the last bow (tie) of 2013

I know it’s 2014 already, but only just, and I don’t think it’s too late to squeeze in one last creative effort from the end of last year. I learned a very useful lesson this Christmas (and one that might well be the cause of real downfall in the future): that contrary to popular belief, Christmas Eve is absolutely not too late to start making Christmas presents. It all began when my father asked for a new bow tie for Christmas, to wear to my wedding in February. I inspected the offerings on the snazzy men’s accessories site he had found, but I wasn’t really terribly taken with any of them. At which point my mother helpfully pointed me towards this very handy tutorial on how to make a bow tie from scratch. And because at that time I still had a whole week before Christmas, that seemed like a jolly good idea.

I went to my favourite fabric shop, the Cloth House in Berwick Street, London, to look for suitable material. My luck was clearly in that day, as I found just over two metres of the perfect stuff in their remnants basket: finely-striped red and purple cotton with sparkly threads in – the last of its kind. So far so good. I made a mistake, though, by not reading the tutorial closely before attempting to start sewing the Sunday before Christmas, since as soon as I did so, I found I needed interfacing as well as just fabric, and immediately the project stalled. But luckily my mother was able to rescue me once again, this time with her plentiful supply cupboard, so it ended up being Christmas Eve when I finally made a start on the tie.

Apart from a horrendous start in which I melted a huge patch of interfacing as soon as I put iron to fabric (a simple enough error to fix – I just added a hasty replacement patch), the rest of the project went remarkably well, and took very little time. The only thing I did differently from the tutorial was that I cut my fabric on the bias, following the advice of a couple of sewers wiser than I. And I think that as well as helping the fabric to lie flatter, having the stripes going diagonally actually looks better too. This was a wildly successful last-minute sewing project and I would recommend home-made bow ties to anyone. Even for a first-time bow tie maker like me, it was easy as pie. The key is just to get hold of the neck measurement of the recipient, as, once finished, these ties are not adjustable like shop-bought ones are. But the recipient of this tie seemed mighty pleased with it, and wore it all day. I am now threatening to make bow ties of all varieties and colours, for every man I know, as I think they’re pretty darn smart. Don’t you?