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Projects & Patterns

Sew an Instant Shrug with 2 Seams

Wraps, abbreviated cardigans, and all manner of shruggy little shoulder warmers keep showing up in the pages of fashion magazines and in stores. It’s not just because they’re stylish and attractive—they’re also perfect cover-ups for cool evenings out, over-air-conditioned offices, and just hanging around at home.

It’s a cinch to make one of these garments: All you need is a 1- by 1-1 ⁄ 2-yard rectangle of fabric with drape, and at least 25-percent stretch along the longer dimension (i.e., a 4-inch section of fabric will stretch to 5 inches). You’ll fold the fabric, make a couple of cuts and seams, finish the edges as desired, and be ready to wear your new “sweater.” With slightly different shaping, you can create the three different looks shown here. And don’t forget to think about adding trims around the edges, a closure at center front, or other embellishments to give your shrug
individual style.

One size fits all

The directions given here fit a woman’s size small to medium (sizes 4 to 12). It also fits larger sizes, but with less coverage in front and less fullness in back.

Dancer's sweater shrug
Dancer’s sweater.

Batwing shrug
Batwing shrug.

Mini kimono shrug
Mini kimono.

Each shrug begins with a rectangle of stretch fabric 50 inches wide by 30 inches long; all versions shown have approximately a 60-inch total body opening. To adjust the size, experiment with different proportions for the starting rectangle and the position of the seams:

  • For tall figures, increase the width, depth, and body opening.
  • For petite figures, decrease the width, depth, and body opening.
  • For plus sizes, increase the body opening.

pattern outline

Fold, cut, and sew

Fold the fabric in quarters

Fold the fabric lengthwise, then width-wise, resulting in a rectangle measuring 25 inches by 15 inches.

Cut the shrug into shape

Following the diagram, cut “sleeve” seams and body opening as directed, through all layers of the folded rectangle. For smooth curves, use a fashion ruler.

How to cut and sew a shrug diagram
The shrug can be altered depending on how you cut a sew the fabric.

Sew and hem the shrug

Sew the sleeve seams. Next, finish the sleeve hems, including the 21⁄2-inch cuff for the kimono. Also finish the body opening with one of the following:

  • Fold up the hem and stitch with a serged cover stitch, zigzag, or decorative stitch.
  • Serge or roll-hem the edge.
  • Bind the edges with bias fabric or fold-over elastic.
  • Sew stretch lace around the edges.
  • Leave the fabric’s selvage as is.


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