Ever wonder what to do with your husband’s out of fashion or spotted silk ties? Besides giving them to a charity or saving them until they are collectibles, that is. Here are several ideas for you to consider that are elegant and very eye catching.
Make a quilt, lap rug, or throw:
Make a quilt using either a crazy patch pattern, log cabin derivative, or other flip and fold pattern. A foundation pieced quilt pattern is almost a requirement. Silk is very slippery and does not crease sharply. Using a foundation pattern will keep your seams straight and in square. When choosing a pattern, be sure to check the measurements of the required pieces, because the ties are not very wide. A crazy patch pattern is the easiest to use because you can mix and match the tie patterns regardless of design direction, pattern or color.
The quilt I am designing now will be a medley of crazy patch designs.
A problem with using tie fabric is that it is cut on the bias. This translates into LOTS of stretching. I made a small lap quilt from the ties and did not realize until time came to bind it that the outer edges were stretched so much they looked fluted. Even using a basting thread to shift and flatten the flutes could not correct the problem.
First, collect your materials: from friends, relatives, club members, office associates, thrift stores and garage sales. Perhaps you can quietly remove that tie you do not like from your husband’s closet. I collected over 300 ties for a king sized project. Ties that are donated from people you know have such greater meaning. I stitched the names of the donors on the fat ends of the ties and used them for a border. The border resembles flying geese but each tie tip (4” wide and 4” from tip to other side, plus ¼” seam allowance on three sides) is attached to another piece of silk (4 ½” square) along its straight edge, then only the tip end is tacked down.
When collecting your materials, try to accumulate ties made from the same types and weights of fabric. A more uniform quilt surface is the result.
Decide on the size of your quilt, the pattern, and whether or not you plan to use a solid silk fabric for a counter point in your design. I modified a log cabin design to fit the maximum width available from the tie shape. The squares are 7.75” finished size. There are 3 courses of 1” logs with a 2” center square. Be sure to add ¼” seam allowance around each silk piece when you cut them out. My squares were divided on the diagonal with tie pieces on two sides and white silk, my opposing color, on the other two sides.
Purchase enough light to medium weight muslin to use as your foundation. Cut into the desired size of your blocks, being sure to add for your outer seam width. Usually this is ¼ inch. The use of a light box for drawing your pattern on the muslin is helpful. But a glass topped table with a lamp underneath will work just as well. You can use any marking method you choose—but pay attention to the backing silk fabric you have chosen to make sure the foundation lines are not visible. I chose black silk for the backing.
A fabric pencil is very good for making fine lines to stitch on top of.
Strip out all of the ties lining material and press the remaining silk flat. Now you know how much of each fabric pattern is available for use. If each tie is a different pattern, try grouping them according to color family and then decide how to use them in your design. Since this log cabin pattern is flip and fold, we can ignore the fabric’s straight of grain and cut the strips any way we want to. The use of an opposing solid color silk helps to define the design. Make sure it is strong enough to overcome the confusion of colors and patterns in the ties.
When sewing the design, I would suggest using a sewing machine. The stitching will hold the silk firmly to the muslin foundation. With the flip and fold method, you sew from the back on the drawn lines with your silk piece aligned underneath the muslin. To stitch, begin with piece 1, place on top of the muslin with drawn lines visible on underside. Secure in place using a temporary spray adhesive, like Sulky KK2000, or pins. Flip over so stitch lines are visible on the muslin and stitch all 4 sides down.
Flip back over, trim silk edges to ¼ inch. Next, place piece 2 wrong side up, over seam line where piece 1 and 2 abut. Secure in place, allowing ¼” seam allowance. Then flip the muslin over and stitch along this line. Next, you flip the muslin back over, fold the silk over the seam line, press flat and pin or secure edges. Align piece 3 in the same method. Continue to flip, press and trim to ¼”. When you have attached all the pieces in your square in this method, stitch around the entire square leaving ¼” seam allowance.
You will join the squares together to form your pattern after all squares are finished. Wait until all are ready, you may change your mind about the placement of squares in the pattern. I laid mine out on the living room floor and rearranged them several times before finalizing the design. Then stitch the squares together. Piece your silk for the backing and pin together, no quilt batting. Tacking with 6 strand embroidery floss in a complimentary color every 4 inches or so is much easier than trying to align a king sized silk sandwich and put it through your sewing machine.
The binding was made from the backing silk, cut on the bias and stitched on from the back of the quilt first. Next flip over, press and then fold edge crease. Fold and press an additional ¼“ seam under on the free edge. Pin well. Stitch from the front with a decorative stitch or straight stitch. You may have other ideas about binding the edges, be creative! This is your special masterpiece.
There are lots of leftovers that can be used for such things as throw pillows.
Create fabric to use for vests, jackets or other apparel.
Collect your materials, decide on your apparel design. You can find many patterns for jackets and vests at your local fabric store. You can also find some very simple to sew designs at the Martha Pullen.com website. Since there are so many seam lines in your pieced fabric, clothing designs with a minimum of seams will allow your pieced design to take center stage. Crazy patch is not difficult to enlarge (more pieces, not larger pieces) to cover the muslin foundation corresponding to the pieces of your apparel pattern.
You can also create strips of flip and fold patterns and stitch them together until they are large enough to fit your clothing pattern.
For a crazy patch design variation: Purchase enough muslin for the clothing pattern you have chosen. Cut clothing pieces out of the muslin. Draw your fabric design on the muslin. Stitch the silk pieces on it using the method that best suits your fabric design. Stitch a seam around the exposed edges of each piece of your silk-muslin clothing pattern sandwich. Then construct your garment using good sewing techniques.
For a flip and fold design variation: Purchase enough muslin for the clothing pattern you have chosen. Draw, in a continuous fashion, your fabric design on the muslin using the increments for your chosen design (strips, or squares, etc.). Stitch the silk pieces on it using the method that best suits your fabric design. Now cut the clothing pattern pieces out of the panels you have designed. Stitch a seam around the exposed edges of each piece of your clothing pattern. Then construct your garment using good sewing techniques.
You will end up with unique items that are great conversation pieces.