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December 10, 2013

DIY: Fall Scarf


I like scarves. A lot. I wear them basically year round, so I have quite a lot of them. The problem with that is that nice scarves don’t come cheap (unless you are buying cheap scarves, but that is another post) and sometimes I can’t always find the right one. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a scarf for the last year or so because I keep seeing fabrics and thinking how awesome they would be as a scarf so thought it would be perfect for my next DIY post.

Scarf made by me; Sweater by John Varvatos Star USA; Chinos and
boots by AllSaints; Shirt by Gant by Michael Bastian;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs; Gloves by Bloomingdales

Now obviously, most scarves are made to be scarves and are knit with borders, properly finished edges, and sometimes fringe at the ends. Since I don’t happen to have a loom in my apartment, I needed to figure out how to make a scarf from store bought fabric. As it turns out, given the right fabric, it’s a pretty simple process that can add a whole new dimension to your wardrobe.

Here’s what you need:
  •  Fabric of your choosing
  •  Rolled hem foot
  •  Thread
  •  Straight pins
  •  Tailor’s chalk (optional)
  •  Tailor’s rule or measuring tape
  •  Fabric shears
  •  Snips 


The first step is going to be picking your fabric. There are a lot of factors to consider when fabric shopping and all of them will impact how your scarf turns out. If you are unsure about size, the best thing to do is bring a scarf that you already own as a template to make sure that you buy enough fabric. Fabric bolts come in different widths (most commonly 45”, 54”, and 60”) so depending on what kind of scarf you are looking to make, you may be able to use this to your advantage.

For this scarf, I found a fabric I liked that happened to be on an 80” wide bolt, which was roughly the length that I wanted for my finished scarf. This was really lucky and I’ll get to why it was so helpful later. Since I made this scarf for the late fall, I chose a wool blend for warmth, but also versatility.

Once you have your fabric, it’s time to jump right in. By now you should know what the dimensions of your scarf will be, mine is 80” x 24”. Lay your material out, then measure and mark the pattern of your scarf. I suggest marking with straight pins as this will give you a very clear line to cut along, but you could also use tailor’s chalk as an alternative.

When you mark the width of your scarf, make sure you are measuring from
a straight edge. Usually the cut they make at the fabric store is not straight,
which will give you an asymmetrical scarf. 

Extra Tip : If your scarf has a large or non-repeating pattern, keep this in mind when marking your outline. Take notice of how the pattern of the fabric falls within the borders of your soon-to-be scarf.

Remember when I mentioned that it was really helpful that the width of the bolt was the length I wanted from my scarf? Here’s why. The sides of a bolt of fabric (the selvage) are finished during production, they have to be or else the whole thing would fray and unravel. Since I knew I wanted a relatively simple scarf without any fringe on the ends, I am able to utilize these finished edges. This means that I only have 2 sides to hem instead of 4.

Detail of the selvage from the sides of the fabric.

Now that you have a rough pattern for your scarf, go ahead and cut it out. Keep in mind that the larger your shears, the fewer cuts you will have to make, which gives you a cleaner edge. The heavier the shears, the easier they will cut through heavier fabrics. That’s why the guy where I get my scissors/shears sharpened always tries to sell me a pair of 11” shears that have to weigh at least 2 lbs.

It doesn't matter if your cut is 100% perfectly straight because the edge is
going to get rolled up in your hem.

The next step is to get hemming, but how you execute this is going to depend on the weight of your fabric. If the fabric is thin enough, you should be able to use the rolled hem foot on your sewing machine. Test this on some of your scrap just to make sure you are able to machine hem it cleanly. Also, if your fabric has any stretch to it, be sure not to pull too much on it as you are feeding it through the foot or you’ll end up with a puckered edge.

For more details on using a rolled hem foot, check out my DIY post on
making your own pocket square.

If your material is too thick to fit through the rolled hem foot or if you aren’t comfortable enough using the rolled hem foot on that much length (it can get tricky to keep a clean roll), you can always pin the roll by hand and then straight stitch. This will definitely take longer, but will get the job done just as well. If you do choose to try it this way, just make sure you’re keeping the amount you are rolling even, or you’ll end up without a straight edge. Fold the edge under, then holding that in place, fold again (thus trapping the raw edge inside your fold) and pin. Then, you would stitch this down using a regular machine foot set to a straight stitch.

Detail of the finished hem, prior to pressing.

My scarf fabric made it a little hard to show step-by-step detail clearly. For some pictorial instructions on executing the rolled hem, check out my DIY post on pocket squares. Once you finish the hem on all sides, give your new scarf a quick press to flatten the roll and you’re done! Wrap it up (or yourself up in it) and brave the elements in DIY style.

The finished product!

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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