An infinity scarf is the perfect beginner sewing project. It’s a great fashion accessory and makes a great gift, those holidays are sneaking up so let’s get started.
2 Yards of Fabric – Anything that has a good drape, cotton voile, shirting, lawn, rayon, knits. For your fabric needs, check out www.peekaboofabricshop.com.
Hand Sewing Needle
Scissors, Sewing Machine, Ruler, Pins, Iron
What is an Infinity Scarf
An infinity scarf is a long circular scarf that is worn around the neck and either left long, or wrapped a second time around the neck creating the “infinity.” It is most often made of fabrics that have a good flow or drape. It can be either woven or knit fabric. I searched my stash and found three perfect candidates, a medium weight cotton knit, a cotton shirting and a cotton voile (two different woven fabrics.) I had two yards of each of these fabrics. Woven fabrics are usually 44″-45″ wide, with two yards you will be able to make two scarves out of this one piece of fabric. Knit fabrics will vary from 55″-63″ wide and you will be able to cut out three scarves from the two yards. Once you have decided on fabric it is time to get to work.
Start by cutting off the selvedges on the fabric. The selvedge is the tightly woven strip on each side of the fabric. One side usually has printed information and the other usually looks like the fabric with a bunch of holes and possibly a fuzzy edge. I usually cut 3/4″ off these sides, removing the selvedge and a little bit of the fabric. If you are using two yards of fabric, the selvedge will be two yards long, it runs the length of the fabric. We will continue cutting in this same direction, we need the two yards in their entirety to make the correct length scarf.
The width of the scarf is up to your personal preference. I find if you take the remaining fabric and cut it in half (roughly 19″ – 22″ wide) it is just right. If you prefer or want to have a narrower scarf you can cut it narrower but keep in mind the fabric is folded in half and sewn. A 21″ wide piece of fabric will end up with a roughly 10″ wide scarf. I cut my two woven fabrics (the shirting and voile) in half exactly after removing the selvedges and ended up with (4) 21″ x 2 yards pieces of fabric. This will make 4 scarves. My knit fabric was 56″ wide, so I cut (3) 18″ x 2 yards pieces of fabric (after selvedge was removed.) This will make 3 scarves. Using this method creates no wasted fabric, you use every single bit.
The hardest part is over, let’s start sewing!
The first step is to fold (right sides together) the width in half. If working with a 20″ x 2 yard piece, you will fold the 20″ in half creating a 10″ x 2 yard piece of fabric. You are creating a long tube. Pin the raw edges (the photo above.) If you are using a knit and the edges are curling, iron them to help them to stay flat.
Using a 3/8″ seam, sew down the entire length of the tube. If you own a serger, use it, if not and sewing a knit fabric make sure to use the stitch that looks like a little lightning bolt. If using a woven fabric use a straight stitch with a 2.5 length, back-stitch at both ends.
Once you have sewn that one seam, open up the tube and shift the seam into the middle. On the woven (the blue fabric on the left, above) I pressed my seam open. On the knit (BW fabric to the right, above) I ironed the serged seam to one side.
I like to start pinning and sewing from the middle, working toward each end. It helps to keep the fabric straight and easier to line up all the way to the ends. Even then sometimes my ends don’t come out perfect, as shown above. If this happens, just trim that edge straight again once you are done ironing.
Time for the fun to begin! Insert your arm into the tube, pushing the fabric all the way on your arm until your hand comes out the other end. I like to keep the seam up where I can see it, taking care not twist it. Take hold of the seam end (shown above,) grab it and start pulling it inside of the tube until the end you are holding comes out of the end that was first put on your arm. Your arm should now be free from the fabric tube.
Once you have the tube off of your arm it will look something like this. The photo above shows the two raw ends of the tube to the right. The fabric tube is roughly 1 yard now as half of the tube is tucked inside the other half, with right sides together. You are still looking at the wrong side of the fabric.
At this point in the tutorial I will show you two different methods to create two variations on your infinity scarf. The first variation is keeping the tube/scarf flat. This is my preferred method when sewing with woven fabrics. The scarf is worn long around the neck it is one smooth tube, then when twisted a second time it creates the “infinity” around the neck. The second variation twists the tube before it is sewn together. This is my preferred method when sewing with knits. When the scarf is worn long around the neck it already has a twist in it. You can then twist it a second time around the neck to create the “infinity” around the neck.
I personally think woven fabrics hang better around the neck with the first (flat) variation. Knit fabrics hang better around the neck with the second (twist) variation. You can experiment with both and decide for yourself.
Now that the tube is off of your arm, line up the raw edges and match the seams. Take care not to twist the tube. Pin around the raw edges. You will be sewing in a circle. You need to leave a 3″ – 4″ opening along this seam line. One of my favorite tips for beginners (and old pros) is to put double pins where you want to stop and start sewing. Nothing is more aggravating than to find out that you forgot to stop sewing and instead of leaving that 4″ opening you sewed all the way around and now have to unpick stitches. Start sewing at one of the double pins. Continue all the way around until you reach the other set of double pins. Back-stitch at each end.
If you want to make the twist variation of the infinity scarf, once you have removed the tube off of your arm continue to pull the inner tube out further than the starting point. You can see in the photo above I kept my hand on the seam and kept pulling about 6″-8″ further than the starting raw edge. The right side of the fabric is sticking out and the wrong side of the fabric is on the outside to the left. I still have my seams roughly in the same spot, nothing is twisted.
Now it’s time for the twist. Hold the right side layer (in the photo above, the fabric to the right) and twist the fabric in one full revolution until the center seam meets up again on top. You are not twisting the wrong side layer (on the left.) The fabric tube that is inside will have a full twist. You can carefully work it back inside of the other tube. Match up the raw edges and that middle seam, careful to keep the twist in the inner fabric.
The tube will look like the photo above, kind of twisted at the bottom. Pin the raw edges. use double pins to mark the start and stop point just like the directions for the flat variation. Make sure to leave a 3″ – 4″ opening. Sew the pinned seam, back-stitching at both ends.
Let’s finish up this infinity scarf. Both variations finish the same way from now to the end of the tutorial.
I have another trick I like to implement on any item that has an opening that the fabric will be turned through and then hand stitched. It is really quick to do and makes the hand stitching step so much easier. Before you turn the tube to the right side, go to the iron and iron down the seam allowances on the 3″-4″ opening that you just left from the last step. You can see above that I ironed down the seam allowance and I have metal seam ruler slipped in between the two layers of fabric to show you that this is the 4″ opening. This is the only part you need to iron.
Now stick you hand/arm into that opening and go all the way to the end of the inside of the tube. Start pulling it out through that 3″-4″ opening. Keep pulling until all of the fabric pops out. When you are done you will have a circular tube that is completely sewn except for that 3″-4″ opening. This will be the right side of the scarf with all seams hidden on the inside.
The photo above shows the two types of infinity scarf (they are hanging flat, not on a neck.) One twist, the variation in the photo to the left, and the scarf to the right is the first variation, flat or no twist. Your scarf will now look like one of these scarves, you can see clearly the 3″-4″ opening on both. All we have left is to hand sew that opening closed.
How to Hand Sew the Infinity Scarf Opening Closed:
1. Cut an 18″ length of matching thread. Thread the needle and knot the end. (If you ironed back the seam allowance on the previous steps you are ready to sew. If not you will need to turn under the seam allowance to the inside and pin it back.) Insert the needle on the inside of the opening, coming up right on the end/edge of one of the sides. The knot will be hidden on the inside of the infinity scarf.
2. On the opposite side of the opening insert the needle into the fabric and come back out about 1/8″ away from where the needle went in. This stitch was taken on the bottom of the opening. You are hand sewing right on the folded edge of the fabric.
3. Directly across on the top of the opening insert the needle into the fabric and make the same 1/8″ stitch like you did on the last step.
4. Continue in this same pattern, top and then bottom all the way across the opening. Pull the thread snugly to close up the opening after a few stitches. This is called the Ladder Stitch and creates an almost invisible closing for the seam.
5. Once you have reached the end of the opening you need to tie off your thread. Insert the needle into one side and come up the other. Only catching a tiny bit of fabric on each side.
6. Pull the needle through, there will be a loop of thread created on the outside, insert the needle through this thread loop and pull tight. Repeat this process 1-2 more times.
7. This image shows that these stitches are really tiny, barely seen on the finished infinity scarf.
8. Once you are done knotting the thread, insert the needle into the fabric close to the seam and come out about 1″ away from the seam. Pull the needle out and trim the thread close to the fabric taking care not to clip the fabric.
*Note – As you are stitching the opening closed, take care to only stitch through the top layer of the tube fabric, the fabric on either side of the opening. If you are stitching with the tube flat sometimes you will catch the fabric on the other side of the tube and you don’t want to do this. If you do catch the fabric on the other side you are stitching the tube flat and will never be able to have a nice round tube shape.
The image above compares the difference between the flat and twist variations when made with woven fabric. The flat, on the left makes two smooth loops around your neck that can be adjusted independently from each other. There is a top loop and a bottom loop. The twist variation on the right creates two loops that are twisted together. It is not as easy to adjust independently, but looks equally nice. The decision is personal preference. The main difference being when the scarf is worn long and not wrapped around your neck. Both are easy to create so play around and see what you like the best.
Congratulations! You have finished your infinity scarf and can now enjoy this accessory yourself or give it as a lovely hand made gift.