No Sew (-ing machine) Scarves

If you are my mom or my sister, STOP READING NOW!!!

That wasn’t too obvious, was it? I think I just eliminated half my readers with that statement!

These are Christmas gifts I am putting together for the family girls, including my niece – who’s already seen hers. (Hi Alli!)

I’m very pleased with the final product here, but I must admit, I hit a point of frustration after making two, and realizing I had 4 more to go (six if you count the fact that my brother-in-law and his dog are getting non-sequiny, non-boa versions too), and they were taking more time than I had anticipated.

I do this to myself often. I come up with an idea I think is fantastic because it holds three characteristics:

1. It’s inexpensive ( I think).

2. It doesn’t take much in the way of skills (I think).

3. It doesn’t take a lot of time (I think).

So, inexpensive? Yeah, pretty much.

Doesn’t require skills? Ehhhh, umm. . .sort of, as long as you don’t mind using a needle and thread.

Doesn’t require too much time? FAIL!

I guess it depends on how much time you are anticipating. I was anticipating something around a half hour per scarf. In reality, the first three took an hour to two hours each. I think it’s because I was unfamiliar with the materials and just how exactly to put it all together. Once I got to scarves 4, 5, and 6 though, I actually did crank them out in about 40 minutes each. That’s not too bad, I guess.

I’ll show you what I did, and make notes of changes I would suggest. Maybe the best thing to do would be to just take inspiration from the results and go about it in an entirely different way (code word: easier way).

If anyone knows of a fabric glue that binds embellishments to fleece (because it’s really its own breed of fabric) without leaking through the back and leaving an awful hard ugly streak on the backside once it’s dry, please let me know – that would have come in awesomely handy with this project!

Step 1: Choose your fabric. My personal opinion is that non-pill polar fleece is the best option because it won’t pill (duh. . . ), and you don’t have to sew fleece. (Yay!!) I made each scarf between 5 and 6 feet long (a scarf should be about the same length as a person’s “wing span” – the length from fingertip to fingertip when they have their arms raised, at the same time, parallel with the floor). The fabric was 58″ wide it think, which is perfect, because then when you are having it cut at the store you don’t have to ask for the length of you scarf, you ask for the number of inches your total number of scarves will equal in width. So if you are making 4 scarves at 8″ each, you will ask for 32″ of material. I would actually ask for a yard – just to allow yourself some room. A yard of non-pill, solid color polar fleece will cost between $5-$10 depending on the brand and whether or not it is on sale.

2. Choose your embellishments. The length you buy will equal the width of your scarf x 2.  Sixteen inches if you are making one 8″ scarf. Always add on an inch or two just in case. These embellishments cost between $2 and $7 per yard, but I wasn’t buying a whole yard, so that was ok by me. Don’t forget to buy thread that matches the fleece – and get a needle if you don’t already have one!

3. Wash it first, then measure and cut your fabric. Lay your fabric out on the floor and trim any ugly edges off. At intervals approximately 10″ apart for the length of the fabric, measure 8″ (if you are going with an 8″ scarf) in from the edge of the fabric and mark it with a pin. This way, when you cut with the scissors, you can follow the “dotted line” of pins to make sure you get an even 8″ cut the entire length of the fabric.

3. Test the lay-out and trim the embellishments.  Lay your fabric out and play with all the embellishment until you have a lay-out you are happy with. If you are using any embellishments that may fray on the end once they are cut (i.e. sequin strips or pom-pom strips) make sure you cut them with about an extra quarter-inch on both ends so you can fold them under before you sew them on the scarf. This will prevent fray.

4. Fold necessary ends under, and attach embellishments by “tacking” them on with needle and thread.

I’m not going to lie. This is where it all got hairy and complicated and time-consuming.

For each embellishment that might fray, fold the cut end to the back of the strip.

You can take a minute and sew it together now, or you can skip the step and lay it on your fabric, folded end down, and begin tacking it on with thread, making sure to tack the folded edge down. Tacking is a sewing term that means, “To sew a few stitches in one spot, by hand or by machine sewing, to secure on item to another”. If you are a sewing dummy, this website is a great resource.

The thing to remember when you start tacking, is that you don’t want your stitches to show too much on the back side, so the stitches on that side need to be tiny (if you look closely at the picture below, you can see the tiny stitch marks along the bottom edge). Most of the length you will travel with your thread will be on the top of your scarf, but under the frills and fluff of your embellishments.

For example, start from the back of the scarf and push your needle through the scarf and the fabric of the sequin strip, but don’t come all the way out the top of the sequins. Once the tip of your needle has broken the surface of the sequin fabric, turn it parallel to the surface of the scarf and burrow under the sequins by about 3/4 of an inch, and send your needle back down through to the back side of your fleece. Then, when making the next stitch, only travel about 1/16th of an inch on the fleece side – so the stitch is almost invisible, then poke the needle back up through and repeat the first step of burrowing under the sequins. This is all in an effort to hide the thread. . . . and it’s a pain in the buttocks.

If you are going to use faux fur, care needs to be taken in that case as well to avoid visible stitches. I realized the “burrowing” technique works in this case as well – because you don’t want to sew any of the individual hairs of the fur down. So, when you come through from the back with your needle, don’t break the top surface  of the fur, just keep it down low and burrow until you return your needle to the back of the scarf. The stitch on the top ends up looking like this:

Once you are done tacking everything, you are DONE! Whew.

Do a happy dance. . .

and admire your work.

Somebody is going to love you for this!!

7 thoughts on “No Sew (-ing machine) Scarves

  1. This looks hard….well, hard for me that it. I love the scarves though! They have a very simple, yet interesting quality to them. I think your fam will be very pleased. 🙂

    • Thanks! Already sent them to one sister and my niece, and they loved them! They actually went out and bought more fabric and made more that same day – but used buttons instead of sequins. My sister sent me a pic – they’re super cute!

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