taylor tailor

Before I talk about bow ties, you should go check out the Reyna Lay Designs Podcast. Not only is it a great show where Reyna interviews sewers/sewists, indie pattern designers, and other creative people, but she is all about inspiring and empowering people, which is really cool in my book. Oh, and I…um…I happen to be the guest this week! So, if you are into podcasts, and even if you aren’t, go check it out on iTunes or on Reyna’s website.

Now, on to bow ties. Earlier this year my wife was invited to go on a cruise to Alaska, and since I’m a nice guy she took me along 🙂 Some people love cruising, others hate it, but put me on a floating hotel en route to some of the most amazing scenery on the planet, and you can guarantee I’ll have a good time. This particular cruise had a couple of formal normal nights, and rather than go all out with a tuxedo rental, I was inspired to make some bow ties for the trip that could easily be worn with my existing wardrobe.

ruby princess deck

(This was taken at 10:30 at night. Alaska has crazy light in the spring and summer.)

I didn’t used to like bow ties, as they can sometimes feel a little “clown-ish” or “costumey,” and they leave the front of the shirt feeling a bit exposed when worn with a jacket. Recently though, I’ve changed my mind and I’ve actually grown to really like them. I think for me the key is to keep the bow tie understated and somewhat casual. Even though I made them for “formal” night on the ship, the dress ran the spectrum from tuxedos to jeans, and I was happy to fall somewhere in the middle.

blue bow tie

Sorry about the weird chin shot. As with any sewing project, fabric choice is important depending on the look and feel you want to achieve. For a more casual look, I chose fabrics without any sheen that have some texture. This helped with a softer, relaxed, less stuffy look. I also avoided prints, which could certainly work, but for the sake of versatility I went with mostly solid or very minimal print design.

ship sewing machine

One day I was wandering around and exploring the ship and managed to stumble upon a behind the scenes tour of the main theater. I was so excited to find a sewing machine in the costume department! Nobody else was even remotely interested in the sewing machine, and I got a few strange looks as I checked out the motor and took some pictures. Apparently there are so many different shows that the crew needs to alter costumes right on the ship.

ship balcony

A little wrinkled, a little crooked, maybe a little tired, but having a great time anyway.

juneau alaska

This photo was taken in the Port of Juneau, AK. Our cruise stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria B.C. We also made our way into the Tracy Arm Fjord. The views, the wildlife, and the port cities were all spectacular. Even if you aren’t all that into cruising, the Alaska cruise experience is really special and something to consider, as most of these ports can only be reached by plane or sea (or some way out of the way driving).

grey bow tie

More chin. Bow ties are actually really easy to make once you figure out the right size. I’d say that learning to tie one is probably harder than learning to make one, but there’s YouTube and lots of websites to assist with learning the tying part. These bow ties are simply two layers of fabric sewn right sides together with a piece of sew-in interfacing sandwiched in the middle. Turning the tie right side out is an exercise to test your patience, but slow and steady gets the job done.

sunset at sea

Headed home. Sunset at sea off the back of the ship. Back to work on my jacket and backpack patterns.