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How to Make a Cowl Scarf

Whether in drapy fabric (left) or a textile with body (right), the cowl scarf frames the face beautifully.
The finished scarf
Arrange the fabrics, right sides together, and cut.
Whether in drapy fabric (left) or a textile with body (right), the cowl scarf frames the face beautifully.

Whether in drapy fabric (left) or a textile with body (right), the cowl scarf frames the face beautifully.

Photo: Mike Yamin

In Threads no. 60, Karen Morris showed how to make a charming, retro-inspired cowl scarf. Based on a vintage 1950s "smoke ring" scarf, this accessory pulls on over the head and automatically falls into a face-framing, comfortable style. There's no need to master tricky scarf-tying techniques.

Many fabrics work for this scarf, from sheers with body or with drape to slithery silk velvet to polyester fleece. You can make it with two different fabrics for a reversible scarf, or place the upper edge on the fabric fold for a single-textile piece. One yard of fabric makes two scarves, so you can sew one for yourself and one to give away.

Cut one or two layers of fabric, sew a couple of seams, and you're finished. It's important to keep track of the fabric grain when cutting: Be sure the pattern is placed correctly on the bias. This ensures that the finished scarf drapes beautifully.

SUPPLIES
Fabric:

  • For a single-fabric scarf, 1 yard of 60-inch-wide fabric makes two scarves.
  • For a two-fabric scarf, use 3/4 yard of two fabrics, 60 inches wide; each fabric makes two scarf halves.

Gridded pattern paper

Thread to match fabric

PATTERN

The pattern includes 1/2-inch-wide seam allowances on all sides.

pattern

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS

1 Enlarge the pattern. Draft it to measure on gridded patternmaking paper, so that the gridlines are 2 inches apart. To make a complete pattern, place the center-front line on the fold of another piece of paper, trace around it, and cut both layers. Mark the grainline and the center front.

2 Cut the fabric. For a two-fabric scarf, layer the fabrics with right sides together. Position the top edge on the bias.

For a single-fabric scarf, cut off or fold down the 1/2-inch-wide seam allowance along the top edge. Fold the fabric on the bias, with right sides together, and place the top edge on the fold. In both cases, pin the fabric layers together and cut.
organza layers

 

3 Sew the top edge. If you're making a single-fabric scarf with the top edge on a fold, skip to step 4. If you're using two fabrics, sew the upper edge, with right sides together. Stretch it slightly as you stitch, so there's some give. Trim the seam allowances and press them to one side. If your fabric is sheer, trim the fabric close to the stitching and finish the allowances with a picot stitch or a small zigzag. Opaque fabrics don't need a seam finish.

 

TIP: Control shifty fabric.

If your fabric is unstable or slips around as you handle it, keep the pattern pinned to the layers for the first few steps. Fold the pattern edges back to expose the seamline, and pin it around the edges and throughout the center of the piece. Sew the upper edge and V point, then remove the pattern.

4 Sew the V seams. With right sides together, sew from center back to center front on one side, then turn the work over and repeat on the other side. Clip the point, trim the seam allowances, press them flat, then to one side. scarf with v-seams shown

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CarolFresia

Comments (5)

Bordeaux35 Bordeaux35 writes: I am usually pretty god at figuring out how to read pattern, but this one...I just can't make the measurements work.
The way the arrow shows straight of grain on the pattern??
is the 22" fold, center front on the bias?
I wish there would have been a video, or a bit better explanations.aybe I'm too dense :-(
Can someone clarify this one? Thanks.

A..
Posted: 3:37 pm on November 20th

redmaria redmaria writes: I loved this pattern when it originally came out, and I'm so happy to see it again, with updated fabric ideas. For a variation, it also hangs beautifully with a smoothed curve instead of a V.
Posted: 1:04 pm on October 11th

rosiedoodle rosiedoodle writes: I like the smoke ring plan for the scarf, but I will have to make a few changes. I only have 1/4 yd of 60 inch wide light silk, in muted autumn shades. The predominate color is burgundy, and I have purchased some silk in burgandy to make a set. I will probably play with the idea of a soft lining or ultra thin batt to give it a little body. But I hadn't thought of putting it on the bias before. Good idea, for a nice drape.
Posted: 7:46 pm on September 1st

rosiedoodle rosiedoodle writes: I like the smoke ring plan for the scarf, but I will have to make a few changes. I only have 1/4 yd of 60 inch wide light silk, in muted autumn shades. The predominate color is burgundy, and I have purchased some silk in burgandy to make a set. I will probably play with the idea of a soft lining or ultra thin batt to give it a little body. But I hadn't thought of putting it on the bias before. Good idea, for a nice drape.
Posted: 7:46 pm on September 1st

EmilyBint EmilyBint writes: Oh, good idea! The fabric should be elastic, though, right?
Posted: 5:16 am on September 1st

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