Making ties at the Makery

Remember in series three of the Great British Sewing Bee, how May and Patrick threw a tie in as the item the finalists all had to tackle as their pattern challenge? How such a small seemingly innocent accessory caused consternation and more than just a bit of frustration? I was intrigued. What is it about tie making that is so tricky?
I tucked that question away for a rainy day. But when my youngest son graduated I had thought that it was a shame that I hadn’t given him anything to mark the occasion. And if I’d thought I could have made him something special. Like a pair of posh boxers. Or a tie. Too late this time, but in the future, my eldest son will hopefully be getting his Masters degree, and so the need for a tie could well occur again ( if he works hard and gets even more gleefully nerdy than he already is!). I am resolved that they will have the choice of a Mum made tie. But for that I need to practice. Therefore when I saw a tie making workshop was being run at the Makery in Bath, I paid up and registered straight away.
This was the first tie making workshop held at the Makery and I recognised Emily, our tutor from the machine embroidery workshop Id previously taken. She was supported by Katie – that’s two experts to attend to any queries the six of us apprentice tie-makers may have.
So the Makery is very comfortable in its new premises right in the centre of Bath in a glorious town house extending over four floors, filled with different spaces for making and being creative. Then there’s the shop to buy makey provisions.
A lovely space to relax and feel good crafty vibrations…



For this workshop we were asked to bring a 75cmx75cm piece of fabric with us to make our tie, but everything else would be provided. I brought a piece of lawn that Tamsin had swapped with me, I’d been saving it for something special as it is gorgeous …….both the delicately coloured florals, and hey, it’s lawn! As with the knicker making workshop, on arrival, everyone is given their own pattern that they take away with them after the workshop so it doesn’t stop here! Our tutors chatted through everything we needed to know to get cutting. And so we did….


All the pieces are cut on the bias. Each piece needs a corresponding piece of fusible interfacing. There are also a couple of lining pieces needed for the pointy tie ends, I found these scraps that matched the floral lawn perfectly.


Now what surprised me is that we sewed our ties primarily by hand. (Yes! Get that! Me, who uses the machine for just about everything! ) the only machining was to join the three tie pieces together to make one long lovely bias tie shaped thing that at this stage had true kipper tendencies. Pressing the seam allowances and mitring the corners helps create a nice neat finish before hand stitching all the way. First the linings at the pointy ends.


Then stitching along the length. (And that’s a long piece to handstitch!)

Look that’s proof I do handsew!

I don’t do a lot of workshops, but wish I could do more- it’s always a joy to learn as a group, spending a few hours with new people. I loved seeing everyone’s different fabric choices, and it’s probably not a surprise that some of these ties ( or potential sequels) are likely to end up under the Christmas tree 🙂


Look! Class ties!! With Emily and Katie too. I loved tie making ( even though it was by hand ! Actually I have been converted, and enjoyed the precision and slower pace). I will be making more. Guaranteed.
Check out the finished neck attire



Now I quite fancy keeping this one for myself….but that all depends on future tie making exploits and success.


So the verdict on tie making, apart from enjoyment and personal satisfaction? Well, if you’re ever stuck for a perfect gift for a special someone, making a tie out of some gorgeously wondrous fabric ( Liberty or silk) could create something that stands out from all the usual stripes and Homer Simpsons. I would love to have made *that tie * that is kept for special occasions. ( in the case of my sons, it may actually be the sole tie they ever own, not being corporate types). And one last thing on special ties. I will always remember being impressed by a friend of mine in my early twenties who came to a wedding wearing the most beautiful vibrant pink tie that his mother had made for him, out of small silk patchwork pieces. And making a tie by hand, somewhere as inspiring and cosy as the Makery is a great place to start.
Making a tie by machine though? I reckon that must be the root of the problems faced by the Great British Sewing Bee contestants and I for one am going to research that approach, even if I still choose to hand sew away in front of the TV.

Any machine tie making stories to tell? Good places to check out?

22 thoughts on “Making ties at the Makery

  1. Rachel

    I’ll admit to being intrigued about tie-making ever since the GBSB as well, but in a less admirable way. I kept wondering just what made it so difficult (aside from tv cameras, strange machine etc and time pressures of course!). Surely it’s just a series of straight lines – which is my go-to pep talk when anything is difficult. I’m definitely keen to have a go and find out first hand though, especially after seeing your version. Thank you for reinvigorating this idea! Rachel

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I am still to look into the machined version, as I am sure that’s more tricky…wasn’t it something to do thigh turning the inside lining so it looks nice and pointy in a chevron way?

  2. Amanda

    This is freaking awesome, Winnie! I am in knots about what to say (dad’s joke!) I can imagine you’d get into quite the zen mode hand stitching this lovely piece!

  3. Louise

    I’ve got to say I’ve never considered making a tie before but you have inspired me – I’m going to give it a try. (If it works out as well as yours it will be the perfect present for one of my brothers – thanks for the idea!)

  4. Vicki Kate

    This looks so cool! I can think of plenty of men in my life who’d love something like this and it’d be a way to use up those scraps I refuse to bin because they’ll be useful… Was the interfacing anything specific or just a suitable fusible?! I have some silk (liberty no less!) left over from a kimono that could make my Father a perfect Christmas Present… Such an inspiring post Winnie – thank you!!

  5. renee

    I made a stack of ties a few years ago. And, just stocked up on silks to make more for my husband. He’s an attorney and will likely wear a tie every working day of his career. David Paige Coffin has the most excellent download in tie making. I suspect its a classic as so few people make ties anymore. Also, id recommend wool tie interfacing. It has great loft. I think being in the UK, you’re actually in a far better position for getting good supplies like that. Your tie is beautiful and far better than my first attempt!

  6. Kelly

    Gorgeous tie Winnie! I was also intrigued by the sewing bee ties – mainly because I had just made a tie for my grandad for his 90th birthday, and they made it look a lot harder than I found it! I used a free pattern I found online, and the lining actually went all the way up the tie, so I did use the machine to attach that, and then just hand stitched the long seam (not very well admittedly!). My grandad wears a tie every day, so it was a great (last minute idea and pretty quidck to make) special birthday present for him. Here’s mine:

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      What a lovely gift for your grandfather! I shall look up the machined tie version, just out of interest, but as I’ve cut out three more of the same with only small linings at the pointed ends, it looks like it’ll have to be tie number five! I’ll come and check out your tie with interest!!

  7. Jennifer

    I hadn’t seriously considered making a tie – however my machine is currently broken so this could be an ideal stopgap project! And yours is absolutely lovely 🙂

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Oh yes, there’s such a little machine stitching that I think you could make all of it by hand. I’ve cut another three out, such is my enjoyment of sewing something so neat!

  8. TamsinW-P

    What a beautiful tie! much nicer than the top I made out of the same fabric. I also really like the contrast dotty fabric you used for the lining. I found trying to find something that went with it was really difficult – the colours all seemed a bit weird, especially the blue in the background. I showed your tie to Husband and he says he wants one, so you may find a copycat version popping up at some point! I hope your son enjoys wearing it – if you don’t keep it for yourself!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I’m so grateful for the perfect fabric! And the lining was pure luck, as that was sculling around in the remnant bin, but it does feel like a thing of beauty. I have never thought of ties as things of beauty before!

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