Lucy Boston

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

fabric + folding = one bow tie = obsessed

This is my new newest obsession in fabric
(see below * for obsession definition).
Warning:  addiction ahead!
Folded fabric bow ties!

You just take a square of fabric,
do some folding 
& use four applique pins. 
Hand whip-stitch-
yes, this step requires the use of a hand needle and thread,
(it doesn't have to be pretty stitching,
so if this hand-stitching step freaks you out, get over it! ...
it doesn't even have to be matching thread).

After it's stitched, remove the pins,
give a slight press and trim.
Folded fabric bow tie!

From my pile of my blue fabrics.
I cut two, five inch squares of each fabric.
Took the whole stack of squares to my lazy girl chair one night
(while Sweetie was pretending to watch tv with his eyes closed).
In less than two hours I had over 50 Bow Ties!!!
that were ready to press and trim.
You just throw in some alternate squares of muslin
and you have a quilt top!
All from my blue stash fabric.
Or, they could be done all in red-
what with the red/white show in New York recently.
Or, they would be great done up in all one fabric line,
like from a pack of charm squares.
Or all scrappy as in a square swap or bow tie swap.
And, they are addictive - just you wait and see*.
As this is a project that is
hard to talk someone through over the phone,
I thought I'd give some basic instruction
and add some pics here...
Enjoy!  and don't say I didn't warn you!

folded fabric bow tie tutorial:
step by step (or picture by picture) instruction:
My squares are 5 inches square (& will finish at 3 1/2 inches).

for each bow tie, use
one square of fabric, right side down:
fold in half and finger press at the outside edge of the fabric block
open and fold in half the other direction, finger pressing the same as before.
Open the square of fabric, as below, and keeping fabric right-side down to the table,
take the crease on right-hand side & move it up to the right-hand corner,
keeping fabric edges squared up with each other.  Pin here in this corner.

Turn the square one-quarter turn clockwise.
2nd side: take the new right-hand side crease up to the new right-hand corner and pin again.
 3rd side: Turn the square again one-quarter turn clockwise
take the new right-hand side crease up to the new right-hand corner and again, pin.

4th side: Repeat with the last corner, by again turning the square one-quarter turn clockwise.
take the last crease up to the last corner and pin.

You will have something that looks like a funky fortune cookie
- a little poofy in the middle:
Give it a little hand-pat on the "poofy-ness".
If you have folded it correctly, it will look like this:
a square in a square
on the wrong side of the fabric,
and a four patch on the right side of the fabric.

Again, working on the back or wrong side of the fabric-
the square-in-a-square side...
I drew little arrows where you will hand-stitch: 
The thread is a single thread, knotted at the end.
This is a basting stitch -
it will need to be gathered later,
so DO NOT take more than one stitch in each side!

Take a small stitch into the edge of the TOP square only.
Turn the pinned piece one quarter turn clockwise
and take a small stitch into the next edge.
Repeat this one-stitch-baste around the whole top square...
Remember, there is no tacking or back-stitching.
This should bring you back to where you started to stitch.
Take one more stitch back at the beginning, right beside the beginning stitch where you have the knotted thread end.  DO NOT knot or tie off yet!
If this is done correctly, you will now have a square in a square in a square - the top square being thread!  see above.

Pull the basting thread that you just stitched:
It should gather the back side of the fabric into a four petal flower looking shape:
Pinch two petals to the left and two petals to the right:
(it doesn't matter which two go right or left, just pinch with your finger and thumb, as above.)
Now you will take a tacking stitch in the middle where your needle and thread are.

Since you already have your needle and thread here,
whip-stitch out to the right side, stitching through the layers of the petals.
When you get out to the end, make a small knot,
then whip-stitch back to the center.
Now whip-stitch out the the left side,
knotting when you finish.
Cut thread end,
Remove the four pins.
and you have this...
the back side

and the front side:
It's a BOW TIE!!!

I like to press from the back, using my iron to "square" the bow.
I don't press the center of the block, as that would smash the center of the tie,
and make it loose it's 3 dimensional effect.
Square the finished bow tie to 3 1/2 inches,

using the 45 degree line on your ruler against the bow's corners:

Sew into projects!

*I made so many of these blocks, I knew I really was obsessed...
But my definition of Obsessed with a capital O:
how small can I make this bow tie? 
a one inch square...
It makes a trimmed 3/4 inch bow tie!
Obsessed-capital O!,
 or crazy,
you choose.
And, don't forget that I warned you!!!

(: In a couple of days I'll show you a couple of my projects and how I did my quilting on these bow ties...
that will give you time to become obsessed, also :)

Happy Stitching!


  1. AAAAGGGHHHHH it's addicting :-)

    Lil ole me in C-ville.

  2. Hey, anon in C-ville!
    Do you have a whole basket of them made up already? Share a picture, please!

  3. I saw this demo at a class I attended seven years ago, have been trying ever since to find someone at my quilt seminars that knew how to make them. Thank you for your tutorial.

    1. SG - you are so welcome for the tutorial. Everything is easier with pictures, I think :).
      Please feel free to share a picture of your bows, I'd love to see them.

  4. A group of us are making these ad part of a Prairie Women's Sewing Circle in Temperance, MI. Such fun! And oh so addicting!

    1. Hello MichganTrudy!! Yay! Another person addicted with the bow tie craze! Are you working with a single color or the whole color wheel?
      Thanks for sharing and stopping by.

  5. This is the first time I've seen this on the "net", and I have searched. I learned from a gal who worked in a fabric shop in Wasilla, Alaska, who learned from a tourist, several years ago. I've showed so many people this technique and everyone loves it. Is it your invention? If so, thank you.


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