Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday tie and pocket square for your man

With the holidays quickly approaching, the season of get-togethers and parties with family, friends, and co-workers is nearly upon us!  Whether it's as a gift for your sweetie or a unique statement to be worn yourself (you budding tailors out there!) sewing a special tie and coordinating pocket square is actually surprisingly easy.
While silk is the classic material for menswear ties, exciting trends using a vast array of fabrics have been popping up (think wool suiting).  I'm no style maven, but it appears a though the only hard and fast rule regarding ties and pocket squares, interestingly, is that they shouldn't match.   And in my opinion, the combination you put together, both in color and texture, can really make a statement.  For my tutorial today, I'll be using an eye-catching silk print from Britex  for the tie, with a lovely silk-linen blend for the tie lining and pocket square.

For this tie, I purchased this pattern from BurdaStyle, selecting it for its narrow width.  However, most tie patterns are constructed similarly and if you're adventurous, you can even pull apart a tie in your closet to create your own pattern.
When cutting out your tie, of critical importance is lining up the tie on the 45 degree angle, especially if your fabric has a linear pattern.  To cut my fabric, I used pattern weights and a rotary cutter to prevent shifting of the slippery fabric.
For both the narrow and wide end of the tie, "tipping" or backing fabric is needed.  This can be self-fabric, or something coordinating.  Sewing carefully with a Microtex needle and paying close attention to the seam gauge ensures nice, crisp edges.  Since I had a thicker tipping fabric, I clipped the bottom corner of my tie, but it's not necessary.  
Proper wool tie interlining is recommended to give the tie loft and structure, but I used what I had on hand (thick cotton flannel) and that worked wonderfully!  (My apologies to those tie-sewing purists out there!)
Folding of the tie was a bit tricky for me to achieve the proper width.  I'm not sure that the instructions are accurate for this tie, but here's how I did it:  First, I pressed the side seam allowances (5/8"), then folded both sides in to meet the edge of the flannel interlining down the length of the tie.
Then, each side was folded toward the middle, overlapping them by about 1/2".

The folded edge is then hand tacked down and a tie keeper sewn on.  Easy!
Up next is the pocket square.  The most luxurious pocket squares are made from silk or linen, and are always handsewn with a rolled edge, with tell-tale, barely visible stitches.   Sewing a pocket square isn't difficult, but it takes time and skill to achieve evenly spaced, lovely stitching (I'm still working on the skill part!)
The size of a pocket square can vary, from about 11-16 inches, but it's important to take the weight of the fabric into consideration; the thicker the fabric, the smaller the square so it's not too bulky inside the pocket.  For mine, I cut the fabric 14" square using a rotary cutter.
For the rolled hem, and without ironing, fold the edge of the fabric of your first side by 1/8-1/4". Within the single layer of fabric, directly below the edge of the fabric, catch a few threads of the fabric.
Next, insert the needle into the fold, directly above where the needle exited the fabric for your first stitch.  Pass the needle inside the crease for 1/2" or so.
Insert the needle again into the single layer of fabric below the folded edge and catch a few threads.
Then, insert the needle again into the folded edge, running the needle through the crease for 1/2".  Continue using this ladder stitch for a few more stitches.
Holding the knotted end of your thread, pull the other end of the thread gently and, like magic, the edge will form a beautiful roll!

Continue rolling the edge until about 1/4-1/2" from the corner with the perpendicular side.
Draw the needle through the roll to the very edge.
Fold the perpendicular edge as you did to start the first side and your thread should be right at the corner.
Take a small stitch of the rolled hem and then insert the needle into the crease created by the new edge fold.

Continue for one more ladder stitch and then gently pull the thread to roll the corner.  You may want to use your needle or fingers to help the corner roll properly, tucking in raw edges.

Continue your rolled hem and corners around the rest of the square.  To finish, the inside of the square can be pressed, but refrain from ironing over the hem--it's that rolled look that is so important!
There are a many ways to fold a pocket square  (this is a "winged puff"), but any way you do it, it will surely look dapper!
Visit me at Nicole at Home for more information, or Britex Guest Blogger page to see more of my Britex projects.  Thank you to Britex Fabrics, as always, for the opportunity to work with their incredible fabrics!