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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Tutorial: 2 Ways to Upcycle Your Fleece Scarves

Fleece Scarves
Upcycle project alert!
Weather update: we might finally see an end to our deep freeze.

Those of you who are similarly affected are likely too cold to care, and those of you who never see cold probably don't know how to care, but the weather has played a role in my crafting choices over the past two weeks.

If you live anywhere where it gets cold in the winter, you probably have a collection of fringed fleece scarves. Quite possibly — as it is in my case — you don't get as much use out of them as you'd like.

For me, the main reason is that I have other scarves that are simply nicer and more fashionable.

Maybe it's time for an upcycle! Might you find your scarf more useful if you made this simple change... to turn it into a hoodie?

Scarf into hoodie tutorial by eSheep Designs
Maybe add a button to increase functionality...
This is quite literally the simplest of simple sewing projects to do, involving less than 12" or 30cm of sewing.

Simply take a scarf, fold it in half with wrong side out and sew a small curve from the edge of the fold and then straight along one side for 11", using an approximate 1/4" seam allowance.

Flip it right side out and you've got a hoodie. If desired, you could add a button and button hole — or maybe a toggle closure — to secure the two sides of the scarf in front and turn it into a chic pseudo "vest".

[By the way, I am illustrating these with fleece scarves, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't refashion flannel scarves in the same way.]

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Here it is in pictures. Step 1, fold the scarf in half. Make sure the ends are even or it will be noticeable later.

Scarf into hoodie tutorial by eSheep Designs
Fold scarf in half with wrong side OUT...

Step 2, measure 11" and clip one of the sides together.

Scarf into hoodie tutorial by eSheep Designs
Measure and clip...

Step 3, sew as shown, starting with a curve from the fold... so that the tip of the hood won't be too pointy. (Sorry about the change in scarves; I decided to go with this one instead!)

Scarf into hoodie tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew along the dashed line for a length of 11"...

Step 4, turn it right side out and your scarf has officially found new life as a hoody!

Scarf into hoodie tutorial by eSheep Designs
Ready to wear in a couple of minutes!

Now, because that was way too simple, let's do another. Here is a second way to upcycle a fleece scarf... turn it into a fringed cowl.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
Scarf turned into a cozy neck cowl...

I don't know about you — and again, this will depend on where you live and what your climate is — but quite often I wear scarves at home to keep warm. Instead of bulking up with extra sweaters, having my neck and shoulders covered in various ways usually does the trick. Both of these scarf "upcycles" are great options for staying warm indoors.

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Step 1 is to fold and stack the scarf into equal fourths, not including the length of the fringe. (I've magnified the area in question.) The right side of the scarf should be visible on top.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
You should wind up with two folds stacked on one side and
one fold inside the two fringed ends on the other...

Step 2, sew up the end with the fringe. Ensure that your needle is positioned far enough in so that the two fringed ends as well as the folded edge in between them will be caught in your stitching.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
Sew up the end with the fringe...

Step 3, spread out the resulting scarf with the fringes right side up in the middle as shown here.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
The double fringe is actually a nice effect...

Step 4, bring together the two remaining ends and then sew them together.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
Pin together the remaining ends and sew...

When done, the seam will be on the inside.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
Depending on the type of fleece, this may be quite thick, so take your time...

Flip it back right side out and you're done!

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
Ready to wear in a number of different ways...

Now you have an extra warm — after all, it's now doubled in thickness — cowl scarf that will stay around your neck. And despite how simple the item is, the fringe gives it versatility. Wear it in the front, at the side, or in the back.

Whatever edge you have at the front can be turned down, and the double-sided-ness means that you still have the right side of the fleece showing when you do so.

Scarf into cowl tutorial by eSheep Designs
An amazingly versatile upcycled scarf!

If you really want warmth, wear it like a hood/buff/snood over your head with the fringe part under your chin. (FYI: both scarves were in the 60" to 62" range, not including the fringe.)

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Now that you're raring to go and do some upcycling, let me share some technical stuff.

Having recently done a bit of sewing with fleece (as you'll see more of in a couple of weeks), I couldn't figure out why my sewing machine was "acting up" afterwards when I was trying to close up a simple pocket seam (in regular cotton). After checking various things, I ultimately changed the needle and voilá... problem solved! Apparently fleece is hard on your sewing machine needles. So change your needle to a new one if you haven't done so in awhile.

Because fleece is stretchy, I used a stretch stitch on these projects. That said, none of the seams run horizontally across the fabric, so a straight stitch should suffice.

Final consideration: fleece can leave behind a significant amount of "fuzz". Clean your machine after these projects. It's probably time anyway, right?


  1. Rochelle, this is a brilliant idea! I'd never even considered this, but I'm not surprised. It takes a very innovative mind to come up with an idea like this...yours! I don't wear hats, but I might wear one of these! Another thought is if you have an excess of scarves that you no longer wear, they could be upcycled and taken to local schools. Most schools have bins for kids to take what they need when they've forgotten at home or simply can't afford. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. What cool ideas for upcycling plain scarves! - and so simple too! We don't have any need for them here, but I'll keep them in mind for future holidays to cooler climes!
    Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas Rochelle!!

  3. Great idea ,I never thought of doing this( feeling pretty duh!). Our school children are not allowed to wear a scarf due to strangulation risk but this will be the ideal solution. I'm going to up cycle a bunch of my scarves and keep them on my bus (I'm a school bus driver) to give to children that need a covering Thanks very much for sharing with us.

    1. You're welcome, and I love your idea to keep some of these on hand for those cold days. I'd forgotten about the "new normal" in terms of no scarves for the safety of kids... good to know this is a usable alternative solution. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.


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