick to push the ends through the gap left in the middle. I used an unsharpened pencil, but any stick-like object (that is not too pointy or sharp) will work.

Bow Tie DIY:

Your accessory options are endless when you’re equipped with the ability to make your own bow ties from scratch. Whether you’re looking to make the perfect Father’s Day gift, add a touch of DIY flair to your groomsman party, or showcase your own sartorial edge with quirky patterns and colors, this bow tie tutorial will show you everything you need to make your own customizable piece of neckwear.

Iron Out and You’re Done!

Take the time to iron your bow tie flat. To close the bow tie, you can either use your sewing machine and stitch along the opening along the edge, or to make it more professionally looking sew it shut by hand with an invisible ladder stitch.

Happy Sewing!



8 thoughts on “How to Sew a Bow Tie

  1. Naomi, when you are giving the total length of the bow tie, you are only referring to the straight area around the neck, right before the actual bow begins, right? Your arrows only are on the straight thin part of the bow tie.

    This is a fabulous tutorial!


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