Madder for It - Hand-Printed Ties Reveal an Ancient Tradition

Madder print ties are a result of ancient craft techniques

Any English madder in your wardrobe? English madder is a type of finish used in the hand-printing of designs on cloth - usually silk ties or pocket squares.

Also known as ancient madder, the process involves printing a pattern on cloth, which is then dipped into dye. As the pattern is resistant to the dye, it is left only on the area without the print. The cloth is then finished. Or something like that. It's the finished article we're more interested in, and the results are works of beauty.

Good to see that the craftsmanship behind this time-consuming technique is still alive and well, and being done, more or less, as it always has been. I believe highly-caustic lime was once used, but, perhaps sensibly, this is no longer the case.  

New and Lingwood ancient madder ties

New and Lingwood have a selection of madder ties in 36oz silk. The patterns are Macclesfield neats (above) and paisley (below).  I love the mix-and-match of the colours and patterns in the photo below. Very English. I must see if I can locate a photo of Alan Whicker I have somewhere where he mixes it up nicely.

If you're wondering how to spot a real madder tie, New and Lingwood suggest that the cloth will have a "dusty chamois appearance and handle unique to this process."

The ties are self-tipped, meaning that the same cloth used at the front is also used on the inside and back, rather than using some filling of man-made fibre or such. A sign of great quality.

The cloth, print and manufacture is all English. 

Drakes have madder too

For thrusting young bucks, Drakes offer slimmer versions of madder ties in 36oz silk, like the navy number below with madder red and madder blue paisley patterns. Also made in England.

It's time to get madder for it, not least to bore your chums about English madder. 



  1. Is anyone able to identify the manufacturer and bunch or number of the chalk stripe in the top picture? Is it one of N&L own? I know they sometimes use unique cloth on their RTW.
    Thank you.

  2. Can anyone help identify the tie device in the first two photos? It's a more elegant solution than so many tie bars seen today.


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