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I get sort of obsessive every so often with certain projects of mine, and just can’t stop making them. And this is definitely one of those situations, because ever since May 30, 2015, when I made three springtime infinity scarves from refashioned clothes as part of my Me-Made-May challenge, I haven’t been able to stop making them!
Seriously, I love infinity scarves (which are also sometimes called “circle scarves”). They can really make an outfit and can have totally different feels depending on which fabric is used in what size. They can be casual or relatively fancy, for warm weather or freezing cold weather. Fuzzy, silky, smooth. With embellishments sewn into them. From brand new fabric yardage or upcycled fabrics. You can really go wild with your creativity!
And these make such great gifts! Here is my friend Laura from Le Pecionate when we met up at the Abilmente creative fair in Rome, wearing an infinity scarf that I sewed her. (Isn’t she adorable?) Infinity scarves are very in right now, you can make them to suit the recipient’s needs and tastes, and they’re relatively fast to sew. I’ve been giving different versions of these for months, and have gotten nothing but rave reviews.
I actually meant to create this tutorial months ago, but I first wanted to publish a sewing lesson on how to sew the ladder stitch by hand. If using a single fabric, all you need to do is sew two seams with the sewing machine, then close up an opening by hand, so I decided to include this project in my Learn to Machine Sew series, even though it is not entirely machine sewn. I’m sure you’ll forgive me!
Let’s get started!
There are no set rules regarding the fabric you use except that it needs to feel nice against the skin and have a nice drape. What does that mean? That the fabric needs to be lightweight enough as to not be stiff and to fall nicely when held up.
You can also use more than one color or fabric for your scarf. I like the effect that a two-tone infinity scarf makes when wrapped around your neck. I’ve never made an infinity scarf with more than two colors, but I’ll bet it would look cool. Hmm, maybe, just maybe I’ll have to try that out! For this tutorial I’m showing how to make infinity scarves from just one piece of fabric, or from two contrasting pieces of fabric.
You can really use all different sizes of fabric to make these scarves depending on how tight or loose you want it around your neck and how puffy you want it. If you’re making a scarf from one piece of fabric, cut the rectangle anywhere from 16 – 28″ (40 – 70 cm) wide by 24 – 67″ (60 – 170 cm) long. Remember that the final dimensions will be half those dimensions (minus seam allowance, of course) because the fabric gets folded in half both lenthwise and widthwise. I suggest cutting the fabric, holding the short ends together, and wrapping it around your neck to get an idea if it’s about right or not. I cut the piece of red silk seen above to 28 x 57″ (70 x 144 cm).
If you’re using two different fabrics, cut the two pieces half as wide, plus 3/4″ (2 cm) for seam allowances. I salvaged the two blue fabric pieces seen above from the simple shawl I’d made for a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago (which you can see at the end of this post), cutting each piece of fabric to 25 x 66″ (63 x 168 cm).
If you’re making a spring/summer scarf, I suggest making it smaller. The black scarf with red pom pom trim that you see at the end of this post was made with two 8 x 24″ (20 x 60 cm) pieces.
If you’re using a stretch fabric, like the white knit one at the end of this post, you can make it slightly shorter if you cut it so that the stretchiest direction is along the long sides, that way it can stretch to fit around your head. (Find out more about how to sew stretchy knit fabric here.)
1. If using a single piece of fabric, fold it in half, lining up the long sides, right sides facing. Pin and sew all the way down the side with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. You will now have a long tube of fabric.
2. If using two pieces of fabric, place one on top of the other, right sides facing. Pin the long sides together and sew down each side with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. You will now have a long tube of fabric.
3. Reach your arm inside the tube (which is still inside out) and catch hold of the raw fabric edges at the other end of the tube. Still holding on to the fabric, pull your arm back out until you can match up the two circles of raw edges that make up the two ends of the tube, right sides facing. Pin the edges together. In doing this, you’ve basically created a shorter tube with two layers.
This is the trickiest part to understand, although it really isn’t hard at all to do. The geometry of it might not seem to make much sense, but just have faith that it will all work out! Here you can see more closely how the two short edges have been pinned together. If using two different fabrics, make sure that you’ve lined up the seams, shown here by two arrows.
Mark a space about 4″ (10 cm) wide along this edge with tailor’s chalk or by delimiting it with two double sets of pins (as seen above). This is where you’ll turn the scarf after sewing this second seam.
Iron open the seams before pinning the short sides together.
4. Slip the tube around the free arm of your sewing machine with the edge of the area marked for the turning space under the needle. (Not sure what a free arm is? Read about it here.)
5. Using a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance, sew all the way around the pinned tube opening, remembering to leave the turning space unsewn.
6. Stick your hand inside the space and grab the fabric at the bottom of the tube. Pull all the fabric out through the space so that you end up with a circular tube with right sides out.
Try the scarf on to make sure that it’s the width and length that you want. If necessary, turn it back wrong side out and sew it smaller.
7. Fold the edges of the opening inwards so that it creates one smooth edge. Iron it (I clearly didn’t iron for this example, but you’ll get better results if you do) and pin the edges together.
8. Use the ladder stitch to sew the opening closed. Take a look at my ladder stitch tutorial to find out how easy it is! You can hardly see where I handstitched the opening here (between the two arrows).
And that’s it! This is one case where I suggest NOT ironing the end product. I personally find that infinity scarves look better when puffed out and slightly scrunchy, because of the extra volume.
Now just wrap it around your neck two or three times (depending on how long you made it) and enjoy the extra warmth and style! When I wear my two-tone scarf, I also like to shift the seams joining the two colors to the center so that both colors are visible when twisted around.
I love the feel and elegance of the silk circle scarf!
Like I said before, I’ve made a bunch of these for myself and also for friends and family! Here are the matching scarves I made for Laura and Claudia of Le Pecione, again seen here at the Abilmente fair. Claudia’s children are modelling their upcycled fruit netting crocheted bags, which I gave to them with candy inside. (You can’t just give someone an empty bag, right?! Actually, I gave Laura and Claudia the two bags they’re holding, made from an upcycled sheet, with the scarves inside!)
When I was getting Christmas gifts ready this year, I got this lovely cut of loosely-knit white sweater fabric at my local market for a steal. You can’t tell from this picture, but one side has longer fibers, making the fabric super fuzzy and warm.
I turned this one cut into four infinity scarves, one of which you can see here on my sister-in-law, as she celebrates the New Year with my little boy. Because the knit is quite stretchy, it’s possible to twist it around the neck three times, making an incredibly cozy neckwarmer.
And don’t feel that you can only wear these scarves twisted around your neck. You can also wrap them around your shoulders as a capelet, or loop it over your head as a hood, as Laura shows us here!
Once you know how to make infinity scarves, you can get really creative. I refashioned an old shirt into this Spanish-style scarf and inserted some pompom trim between the long edges when sewing them together.
I love the pop of color the red pompoms give to an otherwise dull accessory! This scarf was conceived of as a spring accessory, and is therefore relatively short and narrow, but it looks great with a sweater or cardigan layered over it, too.
I’ve made others, too, that I’ve given away and don’t have pictures of, but the examples I’ve shown here give a pretty good idea at how versatile this technique is! What do you say, would you be interested in a second tutorial showing how to refashion shirts and other clothing into circle scarves, perhaps even how to insert trim like in this last version?
Now whip up a bunch of these super easy and fun accessories! They make fantastic gifts that can really be customized in so many ways! And as always, don’t forget to share pictures of your work on the Cucicucicoo Facebook page or in the Cucicucicoo Creations Flickr Group!
This tutorial on how to sew an infinity scarf is part of the syllabus of Cucicucicoo’s beginner’s sewing course!