Monday, September 5, 2011

Silk Ties: Reclaiming the silk

September 10, 2011
Stood in line for over an hour at Bernina but it was worth it. Met an online friend in person.

Update, Sept 9, 2011
Finished Reclaiming Silk
Remember I got 55 ties?  Turns out one was wool, so I didn't pick that apart, but as of this moment I've completed processing 54 silk ties.  I also got the patterns in the mail, and they will adapt to the silk from the ties well.  I'll be doing another update to say how many of each color and sort of design.  Wonderful variety of colors and designs.  Will keep you all updated.

Sept 1, 2011
Designer Silk Ties
Instead of OMQG I have an OMG to share with all of you.  My son is in banking—a profession in which designer silk ties are de rigeur.  Apparently ties go out of style like women’s designer shoes.  Over the past 30 years he collected a lot of ties he no longer wears.  I mentioned that I could use some of them to make a quilt, and today I got a box of at least 60 gorgeous designer (mostly Ermengilo Zegna) silk ties.  I just about faint when I think of how much money gets invested in men’s ties over the years.  I don't think you'll be surprised when I tell you just how many people are out there wondering what to do with all those ties.  When a designer silk tie is currently going for $150 or more, one is loathe to throw them out.
Now I have to find a design that is elegant enough to justify the quality of the silk. 

Sept 2, 2011
Patterns to Use the Silk from Ties
I’ve searched the internet and most of the patterns specifically using ties are  are based upon the shape of the ties and focus on Dresden Doilies.  Those are pretty. 
Some use the ties as is and sew them together to make dresses or rugs.  Not my thing.  Just imagine dresses made of a bunch of ties sewn together.  Clever, but not the kind of thing you'd wear to meet the Queen or the President, or even the local Mayor!  They seem more a joke than anything else.  I applaud their cleverness and move on to reclaiming the silk.
It occurred to me that I don’t need a design specifically for ties, but one that uses a wide variety of fabrics.  After much searching, and a suggestions from Sonia, I found a page with gorgeous Asian designs.
  I've ordered these:;; I'm seriously considering ordering these:;;
I'd also like to thank Sue for the usefulness of the link she sent me:, Sharon's idea for a Sunshine-Shadow quilt using the darks and lights and Crazy Quilting which takes advantage of the odd shape of the reclaimed silk. and Barbara's pointer that it's important to wash the silk--any silk that doesn't survive the washing shouldn't be used.   These gave me the basis for my focus on making something lovely instead of just clever for the reclaimed silk from the ties.

Later on Sept 2, 2011

Susan, Sharon, Sonia and Barbara are the 4 who responded with detailed information about the ties.  I’m calling them my "Silk Tie Group." Among the discussions were an article on how to handle the ties, information and suggestions from each of you summarize as:
·       Don’t try to use the ties as-is.  They make generally ugly things.
·       Disassemble each tie and wash the silk.  If it doesn’t wash and recover, don’t use it for a quilt.
·       Ties are cut on the bias.  It may be advisable to square off the fabric.
·       Use lightweight fusible stabilizer to stabilize the silk, not fusible interfacing.
I’ve now disassembled a few ties and here’s what I’ve noticed:
·       Salvaging the silk is a LOT of work.
·       All the ties have a loose woolen interfacing that gives the ties bulk and makes them look good when tied.  The really expensive ties have this as two layers with one of the layers heavier than the other.  It almost looks like one piece is wool and the other linen. This interfacing is natural colored and probably can’t be used for quilting since it’s too loosely woven.
·       When washed and ironed, the silk holds up very well.  While it may need to be stabilized to prevent fraying, it holds together through the washing and ironing very well.
·       At each end of the ties—whether really expensive or just moderately so—is a lightweight silk liner, high quality but much thinner-finer than the outer tie material.  This usually is a solid color and has the name of the designer woven into it.  This delicate silk covers both the broad tip of the tie and the narrow back end.  Most of the colors are pastel or black.
·       A lot of the silk public side of the tie’s patterns are woven  The resulting fabric is much heavier weight than the cotton we use for quilting.  The printed ones seem lighter weight.
·       It takes about a half hour to pick an individual tie apart.  They are beautifully sewn with high quality heavy silk thread so they don’t rip apart like cotton thread with a seam ripper.  I found it's best to use a sharp-pointed embroidery scissors.
·       Each tie yields a minimum of 1/6th yard of fabric (more than an eighth, less than a quarter) although, naturally, one end is narrower than the other (about 5” compared to 10”).  The middle strip of the tie is narrowest (about 3 ½”) and pieced.  All the ties are made of 3 pieces of the outer silk cut on the bias.
·       Washing the silk needs care because when silk wrinkles, it’s hard to get the wrinkles out.  Best to check for stains, wash without wringing.  At first I patted them dry in a towel, but eventually discovered it's best just to rinse them without squishing and drape them still dripping over something where the dripping won't matter.  I use my pool fence which is 4' high so neither end touches the ground.  You could use a shower door or shower rod.
·       Each disassembled tie—piece of silk resulting—is between 1½ yards and 1¾ yards long.
·       Almost all the ties I have are patterned.  Solid ties seem to be rare.
·       With 60+ ties, there’s more than 5 yards of silk

September 3, 2011
Reclaiming the silk from ties
Here are a few pointers:
·       A sharp-pointed embroidery scissors works better than a seam ripper
·       There are two different kinds of stitches in the tie:
o   There’s a heavy silk thread loosely hand sewing the length of the tie to keep it shaped.
o   There’s a tightly sewn thread attaching the silk point linings to the heavier silk fabric
o   The stitches in both points are very tiny, tight, and hard to dig out.
o   The silk thread sewing the tie together is stronger than the thread we usually use for quilting, hence really sharp points needed.
Washing the silk:
·        Check for spots before washing.  I used Grandma’s Spot Remover which worked great (although few of the ties have spots.  I think men throw them over their shoulders when they eat to avoid staining them.)  Serious spots which were previously cleaned up show on the wool interfacing and help you identify any problem spots.  I put the spot remover on but didn’t try to wash it out, just left it on the tie during the wash.
·       I discovered it’s best not to blot them in a towel.  The pressure of the towel sets creases.
·       I washed mine in a pan of warm, not hot, water with a little dish detergent.  I put the spot remover on first, then immersed them in the warm soapy water to soak for 10 – 15 minutes.  That worked better than swishing them around.  I just let them sit.
·       It didn’t seem to matter whether I rinsed them in a new pan of water or let the faucet run over them.  I did not try to extract the water.
·       I put the silk dripping wet into a bowl (so it wouldn’t drip on the floor), took it out to the pool, and draped it over my pool-guard fence.  The fence is 4’ high, and the ties did not touch the floor.  I patted them gently flat.  You could use your shower door or any place where it’s OK if they drip dry. 
·       They dried amazingly fast even though I put them out dripping wet.
Ironing the silk:
·       Ironing the wet or damp ties after washing did not work as well as what follows:
·       I dried the silk thoroughly, then I spread it out on the ironing board and sprayed it very lightly with water.  It takes only a misting to get the ties wet enough to iron.  It doesn’t LOOK wet, but it is.
·       I used the iron set on “wool” since my iron doesn’t say “silk.”
·       The silk is very strong.  It seems to be OK to iron it hard, unlike cotton which distorts, and despite the fact that it was on the bias, the silk did not distort. 
·       I let them rest to cool after ironing.
As I complete the process, I hang the ties on a non-slip hanger in the closet.  That way I won’t create any creases by folding.

September 5, 2011
To my silk-tie enthusiasts.
As I work my way through the ties (I’ve salvaged 10 so far yielding about 1½ yards of fabric) I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the silk.  It just takes my breath away it’s so lovely to handle and so beautifully patterned.  Not all the ties are woven.  Some are printed.  It doesn’t matter, both types of silk are gorgeous.  I’ve discovered that though at first it seemed as if most of the ties were dark, there are quite a few bright ones.  Pink with tiny woven palm trees, yellow with blue printed flowers, orange with blue and green stripes, etc.  Also, many of the ties that seemed dark to begin with have such luminous patterns that they will appear brighter than I thought.  Some of the dark ties are so dark that they can be used as background in pictorial quilts rather than main pieces.
Some of the silk, especially the patterns that seem tightly woven, shred on the edges, so special care will be needed.  It’s odd that the more loosely woven pieces don’t seem to shred as much.

Reclaimed silk from ties: (scroll down)
Ties drying on pool fence

1 comment:

  1. I am fond of wearing all kinds of ties.Thank you so much for suggestions on Ties.

    Best Silk Ties for Men