Bow ties can be made at home fairly easily if you have the right materials and basic sewing skills. Because bow ties are usually considered formal attire, the choice of fabric should reflect a formal look. For novelty or casual bow ties, fabric consideration is different but just as important. You'll need a pattern for cutting out fabric pieces, which can be bought or made at home. Other materials including interfacing, thread and a sewing machine are necessary to sew the bow tie together and give it a crisp, professionally finished appearance.
Bow tie patterns are commercially available and fall into two categories: those with rounded bulb-shaped “thistle” ends and those with evenly tapered “bat wing” ends. To make your own pattern, you can use an existing bow tie. Press it well, trace around its perimeter on thin paper and then add a seam allowance along every edge. If you do not have a bow tie and want to make your own pattern, you can search online for a printable pattern or a diagram of the shape and dimensions of a bow tie that you can reproduce on paper.
If the bow tie is to be worn to a black-tie event, the fabric should be solid black, non-stretch and of a high quality. Synthetic fabric is inappropriate for a bow tie for this type of occasion. Silk, velvet or stiff, thick cotton will work.
A casual bow tie can be made from a wider variety of fabric choices than a formal one, but it needs to be non-stretch and tightly woven; if you hold the fabric up to a light, you should not be able to see the gaps between the threads. Patterned fabrics need to be chosen carefully and with consideration for the shape and dimensions of the pattern piece. Because you need to cut narrow strips, large patterns or motifs will not fit on the bow tie, and the repeat of some patterns means that the two ends of the bow tie could differ in appearance. The placement of the pattern on patterned fabric needs to be done carefully to make sure the pattern is straight, especially with stripes and checks.
To give the bow tie a crisp and professionally finished look, you will need to purchase interfacing to create a stiff middle layer between the fabric pieces. Without interfacing, the bow tie will be floppy-looking and will droop when tied. Interfacing comes in a variety of weights; a light- to medium-weight is appropriate. Fusible interfacing makes the work a little easier, as it is ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric. Sew-in interfacing can also be used.
A bow tie can be hand-sewn but this takes a long time, and only very neat stitching can create a good finished appearance, so a sewing machine should be used. Matching thread is essential for a professionally looking finish, although for casual and novelty bow ties the seams could be topstitched in a contrasting thread for decoration. An iron is essential, and the pieces should be pressed at every stage of the process. Spray starch is useful. After sewing the right sides of the fabric pieces together with the interfacing, the bow tie will need to be turned right-side out. To make this easier, you can use the blunt end of a knitting needle, the eraser end of a pencil, a dowel or something similar to push the fabric through and poke the corners into place.