DIY: Skinny Ties

August 31, 2010

One of Ralph’s requests for his birthday was skinny ties. They are surprisingly hard to find — either too long or too expensive for a 13-year-old’s wardrobe. So a few weeks ago, I had an idea: I would buy some old fat ties at a thrift shop and take them to a tailor to have them altered. Brilliant, right?

But then, of course, I forgot about the idea till 3 days before his birthday. At which point, I tried to rush and make it happen. I found 5 great ties at Goodwill and sped them to the tailor. There, I was told it would take 10 days and cost $37 each to skinny them up. Blech.

But since I had the ties in hand, and since they only cost $1 each, I figured I’d try it myself. If I failed, oh well, a $5 failed project is not the end of the world. As it turns out, the first one ended up great (it’s the silvery striped one above)! So I took pictures while I remade tie number two — and now I can share the instructions with you, in case you’re curious.

Here is the before shot. In the tutorial, I took the polka-dot tie and made it as skinny as the stripe tie:

Here is the after shot:

1) Turn your too-wide thrift store tie upside down. Un-stitch it:

Keep un-stitching till you get to the skinniest part of the tie:

2) Pull the tie form fabric out of the lining (there is probably a real name for this, but I don’t know what it is). This is the piece of the tie that helps keep the tie shape.

3) Trim one side of the tie-form fabric. I free-handed it on the first one, aiming for a finished tie that was about 1 1/2 inches wide. But for the other 4, I traced a skinny tie with a pen right on the tie-form fabric:

4) If you traced it, then cut out the second side. If you’re free-handing it, turn the cut piece upside down to get a matching cut on the second side:

5) Your tie-form material should now look like a skinny tie. Tuck it back into the lining:

6) When you unstitched the tie, one side was overlapping the other, Starting with the side that was being overlapped, trim off some of the silk, tapering the trimmed piece as the tie narrows:

7) With an iron set for silk, press the trimmed silk so that it folds itself along the tie-form fabric:

8) Fold under the cut edge and iron again, so that the ironed piece is narrower than the tie-form fabric:

9) Now it’s time to iron the second side. Note: you may not need to trim the silk on this side:

10) Tuck under the edge of the second side and iron once more. Aim to get the seam in the middle:

If you turn the tie over, it should now look like this (but don’t iron the front, you might damage the silk):

11) Next, using a needle and thread, stitch up the back of the tie. Take your stitches through both the back flaps and catch a bit of the tie-form fabric, but be careful not to reach the front of the tie. It’s pretty easy to hide the hand stitches between the back flaps:

12) If your tie came with a piece for tucking the tail into, you can reattach it now:

And that’s it! In case you’re curious, the first tie took me about 45 minutes. But the next 4 only took about 30 minutes each. I turned these:

Into these:

Other notes:
-Three of the ties I worked with were silk. One was wool. One was polyester. The silk ties were by far the easiest to work with.
-Ralph LOVES his new ties.
-Also, as I progressed, I got better at getting the new back seam centered. The navy and brown stripe tie was my last one and it’s the best as far as the back seam goes:

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Happy sewing!

P.S. — I like this image because it shows two of the dated tags. They remind me of my Dad’s ties when I was growing up:

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veda March 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

Hi! thanks so much for this post! I’ve took some of the old ties from my Dad, who just passed away, and I was thinking of a way to wear them as a head bands and /or ties for my jeans, and convert the regular ones into skinny ones is going to make them awesome for me to wear! Thanks so much again!


2 Ted & Geoffrey June 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Great article, thank you for sharing.

We will definitely have a go at this soon.



3 Calisson July 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

Just what I was looking for! Thanks so much for these totally clear instructions!


4 Stephen K. July 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm

You are seriously awesome. I am all about skinny ties and have a plethora of fatties. I originally wanted to take my Barney Stinson ducky tie (from How I Met Your Mother) and get it hemmed into a skinny, now I can do this myself. Thank you!


5 Novelty Ties September 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

Amazing…. I love it, thanks, keep it up in same way !! :)


6 Rachel September 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Brilliant! Thanks. :)


7 Lori February 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I just used this tutorial to make a tie for my 4-year-old. It is perfect! I had to shorten the other end and I just used the same technique on that end as well. Thank you so much!


8 Rob March 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Excellent tutorial. I also heard that the width of the tie- if worn with a suit- should echo the width of the lapel. Don’t know how true it is, but I’ll give it a go :-)


9 Jane Dube April 3, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Great job girl! I love it. You are so talented. I am impressed, challenged and encouraged to try it too.
Thank you for sharing.
Be blessed.


10 Mark April 6, 2014 at 8:56 am

Any interest in doing this for a fee? I have 20+ ties I would love to modernize to 3″


11 Brandon July 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Just saying, I wouldn’t have touched the Saint Laurent tie if I were you. Sell that and you’ll get around $70-250. Besides that, this was a quality tutorial. I just hate to see already good fashion go to waste.


12 Adam August 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Thanks so much for this! I like narrower ties (the standard old 2 3/4″+/- width looks ridiculous on me) but not super skinny. When I buy new ones I get them from JCrew but they run $45-$75 and I have a ton of “full width” ties from when I was a teenager (early ’90s). I was going to send to the thrift shop if the tailor couldn’t narrow them – thanks to you I will soon have a bunch of new ties in the width I want! Awesome!


13 stephanie August 26, 2014 at 12:03 am

Just found you on Pinterest! I love up-cycling projects, and your instructions are great. Thanks for taking the time to share! :D


14 Katee December 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm

This is awesome! My brother just turned 14 and asked for a skinny tie. I can’t find them anywhere, so this tutorial is PERFECT!!! Thank you! I’ll be transforming some ties tomorrow! :)


15 jeff October 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm

YSL?! great find!


16 erin February 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Thank you so much. I don’t whip-stich well, so I don’t want the back to show, but I did this in about an hour!
: D


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