Sew an Upcycled Sweater Scarf




Introduction: Sew an Upcycled Sweater Scarf

Scarves are one of the best things when it comes to keeping warm in the winter, and they make a fantastic fashion accessory as well! Why not take a favorite sweater that has out-lived its use, and give it a second chance at life in the form of a scarf?  Not only will you be able to hold on to your beloved sweater for just a bit longer, your neck will thank you when the temperature outside dips below zero - or more.

This is the companion instructable to Sew a set of upcycled sweater fingerless gloves. You can make both projects using the same sweater, and create a matching set for maximum warmth!

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Step 1: What You'll Need

Gather together the following items to create this toasty winter neck warmer:

 - One old sweater (it can be made of anything - fabric, knitted or crocheted - it doesn't matter)
 - One half yard/meter of fleece, in a color that matches your sweater
 - Matching color of thread
 - Scissors
 - Straight pins
 - Yard/meter stick or measuring tape
 - One large button (1 3/4" diameter or larger)
 - Sewing needle
 - Seam ripper
 - Scraps of felt
 - Hot-glue gun
 - sewing machine*

*This project is put together using a sewing machine, so I have outline the steps of the instructable as such, HOWEVER, this does not mean it cannot be completed by hand. In fact, I commend you if you choose to sew this scarf project by hand. It takes a lot of patience - of which I have never had.

Step 2: Harvesting the Scarf Fabric

First, you'll need to remove a sizeable chunk of the sweater for use in making this scarf, so we will now proceed with the extraction.

If your sweater is made of a knitted or crocheted fabric, you'll want to sew a line of stitching right around the body of the garment, just below the armpits, to prevent fraying when working with the pieces later on.

Once this is done, cut through the body of sweater, one layer at a time, ABOVE the stitching, to remove the desired piece.

Finally, to make the piece workable, find one of the side seams on the sweater body and cut right along side of it, from top to bottom. You should now have one long piece of sweater with one seam in the middle of it, the remaining side seam from the old sweater.

Step 3: Preparing the Lining

In order to make this scarf extra warm, we are going to add a soft fleece lining.

Using the measuring tape or yard stick, measure the length of the sweater piece you extracted in the previous step, and transfer that length measurement to the piece of fleece. Next, measure the width of your sweater piece, and transfer that measurement to the fleece.

Cut out the resulting rectangle of fleece, and lay it over the sweater piece, right sides of the fabric together.

Pin the two layers of fabric together along the 2 long edges, and one end. The other end needs to be left open to turn the scarf inside out.

Trim any rough or uneven edges, either on the sweater or the fleece, in order to obtain the size of scarf that you want. A good width for the scarf is about 8", and the length is however long the sweater piece is.

Step 4: Stitching Layers Together

Now that you have your sweater and fleece lining pinned, right sides together, sew the two layers together.

Follow a 1/2-inch seam allowance while stitching down one long side, across the end, and up the second long side, leaving the second end open to turn the scarf inside out. To ensure that the sweater doesn't fray along the cut edges, sew a zigzag stitch along the outer edge of the 3 sides you just stitched. 

Turn the scarf inside out.

Step 5: Top-stitching the Scarf

With the scarf turned inside out, press the edges down as much as possible to lay flat. This can be done with an iron set on a low heat setting, but fingers work just as well. Pin the already-sewn edges of the fabric. Turn the unsewn edges under 1/2-inch, starting with the fleece, then folding the sweater under to match. Pin the pieces in place.

following a 1/4-inch seam allowance, top-stitch along all four edge of the scarf. Be careful when sewing into corners and along seams, as the fabric can get very thick, and jam up the sewing machine. The trick is to gently ease the scarf along, slowing down at the thicker spots. Use the sewing machine wheel to ease the needle through by hand, if necessary.

Don't forget to remove all pins from the sewn garment.

Step 6: Adding a Button

The best feature about this scarf is that it will never come undone under your coat, leaving your neck exposed to the cold - this scarf is held in place with a button.

After removing all the pins, try on your scarf, placing it as you would if you were wearing it. Make sure to wrap one edge over to meet the far side of the second edge, for maximum coverage and protection. Using a pin, mark the point where the bottom of the overlap touches the lower piece of scarf. This will help with the placement of the button and buttonhole.

Mark the center of the overlap, where the buttonhole will be, with a pin.

Find an appropriately large button, and test it on the scarf, placing it over the pin.

Measure the diameter of the button, and mark the measurement on the scarf overlap using pins. This is the length of the buttonhole.

Following the instructions in your sewing machine manual, sew a buttonhole on the scarf overlap between the pins. Unfortunately, I cannot give more details than this, since each sewing machine sews buttonholes differently. Once you have sewn your buttonhole, use a seam ripper to rip open the hole between the lines of stitching. Test the button to make sure it clears the hole.

Lay the overlap back on the other half of the scarf, and, using the newly-made buttonhole, find the center of the fabric where you will sew the button. Using the needle and thread, sew on the button. Test the button again.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Try on the completed scarf. It's so nice and toasty, but there's something missing...
Ah yes, accessories! (Note: this step is purely optional - if you are happy with your choice of button, or want a more low-key look, then you are done! I felt that the overall look my own scarf was too dull for my own taste)

Using a spare button, or tracing of your button, cut out shapes from felt scraps to create a flower. Make sure the pieces are larger than the button, so that they cover the button completely.

Hot-glue the felt pieces onto the button base.

Enjoy your finished scarf!

Step 8: Buttoning the Scarf

Yes, gluing the felt flower over the button will make the button much larger than the buttonhole. No problem! Felt is flexible enough to squeeze through the buttonhole. Here's how:

Fold the leaf over the flower to make the button more compact. Leaf end first, ease the flower through the buttonhole. Carefully pull the flower through the hole. Once through, flatten the flower back out, and you're done!

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    4 Discussions


    Great and thorough instuctions! Question: have you ever worked with seam/ bias tape to hold your upcycled sweater edges better? I'm worried that my sweater yarns will unravel, even with the zigzag stitch.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    It would certainly add to the secureness of the edges, but I have been using my scarf for over a year now and have not experienced any issues with the edges fraying, as they are secured safely inside two seam lines. You could omit step 4 and 5 completely, and just sew a double-wide bias tape around the edge of the scarf. It would allow you to add a contrasting colour to change the look of the scarf. Let me know how it goes if you follow this step!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    That's a great scarf, the flower is a nice touch.