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 Val August 31, 2010 at 4:58 pm

great job!


2 Stacey H August 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I love it! Amazing re-do!


3 Sabrina August 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm

What a fun project. I am glad they were a success. I just had to laugh when I saw that skinny ties are back in with guys now. When I was serving as a missionary, about 7 years ago, “fatty” ties were all the rage. Ah, the fickle fashion industry!


4 Cam December 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Seven years ago I was too young to know much about ties, but I would guess the popularity of the “fatty tie” has more to do with the fact that everyone is generally more “fatty” than in the 70′s and 80′s when things like skinny jeans were also in. Once all the starving hipsters, whether from being poor or doing too much drugs, started rocking them we realized they just looked better. I think it is an undeniable matter of aesthetics that a person who is in shape is going to look best with a skinny tie while a larger person is going to look silly wearing a skinny tie, and vice-versa. The tie accents the shape of the body by mimicking it. Kind of like how a fitted shirt is inarguably more attractive on lean people because of how it adorns the beautiful shape of the human body. I mean “fatty” ties even start to bulge out towards the bottom much in the same manner as a larger person starts to bulge at the waist and hips. The fashion industry may be fickle, but that doesn’t mean that some fashion trends are more aesthetically sound.


5 Jordan August 31, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Love this


6 Wendy August 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Good job Mom! Hope he really enjoys them!


7 Madeline @ Uber Chic for Cheap August 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm

This is a great idea! One thing I have noticed on ties that I have hand sewn together for my husband is that the stretching that occurs when he unties his tie often breaks my hand stitching. Just something to keep in mind.

I love the polka dot tie.


8 Kristian Chavira November 14, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I agree that the reusing of the old ties is terrific. And as for your hand stichting breaking, if you looked at store boughten ties the thread is incredibly thick. It may be a 30 wt if not greater. I’m sure if you are using a thread weight comparable to that used in the industry and are grabbing more than a few threads of fabric with each stitch.


9 Martina August 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Great idea! My husband loves skinny ties too. We find them at thrift stores and estate sales fairly often but this a great tutorial. I’ll definitely give it a try sometime.


10 Jim A August 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Skinny ties are back? Glad I kept mine from the 80′s.


11 Sarah H August 31, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I just did this last week for my husband. We went to some friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party, which was this amazing sock hop. Anyway, I made the tie for my husband- so he’d at least have SOMETHING to dress up with (as opposed to me- who went all out with crinolines and all). Great tutorial. I love that you encourage your kids’ great sense of style.

PS. $37 per tie? Who are these tailors!?


12 Kathleen Dougherty August 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I hope you don’t mind if I post about this tomorrow on my blog. I don’t have boys but I could see this working for a more casual look for an adult too! Really good work Gabriel!! Ralph is lucky to have such a crafty mother.


13 Kelly August 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm

that just might very well be simple enough to try! thanks for the instructions.


14 Kidlet's Dad August 31, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Though not 13, or a fan of skinny ties I admire your creativity. If you know where I can find a smoking jacket & cravat for a 2 month old please shoot me an email… we’ve got a passport photo to take.


15 emily August 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Gabby- Please, pretty please, show us some pictures of your little man in these ties. I just can’t picture it; T-shirt with a tie, undone collar shirt with a tie, what?! I just love the confidence and style Ralph has to pull of Goodwill ties. So cool. Thank you- Emily in Minneapolis


16 Michelle August 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm

So many things to love, starting with a 13-yr-old boy who wants skinny ties for his birthday. Love the ties you chose and the result – thanks for sharing!


17 Jan @ Family Bites August 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I’m not sure which is more cool…the fact that Ralph wanted ties for his birthday or that you were able to make them yourself :) I love this!


18 Mary @ stylefyles August 31, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Awesome! I love that this is something I can do with my limited hand stitching abilities!!!! My boyfriend has an overload of ties he never wears…I bet he would love to have some of them re-vamped into a skinny tie he’ll wear more (of course, I’ll get permission first, heh heh). This is a fantastic tutorial – thanks!


19 jb September 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm

also try stitch witchery. i followed this for some ties and used stitch witchery instead of actually stitching it and it worked fine. time will tell if it holds, but we’ve used it on other things and it worked fine so i expect it to save me this time, too!


20 Eric August 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm

You know, that’s how Ralph LAUREN got his start – look it up!


21 sara August 31, 2010 at 8:16 pm

This is fabulous! I’m going to try it for my 10-yr-old.


22 Kelli K August 31, 2010 at 9:03 pm

I hope someday I can be that kind of mom!


23 bettijo @ PagingSupermom August 31, 2010 at 9:19 pm



24 Em August 31, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Oooh, those vintage designer ties in my husband’s closet are calling for an update… Great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing this!


25 Susan Petersen August 31, 2010 at 10:33 pm

what a great idea!


26 Juliana Chan August 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Thank you so much for this. My son is only 3 1/2 years old, but I think I might try to make one for him as well.


27 Chris August 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I love that he wanted skinny ties for his 13th birthday-so cool. Way to pull through Mom!


28 Heidi September 1, 2010 at 2:00 am

Oh snap! Loving this, Gabrielle. I wonder if my nephews need some skinny ties…


29 Lindsay {DesignerWife} September 1, 2010 at 2:39 am

I absolutely adore this!! Can’t wait to try the tutorial. The husband has a birthday this month – he’ll love this. :)



30 Tabitha (From Single to Married) September 1, 2010 at 5:24 am

You are so talented and they look great! Now if I can just figure out how to make them longer for my 6’8″ husband, I’ll be all set! :)


31 Heather HS September 1, 2010 at 7:45 am

Love it! You should totally sew the tags back on – they’re awesome. How many other 13 year olds have YSL ties?!?!


32 Megan September 1, 2010 at 8:32 am

Awesome! I can’t wait to try it :D


33 Sandra Gonzales September 1, 2010 at 8:58 am

Great DIY tutorial! I sometimes do not understand DIY steps for projects. But I can see the process in my mind when I read your instructions. Gifted mother and gifted writer!!


34 Amy September 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

This is a great idea! My son is always asking for skinny ties and I have been unable to find any that fit his nine-year-old frame. I’m going to give it a try.


35 Jeanette from Everton Terrace September 1, 2010 at 9:17 am

I feel certain this is going to be the coolest thing I see all day. Genius is right. Just a great idea. I’m thinking about skinnying some up for my daughter to use as belts – I see such great ties at the thrifts.


36 Rebecca Grace September 1, 2010 at 9:33 am

You have done it again, Girl — I’m so excited to tackle tie alterations! My husband’s new job requires him to dress up more for meetings, and his closet is full of outdated “fat” ties. My 9-year-old begs for ties, too; go figure? So I’m definitely bookmarking this one for future reference. Thank you!


37 Amy September 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Genius! I have young boys who can never find ties they like in the kid section – GW and SA here we come! Thanks…


38 Anne September 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

This is GENIUS!!! I linked to your tutorial over on Craft Gossip Sewing:



39 Heidi September 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

What a sweet idea! I would love a tie for my one-year-old…I bet I could make a little tiny one with a thrifted men’s tie!


40 Jana @ Weekend Vintage September 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Genius!!! I love it….posting a link for you from my site :)


41 Amanda Conley September 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Love it! what a clever idea. I’m totally going to do this for my 13 yr. old. He’ll love it.


42 Marci G September 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

My son would also love these for his end of November birthday…better start now!!! Thanks for the great idea, you make it look so easy!


43 Tess September 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

This is an amazing tutorial!!! Thanks for sharing! My boyfriend will be happy :)


44 Leanne September 1, 2010 at 9:04 pm

What a fabulous idea! I am featuring this tutorial on my design blog tomorrow –

My husband is going to be thrilled!


45 Sugar September 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm

This is great! I love vintage thick ties but my husband likes the thin type. I’ve been buying vintage tie silk from Sew What’s New Fabrics on Etsy to make ties but this is so much easier! Thanks so much!


46 kim September 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Is there anything you can’t do? Great job! ;) I bet Ralph loves them!


47 Suzanne September 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

How fun! My 12 year old son snags my collection of skinny 50s vintage ties for himself, which I don’t mind since he takes good care of his (and my) ties. But he is such a dapper young man, this will be perfect for him. Now, if only someone had a tutorial for making a large men’s blazer into a size for a 12 year old, we’d be in business. ;-)
Thanks for sharing this!


48 Lakshmi September 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm

I had done the same last month , around 3 ties which my husband had not used at all saying they were too wide, were made usable by doing so, it never stuck me to do a tute on it, never believed there would be so many users in a similar fix. Hmm will post tute for anything which shall help anyone. that’s the least i can do. Thanks for inspiration


49 Throckmorton Jones September 2, 2010 at 12:41 am

Very cool and easy to follow tut. I’ve always liked the look of skinny ties versus fat ones.


50 elise September 2, 2010 at 4:42 am

Fantastic idea! They came out beautifully.


51 queenie September 2, 2010 at 7:13 am

very cool!


52 Doti Roraback September 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

Great idea, I have piles of ties as I have been collecting them for a quilt, Someday. Smile Thanks For sharing. Doti


53 DeeAnna September 2, 2010 at 11:18 am

first of all how cool is it that your son wanted skinny ties, and secondly that you found some ties at my all time favorite store the G-Dub! I have the name of a great local seamstress for the next time!


54 Adrienne September 2, 2010 at 11:23 am

Very cool project and love the fact that Ralph wanted something so stylish for his BDay!!


55 Doti Roraback September 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

I think this is such a great idea I listed it at the intro to my shop. Let me know if that was not ok. thanks Doti


56 DeeAnna September 2, 2010 at 11:29 am

ooooohhhh love my Rowenta too!


57 Paunnet September 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm

My boyfriend loves skinny ties, I’ll definitely try this! Thank you so much for sharing!!!


58 Lincoln September 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I love this idea! I will be posting a link to this from my blog,

Thanks for the information, idea, and great photos!


59 Lincoln September 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Oh, forgot to mention, the white stuff in the tie is called interfacing.


60 Moe Rubenzahl September 5, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Brilliant! The project, the explanation, and most of all the caring. I hope Ralph knows these are made of love.


61 Travis September 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

This is great! Thanks for sharing. I was looking at buying a few but with what I would spend on 1 could get a couple. Also, DIY is life!

Keep up the great work!


62 Katie September 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm

This is a godsend! My little brother is 13 and has been asking for skinny ties – they’re so expensive to buy for a 13 year old though! I love this! Thank you so much for sharing!


63 Marcus September 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

THANK YOU SO MUUUCH!!! Skinny ties are oddly difficult for me to find. This is much more efficient.


64 Antoinette September 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

Wow, great job! Wonderful tutorial!!! Thanks – I will try this out.


65 Pauline September 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

Great post, awesome idea!

“Pull out the tie form fabric out of the lining (there is probably a real name for this, but I don’t know what it is)” …it’s actually sew-in interfacing.


66 Skinny Neckties September 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Very good and simple tutorial. I am planning to make a tie for my brother. This tutorial will help me.


67 Shannon October 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Thanks for step by step! I had some issues trimming the edges off, but the tie will work well for my boyfriend’s Don Draper costume!


68 Synnøve October 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

Loved it!

Now I can continue to steal ties from my grandad. (He has pretty good tie-taste, who would have thought THAT?)


69 Alinka Johnson October 19, 2010 at 7:23 am

Love this! Great blog!


70 Lauren O'Neill October 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm

AH! This is so great! What a terrific tutorial!

My boyfriend just gave up 7 or so favorite ties because they were too wide for him. With a new job he’s in the market for new ties. Thanks for the great idea & the perfect congratulatory gift :)


71 S. B. Hadley Wilson November 26, 2010 at 7:59 am

Awesome! Amazing what a needle, thread, and a little love can do. Thanks for the tutorial.


72 summer January 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Omg I loooove the striped tie and the YSL tie!!!! I love this project. I am a thrift store junkie and this idea is just dynamite! Good job. :D


73 Erin February 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm

God bless you woman. This is the most simple solution and it was right in front of me! Thank goodness you have the sense and the knowhow to do it!


74 Hannah/Sundry Mumsy May 11, 2011 at 5:48 am

I second what Erin said. An obvious tie fix, but I was too dumb to think of it. Good job.


75 Jenny June 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

awesome! my husband likes skinny ties but they are so hard to find. thanks for this great tutorial!!


76 Billie Monster June 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Those are awesome! I’ve always loved skinny ties! Thanks for showing us how you made them. :O)

~ ~


77 gonzalo July 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm

awesomeeeeee! i really enjoy this :)
nice work dude!!


78 aaron July 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm

c’est incroyable. merci


79 Brennan August 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I love you. This is perfect!


80 Donatella November 9, 2011 at 4:39 am

You will never believe that this is exactly what I used with my dad’s old-out-of-fashion fat ties, to give them a new lease of life, a few decades ago, when I was about 13! Thank you for making me feel clever! ;-)


81 jessi November 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

Wow, I am going to make some of these from old ties. Plus, I am going to shorten them a little for my 8 yr old grandson who loves ties. Also, Ross has bright Tommy Hilfiger ties for very little, that kids would love.


82 Nicole November 24, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I just made one and it turned out great. Thanks again.



83 Gray December 8, 2011 at 6:26 am

**YAAAY** I made a tie from a tutorial for my hubs for our wedding – which he totally loved — but it was a thicker tie (like traditional) and he likes skinny ties for stuff like dates and wearing with sweaters and stuff, so I’m so glad I found this. making a tie from scratch only took me about an hour and 20 mins, but I can’t always find good fabric, so NOW I know what to do to save some time and heartache (at not finding a GREAT fabric)!! THANKS!


84 Gray December 8, 2011 at 6:30 am

Oh! I meant to say also — a nice touch that my husband just thought was amazing was creating a new *unique* band on the back to hold the tail of the tie and on the inside (the part that shows out at the point). I just used a contrasting piece of satin ribbon for holding the tail and a similar (but patterned) piece of scrap fabric for the inside of the tie. His tie turned out black (satin) with an orange tie catch on the back and navy polka dot fabric lining. He raves about the little details every time I go to make a tie (“are you gonna do the same thing for the piece on the back??”)


85 jackie December 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I would love to skinny down some of my husbands fat ties so my boys (11 & 14) can wear them. I’m wondering though; does the length of a man’s tie not have to be shortened to fit a boy? I remember my son trying on one of my hubby’s ties, and you know the “tail” end of the tie that is tucked behind the FRONT of the tie when a man is wearing it? It hung down lower than the front of the tie. Maybe it just wasn’t tied right?


86 Emily December 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Awesome Tutorial, Thanks. Just made some for my husband’s birthday. He’ll be so happy that I made him something new (from his old ties) and didn’t spend any money.


87 Nicholas December 30, 2011 at 4:04 am

Love those ties, think I will try to convert some of my old fat ones instead of always buying the skinny ones. Great tutorial thanks!


88 Arkhangael February 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I threw an awful lot of large ties away yesterday. N I am seeing this tonight!!

For sure, I’ll be trying this.

Thanx for sharing


89 XD mughal May 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

amazing job man. . . .!!!!!!!


90 VaLon May 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I love these! They are so great. Skinny ties are so great, and like you said, so hard to find. I love that you have made these out of old ones. I had a hard time making a tie for my father, but this makes it look so easy. Great read.


91 Eliza Jane May 25, 2012 at 8:07 am

This is amazing! Thank you for sharing!


92 Stefan June 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I discovered your tutorial through Pinterest. It’s a great idea, not just for “skinny” ties, but also to narrow 4.5″ old ties to a more trend neutral 3″. Thanks a lot for this tutorial, it’s really well made and useful! Btw that tailor is a thief: mine would only charge 9$.


93 Jair July 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Hello, just wondering if there was an easier way to do this that would utilize the back end of a tie, which is already skinny most of the time anyway compared to the front end which is wider? Great tutorial!


94 Whitney July 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Woo-hoo! Thank you for this awesome tutorial!!!! I recently tried it and blogged about it at . My husband was SO happy to have some of his fat ties converted. And seeing him so happy made me overjoyed. Thank you again!


95 Caroline September 27, 2012 at 6:53 am

Great thanks! Any chance you could add a “pin it” button? My browser won’t let me add one so when I can’t find one on the site I can’t pin it…


96 Ashley October 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

This is such an awesome idea! I could not figure out what to get my bf. and this is the perfect gift!


97 Gretchen L. November 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

This tutorial is lovely! I have one question, though… Where did you go to get a YSL tie for $1??


98 Andy November 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Great article. You helped me update my wordrobe


99 Alex December 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I’ve been looking to buy skinny ties, but I can never find, where did you buy the regular ones for a dollar?? That is an amazing price..


100 Coll December 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Re-made an old tie from recently deceased grandpa for grandson. Perfect way to wear a beautiful reminder of Gramps! Thanks for the easy-as-pie instructions!


101 Tracy January 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Thanks, sweetie! My 15-year-old kiddo stumbled upon your tutorial–we’ve been accumulating clearanced Jerry Garcia ties, and he asked me to ‘skinny them down’ according to your directions. They’ll be unique, for sure: “Hey … where’d you find a SKINNY Garcia tie?” Our secret. :)

Your website is lovely, and good therapy. :D


102 Rasha January 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

*Laughs* Can I just send you all my fat ties and pay you to do it for me? ;)

I LOVE THIS IDEA! I have to wear ties to work and being a woman that is only 5’4″ tall most men’s ties are too long and too wide. I enjoy wearing the skinny ties, but you are right….they are hard to find. Especially ones that look right for my stature.


103 Richard Palmer January 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Best, clearest directions I’ve seen. You’re the Internet article for which I’ve been waiting to trim down some of my wide ties. The pictures totally make the site!
Thanks! Be blessed.


104 Morreen Forde March 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

One of my long time dreams is to make ties. The idea came to me again (yesterday, March 18) and I mentioned it to a friend who encouraged me to go and purchase the material and unstitch an old tie and make a pattern from it. I did purchased the material and started to search the internet for instructions on “how to make ties”. I am glad that I found your site. Thanks for the ideas. You have inspired me. I will proceed with my project shortly


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