Share this article

print logo

Sew Simple: Choose the fabric for bow ties carefully

Dear Vicki: I want to make bow ties for all of the men in my wedding. So please find me a pattern for real bow ties, not the fake ones that clip on. I love to sew and I am pretty good, so I would like these ties to be very sharp. Thanks. – Kristen M.

Dear Kristen: McCall’s has a pattern with classic bow ties, cummerbunds, regular ties and pocket squares. Choose your fabric carefully – remember, not too slippery – and make one first before purchasing all your fabric. Also, light interfacing will make the ties hold their knot and not get stringy and wrinkly.


Dear Vicki: I’m not a sewer, but I read your column with interest, and my question is about sewing buttons on my coat sleeves. I think I could sew them on, but I can’t figure out how to get the lining open. I’ve looked all over, and it is a mystery. The hem is stitched shut. I guess I could just sew all the way through, but I wonder if you can tell me how it is all sealed up. Thanks. – Kathy B.

Dear Kathy: Manufacturers have very clever ways of efficiently constructing clothing. They aren’t trying to hide anything, but for many years jackets and coats have been constructed with a method I have heard called “bagging the lining.” It appears that the garment is completely stitched everywhere. If you will turn the sleeves inside out, I think you might find that the sleeve lining seam is topstitched or whipped closed, so it will be easy to open the lining from this spot and get inside to stitch your buttons on. If you can’t find the opening I’m referring to, just make one; the technique still will work.


This week’s tip is from Helen Freeman, of Albuquerque, N.M.:

“Making doll clothes and dress-up clothes using fancy, sparkly netting and trimmed materials can be costly. Following holidays, especially Halloween, I purchase 50 percent to 90 percent off costumes from which I make many cute outfits at very little cost.”

Please send your tips and questions to me, Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email me at