Make a Retro-Ascot Neck Tie




About: "Oh dear! I'd nearly forgotten that I've got to grow up again! Let me see—how IS it to be managed? I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is, what?" —Lewis Carroll

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.

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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:
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.

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40 Discussions


4 years ago

Also, did you mod that shirt to make it wing collar? It's super-spiffy.


4 years ago

I just found out I can't favorite your project twice. Bummer. I'm thinking of modding your mod and using 4 ties, cutting off the tails for some other project (bow ties?) and using just the broad parts to make a traditional and reversable 4-design ascot. We'll see how that goes. Cheers.


4 years ago on Introduction

Used this to make a Doctor Who-inspired ascot with an exploding TARDIS pattern! Thank you sooo much!

I just got a new stash of vintage ties to make ascots for a community theater production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I made some 4 years ago for Around the World in 80 Days. Thanks for the great instructions. Since they are reversible, it gives the actors a new look by just turning over the ascot.

I made some of these for a theater group a few years ago. Now making more for another theater group. Everyone just loves them.


7 years ago on Introduction

Thank you, furtographer! I have a civil war-era ball coming up, and I decided I needed something fancier than the regular necktie... and it's even cooler that it's homemade! I will definitely make this.


7 years ago on Step 12

Awesome idea! I've just gotten into making accessories for men and this is a great twist on up-cycling old ties! Thank you for sharing!


8 years ago on Step 12

Nice. really awesome this!! thanks


8 years ago on Introduction

Good instructions. You sport a magnificent beard and nose spike looks fantastic. Do you wear it in public? Do you get any comments?


8 years ago on Step 7

Another way that would be to tie a bead to a length of sturdy thread, make sure the bead lays outside what you are sewing, and the thread runs up between the layers and out the end. The only difficult part is making sure you don't trim the thread by accident when you're trimming your seams.

Then gently pull the string when you are ready to turn it inside out. Once it is right side out, cut the thread and shake the bead out. No damage to the seam or fabric. :)

Excellent 'structable, thanks very much. Ties look very simple in your hand, and we see them so often we never really stop to think about how they're made, but their construction is surprisingly intricate. Kind of like tying them, I suppose - I'm still not very good at that :-)

What this needs is a steampunk tie pin to really finish it off:

Good work!

Nola Yergen

9 years ago on Step 12

I do theatre costuming and this is gonna come in sooo handy for that as well as my steampunk obsession. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks mate! I did one of these, out of an old pashmina of my Mum, and worn it to my Prom :)


9 years ago on Introduction

Been meaning to post for a bit and say thanks. I made one that turned out quite nicely! Great job on making the process so clear. Working on another one right now.

The Explorer.jpg

9 years ago on Step 12

Really wonderful instructable!! thank you for this! :D


9 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for making this instructable. The cravat is the last item I needed for my steam punk outfit and I'm all out of funds, but I've got some great old ties!


9 years ago on Step 12

 Made this as my first project on my new sewing machine! Turned out quite well all thanks to your instructable. 


10 years ago on Step 7

The easiest way to turn the tie inside out, would be to tuck a ribbon in the very tip of the point of the bottom seam before you sew it, then leave it long enough to run longer than the length of the tie, letting it dangle out the end. Stitch and trim as you've indicated, then pull on the ribbon. It will turn the ties inside out. When you've gotten it flipped, pull out your seam ripper, and tear out the part with the ribbon. Take out the ribbon, then hand tack the ties closed again. Voila!


10 years ago on Introduction

Awesome instructable. I'll have to look at my old ties and see if I have some reconstruction to do. Thanks!