10 Great Uses for Old Ties

By Kentin Waits on 22 February 2012 (Updated 28 October 2013) 3 comments
Photo: bark

One of the casualties of our more informal work world is a surplus of neckties. Visit any thrift store of a respectable size, and you’ll find whole nests of colorful old ties coiled and tangled in bins and snaked through hangers. Exploring them is a history lesson in fashion and in the vagaries of style. They come in paisleys, college stripes, argyles, and checks; in wool, acetate, polyester, and silk; in skinny, wide, and extra wide. They wait to be reclaimed and repurposed. But if you’re not a vintage clothing hound with a penchant for formal wear, what can be done with these cast-offs? Here are ten ideas that can give new life to old ties.

1. Napkin Rings

Ties with classic designs can be cut hemmed and stitched into small rings to create unique matched or mismatched napkin rings. Since napkin rings seldom get dirty, choose more expensive tie fabrics like silk or wool.

2. Tab Tops for Café Curtains

Restaurant owners I know in Portland, Oregon fashioned the tabs of their tab-top café curtains from old ties. First, they removed and saved the narrow section of each tie, and then created a loop from it. Next they sewed each loop neatly to the curtain at 4” intervals and embellished each new tab with a vintage button. Since curtains are in direct sunlight and prone to fading, choose more durable necktie fabrics like polyester or acetate.

3. Curtain Tie-Backs

Add a unique accent to your curtains by using thin or medium width ties as curtain tie-backs. Just cut to fit, add a button or piece of Velcro, and voila!

4. Belts

Narrow wool or cotton ties (especially in argyle or plaid) make great belts. Add a D-ring style buckle and pair with dark-wash jeans for a casual look.

5. Quilts and Throws

If you have the skills and are up for an intricate and challenging project, try creating a quilt or throw crafted from neckties. When sewing ties together or using cut pieces of tie fabric, be sure to pay attention to the weft and warp of the material. Each fabric has not only a distinct weight, but a particular weave that affects how it stretches. Choosing fabrics with similar warp and weft characteristics will prevent misshaping or unnecessarily stress on a particular section. For a good tutorial on how make a quilt from old ties, check out eHow’s step-by-step tie quilt overview.

6. Rugs

Apply the same method used in the quilt creation to make a rug from polyester or cotton ties. If you like to knit or crochet, experiment with crafting a rug using ties as the yarn. Just cut the ties to a uniform width and sew the strips end-to-end. Add a non-skid backing or pad for safety.

7. Scarves

Wool or cotton ties staggered and sewn together end-to-end can create a unique and durable scarf. Leave the edges natural or finish with velvet or denim.

8. Table Runners

Use rich paisley patterns in silk to create a distinctive table runner using the same method as the scarf. Finish with tassels or some simple beadwork.

9. Dish Towel Ties

Remember when every kitchen had those little dish towels with the tab that fit through a drawer handle and buttoned in the front? Maybe I’m showing my age, but it seemed like every kitchen in the 1970’s had one hanging at the sink or from the oven handle. It was a great little utilitarian craft project that could be reinvented to include old neckties. Using the widest part of the tie, hem and sew one end to the back of a dish towel or hand towel and attach the pointed end to the front with a button or piece of Velcro. Because these will be used and washed frequently, choose a durable polyester or cotton tie.

10. Custom Pillows

Add a unique and custom look to your accent pillows by centering and sewing a tie vertically and another horizontally to create a "gift wrapped" look. This works especially well with white pillows and deeply patterned bold black ties or denim pillows and vintage plaid ties.

So, the next time you’re thrift shopping or hitting the yard sales, keep an eye out for those old orphaned ties — there’s still a lot of life in them. With a little creativity and craftsmanship, you can turn something that was a pain in the neck to the fellas of yesteryear into something that’s inspired and practical.

Do you have a closet full of old ties? How have you repurposed and recycled them? What ideas have I missed?

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Nick

I've cut an old tie down and tied it to my luggage, creating a unique marker (to pick it out easily from others during travel).

Meg Favreau's picture

I once started making an old-tie skirt. Since I was hand sewing, though, my patience unfortunately ran out before it was finished.

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A.W.B.

Great ideas for reusing old ties. Sewing skills not included. Creativity and imagination definitely hold the key to some innovative financial solutions. Well done.