Tuesday 29 November 2011

Tutorial: How To Make a Cowl Neck Scarf

This tutorial may be of use to you if you A) have some spare jersey or knit fabric hanging about and you're not sure what to do with it, or B), you've got some people to make Christmas presents for and you are in a hurry! This cowl neck scarf is basically two tubes of fabric joined together. You can use jersey or knit fabric, or a couple of T-shirts, sweatshirts or knit jumpers (or a cunning combination of two of those things). In this tutorial I use an overlocker (serger) to construct it, but you can use a regular sewing machine. I would recommend that you test out stitching your intended fabric with whichever machine you plan to use before you begin. Here's how to make a cowl neck scarf...

Step 1:

This scarf basically consists of two rectangles of fabric (or four which you must stitch together to make two). The dimensions are totally up to you, but for the cowl neck scarves pictured in this post (there are a couple of knit versions pictured at the end) the initial rectangles measured 76 cms wide and 42 cms deep. For my version pictured above I used a light-weight drapey jersey, but thicker fabrics can also give a fantastic (and more snuggly) result. As you can see, I just drew my measurements straight onto the fabric, no pattern. Told you this is a quick project.

Step 2:

after cutting out, you will have two rectangles the same size. Make each rectangle into a tube by stitching the two shorter edges together, right sides together.

Step 3:

What did I tell you? Two tubes!!! (I know, this isn't really a step!). Remember, the right side of the fabric is currently inside the tubes. Keep it that way for a minute.

Step 4:

To make life easier for yourself when matching up the edges later, make little notches (no more than 0.5 cms) by snipping at the top and bottom of the raw edge at the other end from where the stitching is.

Step 5:

Now you have to join the two tubes together at one end of the cowl. Turn one of the tubes through so the right side of your fabric is on the outside. Put this turned through tube inside the other, matching up the stitching seams and the two little notches. Pin these together around the circle of raw edges.

Step 6:

Sew the tubes together as you just pinned them. Remember to take the pins out as you go before they reach the needle or blade!!

Step 7:

Now the two tubes are attached. Don't worry about trimming your loose ends too much, they are going to get hidden inside the final cowl neck scarf.

Step 8:

Now pull the tube out to make one long tube. Make sure you pull it out with the right side of the fabric inside the tube.

Step 9:

The next couple of steps may require a bit of a leap of faith, they may not make sense so you're going to have to trust me! Problem is, this bit is really tricky to describe. If the instructions don't make sense at first read, it is likely they will make far more sense when you read them with the half-made thing in your hands.

Hold both ends of the tube at the edge where the stitching lines finish. See where my boss is holding it in the picture above? Take hold of yours at these two points. Bring the two points you are holding closer together. They are going to meet up, but before you put them together, you need to fold the edges in a bit so that it is the right sides of the fabric that touch. (See picture below.)

Step 10:

Put them together to make those two points meet. It will help to use a pin to keep them together for a bit.

Step 11:

Now you have those two points together, with their edges tucked inside, all held together with a pin. Turn this area round so that you can see the raw edges (see picture below). Now put a second pin in to keep these raw edges together. Take out the first pin. The whole cowl neck scarf at this point will look all twisted and wrong. Don't worry, it's meant to be like that at this point. Where you have just put this new pin to hold those raw edges together, that's going to be the beginning of the next line of stitching. Matching your corresponding final two notches along the raw edge, you need to sew the last circle of raw edges together LEAVING AN OPENING FOR TURNING THROUGH (i.e. stop this sewing before you meet up with where you started this row of sewing!). This gap should be at least 10cms long.

Step 12:

Now the whole damn thing will look all screwy and twisted up, like the picture below. At the left you can see the seam edges I just stitched together in Step 11. The loose overlocking threads indicate where I left an opening.

Step 13:

Now the magic bit... Reach through the gap and pull it all through so that the right sides of your fabric are now on the outside and all your stitching is inside.

Step 14:

Pin the opening closed.

Step 15:

Stitch the opening closed neatly by hand, or quickly with a regular sewing machine like I did below:

Step 16:

Admire your handiwork!!!

As I mentioned before, this basic method can be applied to all sorts of stretchy (non woven) fabric. The scarf below was made with an old jumper for the outside and snakeskin printed jersey for the inside.

This cowl neck scarf was made using a few fine but very soft grey jumpers. The subtle differences in shade make a really nice effect. If you have some old knitwear, you could try combining two different ones for a toasty warm way to reuse unwanted garments.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions and/or you need me to clarify something. Happy making!!!


Sheeprustler said...

Hey, I love this! You could also patchwork some varying pieces of stretch fabric together for a wilder look! So going to try this.

charlotte said...

this is so on my list of things to do I wear scarfs all year round. I may even make one as a christmas present for my sister! I remeber a while back that you made a running top, you may be interested in a showcase/ project I have just started call ed Sew Active have a look on my blog http://charlottesewfarsewgood.blogspot.com/2011/11/sew-active-project.html

Sigrid said...

These look great! Funny, but I just unvented a similar cowl with leftovers from a skirt. I think I might have a slightly different technique. I'll try and figure it out!

Ali said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing. Btw, thanks for your post on how you consume, I've been thinking a lot about these things lately too :)

Emma said...

Zoe, you rock. My sister asked for a cowl scarf for Christmas and I had no idea where to start - couldn't believe it when you posted this just at the time I needed it! However, I now hold you entirely responsible for making me a cowl-making-obsessive. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Made two from an old dress I found at a fair (quite nautical in style - I think you'd approve!), one of which is now glued to my husband permanently, one for me. Then, made three...actually, no... FOUR for my sister, as I couldn't decide which one she'd prefer. Gave her two (winter and summer!), hubby begged for the other and sister-in-law was also the lucky recipient of a Christmas cowl. Looking forward to more tutorials this year so I can expand beyond making things for necks. ;) Thanks! x

Zoe said...

@Emma, thanks so much!!! I'm so happy the tutorial became so useful to you, you totally made my day! Sounds like you were on fire making those cowl scarves

Zoe xxx

Emese said...

Thank you, you saved my life with this tute'!

Anonymous said...

I followed your directions and the scarf turned out great! Thanks especially for the special help in the tricky parts, I just had faith it would work out & it did! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am going to try to make your cowl scarf and am confused already. How large do I cut each rectangle? Sorry I'm a pattern person.

Jo said...

Thanks! I've made one for my son today.. Just back in Bruges ;)

Dressmaking Fabrics said...

Just finished mine which is perfect for the current weather since we are currently experiencing extreme coldness due to winter season.

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