How to Make Baskets and Hats from Recycled Neck Ties
To Tie For!
Silk ties make gorgeous art
They say that talent is hitting a target that no one else can hit, whereas genius is hitting a target that no one else can see. My sister Gillian Danner falls into the latter category.
She has a habit of coming up with designs that nobody else would think of, plus they actually look good. I’ve been trying to figure out how she succeeds in creating art, where I produce stuff that the church auxiliary ladies quietly omit from rummage sales.
One of Gill’s techniques is that she repurposes objects to serve functions they were never intended for. For example, she’ll turn magazine photos into tiny hand-rolled lacquered beads, or convert antique farm implements into toilet paper dispensers or sculpt gentleman’s ties into silk baskets.
Her silk baskets are riotous, saturated hues
coiled into usefulness long after they’ve finished adorning the necks of
entrepreneurs, salesmen and executives. She chooses her ties from
serpentine piles of paisleys and stripes at flea markets and garage sales.
There’s nothing so screamingly confident as neckties, and many of the patterns can be filed into leisure categories like Golf or Orienteering (rare), and entertainment categories like Looney Toons, Irish Drinking Humour or Gothic Punk Retro Skulls.
Necktie graphics encompass the full range of human passions and if you don’t believe me, visit eBay and scroll through some of the 18,613 (I’m not kidding) ties that are for sale today. From dogs playing poker to portraits of the rock band KISS, your tie theme is waiting for you now.
In the meantime, here are Gill’s instructions for making your own tie basket or a hat worthy of the Royal Ascot.
Stuff You’ll Need
5-8 silk neckties
Silk or cotton thread
A package of 1-1/2-inch quilting needles
Start by pinning ties in half lengthwise. (Reduce the width at the wide end by folding each side in half again, and then folding the whole tie in half.) Sew the tie edges together with fairly small stitches. It will end up looking like a rolled tube with a fat end and a skinny end.
Choose the tie that will become the bottom of the basket. Coil the tie tightly and see how it looks. Striped ties become pinwheels and geometric patterns look like fractal forests.
Pin the coil through the sides so it holds its shape. Sew the coil together wearing a thimble to push the needle into the silk right through the diameter of the coil. Use needle-nose pliers to pull the needle out. You can figure on this being the most difficult and fiddly part. Also the most frustrating part because needles fracture easily, mostly at the eye. Thin quilting needles work better than beefy needles because they pierce the tough interlining more easily. They also pierce you more easily.
Coil a second tie around the first and pin and sew it. This gets easier because you only have to sew the second tie it to the first tie and there’s less interlining to go through.
TIP: Each time you add one tie to another, join the ends by inserting the tip of the new tie inside the end of the last one, narrow end into narrow end or wide end into wide end.
The third tie begins to move up to start the cylindrical sides of the basket. This tie will be the least visible so if you’ve got an un-favourite tie - say one showing Princess Lea with her goofy ear-muff hairstyle - this is a good place for it. Pin and sew the third tie to the last round of the base, but this time sew the coils together vertically, one on top of the other going through and through, straight up and down. The stitches that fasten the coils together won’t show because they’ll be hidden by the next tie.
Continue upwards pinning and stitching one tie at a time. Each tie will give you about 3 rounds. On the last row, blind-stitch the upper layer to the second layer so no stitches are visible. Stock your silk basket with a merry complement of Easter eggs, or add a brim to create a fetching Easter bonnet