My Father, Silk Ties, And A Quilt
The silk ties were a special thing between my father and me; at l;east it felt that way. I gave him hundreds of silk ties over the years. I am a Daddy's girl, make no mistake. My Dad and I had a special relationship. It was always easy between us. My Dad is gone now. Alzheimer's disease took him last year at the age of 86. Mentally, he had been gone for a while but our relationship remained steadfast. Even without the ability to form sentences, he could communicate his love with just a look. Alzheimer's has a way of taking people you love but leaving you with a sense of relief. As much as I miss my Dad, I would never wish him back if he had to bring Alzheimer's with him. Yes, I lost my precious Dad but I have all those beautiful silk ties and,m I have a plan.
My Dad is an extraordinary man. He was honest, hard-working, kind, charitable, and thrifty. I don't ever remember him backing away from a challenge. He was good with his hands. He could fix the plumbing, wire the new addition on the house, fix the cars, and grow a mean garden. Dad gave 110% to everything he did. In my eyes, he was a near perfect Dad.
It isn't clear when the tradition of giving him silk ties began but it was a natural choice of gifts. Dad was a salesman and loved a new tie. He grew up in the day when a salesman wouldn't think of not wearing one. The tradition probably started when I was 10 or 11 and could save my allowance to buy them. I couldn't afford much. As time went on, I was proud that I could afford to give him really nice ones. He knew it too and would always check that little tab inside to see if it was real silk. But now, it "our" tradition. He would be disappointed in me if he didn't get a new tie for every birthday, Christmas, or Father's Day.
His closet was full of them. Dad was one of those people who took care of his things and never threw anything away. When he died, he still had every tie I had ever given him. You can do the math but suffice it to say that my father got at least seven or eight ties every year since he was about 33 years old. That's 53 years and I'm only counting the ties that I've given him. He had a lot of ties.
My father kept his ties on revolving racks in his closet and I loved to run my hands along their soft silkiness when I was helping him choose one to wear. My precious father loved for me to pick his ties and it became a ritual between us. It was more emotional than anything but it was that special something that was just between us. It was love between a father and a daughter.
My father took his ties seriously. He would never allow his tie to slip over the edge of a gravy bowl like some men. Oh no, my father' silk ties were his treasures and before he developed Alzheimer's disease he can tell you who gave him the tie he is wearing and on what occasion. His ties defined him in business I think. Colleagues frequently complimented him on his ties and remarked about the variety he had. I think some were jealous.
Hanging on those revolving racks, my father's ties were a kaleidoscope of patterns, colors, and widths. There were fat ties, skinny ties, stripes and argyle ties. There were solids and paisleys, purples and reds, pinks and greens, teals and yellows. And, more.
My fondest memory of Dad's ties is when I was thirteen and decided to make him a tie by hand. Mom took me to the fabric store where I purchased a tie pattern made by Simplicity. I chose the fabric and the interfacing and couldn't wait to begin. A few days later I was pressing that tie and wrapping it up. I was so, so proud of it and couldn't wait for him to open my handmade gift. Dad opened that gift with such care and when he saw the tie, he made me think it was the most beautiful tie in the world. Can you imagine my pride?
I had sewn that tie with such care: every stitch near perfect and the pattern carefully laid out so all the lines in the pattern were perfectly aligned. It is only now that I can admit it is the ugliest tie in the closet. What on earth made me think my Dad would like a tie of red and white checks that looked like a tablecloth you would use on the 4th of July? Oh God, how precious was my Dad? He put that tie on the next day and wore it to work as if he had paid a premium for that tie. That one old ugly cotton tie still hangs among the hundreds of beautiful silk ties in the closet and stands out like a sore thumb.
Once my father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, we began talking about end of life issues. It was important to us that my father's lat wishes be clear to us. I knew I would go along with anything our family decided as long as no one tried to claim ownership of my father's silk ties. I made it clear that his ties were mine. I could not imagine never being able to run my hands along the length of those precious silk ties after my father was gone. I had a plan for those silk ties. They were my inheritance and I knew just what to do with them.
Before the Alzheimer's ravaged my father's brain, I shared my plan for those silk ties with him. I explained that through those ties and my memories, he would always be with me. I think it made him happy when I explained that on those days when missing him seemed unbearable, I would wrap that quilt made of those silk ties around me. My hands would glide gently over the soft silkiness and I would feel his love. Somehow I think he knows that on the worst of days, when I need him the most, I will wrap myself in that quilt and feel his arms around me once again. He will make it all better, like he always did. I think he will chuckle when he discovers that the centerpiece of that quilt will be that ugly old red and white tie. He would expect that from me.
My father silk ties, and a quilt
There were other things that belonged to my father that are now mine. I cherish them for all the memories they hold but none are more valuable to me than those silk ties that will soon become a quilt. Thanks Dad, for giving me the gift of choosing your ties and for all the memories contained in the fabric of each and every one. Rest easy knowing that when I need you most, I will feel your loving arms wrap around me as they did so many time at every age. Your love lives on in the memories and, in a quilt; my silk tie quilt.
Resources for Quilting With Silk Ties - Making a Lasting Gift
- Tie Quilt - Pictures of Theme and Novelty Quilts - Necktie Quilt
A queen size tie quilt in the About.com Online Quilt Show. Pictures of quilts made by members of the online quilting community.
- Applique Addict: Silk Tie Quilt
- An Heirloom Quilt Made from Silk Ties | A Stitch in Time
- Penny Rugs and More: Silk Tie Quilt Thrifting Find
- Neck Tie Quilt
Includes: • From fashion accessory to quilt • Quilts made from neck ties • A memory quilt made from neck ties • Books on making neck tie quilts • Conclusion
- Tie Up Loose Ends - Using Men's Ties
Here are some great ideas for using mens ties in quilting and other creative sewing and craft projects.
- Artful Ties
- Silk Tie Quilt - Ideas Using Men's Ties - Quilt Patterns
Ever wonder what to do with your husband's out of fashion or spotted silk ties? Besides giving them to a charity or saving them until they are collectibles, that is. Here are several ideas for you to consider that are elegant and very eyecatching.
- Necktie Circles | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
16x20 made from vintage neckties
- Quilt Inspiration: Memories in silk: the tie quilts of Louise Silk
A quilting site craeted to pay tribute to artists that inspire.
- Beautiful Christmas Tree Skirts and Tutorials
This is a fabulous hub about tree skirts but I see great potential for using her silk tie pattern for the centerpiece of a quilt.
© 2012 Linda Crist