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Friday, September 2, 2011

DIY: Boys Skinny Tie from a Men's Tie

These photos are absolutely killing me. I love the look of mens clothes on little boys, but this seems to be taking it to a whole new level--it's like the tie transforms my four year old into a brooding 25 year old bachelor. Don't you think? You wouldn't know it from the expression on his face, but he was loving both this ensemble and the photo shoot. And do you know what his absolute favorite was? The tie.

Big Brother has been begging for a tie ever since he saw me thumbing through a Crewcuts catalog about a month ago. He wants, of course, to look just like daddy, and I think that the idea of wearing his own tie was a bit revolutionary. But to me, $25 was a little steep for something that could easily become more of a dress-up prop than a legitimate accessory, so, remembering this great tutorial from Design Mom on making skinny ties from thrift store finds, I decided to try it myself. I started with a discarded tie of Jim's (he bought it at the Brooks Brothers outlet about eight years ago), tore out the seams, chopped it up a bit, and applied my rudimentary needle and thread skills. And we ended up with this.

The verdict? I made a number of mistakes, but I think the tie turned out well: it's handsome, sturdy, and constructed such that it hides all my errors:). And Big Brother? Well, once he was all dressed, he told me that we were going to play "work." He informed me that he was a developer, and would be happy to take me on a tour of his "building." So we walked around the house, him inspecting and me clicking away. First on his list were the problem areas. Here he is explaining exactly how the garage is broken.

And here he's telling me how he would fix it (it's easy, apparently).  What is absolutely uncanny about these pictures is his spot-on imitation of his daddy's mannerisms. On any given day, you could take a picture of Jim with exactly the same expression, explaining something to someone (or many someones) with exactly the same gestures. It's very sweet, and sort of scary at the same time. He couldn't idolize a more wonderful person, but this kind of thing does sort of give you pause about exactly how much your children absorb from you, hmm?

[Disclaimer: Jim informed me, upon seeing these pictures, that I tied the tie into a British windsor knot, rather than the more American "half-windsor." All I know is that I was pretty proud of myself for watching a YouTube tutorial and then getting it on the second try. And all things British are hot right now, aren't they? Maybe we're just ahead of trend.]

I started to put together a true tutorial for you, but found that my method (and photos) were so trial and error that they didn't make sense. In essence, I followed the instructions from Design Mom, adapting them to the proportions of a little boy, and added several steps related to cutting the tie down to the appropriate length and then (falteringly) reconstructing it. Our final tie is approximately 42 inches long and, at its widest point, 1 and 7/8 inches wide. It began slightly wider, but I forgot to check the symmetry of the pattern, and had to cut it down slightly at the very end to keep the sailboats from looking off-center.

If you're going to try this yourself, the only thing that Design Mom doesn't cover is cutting off the small end of the tie. To do this, you need to open the tie, cut a v-shape that approximates the small end's original shape, and then refold it. Fold and press a tiny triangle at the very tip, then fold in the diagonal edges on either side about 1/4 inches and press (see a good reference for this procedure here). If you want to make the tie look super finished, you could cut and hand-sew the original liner back in at this point--I just left it a little raw and tried to cover the exposed edges when I restitched the back side of the tie. If you have questions about all this, let me know. The whole thing definitely inspired me to try my hand at making a boys' tie from scratch--so perhaps that's something we can talk about in-depth in the future.

The long and short of it is that you can do this, and (like all things) it gets easier once you get used to folding fabrics cut on the bias, working with silk, hand-sewing, etc. And true men's ties are so adorable on boys that it's worth it to learn! I'm getting the itch to raid Jim's closet again. Until then I'm going to go boo-hoo about how big my baby is getting on me all of a sudden. And practice the lines I'm going to use to ward off the ladies once he gets to junior high.


Happy Friday!

p.s. Big Brother's shirt is Ralph Lauren, bought on consignment at an Atlanta fave called Sweet Repeats. His chinos are from Crewcuts' brand new factory line, available only at J. Crew outlets. We bought him the belt at the Masters (I went for the first time ever this year!), but for a similar look, check out this website


  1. STOP IT with those photos! Seriously, it's too much. My fav is the Jim-a-like at the end. Hilarious!

  2. These pictures are KILLING me. Hilarious!

  3. He is too cute. I love the grown up gestures!
    My fellow is only 8 months, and I think he would freak out if I put a tie on him (he snatches off his little hats so fast!), but I'll have to hang on to this for 2015. :)

  4. Those pictures are definitely print and frame worthy. So adorable!

  5. These are amazing! Complete with his masters belt, he's ready for work in any development shop in Atlanta!

  6. So cute, he doesn't seem very happy in a tie though!

  7. He's beautiful, I love the attitude. God Bless.

  8. He looks like a young Daniel Craig! Lol