Tutorial: Easy, sewed scarf with a fringe

By Martha Michaela Hutchman Brown
aka Marf

This long scarf is super easy to make. It could be your second-ever machine sewing project. No pattern. Very little measuring. And, because of the wrapping and scrunching nature of scarves, if you make a boo-boo or two, no one will notice.

Finished Scarf

You can do it. In fact, with only 2 yards of fabric, you can make two (TWO!) 10 inch x 68 inch scarves (one for you and one for a grateful buddy) in an afternoon. And a chunk of that afternoon won’t even involve any heavy lifting on your part because your washing machine will be making the fringe for you.

Materials:

  • 2 yards of 44-inch-wide shot cotton (no substitutes!)*
  • Thread that coordinates or contrasts nicely with your fabric — your choice

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Pinking Shears (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Tailor’s chalk or other washable fabric marker
  • Rotary cutting mat (optional)
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer (optional)
  • A floor

Skills:

Basic sewing machine ability. You’ll need to know how to sew in a straight line and what backstitching is. That’s it.

* Wait, what is shot cotton?

Shot cotton is a type of woven fabric that uses different colors in the warp (up/down threads) and weft (side to side threads). The effect adds subtle depth or an iridescent sheen, depending on how different the colors are. You’ve probably seen shot silk prom dresses from the early 1990s.

But while shot cotton is gorgeous, its looks aren’t why we’re using it for this scarf. The way it’s woven means that creating the fringe is a snap. So no substitutions.

Ask for it at your friendly local fabric shop. Or google it up. Designer Kaffe Fassett, for instance, makes wonderful solids and stripes.  I got mine from Cloth & Bobbin, which sells lots of shot cotton online.

I love this particular striped fabric so much, I’ve made a bag out of it for my shop.

Steps

1. Buy some shot cotton fabric.

2. DON’T wash it. (See, these directions are super easy.)

3. Fold your fabric in half the long way, selvage to selvage — side to side. (So it’s still 2 yards — aka 6 feet — long, but now 1/2 as fat.)

Chances are, your fabric still has a nice crease in the middle from its life on the bolt. So Steps 3 through 5 might be already done for you.

If not, spread your fabric out on a big flat surface, like, say, your floor. It doesn’t matter — we’re washing the fabric later!

1Full Material on Floor

Unlike printed fabrics, shot cotton has no right or wrong sides.

Start in the middle and match up the sides so that there’s no weird wrinkles or pulls near the fold. Don’t worry if the fabric is a little uneven at the ends. It’s all about lining up the long edges.

4. Use straight pins every 5 inches or so on the side with the selvages to pin your fold in place. No need get out a ruler at this point. Just eyeball it.

2Pinning Full

Some people are perpendicular pinners. I’m a parallel type of girl. Do it the way it feels right to you. I won’t judge.

5. Take your pinned masterpiece to the ironing board and iron the folded edge so you have a good crease going on there.

3FullIron

6. Use that crease as a guide and cut your fabric lengthwise with scissors. Unpin the fabric. You’ll end up two pieces of fabric that are each 2 yards long and about 22 inches wide. Set one piece aside for the second scarf.

4Cutting full7. Get down on that floor and fold the remaining piece of fabric in half lengthwise, again avoiding lumps and wrinkles near the fold. Pin it and iron a new crease on that new fold.

6PinRawScarf

8. Sew along the long edge using the edge of the presser foot as a guide for a seam allowance. I call this “foot allowance.” Pull out the pins before they reach the presser foot. Backstitch three or four stitches at the beginning and end. Trim the threads. You’ll end up with a big long flat fabric tube with open ends.

7FootAllowance

In case you’re wondering, my nail polish is Sacre Blurple from LynBDesigns. Click the picture to check it out.

9. Cut off an itty-bitty bit of the raw edge along the length of the seam allowance with the pinking shears to discourage unraveling. (If you hate pinking shears, like my talented sewing mom does, you can skip the pinking. I won’t tell on you; We’re doing some topstitching later, so that will also help reinforce and flatten this seam.)

9Pinking results

10. Reach inside the fabric tube and pull it inside out so that the raw seam is now on the inside.
10Sleeve

11. Starting at one end, work the seam a little bit between your fingers to make sure that the seam is at one edge of the flat fabric tube. Do a spot and move along to the next. You want to coax out any part of the seam that has hidden itself in a fold. Sometimes seams get shy.

12. Get down on that floor again (count all this upping and downing as your cardio for the day, if you’d like) and lay the scarf flat so that one side is the seam and the scarf lies down nicely without any lumps. You can pin it, or just pick it up by one of the edges carefully and put it on the ironing board.

13. Iron along the seam and along the opposite side to make a crease.

IronSewnScarf

14. Topstitch* along the entire length down one side 1/4 inch away from the edge. Don’t forget to backstitch three or four stitches at the beginning and end and trim the threads.

*Topstitching is just a fancy term for any sewing that appears on top of the fabric, such as the distinctive gold or white stitching on jeans pockets. Topstitching is visible on the final product, so take the time you need to get it right.

11Topstitch

15.  Repeat Step 14 down the other side. You’ll end up with an almost-scarf featuring a topstitched line running along each edge. The ends are still open at this point.

16. Head over to a table and measure out a parallel chalk line 2 1/2 inches from the raw edges on one end of the scarf. If your edges are a little bit uneven here, that’s fine. Just make sure that the line is perpendicular to the topstitched lines along the sides and 2 1/2 inches from the shortest bit of the cut edge.

IMG_4783

Here’s the old school version of measuring for those who only have a ruler. The white straight edge at right is set along shortest point of the uneven end. I measured 2 1/2 inches from the straight edge and marked it in two different places. Then I used those two points to draw a straight line across.

17. Draw another parallel line 1/4 inch beyond that, toward the MIDDLE of the scarf.

IMG_4793

I’m using a clear quilting ruler and my rotary cutting mat to measure the second line. If you are planning to pursue sewing as a hobby, I highly recommend clear rulers, rotary cutters and mats. They save you an immense amount of time.

18. Repeat Steps 16 and 17 on the other end.

19. Take it to the sewing machine and topstitch along each of those four lines, backstitching at the beginning and end. Trim the threads.

14End stitch

20. CAREFULLY snip the raw fabric at both ends into about 1/4-inch-wide “tassels.” Leave about 1/4 between your cut and the first topstitched line.

15Fringe

21. If you are making another scarf, repeat Steps 7-20. If not, skip to Step 22. (It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure tutorial!)

22. Toss your scarves (or scarf) in the washing machine and run them through a cold cycle with some gentle detergent. When you pull them out, they will have a nice fringe thing going on at the ends. Pop them in the dryer, or line dry them.

16 Washing Maching

23. Once your scarves are dry, you may need to do a little untangling on the fringe. But don’t go overboard. Organically messy is the look we’re going for. Iron them or leave them crinkly.

17 Fringe results

24. Enjoy!

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making scarves for everyone.

18 Irving

11 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy, sewed scarf with a fringe

  1. Sew a straight seam! That’s the one thing that I can’t do. How would a seam that meanders like a drunken sailor work?

  2. Your instructions are great, but I most enjoy your wit and whimsy. The mini scarf for your antlered assistant made me smile.

  3. Pingback: And the winners are… | marfdaze

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