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  1. #1
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    27th October 09
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    Converting a fat tie to a skinny tie

    I have been talking about doing this for a while, but finally found a rainy day to get it done. I have 3 Robert Talbott ties that I really like, but they were 4" wide. That's just too wide for me, being a short fellow. I do better with skinny ties in the 2" to 3" range of width. So I decided to alter one of them from 4" to 2.5" wide (taking 0.75" from each side). Here's how I did it:

    I'll preface this by saying I don't know if all neckties are made the same way, but this seemed pretty straightforward on mine. I started by removing the tack stitch that keeps the back of the tie held together. Once that was out, you can see that the tie is made with an inner canvas stiffener that's loose inside. The silk of the tie is simply folded around it, and there's a silk liner stitched in to form a sort of pocket, in which the canvas stiffener resides. It's the same on both ends of the tie. Note that one side of the tie (on the bottom of the pic) simply folds over, then the other side (top in the pic) has two folds.



    To open up the tie further up its length, I had to remove a simple running stitch that was keeping the folds closed up the length of the tie. It was hand-stitched through both closure folds of silk as well as the canvas stiffener (but was not all the way through the outer layer of silk, so as to stay hidden). All I did was cut the termination end of the stitch and pull the thread out far enough to open the tie. Here's what the stitch looked like:



    Since I wanted to narrow the tie by 0.75" on each side, I simply marked it on the canvas stiffener. Note: the stiffener isn't the full width of the finished tie. It's a bit narrower to allow for inner folds of silk. All I did was take 0.75" off of each side, tapering it back about 24" to where the flare of the tie started.



    Then the scissors came out to narrow the canvas stiffener. Here's its new profile over the old folded width of the tie.



    Next, I needed to press the old creases out of the tie to make it flat so I could start from scratch with new folds. I used the silk setting on my iron, and held a damp press cloth (thin dish towel) between the iron and the silk. Now it's flattened:



    Then I found the points where I wanted to make the new folds for a finished width of 2.5". I did the first pressing on one side (again with a damp press cloth):



    Note that the full width of the silk folds too far over to allow the second side to be folded. This has to be cut. But first, I wanted to go ahead and press my second crease for the other side:



    Before simply cutting the silk, I turned the pocket portion inside out to reveal the hidden seams. Here's what it looks like inside-out:



    I didn't need to remove the whole thing or alter it, except just to trim some width. So I folded turned it back rightside-out, laid the first fold where it belonged, and just sight-trimmed the silk to fit inside the second fold. The "right" thing to do would be to re-form the pocket with a hidden stitch like they had to begin with, but I didn't want to go to all that trouble. This is all going to be hidden anyway, so I simply cut it and hand-stitched it with a visible stitch. Note: my shaky hands are terrible for fine work like sewing, so my seam is nice and crooked. Doesn't matter, this will be hidden. This is just to stitch the silk liner back to the striped silk.



    Then I cut away silk and stitched the other side with the same awkward amateur shaky-stitch. This will be hidden too, due to the fact that this side has two folds. The first fold (already folded below) will turn this underneath itself before the flap closes over the tie.



    So, with the canvas stiffener in its pocket, I simply folded the tie to its final configuration, pressed it again for good measure, and re-stitched the running stitch all the way from where I had opened it back to the end point. Then I redid the tack stitch. You'll note below that my final fold has a bit of a wavy crease to it. I could have redone it, but it really doesn't matter. This is the back of the tie.

    (to be continued in next post)
    Last edited by Tobus; 16th September 18 at 04:20 PM.

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  3. #2
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    So here's the back of the tie with everything done. (Actually, you can see I hadn't finished with the running stitch when I took this photo, but it does show the new contour of the tie after final pressing, including the wavy rear crease.)



    And a couple of comparison shots of this altered tie (new width of 2.5") with one of my other Robert Talbott 4" width ties. I very much like the new width, and don't feel so silly wearing it now. I'll be making the same modification to the other two at some point ...when there's another rainy weekend with nothing else to do.






    Last edited by Tobus; 16th September 18 at 04:19 PM.

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    5th August 14
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    I didn't try to keep the full width when I did my last tie conversion. I like the overlap of the material and the method you used to sew the back. Good job and I am glad you are pleased with your work. Your pride will show in the wearing.

  6. #4
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    My exwife is an extremely good seamstress and worked for a tailor in Midland, TX when we lived there. She also took in work at home. The wife of a man then worth around $500,000,000 brought my wife her husband's wide ties, all of the top quality, to be narrowed as described here. Narrowing out of style ties is good way to save money and put yourself on the road to fortune.

    The rich man's wife also brought my wife some fabric and a pattern and had a gown made to wear to Ronald Reagan's inaugural ball. Total cost about $100. A pennynsaved is a penny earned.
    Benning School for Boys
    97th Company
    OC 5-68

  7. #5
    Join Date
    27th October 09
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    Does she still offer that service? If so, what does she charge per tie? I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but it's hard to find time to do this type of alteration so I might need to find someone to just do the others for me (at least two more just like this, plus perhaps 4 more of other brands). It might take me years to get them all done myself.

  8. #6
    Join Date
    7th September 14
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    Thank you Tobus!!

    I have three favorite ties that have outwidth-ed current fashion and have contemplated this very thing. Nice to have some direction to go by, now

  9. #7
    Join Date
    27th October 09
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    I had a couple of free hours over the weekend and decided to have another go at narrowing one of my 4" fat ties down to the same 2.5" width. I used the same process as before with a little more care in the stitching, and the results were great. It took less time too, now that I am more comfortable with the process.

    On this one, though, I shortened the length on the small tail end as well. I took off about 4" in length so I can easily tie a Four-in-Hand knot without the tail being too long. I dislike being forced into a Half-Windsor or a Full-Windsor knot just to use up extra tie length. Even on some of my ties that I'm comfortable with the width, I will want to shorten them. So I wanted to figure out an easy way to do it that didn't require removal and replacement of the silk backing liner.

    To shorten the tail without complicated tailoring, I removed the grey silk liner by cutting out the stitches and folded the striped outer silk back on itself. Then I carefully folded this into a point around the inner canvas stiffener (which I had cut back in length and shaped to a V-point). The folding of the outer silk was actually very similar to making a paper airplane. Once I pressed these folds to hold their shape, I unfolded it and cut away the extraneous material to reduce bulk. Then I closed it back up, did a final closure bar stitch as usual, as well as a whip-stitch to ensure that the folds stay closed.

    That was probably a confusing description, so here's a photo. The result is satisfactory for my purposes, since the backside of the tail isn't visible when wearing.


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