Introduction: No Sew Script Scarf

About: Art Director and Evil Genius of Urban Threads, an alternative machine and hand embroidery site. Every week I cuss and swear in my studio and macgyver together a new tutorial. You can see all of them in full h…

Sewing is great and fun and wonderful and all that, but sometimes, don’t you just want to whip something up, quick and easy, without worrying if you’re going to sew your seams backwards and inside out? Because we all have those days. Crafting up something pretty doesn’t always require sewing. This tutorial will show you how to whip up this gorgeous no-sew scripted scarf in a blink, made personal by using your own handwriting!

Step 1: The Materials

To start, you’ll need:
  • One yard square of a jersey knit or other light non-fraying fabric
  • Sheer mesh cutaway or water-soluble stabilizer, depending on embroidery design
  • Light-stitching embroidery design (try checking out this section at Urban Threads) I’m using the raven scissors for my crafty-themed scarf. Don't have an embroidery machine? Don't fret. You can do it by hand or just skip it.
  • Scissors
  • Bleach pen (like we used here) You’ll need more than one if you want to write on your whole scarf. One bleach pen will do about one half of a yard wide scarf.
  • Rubber gloves
It’s best since we’re working with bleach that you have a ventilated area to do part of this project in.

Step 2: Testing the Bleach

If you have any excess fabric, it’s always best to test out your bleach pen to see what kinds of results you’ll get, and how long they take. For some reason I find a lot of dark fabrics bleach a reddish color, instead of the white you’d expect. This was my little writing test. It also helps you practice writing letters with the pen.

After a minute or two, rinse off your bleach (use your gloves!) and check your results. Remember, it will be a lot brighter after your fabric has dried.

Step 3: Bleaching the Fabric

OK! Let’s start with that fabric. If you haven’t already, cut it into a square, about one yard by one yard. Open your fabric up and pick one corner to start your decoration. I’d recommend starting this step in a ventilated area near a sink or other water source, so you can stop the bleaching process as soon as you need to, and keep toxic fumes at bay. You’ll note, I only drew on one half of my scarf, and that’s about as far as one bleach pen will take you.

You’re going to uncap your gel bleach pen and use it to write a pretty script on your scarf! This script can be anything and everything. I wrote a bunch of crafty phrases that will match the theme of my embroidery. You can also write a favorite poem, a love note, whatever you like!

I’d recommend a cursive font, as it’s much easier to write with the bleach. Don’t fret too much about perfect handwriting! The goal is just to create a beautiful pattern on the scarf. Also, don’t worry about going all the way to the edge, we’ll lose a few inches to the fringe.

Step 4: Removing the Bleach - Don't Forget Your Gloves!

Don’t take too long writing, as your bleach starts going to work on your fabric right away. Once you’ve written all the way down to the bottom, let the bleach sit just a minute longer before you carefully take your scarf over to the sink. Due to the nature of the time it takes to write, the first words you write will be the boldest.

Now, if you don’t already have them on, put on your gloves! Dunk your scarf in water and rub the bleach with your gloves to remove the gel. The faster you rinse, the less likely you are to bleach other areas you don’t intend to.

Be SURE to do this in a ventilated area! Unlike our previous bleach pen tutorial, I used up the whole pen writing my letters, which is more bleach than you’d think. Working with good ventilation can protect your lungs from any harmful fumes. After you’ve rinsed it once, clear the sink and rinse it out again, making sure to remove all traces of bleach.

Step 5: Your New Bleached Fabric!

Wring out your fabric and then set it somewhere to dry, or throw it in the dryer. This is what my fabric looked like once it was all dry. Cool, huh? You can see after awhile I ran out of clever things to write, so I just wrote some things over and over again. As long as it all looks pretty, it’s all good.

Step 6: The Embroidery

Now for some complementary embroidery! If you don't have an embroidery machine, you can stitch a design by hand, or if you're not into the awesomeness of embroidery, you can skip this step. To suit my crafty theme, I picked this light stitching raven scissors design. If you picked a poem or theme, there are plenty of designs in the Urban Threads library to suit your project.

Hoop up some stabilizer with your fabric. For these designs, I chose a water soluble stabilizer so I can remove it after I’m done stitching and keep the scarf as soft as possible. This will only really work for extremely light designs like this one -- for anything more substantial, I'd recommend a sheer mesh cutaway stabilizer such as Floriani No Show Mesh or Sulky Soft 'n' Sheer.

Use the colors your fabric bleached to inspire you! I layered my designs in a couple of similar colors to bring some interest.

Step 7: Cutting the Fringe

Now all we need to do is finish off the edge. With your scarf folded in half like a triangle again, cut through both layers all around the edges of your scarf, up at least two inches or more.

Step 8: Finishing the Tied Fringe

Once your fringe has been cut, tie each scrap up in a knot. One you’ve tied two next to each other, gently pull them apart to stretch the fabric a bit. It may tear a small amount, but don’t worry, it just adds to the rustic look.

Step 9: The Finished Scarf!

All the way around, and you’re done! A gorgeous hand scripted scarf with complementary embroidery and a raw, romantic edge. All in a few easy steps and no sewing required!

Step 10: Rock Your Scarf

This accessory is the perfect thing to take you from winter into spring! This project is also great for crafty beginners with no sewing required.

Write a personal message, or just repeat a favorite mantra or phrase. Write a friends favorite poem and stitch it with their favorite design for a totally chic handmade gift.

Your own handwriting lends a personal touch that no store bought scarf can ever bring, but it still looks like you grabbed it in a boutique. Rock your own handmade touch and know your crafty skills are all part of making you look chic.

Love this tutorial? Check out even more over in our tutorials section at Urban Threads. We make machine embroidery cool. We promise.