Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Make a Necktie Skirt

Check out a new article about sewing with neckties here. Yours Truly is one of the featured designers!

Here is a basic tutorial for my version of the necktie skirt:

For about a 30-inch waist you will need 14 ties. (This example features wide ties from the 70's so I only needed twelve.) Measuring down the side of the tie (and NOT to the center tip) cut a 16-inch length from the wide end of each tie.

You may think that you would like your skirt shorter or longer, but please bear with me and try this length first. A shorter skirt requires fewer ties and a longer skirt requires more. A longer skirt also has a tendency to skew. This can be very frustrating on your first project. Trust me.

Arrange your ties however you would like, laying them flat so that you can see the colors.

Each tie will have a single thread that is used to stitch up the back center. Locate this thread and draw it up a little. If the thread breaks, you will have to hand-baste this seam or select another tie. This is a very important step so please do not skip it or you will be sorry....

Stitch all of your ties together straight across the top raw edges about 1/4-inch from the raw edge of each cut tie. Secure each basting thread as you go.

Cut the two end ties off and set them aside for now. We'll be inserting a zipper between them a little later.

Stitch your ties together side by side using a triple zigzag stitch. (This is the #7 stitch on my Bernina Artista 165. I love it and I use it for all of my necktie projects.) Begin stitching at the bottom with a nice wide bartack. Match the edges side by side (no overlapping, no right sides together, just feed them side by side through the machine and the zigzag stitch will join them without any bulk.) Add another bartack at the top of the seam. (Click to enlarge any of the photos to see more detail. Sorry about the blurriness.)

Please understand that I have made hundreds of these skirts. Some of the steps are just automatic to me and I apologize if I am not clear. Here is a little tip: Remember that ties are cut on the bias so at this point you are sewing bias to bias. Avoid pulling. Let your machine do the work for you.

Also, different quality ties have different quality linings. If one tie feel flimsier than the others, I suggest avoiding it. Select another tie. I also recommend using similar fabrics and weights in your skirt. Cotton ties and linen ties are cute, but they don't really mix well with silk and silk-blend ties when you are making a skirt.

Troubleshooting: Your ties are not lining up at the top of the seam? One is longer than the other? There could be several reasons for this. First, you might not have cut them the same length. Remember to measure from the SIDE of the tie and not to the tip. Second, your ties could be different weights or fibers and have different stretch or different ways of feeding through the machine. Third, you may be inadvertently pulling to help the ties through. You can guide them, but don't pull. If you look carefully at my photos you'll see that my ties don't line up perfectly, but they are pretty close. We will trim this up later. No worries. Just do your best.

After all of your ties are sewn together, you should have something like this:

Now it's time to insert your zipper! YAY!!

Because I am certain that you followed my instructions and cut your ties exactly 16 inches long, a 9-inch zipper will be perfect for this skirt.

If you hold up your skirt and wrap it around your waist you will realize that in order for the last two ties to remain in the same position in the color placement, you will have to switch them before you put in the zipper. So you'll see that in my example, the yellow tie starts out on the right end, but I will switch the position of the final two ties and place the yellow tie on the left. Please trust me.

Put your zipper foot on and line up the top edge of the zipper tape with the top raw edge of your tie. Top stitch down each side and across the bottom of the zipper. If you have never sewn a zipper before I recommend basting in place before you sew, then remove the basting.

Switch back to your regular foot (I like the #3 foot with the wide opening.) Finish stitching the ties below the zipper - again with a bartack below the zipper stop, the zigzag stitch and then another bartack.

Hint: Be very careful at the start. You don't want your presser foot to get stuck on the zipper stop. Set the presser foot down so that it rests on top of the zipper stop but not behind it. Then begin to stitch slowly. If is doesn't seem like it is moving forward, then lift the presser foot and advance the stitching manually until you clear the zipper stop.

Does this sound complicated? It is not! I have taught dozens of beginning sewers to make this project. For most of them, this was their very first sewing project. Girls as young as eight have been able to do this and so can you! I'm just adding lots of details so you won't have to call me in the middle of the night.

Sew the back zipper section to the rest of the skirt. The last seam can be tricky but aren't you glad you didn't sew the entire skirt together and THEN have to put the zipper in??? Click to enlarge photo.

Now we are going to clean up the top raw edge, just as I promised.

Open up the zipper and stitch around the top edge of the skirt, about 1/4-inch from the top raw edge. You should already have a line of stitching there. This will reinforce and make it very secure. Now trim the top edge nice and even.

Time for the waistband!

Select a skinny tie. This can be a child's tie or just a skinny style. Pin and baste the tie around the top edge. The thin end will be shorter. In this example the thin end hangs down about seven inches. Then I pin and hand baste the waistband all the way around. The wide end hangs down loose. In this example, my basting is white.

This is important: The center seam of the waistband tie should be even with the raw edge of the skirt. You will fold it down to the inside and stitch it down later.

Topstitch the edge of the waistband. Remove the basting.

Then fold the loose edge of the tie down to the inside of the skirt, pin and slipstitch. Be patient. This is the most time-consuming step.

You'll need a very long, very strong thread for this step. I use a carpet thread.

This skirt is designed to be worn with the zipper at the center back. Tie a mock windsor knot to finish. (This is why you need the fat end to be longer than the skinny end of the waistband.)

To finish I use a home dry-cleaning product called Dryel.

So cute! Don't you love your new skirt? OXOX Ruby


GreenTrunk said...

Love this skirt! Have to make one now! Thanks!

Amber's Notebook said...

Ahh I made one of these in middle school! I wonder if I still have it at my Moms. My version I left two of the ties long and made like a halter/suspender attachment! You just totally brought me back.

Marsha said...

Laura, you are a genius at writing sewing and craft instructions - and for such cute projects, too!

Amanda said...

Yay! this is the best tie skirt tutorial on line!! Thanks Ruby! Can't wait to make one!!!

Wendalynn said...

Can these instructions be used to make a skirt out out old silk scarves?

Jenn Jilks said...

I love this! I think I will try one!

Jenn Jilks said...

I love this! I think I will try one!

Unknown said...

I had intercepted my husband's collection of beautiful ties as they made their way into the Goodwill bag ... the fabric was too wonderful, and full of memories for me and my husband. This skirt took less than 2 hours, and REALLY looks quite nice. Thanks! p.s. the zig-zag pulling two ties abutting each other is the best suggestion of the several I saw online.

Kate said...

good tips... I wish I liked the way the zigzag topstitching looks...cause it seems like the best approach in terms of a close join with no awkward pulling. Was planning to use a basic seam for these but maybe I'll try this instead and change out my thread color each time to match the individual ties...tedious but might be worth it in the end to me at least lol.