Crafty by Nature

Crafty by Nature

How to Make an Artful Scarf from Scraps

comments (27) April 30th, 2009     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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After dissolving the stabilizer, you are left with a beautiful, one-of-a-kind scarf.
Choose ribbons that are similar in shades, or you can try complementary shades, too!
Photo: Kayte Terry

A couple of days ago, a friend was wearing a beautiful scarf that she had gotten from a museum shop. It was a delicate tangle of threads and scraps, and it was very expensive. I started thinking about how I could make something like that for myself (or as a gift for Mom) and discovered that it was easy to do with one very magical supply: water-soluble fabric stabilizer!

For this project, you can use any fabric scrap or ribbons, lace, or doilies. Pretty much anything you can sew through with ease is fair game.

What you'll need:

  • One 18-inch x 60-inch piece of water-soluble stabilizer
  • Scraps of ribbons and/or fabrics
  • Iron
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread in desired colors

1. Lay your piece of stabilizer out flat.

Choose ribbons that are similar in shades, or you can try complementary shades, too!

2. Cut up your pieces of ribbon, lace, or fabric into little pieces of various lengths. Mine were 1 inch to 5 inches.

It's hard to see since the stabilizer is clear, but these ribbons are laid out on one half of the piece of stabilizer.

3. Lay out your scraps on one half of the stabilizer (9 inches wide) in a pleasing pattern as desired. They can be scattered and random or orderly.

Make sure to cover the area under and on top of the stabilizer with a press cloth or things could get messy!

4. Fold the other half of the stabilizer over the first one. Set your iron to the dry, cotton setting. Place a press cloth over and under the stabilizer and press for 20 seconds to fuse.

This shows a part of the scarf after it has been sewn all the way across the long way.

5. Start sewing! Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch (make sure you like the bobbin thread color as well as this will show, too!), and start sewing all the way down the length of the scarf from right to left. Make sure to backstitch at the start.

6. When you reach the other end of the scarf, don't end the line but loop slightly and go back up to the top of the scarf in a long line about 1/4 inch away from the first line. To do this, lift the presser foot but not the needle, turn the stabilizer slightly, bring the presser foot back down, and then continue sewing. Continue sewing all the way up and down the scarf without ending the line. Backstitch at the end. Tip: Most sewing machines have a "needle down" position so you don't have to keep manually bringing the needle down while you are sewing. I use that setting for projects like this one!

This is what the scarf looks like after I sewed all the way across in the other direction.

7. Now you are going to want to sew in the same way across the width of the scarf, back and forth without lifting the needle.

8. If you want to, you can add another color of thread over these stitches or just fill in some spots with the same color thread. It doesn't have to be perfect, just fill in randomly. Also, so that the scarf keeps its shape, sew all the way around the perimeter of the scarf twice, backstitching at both ends.

The scarf hanging out to dry.

9. When you are done sewing, soak the whole thing in a bucket or a sink filled with water to dissolve the stabilizer and hang to dry. What is left is a beautiful, delicate "fabric" that is entirely one of a kind. Pretty cool, right? By the way, this would also make a beautiful wall hanging or decorative table runner.

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Comments (27)

lorrwill writes: This is so gorgeous. What a brilliant way to use up scraps that would otherwise be unusable. Great post.
Posted: 1:50 pm on July 21st
Carolinemcabral writes: Hi.

I´d like to know where can I find this water soluble stabilizer. I am from Brazil and i dont know how to translate this material name to buy it here.
Could someone send me a URL of a place where i can find this material?

Thank you very much.

Posted: 6:16 am on September 27th
Sandesigns writes: The trick to keeping the scarf light is to use lighter fabrics, and not heavy fabrics. Also it's best if your fabrics look good on the back as well as on the right side, so whichever way the folds of the scarf fall when you wear it, it will still look just as good. Thanks so much for posting this! These scarves are so much fun to make and no two will ever be the same!
Posted: 1:27 pm on February 5th
TheSlowQuilter writes: I have seen this before and always wanted to try it, now that I have nothing to do and getting ready to do a quilt journel I will try this now.
Posted: 5:09 pm on July 23rd
Lexi9 writes: This water soluble stabilizer is made from a corn product so it is environmently friendly. The producer has suggested washing it in a laundry bag with a load of laundry to fully wash out the stabilizer. That would leave the scarf soft without using extra water and the stabilizer is diluted to the degree that there are no chances of clogging your drain. I love the project. I did a similar one that was shown on Sue Hausman a number of years ago as a "no-knit"scarf. You can still find that on her website.
Posted: 11:52 am on July 14th
omgwtfnoway writes: This is BEAUTIFUL!
I don't really sew but I gotta try this!!!
Thanx for the great tutorial!
Posted: 4:55 pm on July 13th
Nitegama writes: Has anyone used the dissolving washing bags they use in the hospitals? I think i will order these..for 16.99 it is worth a try i think
Posted: 4:41 pm on July 13th
dewdrops writes: I just can't stop making these! They are so much fun! I have started using the Sticky Solvy so that the threads don't move. Sulky Solvy works great. Rinse well to avoid stiffness. If it's stiff, rinse again. Use lots of water when rinsing so you don't clog your drain. I use a teflon foot because sometimes the Solvy sticks to your presser foot. There are videos on Solvy's website that show how to do thread bowls. These are also lots of fun! I use the Ultra Solvy for the bowls, since you do want the stiffness. Try it and you'll love it, too!
Posted: 3:18 pm on July 13th
ladydi1 writes: I am dying to try to make this.Absolutely beautiful.
Posted: 12:54 am on September 1st
andreacreates writes: I can't wait to try this- it seems like a good way to use up those teeny tiny scraps I can't part with!
Posted: 7:53 am on November 15th
Ladydreamgirl writes: Does anyone know what dissolve away stabilizers are chemically? How are you supposed to dispose of the water you dissolve it in? This is a cool project, but what's the environmental impact of this stuff?
Posted: 9:56 pm on July 29th
SharGR writes: Hi Kayte. I really like the scarf that you made. I finally got around to making one myself. I am pleased with the look, but not the texture. I had difficulty with my machine and the thread tension, so this might have added to the "heavy" taxture of the thread. Once I soaked the scarf to remove the Sulky Solvy and let it dry, it was stiff and didn't look anywhere as airy as yours. Any pointers? My scarf is narrower than yours, so perhaps that is a difference. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Posted: 10:35 am on June 6th
Sewing2enjoying writes: I would like to know what type of thread is recommended and approximately how much thread would we need including the bobbin? Thanks so much.
Posted: 7:02 pm on May 16th
Sewing2enjoying writes: I will definitely be making these as gifts! I absolutely think these are lovely. I saw this done once at a seminar but it is so nice to have the actual instructions here. Thank you so much!
Posted: 6:54 pm on May 16th
JennieC writes: I did it! My mom will love it. I used lace from my Great Grandmother's stash. And it folds up into a little rectangle that will fit in the card! I'm off to the post office....

Thanks again for this great tutorial.
Posted: 11:10 am on May 6th
kaytet writes: Hey Jennie C- Yes, I used Solvy by Sulky. It's strange that they don't advertise the ironing as a feature on the website but they do have instructions for it in the package.
Good luck!!
Posted: 11:30 pm on May 4th
JennieC writes: Kayte - this is a great Mother's Day project. I'm frantically calling my local quilt and fabric shops looking for a water soluble stabilizer. Would you mind telling me what you used? Will Sulky® Solvy™ work? It doesn't say anything on their website about being able to iron it. Is that an undocumented feature? Thanks so much.
Posted: 4:16 pm on May 4th
jeweledantler writes: Love this idea! cant wait to try. thinking about using an old flasy wedding vail cant wait to play with this!!
Posted: 12:10 pm on May 3rd
JennieC writes: Fabulous idea. Love it love it love it.
Posted: 7:12 pm on May 2nd
kaytet writes: hey sunchile-
believe it or not, we have no crafty chain stores here in New York, so I'm not sure. The most popular brand name from water soluble stabilizer is Solvy by the company Sulky. I guess i would just say to call ahead and see. They should definitely have it at Joann.
Posted: 1:32 pm on May 2nd
Sunchile writes: This looks too cute! Can you find water soluble stabilizer at cheaper places like Hobby Lobby or will I have to check out Joann/Michaels?
Posted: 10:29 am on May 1st
faithwooddesigns writes: this scarf is so cool! such a great idea:)
Posted: 6:03 pm on April 30th
Bonniedoo writes: That scarf is awesome....the possibilities are endless..I can't wait to make one!!!!!!!
Posted: 5:12 pm on April 30th
tremundo writes: This is so pretty! Looks like a lot of fun to make too.
Thank you for sharing!
Posted: 5:00 pm on April 30th
theemptynest writes: cannot wait to try this!!!!! I knew I was saving all my scraps for a good reason!
Posted: 2:38 pm on April 30th
LindaPermann writes: i have always wanted to try this and have yet to do so. Thanks for reminding me!
Posted: 2:05 pm on April 30th
PetitGateau writes: I'm so excited to try this!
Posted: 1:30 pm on April 30th
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