Do it!

Sew your own bow tie like a custom tailor

Who wouldn't like their own unique bow tie for a special occasion and a home-made one at that?! In this tutorial, we'll take you through every step needed to sew your own self-tie bow tie so that you can ooze style at occasions like weddings.

The special thing about our sewing tutorial is that you'll be sewing your bow tie using the exact method used by custom tailor Sebastian Hoofs in his tailor's studio. Sebastian will explain his method.

What you'll need for your home-sewn bow tie:

  • Material: approx. 0.5 m x 0.5 m
  • Scissors
  • Chalk / chalk pen
  • Iron
  • Thread to match your material
  • Tacking thread
  • Sewing needles (hand and machine)
  • Sewing machine
  • Interfacing if needed

Which materials are suited to this project?

Any woven fabric is suitable for a bow tie. Materials that are not rigid enough can be reinforced with fusible interfacing. Alternatively, you can also sew in a layer of silk organza. The material should not be elastic because otherwise it would become heavily distorted when you tie it. In this example, we are using Sebastian Hoofs' material of choice: Wild silk.


  • STEP 1

    Before you start cutting the fabric, you should either wash the top material or press it slowly for a long time and using lots of steam. This will give the fabric a chance to shrink. If you do this at a later stage or after you've finished, the end result will not necessarily be as nice.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Rote Schnitteile aus Wildseide und Schnittmuster für Fliege
  • STEP 2

    Start by aligning the pattern so that it runs parallel or at a right angle to the selvage and so that a 1-centimeter seam allowance can be cut. As is the custom, men's tailors normally cut bow ties without a seam down the middle at the back. However, we are using a seam so that the bow tie's length or neck size can still be adjusted later. If you would prefer to miss the seam, add a fold where the rear seam would be.

    Once you have cut out all pieces with a 1-centimeter seam allowance, mark out the sewing lines on one half of the bow tie in each case. It is important to leave a small opening of around 7 centimeters on the strap.

    Once you have marked them up, place the two halves right side together and fix with pins.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Rotes Schnittteil für Fliege aus Wildseide, Geodreieck und Kugelschreiber

Step 3: Which is the best needle?

Now use the sewing machine to stitch along the sewing line with a matching thread. Because bow ties are normally made from fine materials or even from wild silk like in our example, the sewing machine needles must be in pristine condition. Blunt needles or needles that are too thick could pull threads out of the woven fabric or even destroy it completely at the insertion point. We always use sewing machine needles by SCHMETZ. Our silk is very fine – I am using an NM 60 Universal Needle. If your silk is extra fine and thin, then you'll also get incredible results with the Microtex Needle.

  • STEP 4

    Once you have finished sewing, cut the seam allowances back to 0.5 centimeters. On inward curves, carefully cut in two to three notches.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Ausschnitt rotes Stoffteil der Fliege mit kleinen Einschnitt, der nach innen laufenden Bögen
  • STEP 5

    To allow you to turn the corners out properly, press the outer edge around the seam, then press the corners right and left of the edge.    It doesn't matter if the seam rolls in slightly here. The seam will roll back to the right place after turning the tie the right way out.

    By the way: Do not cut back any of the corners that are under 90 degrees. This will make the finished corner stable. This not only applies to bow ties, but also other sewing projects, too.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Umgebügelte Kante um die Naht, rotes Stoffteil für Fliege
  • STEP 6

    Do not cut back the seam allowance on the strap, which we will keep open for the time being.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Offene Nahtzugabe am Stegteil: Schnittteil für Fliege
  • STEP 7

    The next step is to turn the two sides of the bow tie so they are right side out. There are countless tips and tricks for using long objects so that you can turn your bow tie right outside quicker. I advise steering clear of all of them. Ideally, you should turn the bow tie out slowly and carefully. This may take a few minutes but will prevent the top layer from becoming baggy or even piercing.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Gewendete Fliegenseiten aus rotem Stoff
  • STEP 8

    After turning, press open a short section of the seam allowance on the open strap. Then place both sides right side together and close the seam with a 1-centimeter seam allowance.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Rechts auf rechts gesteckte Nahtzugaben am Stegteil der beiden Stoffteile der Fliege
  • STEP 9

    Using just a basting thread, tack the edges so that the seam sits exactly in the middle.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Beide Teile der Fliege mit Reihfaden gehefteter Kanten
  • STEP 10

    On the edges that are still open, mark on a seam line and start by only placing and tacking one side around the marked edge.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Stoffteil von der Fliege mit eingezeichnetem Nahtverlauf um Kante gelegt
  • STEP 11

    Then also fold in the seam allowance on the opposite edge and tack it to the first edge. Now sew the edges together with a matching thread to create an invisible seam.

    [Translate to Englisch:] Kanten der Fliege werden mit farblich passendem Nähgarn zusammengenäht
  • STEP 12

    Press the edges and remove all tacking stitches. Then iron again – and your home-made bow tie is ready!

    [Translate to Englisch:] Selbstgenähte rote Fliege wird gebügelt.

About the author

Sebastian Hoofs is a custom men's tailor and loves to share his expertise. He began sewing at age 14 and evolved from a passionate amateur sewer into a professional craftsman. His pet passion is pattern construction. At his Cologne-based tailor's studio, he also offers special sewing courses for ambitious amateur sewers. His goal is to spread his knowledge of custom tailoring to the world of amateur sewing as the finish is normally of a better standard and lasts longer.




Images: Sebastian Hoofs