How to Compose a Beautiful Scarf from Scraps

comments (21) November 7th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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Using up every inch of a piece of fabric is so satisfying—especially when you can create something thats pretty and useful, too.
Choose fabrics that are compatible in terms of weight and color.
Cut the fabric with a pinking blade or pinking shears and arrange on a strip of water-soluble stabilizer. Accent the design with bits and pieces of ribbon and yarn.
Using up every inch of a piece of fabric is so satisfying—especially when you can create something thats pretty and useful, too.

Using up every inch of a piece of fabric is so satisfying—especially when you can create something that's pretty and useful, too.

Photo: Mary Ray

It’s so much fun to combine beautiful fabrics. And sometimes it’s hard to throw away even the tiniest scrap. Here’s a way to use lots of small pieces to build a seamless scarf—or consider using a section of these "floating" scraps as an inset on a garment.

Choose fabrics that are compatible in terms of weight and color.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Enough compatible fabric pieces to complete the size of the project and some bits and pieces of yarn, cord, ribbon, or other fibers (Note: For a scarf, choose fabrics that are soft, lightweight, and not abrasive. I chose silk scraps for my scarf, but lightweight wool, rayon, or poly would work well, too.)
  • Thread for sewing it all together (once again, I use blendable/variegated thread)
  • Pinking shears or a pinking blade for a rotary cutter
  • A roll of water-soluble stabilizer like one from the Solvy line by Sulky; AquaFilm from OESD; or dSV by Hoop-it-All to name a few. (Note: Always make a test piece with some of the fabric, yarn, and stabilizer to judge how quickly the stabilizer will dissolve and to check how the fabrics and thread hold together.)

To make a scarf:
1. Determine the size you want and cut two sheets of the water-soluble stabilizer to those dimensions.

2. Cut enough fabric strips or other shapes to cover one sheet. Use pinking shears or a rotary blade to prevent the fabric from fraying too much. Layer the fabric on the stabilizer.

  Cut the fabric with a pinking blade or pinking shears and arrange on a strip of water-soluble stabilizer. Accent the design with bits and pieces of ribbon and yarn.

3. Add the yarn and ribbon.

4. Place the second piece of stabilizer on top to create a sandwich, then pin to hold everything together.

5. Machine-stitch through the layers in a pattern of your choice, making sure that you sew through all the fabrics to connect them. Roll up the ends of the scarf to keep the fabrics from falling out of the sandwich and to help them fit through the arm of the machine.

Place another layer of stabilizer on top, pin together, then stitch through all the layers to connect the pieces.

6. Rinse the stitched scarf to remove the stabilizer according to the manufacturer's directions, usually warm water. You may need to rinse several times to remove all the residue.

7. Let the piece dry. Press. Go back and add more yarn to fill in large gaps if necessary.

Add more yarn after rinsing and drying to fill in holes and further embellish.

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posted in: scarf, scraps

Comments (21)

chickenfriedsteak writes: My best friend passed away this summer, could I use some of her shirts to cut into strips for this project?
Posted: 12:33 pm on December 2nd
clothingeng writes: what a great idea!
Posted: 1:55 pm on December 3rd
lukca writes: This is right down my alley! I do, however, have a question.
Someone noted that they had just bought 20# or silk scraps.

I would like to know, please, where one can get this, and the approximate cost, if possible.

Also, are there other types of scraps available, cotton, linen, etc.

thank you,
[email protected]
Posted: 2:47 pm on June 19th
EternallyArachnid writes: This is really cool...I'll have to try it. :)
Posted: 6:40 pm on June 4th
l2ae writes: Thank you for sharing this..I have alot of scrapes!
Posted: 7:18 pm on April 20th
glittergrandma writes: Well done. Another inspiration, could also use this method to make earrings, and focal point for a necklace.
Posted: 6:14 pm on March 20th
Anasofia writes: This is a wonderful idea!
I really want to make one scarf for me!
Posted: 5:22 pm on December 7th
starlady39 writes: You can LIGHTLY mist the Solvy (what I use) and then lay your strips and yarn down, working with about 16" length at a time. Just pat the fabric strips and yarn or whatever down on the Solvy. (The Solvy gets tacky.) When you have the desired scarf length, just mist the top of your fabric strips and cover with another strip of Solvy, patting the Solvy down to seal. When dry, you can stitch and handle all you like. I usually let it dry overnight. You can do quite a bit of stitching and everything will stay in place.
Posted: 6:00 pm on November 18th
Toffy writes: This is a wonderful idea. I just bought about 20 lbs of silk scraps. Turned out to be Italian Silk Mens Ties and the uncut pieces to match. Worked up some of the cut ties into a skirt but have to finish a waist to hold it up. With this great scarf project I can use lots of the scraps and ties. Thanks for sharing this, I may be able to make my Christmas Gifts this year, if I get really busy and quickly.
Posted: 1:18 pm on November 18th
megamom writes: I have a bunch of silks left over from a 'wearable art' jacket that should work great. If you cut some pieces on the bias and don't sew down the edges you would get the chenile effect that is popular. I'm going to give it a try.

Posted: 8:12 am on November 17th
Secretsugar writes: Hmmm, I don't have a lot of silk scraps lying around, but perhaps I should make several things out of silk soon just to have left-overs for this project. It really is lovely!
Posted: 7:45 pm on November 16th
Awsome writes: I wanted to print the instructions for the beautiful scarf to make with fabric scraps but the #'6 & 7 with the pictures did not print.

It such a beautiful idea. My grand-daughter and I are going to make a whole bunch for Christmas presents.

thank you

Posted: 12:38 pm on November 16th
AuntieJoan writes: I have a collection of ties that this would work well with. Thank you.
Posted: 12:25 pm on November 15th
walkinthewoodsllc writes: What a cool project! I'm unfamiliar with the stabilizer product and now I'm sooooo looking forward to getting some and trying this out!

Thanks for sharing!
Posted: 8:59 am on November 15th
Theda writes: Wow! I love it!! the ultimate recycler in me love this, I have lots of odd sized strips! I will no doubt make one this weekend I also have flannel & yarn scraps lace......
Thanks a bunch
Theda - who will be buying Solvy Today!
Posted: 7:12 am on November 15th
MaryRay writes: I don't think you necessarily have to pink the edges. It depends on the fabric. I think some fraying is cool. Just be careful the fabric doesn't fray away! Cutting on the bias essentially eliminates fraying, too.
Posted: 11:18 am on November 10th
klattimore writes: Mary! Ihave been looking through my stash for just the right mix of fabric. What do you think about not pinking the edges and having some fray to add to the demention. I think I will try it. I will send photo if it works. Thank you for the great X-Mas Idea! KBL
Posted: 12:59 am on November 10th
CalPatch writes: wow, this is an insanely cool idea! i've never played with water-soluble stabilizer, but i think i have some lying around somewhere... i keep thinking of all kinds of other fun stuff to add into it too! can't wait to try it out.
Posted: 6:31 pm on November 7th
MaryRay writes: Yes, ThreadMaven, I have knitted with fabric. Several years ago I worked in a retail fabric shop and we had a period where we taught classes on knitting sweaters with fabric and making a skirt to match! It was fun and best of all it goes quickly with big needles.

Michaela. I think the technique would make a beautiful skirt. I would suggest adding a layer of tulle for more stability. The fabric strips will be sewn to that, but the over all look will still be sheer between the strips.
Posted: 6:23 pm on November 7th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wow, Mary this is so beautiful. I am sitting here trying to imagine this technique being applied towards making a skirt--me and my big ideas!
Posted: 11:35 am on November 7th
ThreadMaven writes: I love this. Have you ever knitted with scarps of fabric. Tis quite fun and also makes a great scarf. Love the threads!
Posted: 10:26 am on November 7th
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