How-To: Sew a Ruffled Scarf


One day I decided to put away all my deadlines and all my unfinished projects, and to instead design something just for fun, to please only the fiber-artist-fashionista within me. I dug around in a bin of wool sweaters and found a truly hideous gray knit poncho. I plugged in my sewing machine and started playing around with a method that I used in Feltique, where the edge of a knit sweater gets a ruffled edge. It’s an easy technique that my friend Alix of Treehouse 28 taught me way back in the day. But I tend to be chronically unsatisfied and wanted even more ruffles. So I gathered the whole thing up on a long black ribbon. It was the perfect touch. I had made myself a scarf that really embodies who I am as a crafter right now. It’s got pure drama, ruffles and ribbon, and a versatile look that can be altered on a whim. Plus, the whole thing is made from my current favorite material: recycled wool.
Crafting has major roots in self-expression. And contests are all about challenging yourself. I encourage you to listen to your own inner creative voice, and to really trust your personal design process. Submit your scarf, with a description of how it aligns with your personality, to the Singer Contest: Me, My Scarf, and I. The grand prize is an amazing Singer ProFinish Serger, and I know that’s just what you’ve always wanted!



Large donor sweater
Rotary cutter and mat
Ribbon, 3 yards
Large-eye needle

Step 1: Cut the sweater into 4″-wide strips with the rotary cutter.
Step 2: Set the sewing machine to straight stitch, and then sew the pieces end to end. Trim the edges of each seam. My scarf is a total of 3 yards, but would look great even longer. The more scarf there is to gather up, the more dramatic the final look will be.
Step 3: Set the sewing machine for creating the ruffle by selecting the widest zigzag setting, and the shortest possible distance between stitches. To get the scarf in position, place the edge of fabric right between the 2 feed dogs. The object is to run the machine and have the needle zigzag back and forth, with the needle going into the fabric on each “zig” and going off the edge of the fabric on each “zag.” This technique creates an edge that mimics the look of having used a serger. To add ruffle, hold the fabric with one hand behind the needle, and with the other hand, pull it taught as you sew the edge. Pull with an even but firm pressure, and be wary of putting too much pressure on the needle, lest it break. Sew slowly, and keep the edge stretched as you go. When you release your grip on the scarf, the edge will curl right up. Ruffle both long sides of the scarf.
Step 4: Thread the needle with the ribbon. I used a narrow ribbon, but have thought about switching it out for a wide satin one since It’s easy enough to change out. Simply lace the ribbon down the center of the scarf with stitches every inch or so.
Step 5: Gather the scarf along the ribbon, and to keep it in place, simply tie the ribbon. The scarf can be worn a ton of different ways.

21 thoughts on “How-To: Sew a Ruffled Scarf

  1. missbmckay says:

    I discovered this edge by accident! I love the idea of the ribbon. So cozy pretty! Thanks for great pics and instructions.

  2. Naomi says:

    Will this work with cotton sweaters? I have a beautiful orangy/rust sweater that has a stain on the front and hate to get rid of it…..
    Thanks in advance for the info.

  3. Ayelet says:

    I LOVE this idea and your tutorial makes so much sense (makes it look quite easy even!). I’m going to be on the lookout now for some old sweaters to use up. Thanks so much!!

  4. Michelle says:

    I love this scarf and would kill for your hair. I have wavy/curly hair too, and seriously, it never looks that good. The scarf fits your look so well, I’m jealous!

  5. Brookelynn says:

    Awe, shucks! You are too kind!

  6. Brookelynn says:

    It should work just as well with a cotton sweater. I’ve also done the edge on a jersey fabric too! Good luck, and please, share your photos when you’re done!

  7. MonicaVereana says:

    I’ve been looking for some great recycled gift ideas for Christmas and this is perfect!
    Also, thank you for using such beautiful grammar, specifically in Step 3…lest “lest” disappear from our lexicon!

  8. VictoiseC says:

    That’s just super. I absolutely love it. Can’t wait to try it, hope my sewing machine behaves. Thank you!!!!

  9. Nikki says:

    and your directions are so clear. Thank you!

  10. Tamara says:

    I love the scarf and I want to transplant your hair onto my head!

  11. Raven says:

    I made this scarf immediately after reading this page. I used an old white sweater, and I love it! I hope it gets cold soon so I can wear it outside!

  12. Brookelynn says:

    Share a photo! I wanna see!!!!!

  13. Emily says:

    I’m going to try this tomorrow! I have a shirt that I think would make a nifty scarf, wish me luck! Love the finished product of yours! =)

  14. Kate says:

    Well done you for creating and thinking of such a lovely scarf! I love it and can’t wait to start chopping jumpers up to make one myself…..!

  15. Resweater says:

    I have a blog devoted to recycled wool projects, and each Tuesday I feature a tutorial (Tutorial Tuesday!). Would you mind if I blogged about this tutorial? I would, of course, properly credit you, and link back to this.
    Kris :)

  16. Brookelynn says:

    Of course! And please, send me a link too! Cheers!

  17. jac says:

    Are you using a zigzag presser foot?
    “New to Sewing”

  18. Brookelynn says:

    Nope, I just use the regular presser foot that’s came on my machine. PS: This is a perfect project for any beginner! Good luck, and share pics in the CRAFT Flickr pool too!!

  19. Crafting a Green World | The home for green crafts and tutorials! says:

    […] Sweater to scarf. Try making an infinity scarf from a sweater, or a ruffled scarf. […]

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    […] Sweater to scarf. Try making an infinity scarf from a sweater, or a ruffled scarf. […]

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