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Ruffle Scarf Tutorial

Thanks for all the positive comments on the ruffle scarves (previous post here)! I am so glad everyone likes them. This tutorial has been half done all week but with all the other Christmas stuff to do like addressing cards, baking and other sewing it took me a little longer than expected. December needs another week to get everything done. I think one of my New Years resolutions will to begin handmade Christmas presents in July to reduce some stress in December. But we will see if I actually stick to it.

Anyways enough complaining.... onto the tutorial.....

First, to give credit, I was originally inspired to make ruffle scarves and learned this technique at Burda Style (here). I have varied the directions for my personal tastes and added some techniques that worked for me. But....I am not a professional. I am a self taught sewer (sewist? not even sure of the correct word) and I am sure things I describe and picture would make the professionals cringe. But they work for me and I love to share them!

I tried to make this tutorial as detailed as possible (hence the length). However, some things are difficult to describe in words and pictures and I just did my best. Maybe next time I need a video tutorial...hmmmm....

There are many variations of the ruffle scarf and of the 5 hanging in the craft room currently all are slightly different. So this main tutorial will show you the technique which you can apply in many different ways (some of which I will show at the end).

Without further ado...Here is how to make a long double layered scarf-


Knit fabric (1 yard for this variation of the scarf)
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter (or scissors)
Thread (matching and non-matching)
Hand Sewing Needle
Sewing Machine
Straight Pins
Seam Ripper


1. Cut the fabric. The fabric I bought was 60 inches wide and I cut it running that way so I had 60 inch long strips that I would sew together to make longer strips. For this particular scarf I cut three strips 5 in wide and three strips 7 inches wide. (So 3- 5"x60" and 3- 7"x60")

Here is two of each size strip ready for the next step-

2. Thread a hand sewing needle with a piece of thread doubled that is about 60 in long. Use a color that is totally opposite of the color of the fabric. Tie a large knot in the end and sew a long basting stich down the middle of each strip.
It obviously does not have to be straight or even. Be careful not to get the long thread all knotted up. This happened to me many times when I was not being careful and it was incredibly frustrating to spend 10 minutes trying to untangle a knot and eventually having to cut it out and start over.

Use a long needle so that you can sew faster like this-
Sew to the end of the strip. If your thread is a little too short, don't worry.....just bunch up the fabric at the end.

3. Hold the end of the thread and push the fabric back to ruffle it. (pretend my 2nd hand is holding the white thread. It is impossible to take a picture by yourself with both your hands in it....believe me I tried)
Scrunch it ALL the way up (look at the top one)-

4. Pull the end with the unknotted thread back out to the desired length (like the top strip in the picture).

Typically for the "desired length" I shoot for half the length of the entire strip but you can modify that depending on how you want your ruffles to look. I measure the first strip as I am doing this step and then match the rest to the first one.

5. Keeping that length, spread the ruffles evenly along the length of the strip.

Don't worry about the ruffles being perfectly even. They will shift slightly through the next steps and besides the irregularity is what gives this scarf it's least that is what I tell myself.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 with all of the strips. Cut the thread and knot it on all the strips to secure the length.

7. Sew with a straight stitch on the sewing machine the ends of two 5" strips together to make one long strip. Sew the other 5" strip end to that long strip to make an even longer strip. Repeat the same process with the 7" strips so that you now have two long strips.

In order to sew the ends together, it helps to move the ruffles just slightly away from the end and flatten it out. After it is sewn, you can move the ruffles back. Make sure the scarf does not get twisted during this step so you can keep all your seams on the same underside (been there and done that).

8. Now it is time for the most difficult part in my opinion.....securing the ruffle with the sewing machine. Since you are working with knits, put a ball point needle in your machine. You will basically be sewing over the basting stitch with a sewing machine straight stitch (using a thread matching the color of the scarf) to secure the ruffles.

Start at one end of the scarf, backstitch, and the stitch all the way to the other end.

So what is tricky about that? Well, feeding the ruffles evenly and making sure that when they are stitched that the sewing machine does not flatten them out is the trick. I tried many techniques (and ripped many seams) trying to figure out the best way to do this and I think I finally got it. This may not work for you or your machine, but it is what worked for me.

First, go slowly. The ruffles will shift with the movement into the machine and the scarf through it, so you will need to constantly readjust them slightly. As the material is going through the machine, hold BOTH sides of the ruffles down with your hands like this-
Press down firmly (can you see my hand muscles bulging?) and guide the section through the machine without moving your hands until the section that your hands is touching is through. Release your foot from the foot pedal to stop the needle, reposition the ruffles in the next section and reposition your hands to do it again.

Again, this is the technique that I found that worked the best. I also tried not lowering the presser foot on the machine because it was unbunching the ruffles. This failed miserably because the material was not feeding through. So I learned that I needed the presser foot to be down.

9. Repeat with the other scarf length.

10. OK now the difficult part is over. Take the seam ripper and get rid of the basting thread. This is why you should use an opposite that you can tell which is which.
11. Lay both lengths of scarves on a large surface to see if they are still a similar length after securing the ruffles. They will probably be a little off, but that is OK.
12. Set up the 5" scarf on top of the 7" scarf and center along the seam line. If the lengths are a little off, center it so that you are off equally on both sides. Pin the narrower scarf to the wider scarf at the seam line all down the length of the scarf.

13. Sew the two scarves together along the seam line. Because the ruffles are already secured this is so much easier and requires no special technique. Just make sure the bottom ruffle end does not get folded in and sewn into the seam.

14. Use a scissors to round off the square ends if you wish. In this pic all the ends were rounded except the top left so that you could see the difference.
Align Left
Ta-Da! A thick, double-layered ruffle scarf.

Not so hard huh? The one thing I might do differently next time with this scarf is use 2 60" lengths for each layer instead of 3. I wanted a long scarf so I went with three and it turned out a little too long.

Now for some easy variations-

1. Just don't sew the layers together....just make a single layer and wear it alone-
Less fabric and less time but still tons of style (but unfortunately you still have to complete the most difficult step.)

2. Do a single layer but have two ruffle seams running through it. So your hand-sewn stitch would look like this-
Using the same techniques described in the tutorial the finished product will look like this (only in green instead of purple)-
The green fabric finished product is ten inches wide but you also play with the width. This scarf is flatter than the double layer one because it is only one layer of ruffles.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and it inspired you to make your own ruffle scarves. Comment or email me with questions or pics of finished products....I would love to see and feature them.

17 comments on "Ruffle Scarf Tutorial"
  1. Thanks so much for the tutorial!! What a gorgeous many days left until Christmas? Maybe I can still squeeze this in! :-)

  2. This is fab! The BEST scarf tutorial I've seen. Thanks so much for sharing and I can't wait to make one for myself and my sister!

  3. I love ruffled scarves and yours turned out great!

  4. This is an excellent tutorial. I've already used it to make 3 scarves and hope to finish another in time for Christmas.

  5. This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing it. I plan to make one (or more) for a Christmas present this year. I better hurry!

  6. SWOON! be still my little heart, that looks so lovely :)

    ~ Emily N. from "too Blessed to Stress"

  7. I JUST finished my scarf and LOVE it! Thank you so much for sharing! : )

  8. I love this tutorial. It is so detailed and your scarf is beautiful! Just curious, can i do the basting stitch on my machine or does it have to be hand sewn? Thanks!

  9. I found this by accident. I think it's gorgeous. I have a scarf on my "To-make" list. I think I'll try this one. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Jenny---this tutorial is GREAT!
    I linked to it in a post today. If you'd like me to remove it for any reason, let me know.
    This is a really fun blog-I can't wait to browse through your archives.

  11. What a lovely scarf!!
    I'm working NOW on a scarf like that. your tutorial is really great~!

  12. Great job on the step-by-step instructions! Have you ever done it with another type of fabric, like a flowier, lighter one? Just wondering...found this on Pinterest & it's great! Going to get the fabric tomorrow. :o)

  13. We really appreciated your tutorial. We made one out of an old skirt we cut off. Here's how ours turned out.

  14. This is really great!!! I'm going to try it!!! Thanks for the directions!!!

  15. I am anxious to try it. Thanks so much for the tutorial.

  16. love it! am going to make it with two patterns of the same color scheme of homespun...for christmas 2012....thanks soooo much!

  17. NICE !! thank you so much for the tutorial ..