DIY Cotton Bow Tie from a Fat Quarter
Updated: Jul 3
I have wanted to sew cotton bow ties for a very long time, and the COVID-19 lockdown gave me the perfect opportunity to go for it! There are plenty of DIY bow tie tutorials on the web—blogs, videos, etc. BUT—I wanted to sew a bow tie with one of my favorite prints that is a one-directional repeat pattern, and, I only wanted to purchase a fat quarter of fabric for this project! The print I wanted to use is from my Taco Libre fabric collection; specifically the small-scale series I designed just for making smaller projects like bow ties (Figure 1)! Additionally, this was going to be a fun bow tie to wear for my “at-home” Cinco de Mayo party!
My fat quarter fabric of choice was Spoonflower’s petal signature cotton, the perfect 100% natural cotton eco-fabric. Additionally, you will need a ¼ yd. of fusible midweight pellon.
There are numerous free bow tie patterns online, and for this project I wanted more of a butterfly bow tie style, so I opted for the pattern from SeeKateSew. (When you visit her website, check out her other free patterns and tutorials!)
The only change when using Kate’s pattern on a fat quarter, is that the neck end is not placed on a fold—there is no fold! You have to add an extra ¼” to the neck end seam because these will be two separate sections that you sew together.
When taking neck measurements for this pattern, make sure to measure the recipient’s neck with a shirt collar on. Measuring the neck alone is fine if the person is going to wear the tie like a choker. Either way, I still added an extra ¼” (in addition to the extra neck end seam) and this produced ties that fit nicely and not too snug. Other than these exceptions, the bow tie pattern has a ¼” seam allowance already included, so you can cut the fabric pieces to the actual pattern size.
I strongly suggest tracing the bow tie pattern onto a piece of pattern tracing paper. Using this, you can easily see where to place the pattern on the fabric to match the designs on the tie sections.
Because the small-scale Taco Libre print is a one-directional repeat pattern, and if you use any one-directional repeat pattern for this on a fat quarter, you have to carefully place the bow tie pattern so that the designs on each of the two connecting pieces match up (Figure 4).
Bow Tie Sewing Instructions
1. Place the bow tie pattern over the specific print images you want for your tie on the wider bottom and wing side (Figure 2). Cut out the one piece.
2. Reverse the bow tie pattern and repeat its placement on the fabric as in Step #1, making sure that the design matches the cut piece (Figure 3). Cut out the second piece. These two sections will be sewn together for one side of the tie (Figure 4).
3. Place the tie pattern on the remaining fabric and cut two more sections as instructed in Steps #1 and #2.
4. Cut two pieces of the fusible midweight pellon.
5. On ONE set of matching tie sections, iron the pellon to the wrong side of each piece.
6. With right sides together, pin the top neck seams of each set of matching sections (Figure 5).
7. Using a small straight stitch setting (I set mine to 1.5), stitch across the top neck seam. Press seam open.
8. Line up the two tie sections, right sides together, making sure the design pattern for each piece goes in the same direction. Pin the top sides together.
9. To prevent the fabric sections from stretching, sew the top from the center to one end, and then from the center to the opposite end. Take your time and carefully follow the curved seam lines (Figure 6).
10. Pin the bottom sides together, leaving a 5” opening at the bottom center (Figure 6). Stitch as instructed in Step #9.
11. Stitch the side seams together.
12. Trim seams to 1/8”, clipping curves and edges. My preference is to not trim the 5” opening seam to make it easier for slip-stitching this closed.
13. Using your tool of choice, turn each tie side right side out. My favorite “tool” for doing this is a lacquered chopstick! I “stick” the blunt end of the chopstick into one end of the tie, and slowly and very carefully ease and gather the fabric over the stick, a little at a time, pulling the bunched fabric down as I push the stick towards the open seam (Figure 7). Once the chopstick is through the opening, I remove it, and then gently pull the entire tie end out (Figures 8 and 9).
13. Repeat for the other tie end (Figure 10).
14. Next, I insert the narrow end of the chopstick into each side to smooth out the points, edges, and curves along the seam lines, being careful not to push and poke so hard that it rips through the seam. NOTE: if this does occur—and it has happened to me more than once—it can be mended via slip-stitching quite easily.
15. With the right side (fused pellon side) up, finger press the tie edges, including the bottom opening seam, and press with a steam iron.
16. Slip stitch the bottom opening closed (Figure 11).
Next—learn how to tie your brand new bow tie so you can wear it! As you would expect, there are multiple tutorials and videos on the web that show you how to tie a bow tie! One of the best I found is on the Rebellious Bowties website, where they actually give you a few video tutorials.
Also, if after this, you realize that sewing lots of bowties is not your thing, take a look at their beautiful contemporary handcrafted bow ties! I love this small Texas-based company! Their ties come in a wide variety of fabrics and fun prints, and are very reasonably priced for a custom-made bow tie.
Because I was on a bow-tie-sewing roll, I also made a bow tie with a fat quarter from my Terrazzo Moderno fabric collection as well!
So, as you can see, my family and I are all set for our “at-home” Cinco de Mayo party! I just can’t decide whether to wear my tie as a choker or with a collared blouse! Decisions, decisions! But the moustache is for certain!