Jun 28 2012

Craft Tutorial: Ties & Shirt Upcycle

Craft TUtorial: Ties & Shirt Upcycle

When Mr T and I went back to Japan in April, we had the opportunity to look through old ties that belonged to Mr T’s father. It’s been 15 years since he had passed away, and my mum-in-law decided to sort out his ties while we were staying there.

There were more than 60 ties in total, I think, and most of them were from high-end brands – unfortunately, though, Mr T hardly ever wears ties (he’s a freelance graphic designer, and gets away with not wearing ties even at meetings with clients). In the end, Mr T kept a few that he liked to wear, and gave me some in order to make fabric covered buttons for one of his shirts.

What you’ll need:

  • ties
  • interfacing (optional)
  • self cover buttons (I’m using 11mm) and cover buttons tool
  • scissors


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1) Cut open the back of the ties, remove the interlining and press.

2) If the fabrics are very thin, add interfacing with iron. Also, if your ties have heavy stitches at the back (like the one in the photo right), you need to add interfacing on these so that the stitches don’t fray.

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3) Cut out the fabrics into circles using the template on the back of your button maker.

4) Place the fabric and a button in the button tool, and gather the fabric towards the shank.

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5) Place a backing on the button, and press it down firmly with the button tool.

6) Repeat Step 4 and 5 to cover all the buttons. Sew them onto a shirt, and you’re done!

Craft TUtorial: Ties & Shirt Upcycle 4

Here is the before (left) and after (right) shot (thank you very much for not mentioning the creasy shirt!). I really love how it turned out, and so is Mr T – so much so that he wants another shirt’s buttons replaced :)

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Craft TUtorial: Ties & Shirt Upcycle 1

It may sound strange, but I felt closest to my father-in-law, who I’ve never met, while making these buttons. And I felt quite sentimental imagining Mr T wearing these buttons that his father once wore to work.

I wish I could have met him, wish I could have heard his voice, and see his reactions when he sees his son and his daughter-in-law kill each other with their bad jokes… :)

Anyways, hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and happy upcycling!

I’m linking this post on Today’s Creative BlogHome Stories A 2 Z, Katie’s Nesting Spot, Sassy Sites!, The Shabby Nest and Flamingo Toes; make sure you check them!


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4 Commnents to “Craft Tutorial: Ties & Shirt Upcycle”

  1. Awww, Lisa, thanks so much for sharing your story (you got me tearing up!). I’m sure your FIL loved his shirts being transformed into beautiful quilt and bibs, and these getting passed onto family members :) Hope you enjoy making these buttons with his ties – and I’m sure your families would be delighted to have them, too!

  2. When my FIL passed away I asked for all of his shirts. He wore dressy plaid shirts.
    I have since made a quilt for one nephew and this year I made bibs for the newest nephew. The bibs were a happy pleasurable sew. The quilt was the hardest because cutting his shirts meant he wasn’t going to where them anymore. I got out his picture, found the shirt he was wearing and went for it. His picture stayed and he watches over me when I sew!
    I love what you did with the ties, and I do believe my MIL still has his ties which I will follow your lead and spruce up some shirts for my husband and his brother! thanks love your site

  3. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, evdokia t. :) I agree with you and can’t imagine graphic designers wearing ties, not everyday anyway (just remembered that you’re a graphic designer, too!).

  4. how beautiful is this idea!
    it gives a happy color on the shirt!

    & very sweet that you felt closest to your father-in-law,
    even if you haven’t met him :)

    p.s. i couldn’t imagine a grafic designer wearing a tie, haha :)

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