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T-Shirt Scarf Tutorial

Updated on November 20, 2016
Your favorite old t-shirts can find new life as a fun scarf.
Your favorite old t-shirts can find new life as a fun scarf. | Source

Give New Life to Old T-Shirts!

Do you have some favorite old t-shirts that are too worn to wear but you're keeping for their sentimental value? You know, all those great old concert t-shirts and souvenirs from fun trips that you can't bear to give or throw away? We all have them. Give your favorite old t-shirts new life by turning them into a cozy, funky patchwork scarf. Here is everything you need to know for this easy and fun project.

What You'll Need

For this project, you will need:

  • 7-14 old, adult-sized t-shirts (lightweight sweatshirts also work)
  • Plastic quilter's ruler
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat (if using a rotary cutter)
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needle for hand-sewing

Getting Started

First, gather the required number of t-shirts. To make a scarf that is 10-inches wide and 70-inches long, you will need 7 to 14 t-shirts or lightweight sweatshirts. If you will be using the front and backs of all t-shirts, you will need seven, to make 14 squares. For an 80-inch-long scarf, you will need a minimum of eight t-shirts, front and back, to make 16 squares. Some t-shirts may be large enough to cut two squares from each side.

Selecting the T-Shirts

One of the great things about this project besides its ease is its versatility. You can use those old t-shirts that have special sentimental value and make a memory scarf. You can shop at the thrift store for t-shirts that have fun prints or a common color scheme or that fit a particular theme. You can make a tailgating scarf using t-shirts with your favorite team’s logos and colors. You can make a scarf with a holiday theme or vacation theme. The possibilities are endless.

Tip: I recommend using a combination of t-shirt fronts and backs, prints and solids. If the printing on the t-shirts is stiff and scratchy, you will want to use the softer fabric from the unprinted side of the t-shirt for the part of the scarf that will wrap around the nape of your neck.

Launder and dry all t-shirts before continuing.

Cutting the Squares

Cut the desired number of 11-inch squares from whatever parts of the t-shirts you want to use.

The easiest way to cut squares from the t-shirts is using a quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter. If using a rotary cutter, you also will need a rotary mat to protect your work surface. (See "Tools for Making Your T-Shirt Scarf" below.)

A quilter’s ruler is a square plastic template. Because the ruler is see-through, you can position it over exactly that portion of the t-shirt print that you would like to use. Once the template is positioned, simply cut around it using the rotary cutter.

Tools for Making Your T-Shirt Scarf

Omnigrip 10-1/2-Inch-by-10-1/2-Inch Non-Slip Quilter's Ruler
Omnigrip 10-1/2-Inch-by-10-1/2-Inch Non-Slip Quilter's Ruler

Use a quilter's ruler to make the pattern for your squares.

 
Fiskars 45mm Contour Rotary Cutter (195210-1001)
Fiskars 45mm Contour Rotary Cutter (195210-1001)

A rotary cutter makes it easy to cut the squares for your scarf.

 
OLFA 24" x 36" Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat
OLFA 24" x 36" Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat

If using a rotary cutter, a rotary mat will protect your cutting surface.

 

Using a Quilter's Ruler and Rotary Cutter:

Source


If you don't have a rotary cutter and mat, another option is to position the quilter's ruler on the t-shirt and then trace around it with a pencil. Using the pencil marking as a guide, cut out the square with a sharp scissors. This method works best for lighter-colored t-shirts because it may be difficult to see the pencil markings on dark fabric. For dark fabrics, use white chalk.

Using a Quilter's Ruler and Pencil:

Source


If you do not have a quilter's ruler, you can make your own square template using cardboard or paper. If using paper as a template, it may be easiest to pin the paper to the t-shirt to avoid having the paper slip as you cut around it.


Arranging the Squares

On a large work surface or the floor, lay out the squares in two parallel columns of seven (or eight) two-square rows. One column will form the front side of the scarf and the other will form the back side of the scarf. Switch direction of the squares after the halfway point of the two columns so the prints are oriented correctly when both ends of the finished scarf are hanging down around your neck (as shown in the pictures below).

Arrange the squares into a pleasing pattern. You may want to avoid using two squares with thick, heavy prints in the same row as the double thickness may cause the finished scarf to be too stiff.

Here are two examples:


Source

Scarf 1

For this scarf, I used a total of 10 t-shirts. I used mostly the printed sides of the shirts, including a Bruce Springsteen 1993 World Tour t-shirt, which was printed on both sides, but included a couple of solid squares at the neck.. The teal Steamboat t-shirt was large enough for three 11-inch squares.

Source

Scarf 2

For my Iowa Hawkeye tailgating scarf, I used two lightweight sweatshirts (fronts and backs) and seven t-shirts, including two solid black shirts. (Iowa's school colors are black and gold.) For two of the t-shirts, I used the printed side only. The plain backs of those shirts will find new life as dust clothes.






Sewing the Scarf

Working one column at a time, pin the top of the bottom square (Square 1) to the bottom of the next square (Square 2), right sides together. Using a sewing machine (see video below for tips and how-to), sew across the width of the squares, leaving a one-half inch seam allowance.

Source


Next, pin the top of Square 2 to the bottom of Square 3, again with right sides together, and sew together with a one-half inch seam allowance. Repeat with the remaining squares of the first column. To reverse the pattern at the half-way point, pin the squares together at the tops and sew, then pin bottom to top for the remaining squares. Always make sure you are sewing with right sides together.

Repeat this process with the second column.

When you have completed both columns, use an iron to press open all seam allowances.

You now will have two panels that are each 70-inches long. Pin the panels together with right sides facing in. Sew around all sides, leaving a half-inch seam allowance and a three-inch opening on one end of the scarf.

Turn the scarf right-side out through the opening at the end. Use a needle and thread to slipstitch the opening closed.

Enjoy your new scarf!

Source

Sewing Machine Basics

Not sure how to operate a sewing machine? This helpful video will show you how.

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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I could make a country music scarf with all my tshirts! Dave has a bunch of FSU tshirts and they would make a nice scarf, now if I could only figure out how to use a sewing machine without jamming up the thread. One day. Thanks for the video :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      I love the idea of a country music scarf, Linda! I can't wait to wear my Hawkeye scarf to an Iowa football tailgater next fall. I bet Dave would love an FSU one. And if I can figure out a sewing machine, I'm sure you can, too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Trust me, I can't figure it out. I'm still old school...needle and thread :)

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 3 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I can't sew worth a darn (see what I did there?) Anyway, I wish I had kept my old 80s concert t-shirts. I have also seen them stretched over canvases and framed. Great idea.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wonderful idea, Deb. I'm all for anything recycled. Bravo! Now if you could make a Washington Husky scarf, please, I will wear it proudly. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Love the pun, Uninvited Writer. I found a lot of different uses for old t-shirts. Would still like to make a quilt someday but that will really be pushing my capabilities as a sewer. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      I knew you'd approve of my recycling, Bill. Just send me your old Huskies t-shirts and I will be happy to make you a scarf. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      What a great idea! Now I will be foraging around for old t shirts to give this a go! I love the idea of making your own, wonderful!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, Nell! I really love my scarf. It looks really cute over a simple sweater with jeans and boots.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great stuff. I really liked this and shared it. But honey lady, your numbers are off a bit around here. I am XXL and so be my shirts. My wife and daughter are petite and pp petite. So we will adjust to just cut out the fun stuff and leave the rest on the sewing room floor.

    • oldiesmusic profile image

      oldiesmusic 3 years ago from United States

      This hub is exact... I have various tye-dyed shits. They're excellent for scarves! Thanks for sharing your very clever ideas. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Eric, I'm sure you can cut a few extra squares out of your XXL shirts. : ) And the parts of the shirt you don't use will make great dust clothes. Thanks for reading and sharing. Have a great day.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, oldiesmusic. I have an old tie-died t-shirt from college (when I was going through my hippie phase) that I was going to use in my scarf. The colors would have worked perfectly with the other shirts. But I just couldn't bring myself to cut it up. But I do think a scarf made from different tie-dyed shirts would be really cool. Maybe I will have to look for some at a thrift store. Thanks for commenting.

    • Cynthianne profile image

      Cynthianne Neighbors 3 years ago

      What a neat idea! :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love the concept for these scarves! So creative. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an interesting idea. I love that you have included directions.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      This is an excellent way to recyle all those old t's that just get tossed out. I have a few that may make quite an interesting scarf to go with my casual attire.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      What a great idea! Your scarf looks so pretty and your instructions are great.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What an awesome idea to use all those memorabilia t shirts! I love it Shared, shared, pinned!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      What a clever and fun project! I wish I'd read this before donating a stack of old t-shirts to charity. I really like the colorful look of your DIY scarf!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      What a great idea! I love the idea of repurposing, and have been meaning to save some of my older shirts for projects such as this.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great weekend.

      Voted up, sharing and pinning.

      ~ Kathryn

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 3 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      This is awesome! Interesting DIY project. I am sharing this.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful and interesting hub!

      It's a great idea to recycle or repurpose old clothes. And this looks attractive too.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      I've seen similar scarves for sale, but had no idea how I could make my own. This is such a great project - I love your photos and instructions. I bet t-shirts make a really soft and comfy scarf. Must try this!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Cynthianne. Glad you like the idea.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, randomcreative. I really enjoyed your t-shirt hub, too. It gave me lots more ideas!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading, KoffeeKlatch Gals. I hope you are inspired to give it a try!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, teaches. I hope you give it a go with your old t-shirts!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, Dolores. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my little project.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks you, Rebecca, for reading, sharing and pinning. Glad you like the idea.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, vespawoolf. Start saving up those t-shirts again. (And the thing about old t-shirts is that even when you give a stack away, there always seems to be more!)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Hi Kathryn. There are a lot of great uses for old t-shirts. I hope you give my project or one of the others a try. Thanks for sharing and pinning!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for sharing, Anamika!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, Chitrangada. I love finding new uses for old things instead of throwing them out. And I have to say I was pretty pleased with how this project turned out!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, purl! Yes, the scarf is soft and lightweight, too. I can see myself wearing it well into the spring.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      Love this project and I always have loads of tshirts around. Nice hub!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great creativity and a way to keep using the old T-shirts you used to love. Thank you for sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Well, I hate to repeat what others have already said but, this is a great idea. I fairly simple project and one we can all do .... certainly the tee shirt part, the rest will come with practice. Nothing like making those old tee shirts new again ;)

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, shared and pinned.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      This is such a creative project. And being someone who regularly uses scarves to keep warm during the 6 months of cold and snow here, this is really going to come in handy!

    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      thebiologyofleah 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Like some other commenters I wish I kept more of my old t-shirts so I could put this great idea to use! What a great conversation piece of clothing and I bet having the old, worn in cotton against your neck is great.

      Thanks for sharing this great idea and the how-to along with it!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan. I really have enjoyed your recycled denim hubs so I'm glad you liked mine!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Ms. Dora.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Appreciate the comment, pin and shares, tillsontitan. Hope I've given you an idea you can use someday.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Six months of cold and snow is about right, VVanNess. Not sure where you are, but we had wind chills of -30 to -40 today. Thank goodness for my scarf. Hope you make one of your own.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and commenting, thebiologyofleah. I hope you give it a go. Yes, t-shirts make a great scarf. Comfortable and the perfect weight.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Nice job recycling and repurposing. Many of us have too many t-shirts anyhow. Pinning this!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for commenting and pinning, FlourishAnyway. T-shirts do seem to have a way of accumulating on you.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub and one for me to vote up plus save.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, Eddy. Glad you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful evening.

    • FreezeFrame34 profile image

      FreezeFrame34 3 years ago from Charleston SC

      Love this idea! Can't wait to try it with an old tye-dyed shirt!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      I think tie-dye shirts would work great for this project, FreezeFrame. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I love this hub such a good idea. I would thank teens would really like this. Voted up and shared.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I get a lot of compliments on my scarf whenever I wear it.

    • Jenny30 profile image

      Jennifer 3 years ago from Canada

      This is awesome! I love wearing scarves! Pretty neat way to make a scarf I have to say!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Recycled and repurposed: How to make a scarf out of old t-shirts has a great idea.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and commenting, DDE. I'm glad you like my idea.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, what a creative idea for old tee shirts! Thanks for the great instructions. I will start gathering all my old tee shirts and what I can come up with for sure.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings,

      Faith Reaper

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Faith Reaper. Hope you give my project a try.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      I think I've already read this hub, but I still love it. Very creative!!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thank you for for coming back to reread, VVanNess.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Awesome, the result seams great:) Really creative, thx for sharing!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, kerlund. It's a fun project; I'm currently working on my third one, which I am donating to a silent auction fundraiser for the local school.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful and original hub.

      Voted up and thanks for sharing.

      Eddy.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thank you, Eddy. I had tons of fun with this project. The third scarf I made (not pictured here) will be part of a silent auction for a school fundraiser this Saturday. I used t-shirts with the school's logo and colors, and the scarf turned out really cute. I can't wait to see how much it goes for!

    • profile image

      Rozalyn Winters 3 years ago

      What an awesome idea! :-)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for reading, Rozalyn.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      This is a great idea and I would love to have colorful scarves. Thank you for sharing this creative lens. Voted up.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Thank you for reading and voting, Vellur. I made two of these scarves for myself and donated the third to a charity auction. And I have even more t-shirts saved to make another one!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      This is such a creative and amazing idea! If only I could sew. I'm gonna watch the video and see what I can learn. I would just love to be able to make a scarf like this. I certainly have enough t-shirts :) Thanks and voted up ++++ and sharing along with pinning.

      Happy thoughts to you Deborah - Audrey

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      Wow, great hub! Really detailed and helpful!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, Audrey. The beauty of this project is that it takes minimal sewing skills. And I mean the bare minimum! If I can make three of them, I am confident you can make one. Best of luck to you. Thanks for sharing!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks, DealForALiving. Glad you found it to be helpful.

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 2 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      You outdid yourself with good instructions and great ideas. My wife makes throw blankets out of old T shirts and has just finished one with Harley Davidson theme for her brother. I am forwarding this to her. Good hub.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      This is a great idea, never thought about making scarves out of T-Shirts. Unique and creative, thank you for sharing.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I love this idea! I have so many T shirts I have kept over the years because they were very special. I have made pillow tops for some of them, but I only use one shirt. A scarf would utilize many shirts!

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow, you really can turn old shirts into a beautiful scraf

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 2 years ago from USA

      I'm one of those people who rarely throws out an old t-shirt. Love, love, love the idea of recycling my favorites into a great scarf! Your instructions and photos for this project are great!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      What a smart idea to reuse those old t-shirt we do not wear.

      Those would be nice warm scarves. Useful hub!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 2 years ago from South Carolina

      Awesome!!! Love the fact that they can be made into themes that include wonderful lifetime memories.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image
      Author

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks to you all for reading and commenting. I hope I have given you some ideas for repurposing your old T-shirts!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      What a clever way to turn an old favorite tshirt into a keepsake. I know if someone gave me one, it would be a piece of art I would hang from a coatrack or somewhere to display it so it would not wear out :D

      Love this idea.

      Voted up shared pinned g+ twitter

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Love these ideas Deborah. Clever ones for any holiday or special occasion. What a smart idea! Voted up for awesome. Congrats on Editor's Choice from last year.

    • profile image

      Jack Smith 6 months ago

      nice idea I like it

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