A scarf adds that little, extra pop of color to an outfit. On a cold winter’s day, a scarf helps to keep your neck warm. Learning how to sew a scarf is a simple and creative addition to your wardrobe. Scarves may be long or short, triangular, or continuous infinity styles. The infinity scarf is sewn in a tube and appears to have no beginning or end.
How to Sew a Scarf
The first place to start, if you plan to make a scarf, is by choosing the fabric. Perhaps you are one of these hoarder types and have a large basket of offcuts to use! Perhaps you want to go to the bargain bin in your local fabric shop, or maybe you are looking for that special fabric for a really definitive scarf.
Best Fabrics to Make a Scarf
Here are some suggestions for fabrics suited to making scarves:
- Rayon blends or silks are a great favorite for a soft silky scarf.
- Chiffon is another really soft flowing fabric, but challenging to sew.
- Cotton voile makes a good choice and is easy to sew.
- Flannel lends itself to a warm scarf and as does different weights of knit fabrics.
- Pashmina, a spun variant of cashmere, is the ultimate luxury scarf .
- Wool and silk blends make a great winter scarf.
Patterned or plain is entirely up to you. Polka dots are always popular along with stripes, plaids, or chequered prints.
Sizes and Shapes of Scarves
The next thing to decide on is the size and shape of the scarf. A common size is 22 – 24 inches wide by 70 -75 inches long. Here are some different size measurements for several types of scarves:
|Crochet or Knitted||64x6.5" or 52x8.5"|
|Square Scarf||32 or 48" square|
|Head Scarf||43" square|
How Much Fabric do you Need for a Scarf
Of course the fabric requirement will depend on the length of your scarf. If you purchase 2 yards of fabric, you will get several scarves across its width. You could also just purchase 1 yard and put a seam in the middle of your scarf to save some money.
How to Make a Scarf Step by Step
There is no one size fits all definition to scarves. However, making and trimming a scarf follows similar steps for every size. The infinity scarf is the exception.
Step 1 - Cut the Fabric
Cut out your scarf according to the dimensions and type of scarf you have decided to make. Most of the time this will be a square or rectangle. Add 1 inch (2.5cm) to the finished dimension you desire to allow for hems. For example, if you want a rectangular scarf of 22x70 inches then cut a piece of fabric 23x71 inches.
Step 2 - Hem the Edges
Neaten the edges of the scarf using a rolled hem foot to make a really narrow hem. Alternatively, make a narrow double-fold hem by pressing the raw edge over twice by ⅛ inch (3mm) and then stitching. Always use a matching thread to blend into your scarf.
How do you hand stitch a scarf?
The best way to hand stitch the raw edges of a scarf is to use a rolled hem. This hemming stitch works well for fine fabrics such as silk and chiffon.
- Fold the raw edge up with your finger by ⅛ inch (3mm)
- Working right to left, secure your thread with a backstitch.
- Make small diagonal stitches just above the raw edge.
- Then put the needle into the bottom of the fold.
- Do a few stitches at a time before pulling the thread to create a small roll.
Step 3 - Press
Press and finish off your scarf with a fancy decorative accent. There are many ways to trim the hem of the scarf once you have made it to this point. Adding lace or store-bought trims such as pom-poms or fringing will all add to the style of the scarf. The ends of the scarf are really the most important because no matter how you tie the scarf, the two ends will show.
How to Sew a Scarf with Trims
Here are some different suggestions for trims you can add to the edge of your scarf. The suitability of each of these suggestions will depend on the fabric the scarf was made of. Once you have completed the scarf, take it with you to a haberdashery store and look for some different trims. There is a vast selection of trims available and there are ways to add your own handmade ones too. It is all up to you to get creative at the end of this simple project.
Here are 10 ways to trim a scarf:
#1. Ribbon, Fringing, Pom-poms or Braid
Choose the braid or ribbon and measure two pieces with some extra length to turn under at the beginning and end of the trim.
- Start by turning under the trim at the end and then pin along the edge of the scarf.
- Machine backstitch to secure the end and then stitch to 1 inch (2.5cm) before the end of the trim.
- Turn the trim under neatly at the end and once again complete the sewing with a backstitch.
This simple method also applies to trims with bobbles, beads, fringing, and tassels. Store-bought trims usually have a braid to stitch onto and secure the trim.
#2. Making your Own Fringe or Tassels
This is a great way to trim a woolen scarf.
- Take a darning needle and several strands of wool and thread them through the scarf edge at equal intervals. Knot the wool together or tie the wool around the top to prevent it coming undone.
- Make your own tassels using a piece of card to wrap the wool or embroidery thread around is another way to make your tassels.
#3. Blanket Stitch
A row of blanket stitches is a wonderful way to provide loops along the edge of the top or bottom section of the scarf. Once the blanket stitch has been completed, the loops can be used to crochet a shell edge or any other crochet border. The loops of the blanket stitch also provide a simple edge for adding a fringe.
#4. Cutting a Fringe
Some thicker fabrics like blanketing, fleece or knit fabrics that do not fray lend themselves to simply taking a pair of scissors and cutting even snips into the edge of the scarf.
- Sew a stitching line across the space where you wish to stop.
- Use sharp large scissors to snip from the bottom of the scarf to the line of stitching in one action.
- Learn how to make a fleece blanket using this simple technique.
#5. Trying Different Trims
- Look out for different trims like the loose coins used by belly dancers on their scarves.
- Make your own pompoms. If this seems too labour intensive make one big pompom for each side of the scarf. Gather the ends and add a single pom-pom to the point at each side. When the scarf is tied the two pompoms will hang together at the front. Toss one side of the scarf over your shoulder and there will be a pompom hanging at the front and one at the back.
#6. Decorate with Lace
Use lace to edge the scarf. You can sew the lace flat or gather it and make a ruffle. Lace is best sewn to the edge of fabrics with a wide zig-zag stitch. Learn more about how to sew lace trim.
#7. Lettuce Edges for a Stretch Fabric Scarf
This style of lettuce hem edging is only possible with a stretch fabric. Try out your machine stitches on a scrap of fabric first.
- Set your machine to a zig zag stitch and give the stitch a shorter length and a wider width.
- As you sew the edge of the fabric, pull gently and the machine does the rest.
- The outcome is a wavy crimped edge.
#8. Trim all the way Around the Scarf
Instead of just trimming the top and bottom edges, a scarf may be embellished all around the edge. Stitch the trimming into the folded hem or just turn the scarf edges under and trim on top.
#9. Hand Embroidery
A decorative edge can be created with the use of hand embroidery. Sew several rows of your favorite embroidery stitch in colorful embroidery cotton. Learn how to embroider.
#10. A Frayed Edge
Create a frayed edge on thicker open weave fabrics.
- Stitch ½ to 1 inch from the raw edge of the scarf with a straight sewing stitch. This gives the frayed edge a limit and stops further fraying.
- Cut every inch or so up to the stitching line. Be careful not to cut the actual stitching.
- Then tease or pull out the threads. You pull out the weft threads and leave the warp threads to make the fringe of the scarf. Use tweezers or a seam ripper to make this process a little faster.
- Read more about how to fray fabric including several other methods.
How to Sew a Scarf - Infinity Style
An Infinity scarf is made in a round and the finished scarf can be wrapped around the neck giving a cowl-like effect. Infinity scarves are also known as circle scarves or tube scarves. The advantage of the infinity scarf is that it does not slip off your neck because it is in a tube or circle of fabric.
Read the full tutorial on how to make an infinity scarf.
How to Sew a Scarf - In Conclusion
Scarves make wonderful accessories for any wardrobe. There are numerous ways to twist and turn a scarf into an interesting decorative piece. Making your own scarf is a great way to use up scraps of fabric and add that extra piece of style to an outfit. There are many ways to re-purpose different fabrics or even use up discarded t-shirts or old sweater tops. A scarf is an easy beginner's project and there are unlimited ways to embellish it to make it unique. The final outcome is just glamorous and stylish.
Audrey Hepburn, a stylish icon and actress, once said: “When I wear a silk scarf I never feel so definitely like a woman, a beautiful woman.” And having said that, it is good to know making your own scarf is a simple, but effective way to dress up and feel very fashionable.