Monday, February 21, 2011

Deconstruction: Neck Ties

Some of you guys wear ties daily, some only on special occasions, so want to make sure what you wear counts. For something that exists in almost all mens' lives, I wanted to dig a little deeper into neck wear and give you a look at what goes into a tie, and baseline ideas on how to identify what construction elements make a good tie.

Twill fabrics (they  have the textured lines that run diagonal), when cut on the bias,
yield vertical or horizontal textured lines in your necktie, regardless of the colors/prints.

1. Cut on the bias:
In order to get the movement and drape that a proper tie will have, all ties must be cut on the bias. This is to say, the pattern of the tie is cut at a 45 degree angle on the fabric. 

In woven fabrics (most fabrications of ties apart from knits, which characteristically have a stretch to them like tshirts), fabrics are stable because of the pattern of the weave. However, on the diagonal, this doesn't follow the over/under path of fibers. This allows for some give and movement, thus the very drape of your tie.

You can tell if it is cut on the bias by grabbing the tie at the base and a little further up the neck with both hands and give it a little pull. Then, try pulling it diagonally (like the direction of the stripes in the tie shown below). If the tie is cut on the bias, it will stretch a little when you pull the tie lengthwise, it won't at all if you pull diagonally.

Wool interlining:
Most ties that are produced these days have a 3 or 4 fold construction (7 fold construction is another topic for another day). This just means that they are one solid piece that joins together to overlap in the back. 

For ties to have the weight, volume, drape, arch/dimple combo when tied, they have a thicker interlining sewn inside. These will also be cut on the bias to mimic the movement of the outer self. A good interlining will be made of wool because it won't stretch and curl up like synthetic linings will over time.

I would also suggest to look for an interlining that extends to through the shape of the tie. A lot of companies will try to cut corners and not have the tip of the interlining. This doesn't make a huge difference in how the tie falls, but the bottom of the tie won't have the same consistency as the rest.

As far as tippings go, contrast or "self tipped" ties are more of a personal preference. If the tipping is in a contrasting fabric, it will typically be in a synthetic fiber.

Hand Slip Stitching:
To close the tie in the back, there are invisible stitches that bring the folds together. This invisible stitch runs along the inside of the fold, and is called a slip stitch.

Hand sewn slip stitches that are a bit long will allow the tie to move with you and not do that whole accordion bunch-up thing that will happen with machine sewn stitching in the back. The 100+ loose and almost fragile looking stitches done with a single needles will give the type of life to a tie that is noticeable.

Hand sewn bar tack:
This is the thick and twisted fiber that is used to close a tie near the tipping, typically in a contrasting color. You can tell if this is done by hand if there is a single, thick strand that is left to close the tie instead of several thin stitches.

It closes the back of the tie to secure the hand slip stitching in the back. With a thicker, single strand, you know that a superior materials and methods were used and was completed by hand as well. This is just one of those things that is nice to know about the final touches of your tie.


  1. you are an inspiration. love it

  2. thanks sasha! glad you got to check it out