Designing Flag Bow Ties

State of Maine Antique Flag Prototype Bow Tie and International Code Flags

I don't know if you can tell, but my new flag bow ties really get me jazzed. After 25 years of making the same shaped item over and over again, one might think I would tire of my job. Not so! I love what I do. And now that a new component of my business is actually designing the fabric for bow ties, suspenders and neckties, I'm even happier going to work than I have ever been, and I've been pretty darn happy going to work. Sewing=fun; designing=pure pleasure. Put the two together, and that's my job. I love what I do.

A few years ago I reluctantly succumbed to multiple requests for a freestyle Texas Flag bow tie. I had to learn how to design it, and I didn't know if I was up to the challenge! Up until that point, I had been purchasing fabric available on the retail market and turning it into ties and suspenders. It took me more than a couple of tries to get the design to tie correctly, with each color block in the right place once done tying. It was very frustrating, but I'm happy that I stayed with it because I now find the design process a fun challenge. I'm not a strong math student, and never quite understood when math teachers would say of a problem, "think of it as a fun puzzle to solve." Ugh. Math never felt like a fun puzzle to me. It felt like an approaching migraine: I knew I could get through it, but it wasn't going to be a pleasant experience. But designing fabric and ties? That is a really fun puzzle for me.  Each of these flag ties took me multiple tries to get them to tie correctly no matter your tying style. And even once I had that figured out, I still made lots of mistakes. Since I was working in red, white and blue for the Texas bow tie, I expanded and designed the American Flag bow tie and the Union Jack bow tie. When paying for screen printing, each color requires an additional screen. Each additional screen adds to the price of the printing job, so I decided to stay in the red, white and blue color scheme for a while.

M.S. from Maryland, pictured below, is doing a fantastic job showing off the American flag bow tie. I love everything about this picture.

M.S. from Maryland
sporting his American Flag bow tie

Remember the antique State of Maine flag that I wanted to turn into a bow tie? The center tree represents a white pine, Maine's state tree. The star represents the North Star because the state motto is DIRIGO which is Latin for "I direct."
Here's the original flag:

State of Maine Flag

and here's the digital design of that bow tie.

While I was designing the Maine flag bow tie, I was a little concerned about the placement of the star on the loop/wing section, fearing that it would be either too high or too low; too close to the center or too close to the edge. I was also concerned about the placement of the tree on the piece that comes over the top and lays at the center creating the two wings. But I'm happy with the outcome! The tree lands nicely when tied, and the star is also in the correct place. Below is the resulting bow tie from my design. It's made from a poor quality silk, so I'm not ready yet to offer this tie for sale. What's pictured here is just my prototype. The design process for these ties can take quite a while to come to final fruition.

State of Maine Antique Flag
Prototype Bow Tie

I'm very happy with the outcome of the design and am planning to include this in my next batch of silk that I have printed. I'm looking for suggestions of other flags to turn into bow ties. If you'd like to suggest a country or state, please email your suggestions to me: Lisa(at)BowTieDotCom.

A couple of years ago my mother gave me this dishtowel because I live in Kennebunk, a coastal Maine town. She thought the nautical reference would be fitting:

I like the towel a lot, mostly because it is really absorbent and because my mother gave it to me. Only recently did I realize that it is a treasure trove of flags! And the flags are used for communicating.  Each flag represents a letter of the alphabet, and that's very interesting and cool. But each flag also can be used to communicate a specific sentiment just in case you don't want to spend an entire day spelling out a message to someone with signal flags that represent alphabet letters.

One of my favorite features of bow ties is that they draw people's attention to your face which is great for eye contact and communication. And here are flags, each of which delivers a specific message. The purpose of these flags is to communicate!

"I wish to communicate with you."

I think some of the signal flags would work better as bow ties than others. These flags would make great bow ties both for their graphic value and also for their ability to communicate a specific message:

Yes (Affirmative or "The significance
of the previous group should
be read in the affirmative").

No (negative or "The significance
of the previous group should
be read in the negative).

"You are running into danger."

"I require a tug."

"Stop carrying out your intentions and
watch for my signals."

Wouldn't those make fabulous bow ties both graphically and in regards to meaning?  Which signal flags would you like to see as bow ties? Please leave comments below. Thanks!

For more than 25 years Lisa Eaton has been designing and making men's bow ties, suspenders and neckties from silk and cotton. She is the owner of the Maine based company