Introduction: Make a Retro-Ascot Neck Tie
Modding 2 conventional neckties into one reversible retro-ascot.
- Two conventional neckties of sufficient width, and almost the same width.
- Sewing machine, seam ripper, steam iron, fabric scissors, matching thread, pins, hand needle.
- Basic machine skills and sewing terminology.
The tie will be reversible, and suitable as a formal ascot, or for retro-fashion like Steam Punk or Victorian. But unlike a genuine cravat, the tail end will be half the width of the visible front. In most applications, this makes no difference.
I've only ever seen one ascot tie in person. This project is patterned after that piece. The ascot is worn formally around the collar for "morning dress" (see Wikipedia), but was also worn inside the collar as casual wear for upper-class Yachtsmen and for other sports like golf. You'll see this in sit-coms of the 60's like Gilligan's Island.
Because conventional neckties are cut on the bias (diagonally from the yardage) you will notice when working that they tend to stretch in their length. Silk cut in rectangles would not behave this way.
Step 1: Choosing Neck Ties to Re-purpose
In the vintage or thrift store, or in your own closet, look for the widest ties. Necktie fashions from the late 60's, the early 70's or recently will be the widest and they will give you enough fabric when opened up. The mid-80's was OK, but there was a brief "skinny tie" period copying the early 60's.
Notice that a necktie is roughly twice as wide when you open up the back. Bonus! For traditional formal wear, the pattern should be gray stripe or textured silk, not printed. The colors of the two ties need not be related because only one side will show at a time. The pieces should be stain-free and snag-free on the wide end.
Step 2: Deconstructing 2 Ties
Using the seam ripper, carefully deconstruct both neckties. Be careful not to snag the silk. Be especially careful removing the tag from the back because this region of the fabric may be visible in the final product. You will only need the two shells. All the interfacings and linings can be discarded or used for other projects. Let's see what's inside!
Step 3: Iron the Pieces and Shorten
Get out the steam iron and flatten both shells. Chop-off some from the narrow end. Conventional neckties tend to be about 55 to 58 inches. A cravat is tucked in to a shirt or vest, so it only needs to be about 45 inches.
Step 4: Align Layers and Pin Together
Stack the two silk panels with the "good sides" facing each other, if that applies. Stack them so the heads and tails match, and align the edges of each layer as close as possible, but with the fabric still flat. The upper layer will be wider in some places, and the lower one will be bigger in others. Pin all around the edges.
Step 5: Sew
With the machine, sew around the entire perimeter, except leave an opening on the narrow tail. Leave a half inch seam allowance. Use a short stitch length.
Note: You may find the machine needle likes to eat silk. You have the short end that you cut off to experiment with. Try different thread tensions and needle styles on the leftover swatch until the stitch comes out right, without snagging the silk.
Step 6: Trim Edges
Trim all around so both layers are even, leaving about a quarter inch this time.
Step 7: Invert
Somehow, reach down inside the tube and turn the assembled panels inside out. Try rolling the inside out from the small opening--making a cuff--and continue rolling more fabric out until the whole thing has turned right-side-out. You now have a good idea of what the finished tie will look like.
Step 8: Iron Again
Get out the iron again, and press all the seams flat. You may need to push the seams outward from the inside with the scissor tips or a pointed chopstick or a butter knife. Otherwise the seams might get tucked in.
Optional: sew a top stitch around the edge to lock the seam in place. This will add an ornament to the design, so the thread should match or contrast, depending on your taste.
Step 9: Sew the Final Edge Closed
Close the opening on the narrow end by hand; tuck-in the seam allowance in and hand-stitch it closed.
Step 10: Mark the Neck and the Pleating Area
Center the tie on the back of your neck. Do not crossover, but bring the two sides together to meet in front of your throat. Then mark these two points with pins. We will pleat only this center portion of the tie.
Step 11: Pleat the Middle Area and Stitch
Fold pleats at both of the above points, then run a stitch perpendicular to each one to hold it permanently. You will use 4 pleats on the wide end, and less on the narrow end. On the real ascot, both ends are equal. This is where we cheat on the DIY version. I have a real ascot tie included in the example to compare with our DIY version.
Step 12: Tie It!
Now see how to tie a Traditional Ascot or a Ruche knot (scrunch) here: http://www.thecravatcompany.co.uk/howtotie.htm
It's not much different from a four-in-hand.
Like all ties, this won't be washable, but you can steam it or sponge-off stains.