Making precious memories: How to make a cushion using ties.
A friend of mine, whose father passed away earlier this year, asked me if I would make a cushion using ties belonging to her dad. Actually, her dad owned a lot of ties so she asked me to make five for family members. I’d never tried to make a cushion using neckties before, but it sounded like such a lovely way to remember someone.
We will remember them.
The idea of using clothing items belonging to loved ones to make a keepsake isn’t new. Last year I made cushions using shirts that belonged to my friend’s dad. I was a little daunted at first, nervous that I’d make a mistake whilst working with such precious items. I needn’t have worried because making cushions from shirts is quite straightforward. You don’t even need to insert a zip because you just have to undo the buttons!
The necktie cushion challenge.
I had a think about how to make necktie cushions. Initially, I considered unpicking the ties, but that would take ages. In the end, I decided I’d keep things simple. So, armed with a bag of ties, me and my mum (who was visiting from the North East) began our necktie cushion-making marathon.
Step-by-step guide: How to make a cushion using neckties.
We decided to make cushions using a 16-inch cushion pad. Although it seems counter-intuitive, my mum told me to cut the fabric smaller ie. cut out 2 x 15-inch squares of fabric (I like to use a cardboard template) to make a cushion cover for a 16-inch cushion pad. This ensures that the cushions are nice and plump. This allows for a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Mum and I argued over the cushion size issue as I was convinced the covers would be too small and the cushions would end up looking like footballs.
I hate to admit it…She was right and I was wrong!
The cushions we made only have neckties on the front, the back is plain fabric. For the blue and green ties we used here, we opted for denim fabric.
I buy most of the fabric for my sewing projects from Bargain Fabrics in Castle Donington, who specialise in low-cost remnants and clearance fabrics. See my recent post on this fantastic fabric shop here: Bargain Fabrics, Castle Donington: Pssst! It’s a secret!
Items required for your necktie memory cushion.
- Plenty of men’s neckties, (the wider the better!).
- 16-inch square cushion pad (I like to use 16-inch feather cushion pads from Dunelm, as they are nice quality and only cost £3.99).
- Cardboard template 15-inch x 15-inch.
- Denim material.
- Cotton lining fabric.
- Sewing Machine – ideally fitted with a ‘walking foot’ as it makes it so much easier to sew pieces of silky fabric together without them slipping).
- Tape measure.
- Needles, pins and cotton thread (for sewing machine and for hand-stitching and tacking).
- Zipper (I buy my zips by the metre from Bargain fabrics but you can find a variety of lengths and colours in haberdashery shops and stores like Dunelm and Hobbycraft).
- Stitch cutter.
- Crochet needle/ chopstick or similar blunt-ended stick (to push out the corners of the cushion once you’ve turned it right side out).
Step-by-step tutorial: How to make a cushion using ties.
1. Measure out the fabric you will be using for the back of the cushion cover (denim in this case) and the lining you will be sewing to the back of the ties using your 15-inch square cardboard template and dressmaker’s chalk.
2. Cut out your 15inch square pieces of fabric (the denim is shown face down in the photograph below, hence it is a lighter colour).
3. Using the white cardboard template as a guide, place the ties face up on the template, starting with one tie being placed straight down the middle with the point of the tie lining up with the corner of the template, (It isn’t lined up exactly with the edge in the photo, but this helps to show you what I mean).
4. Once you have enough ties to cover the entire template with at least 1 inch surplus across the width of the ties, tack them together with as little overlap between each tie as possible. Making sure the ties are at least 1 inch wider than the template on either side is important because you will lose width when you stitch the ties together.
Note: The pins will need to be moved again prior to stitching the ties together but it helps to keep them in place as you sew the ties to each other at the sewing machine.
5. Starting from the outer edge, turn the first two ties onto each other, right sides facing, so the edges of the ties line up along their length (you will need to change the position of the pins you used to hold the rows of ties in place initially).
6. Sew the two ties together along their length, 2-3mm in from the edge.
7. Repeat this process until all the ties have been sewn together as shown below.
8. Lay the ties, right-side facing down on a flat surface and place the 15-inch square lining material into position, with the point of the middle tie at the point of the square as shown (just as you did with the cardboard template).
9. Pin the lining material in place and machine sew the lining to the ties, it’s important to sew close to the edge of the lining (ie.3-4mm) as you don’t want this stitching to show on the outside of the finished cushion.
10. Cut around the lining and place the ties right side up on a flat surface. Place the denim fabric right side down on the tie fabric.
11. If you want to add a label to your cushion, like I did, stitch it in place (as shown) prior to sewing the sides of the cushion together.
NOTE: You can see that there is still some surplus fabric on the tie side. I removed the remainder of the surplus tie material after I’d sewn the sides of the cushion together.
12. Pin the zip in place (If you aren’t sure how to insert a zip there are lots of video tutorials on Youtube) – Again, the tie fabric showing in the photograph below is surplus fabric. I removed this surplus after I’d finished fitting the zip and sewing the cushions together.
13. Pin the two sides together and, sew along all 3 sides (make sure you leave the zip partly open so you can turn the cushion right side out when you are finished!) Sew in from the edges of the 4th side, where the zip has been inserted, to create the corners.
14. Trim away any surplus fabric.
15. I used a zig-zag stitch on all of the edges of the cushion cover to stop them from fraying (or you could use an overlocker). It isn’t essential but I think it looks neater.
16. Turn the cushion right side out and use the blunt end of a crochet hook, pencil or similar to push the corners out.
17. Insert the cushion pad.
18. That’s it!
Over to you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial on how to make a cushion using ties /neckties. Mum and I loved being able to give my friend something to help her treasure her memories of her father.
What do you think of the idea of using clothes or other accessories to remember a loved one? Have you made anything similar or do you have any ideas or tips to share? As always, I’d love to hear from you.
Pin to your board for later:
Oh boy – the patience required! Hope this goes viral on Pinterest for you though, it’s a fab idea!
I hope it goes viral too!
I hope there wasn’t that moment when your partner came in to where you where and asked ‘Have you seen my xyz tie?’……. just as you are sewing them together!!!
Very good use of ties though… I have loads that I never wear these days!
Ha! I did experiment with some of his old ties first…At least I THINK they were his old ties!
I love the idea of a keepsake cushion. However, I am utterly useless at making anything. I think this should be your new business!
I’ve had a few more commissions, which is nice, because I like making things that mean something to people.
Hey Jane, wow your blog is amazing, you shared wonderful pictures. And your idea of making pillow covers from waste clothes is fabulous. I must say you are creative girl, and I like your blog so much.
Thanks very much for your kind words, Kate! You made my day. 🙂
I love this – sadly, I can’t even sew on a button, but I am hiring a seamstress to do this with some of my late father’s old ties. None of the lining behind the ties will show, correct? Got flustered in the fabric store and bought beige lining. If it’s not going to be seen, I guess it doesn’t matter, but now I’m wondering if I should go back for a dark colour just in case… Lovely idea – thanks for sharing!
Hi Karen, the lining behind the ties won’t show, so don’t worry. You just have to choose a nice fabric for the back of the cushion which will compliment the ties you have on the front. Usually, ties are really varied in colour so I often find something suitable in my fabric box. Glad you like the idea and I hope you end up with a very special cushion, 🙂
Phew! Thanks. Got some nice denim for the backs as suggested – perfect choice!
hi there… I have been collecting men’s ties from the thrift stores in my area knowing that I would make something great with them… this is a great idea… I too thought that I would have to take the ties apart to take the ‘guts’ out of them but your project looks faster…
I have made several quilted projects out of men’s shirts…. when my dad passed away I asked for his shirts and made 10 projects for my siblings and my mother and I. yeah… 9 kids in the family makes for allot of sewing but each one was different with their own story. and the family really loved them. I was later asked to do more quilts for my nephew for my nephew when his father in law passed away so he could give them to his wife and mother in law and a cushion for the grand daughter and a cushion for the grand son.
Like you, I really enjoy making these cherished items…. for my family I added a label that read… pieced together with love from dad’s shirts by sister Beth and quilted by mother Theresa…. because mom offered to do the quilting on each one… at first I hesitated but after making 10 different items I was glad for the help.
for my nephew’s quilts I added a label saying… May this quilt warm your body and comfort your soul…
Thanks for sharing your beautiful cushions… I might just try this project too..
So lovely of you to take the time to write this great comment. I love hearing about other people’s projects. Adding personalised labels is an extra special touch. I’ve made a few memory shirt cushions, too. I was very glad of my mum’s help with these tie cushions as it’s so much faster with two! You should definitely make some tie cushions. Once you know how to make them, I’m sure there will be plenty of folks who would love you to make some for family members.
Thanks for your ides. I have about 6 or 7 ties from my late husband. I have been trying to figure out how i can make something for our kids. Problem is i have 5 kids. I have to figure out how to utilize the ties. I love the pillows. Any suggestions???
Simply great and inspiring. Great idea to use tie as pillow covers. Thanks for sharing Jane.
Thanks very much, Maria
Hi Jane! Your blog is lovely. I rarely leave comments but have to in this case because these tie cushions are so cool. I’ve been looking for things to make with ties forever – how could it not be amazing, silk, color, stripey patterny things – but all the projects made with ties always came off as sort of lumpy and a bit sad to me. These are gorgeous!! And so sweet. I love this idea and you carried it off just so beautifully and artfully. Love the snap purses too, so darn clever. Hugs from Baltimore!
Thank you so much for your lovely comment! It really means a lot to get such wonderful feedback. I do hope you enjoy making these yourself! email me photos if you do!!
I have my Dad’s neckties, and want to make pillows…do I need to wash the ties first, and what do you do the left overs?
Hi Carolyn, to be honest we didn’t wash them as we didn’t want to ruin them and we didn’t use any with stains! As we made them for a friend – we did ask if
They wanted the scraps but they didn’t. It’s entirely up to you. If you like sewing, the scraps can come in handy for small projects – like details on appliqué designs etc.
I’m hesitant to cut the back and lining to 15″ because the pillow form is 16″. It seems like I need to cut them larger because a seam allowance is needed. Does it work with the instructions the way they are written?
Yes! It does. I was hesitant too, but it makes them plumper.
I am just starting on this project do I need to undo the ties and spread them out if I am using backing fabric thicker than lining fabric? Many thanks
I have made the tie cushion with my dads ties who passed away last week. I made it with envelope back..
Thank you for sharing
Brilliant. Did it for a friend of my other half with her father’s ties. Did take them apart though as there were not that many. Lot of work, but the end result is worth it.