Introduction: How to Make a Loom & Weave a Fabric Scarf

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This weaving tutorial may take you back to second grade, but it also opens up a world of possibilities. Using this same method and different sizes, you can weave potholders, washcloths, scarves, small rugs, etc. I didn't purchase anything to make this woven scarf. I recycled some leftovers, including the wood and fabrics, then went to town with my idea!

Materials Needed:
  • Leftover fabrics (preferably lightweight and flexible)
  • Scissors or pinking sheers (if you don't want to tear fabric strips)
  • 10-14 1 1/2"-2" nails
  • 2x4x8 wooden board
  • 60-70' of strong yarn
A note about the fabric. For the scarf to be comfortable, the fabric should be soft and flexible. You'll notice that I used very thin cottons and chiffon. Recycled t-shirt yarn is great in this project due to it's softness and pliability -- plus, it's casual and fun to use! See pics for a girl's scarf I did incorporating recycled t-shirt strips. 

A note about the yarn. The yarn is going to show a little between the fabrics, especially the solid fabrics, so you have a choice of either using one that blends in or using one that stands out. Make it part of your design. Regardless, your yarn should be long and strong. :)

Step 1: Making Your Loom

Making a weaving loom is super easy! Take your board and lay it across a long table or even on the floor. Hammer 5-7 nails, in a row, across each short end of the board. You can space out the nails about 1-2"-1" or just eyeball it. Perfection is not required here. And, the more nails you use, the wider your scarf will become (and the more fabric and yarn you will need).

I did 5 nails at each end.

Step 2: Weaving Preparation

You'll want to do some preparation before weaving.

Your fabric should be cut into long, 1-2" wide strips. You can opt to tear your fabric with the grain, which I've done before, and all I can tell you is that it will fray faster, and have a more "primitive" look to it. I don't remember how many fabric strips I used, but you will need a LOT, so start a pile. Mix your colors and textures; it will make the scarf more beautiful!

You will also need to make your "base" for weaving, which is the yarn you'll weave through. Knot yarn to the first nail on one end of your board, then string it across the length of your board to the other side and wrap it around the nail directly across from it. Now, come back across the board, wrapping it around the next nail, and so on, until you've come to your last nail, and use a knot to tie it in place. You want your "base" to be taut or weaving will become difficult. 

Lastly, put some "placeholder" fabric under the yarn at each end of your board. Just squish enough under there to fill about a 2-4" space. This helps to give you some extra "tie-off" yarn at the end. Just makes life a little easier, trust me.

Step 3: How to Weave Your Scarf

I like to weave loosely, but it’s really personal preference. Looser weaving yields a more pliable scarf, IMHO. Anyway, start weaving fabric strips ~ over, under, etc, each strand of yarn, then double back (opposite: under, over – each time you do a new row, you have to do the opposite of the previous row), until you only have about 4″ of fabric left, then tie on more fabric to continue with your same fabric (here's an easier, less bulky way to connect your fabric strips that I used), or start with new fabric, in which case, you will want to leave your dangling ends next to each other to tie off later (end of previous strip next to beginning of new strip). 

Continue this way until you reach the end of the scarf, then remove your placeholder fabric and carefully snip the yarns free from the nails (hold them to prevent them from snapping back if they're tight). Tie them firmly in square knots and leave them hang for a more primitive look (or snip them off and create your own fringe). Also, tie your dangling fabric pieces at the side of your scarf with square knots -- don't tie too tightly or you could distort your weaving! Leave ends hanging or cut to desired length.

Easy, right? They're unique, fun, versatile, and make great gifts. Have fun, and happy crafting!

Warmly, Rachel

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