Friday, March 25, 2011

"All Tied Up!"

During the Winter of 2009/10, my husband came home with a rather large box of men's ties.  EC has a friend, Darrel, who has a brother named Dalton.  EC and I privately refer to them as "Darrel and his other brother Darrel", from the old 'Bob Newhart Show' (which still remains a very funny memory).  Anyway, their father passed away and EC was asked if he would like the ties, among other things.  EC asked if I wanted them - as he didn't have any use for them - and of course I said "yes". 
Over the years - at least the past 20 years - I have collected and accumulated a stash of ties, gathered from yard sales, some of EC's, and from others in the family that have passed away. But, once I received the box from Darrel and his other brother Darrel, I had so many that I decided I really needed to do something with them.
My friend Jim, a very talented and creative fellow, brought several items to 'Show & Tell' once. One item that caught my eye was a foot stool that he had covered with old men's ties.  It was fabulous.  I think he may have also brought a Quilt top that was pieced using men's ties.  I simply filed these away as interesting things to do with men's ties, but never considered actually doing either of them.
There are folks who  acquire an item only when they know for what they will use it..  My thoughts on that are;  "Bless their hearts"!  Think of all the possibilities that are missed because there isn't anything there to spark the imagination.  
Should be collecting them,  you may discover that men's ties may have an errant food stain, they could be really old and recall the days of the 'skinny' tie, or that other day of the  really 'broad' tie, but in all cases there is usually the tiny little tag sewn inside that gives the fabric content.  The little tag that held the most interest for me says 'pure silk' and those are the ties that I wanted. 
So, I dug through all my ties, now a pretty large collection, and pulled out all the ties that didn't have the little label that announced the fiber content as being 'silk'.  Oh My!  I seem to have collected a couple of hundred ties of silk.  Surly there was something to be done with them all.
Everything I had noticed made from ties were constructed using the whole tie.  The ties had been left as they were found, maybe cut in half, but I didn't remember any being de-constructed.
For some reason, that just didn't suit me so- -at some point during that Winter season, I sat with my collection of men's ties and began the process of taking them apart. 
Right off the bat, I feel I should share, this is a time consuming process.  Men's ties include a decorative facing on the large end, some have lining, there are tacks in several places and - above all -every single tie without exception is sewn with ugly, thick, black thread!  And, it doesn't matter the color of the silk, the thread is black.  I feel the need to mention at this point, I have an imagination.  In all that I sew I love to use either a matching thread, a variegated thread or a contrasting thread.  How sad all those 'tie making laborers' must be - only allowed to use "BLACK"!  Boo Hoo for them.
It took me several weeks - just working in the evenings - to de-construct all these ties and; since I had nothing planned for them, they were put into a storage bin and put on a shelf in my Studio.
Time passed.
I have been on a basket making tear since the first of the year.  EC bought me a wonderful new sewing machine - a Bernina 950 Industrial Machine - and I have kept it hot making baskets.  The only thing that slows me is the fact that I must wrap at least 100 feet of clothesline with 3/4" bias strips of fabric, or I would have many, many more. 
But, alas, I was digging through my polished cotton stash and noticed I was getting low on selections.  Now, I'm not saying that my stash is getting low, I still have bou-cous of polished cottons, I'm just saying my coordinating selections were getting thin.   And here, you may have guessed, is where the de-constructed silk men's ties come in.  Yep!  I imagine they will make some beautiful baskets!
I prissed myself into my Studio, fetched my storage bin of ties and picked out a few to cut into bias strips. 
In case you didn't know, men's ties are made of bias cut fabric to begin with, so all I had to do was cut.  There-in lay my first problem.  Men's ties are folded and folded and folded!  And then probably steamed.  There wasn't any way to just lay them on my cutting board, place a ruler on them and cut them into strips.  Every single one of them would have to be ironed!
I failed to mention that most of the ties I have were made of at least two pieces and very often three.  So I didn't have just 200 pieces of silk to steam iron, I have over 500 pieces.  So, to make a long story short on that subject, I've been ironing daily since Tuesday.  I still have a lot left, there doesn't seem to be an end to them, but I have enough to be able to choose some colors and I have begun to cut and wrap.
Very shortly, as I plan to wrap at least 400 feet (I can make a beautiful set of three baskets from 400 feet of wrapped clothesline) I hope to have a set to photograph and show. 

We'll talk later------------

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