How To Sew a Fringed T-Shirt Scarf – 2 ways

Written by Roxanne Lopez Category: Free Sewing Projects

Sewing up a cute scarf is a great way to use up a fabric scrap or unworn t-shirt. This makes for a great beginner sewing project as well since it involves very little fabric and minimal sewing. These scarves make great gifts too! The two ways to make a fringed scarf are: starting with an old t-shirt, or starting with a piece of fabric! Join me in sewing up one or two, since I’ll be teaching you these two ways to sew an easy fringed scarf!

Method 1 – Starting with a t-shirt

For this method, we’ll be making our scarf from a t-shirt. I’ll be making a scarf that wraps around my neck twice, using an adult 3XL size t-shirt. The larger the shirt, the more fabric we’ll have to work with and the longer the scarf can be. Ideally, the minimum width of your t-shirt should = 20″ across the front of the shirt; the minimum length of your t-shirt should = 16″ from the armhole seam to the top of the hem. A cotton or cotton blend t-shirt will work for this, as well as a rayon jersey t-shirt.

The minimum dimensions for your t-shirt.

Once you have your t-shirt, smooth it out on your cutting surface, and trim it as follows: cut the top of the shirt off from the armhole seam up, cut off each side seam, and cut off the hem. Lastly, measure to find the midline of the shirt, and then cut down that line. See the diagram below for the cut lines. Once you are done with this step, you should have four rectangles of fabric, all approximately the same size. Once you have all four rectangles of fabric cut out, you’re ready for the fun step – making the fringe!

Cut out t-shirt out along lines as described above.

Place one rectangle of fabric on your cutting surface. I find the process easiest using a rotary cutter, but you can use scissors if that’s what you have available. We are going to measure down at least 6″ inches from the top of the rectangle’s long side. Mark this line with tailor’s chalk, a soap sliver, or a very fine pencil line – whichever you prefer. We are going to be cutting up to but not through this line to make our fringe. Each fringe piece will be cut about 1/2″ (1.25 cm) wide, from the bottom edge, up to the line we just drew. You can experiment with the width of fringe you’d like by using a scrap of fabric from the sleeve of the t-shirt. Just cut off the sleeve hem, then cut a loop in the desired width, and pull it into a fringe shape to see if you like the result. Experiment by changing the width of the cut, and see how the fringe comes out differently.

Cut along the white dotted lines, up to the chalk line indicated in red. This creates your fringe!

Cut these all the way across the fabric’s width, keeping them attached at the line. Make sure to cut in straight, clean lines for the best looking results. Continue to cut the fringe on all four pieces of fabric, in the same way. To create the round, tube-like bouncy fringe we are going for, hold each fringe piece at the chalk line where it is connected to the solid piece of fabric, then gently pull the end of the fringe and release. The fringe should curl up into a nice bouncy tube-like shape.

The final step before the product is finished – join all four pieces into one long loop for your scarf!

After repeating this for all the cut fringe, then the final step is to sew them together to make one long, continuous loop of fringed fabric. I like to overlap the ends and sew two parallel lines of stitching or one zig-zag line of stitches to have the scarf look the same on front and back, with no flopping seam allowance. You can also just sew one line of stitching, and trim the knit fabric close to your stitch line since knit fabrics don’t fray.

Method 1 finished result – a fringed scarf, made with a t-shirt!

Method 2 – Using a piece of fabric

The second way we’re going to make a fringed scarf is with a piece of knit fabric. Not all knits will create fringe well, so you might want to test a swatch by cutting a narrow strip along the direction of greatest stretch, and pulling to see how it reacts. Drapey knits usually work well for making fringe. Rayon knits, for example, work well, but today I will be using a piece of ITY – interlock twist yarn – knit fabric from my stash. It’s leftover from a previous project, and it is the perfect size and drape for this project.

  • What you’ll need:
  • a piece of knit fabric, see size requirements below
  • sewing machine or serger
  • scissors or rotary cutter
  • thread
  • transparent gridded ruler

If you are purchasing fabric for this project, you’ll need 54-60″ (137-152 cm) of fabric or 1.5-1.67 yards to make a scarf that wraps around your neck twice. We only need a width of 18″, so you should be able to make 2 scarves from one length of fabric, since most knits are at least 42″ wide. Start with a rectangle of fabric 60″ (152 cm) long, by 18″ (45 cm) wide, with the greatest stretch going along across the 18″ width. Usually, with knit fabrics, the direction of greatest stretch goes across the fabric from selvage to selvage.

Cut fringe 6″ long by 1/2″ wide.

Using a gridded ruler, measure strips 6″ (15 cm) up from the bottom edge of the scarf, by 1/2″ (1.25 cm) wide, and cut these strips all along the 60″ edge. As I mentioned previously in the t-shirt method, I prefer to use a rotary cutter for this process, since it cuts in a sharp, clean line. This can take a little while, so be patient with yourself, and let your hands take a break as needed!

Just keep cutting….and cutting, and cutting…

Once you have cut fringe along one entire length of the fabric, go ahead and pull each strand of fringe firmly but gently. Be sure to support each strand where it joins the uncut fabric so it doesn’t rip off when you pull. Once you have pulled on all the strands, you are ready to sew your scarf together. Take the piece of fabric, and fold it right sides together, one short end meeting the other. Sew the ends together to form a long loop, and your scarf is finished.

Method 2 finished product – a fringed scarf made in ITY knit fabric, (fabric purchased from Silhouette Patterns).

You can choose either method and still end up with a great result. Starting with an old t-shirt can save money, but requires a little bit more work, while start with a piece of fabric allows you to skip a couple of steps. Either way, fringed scarves are a great stash buster, or way to use up a t-shirt that doesn’t see much wear. I hope you enjoyed following along! I’d love to see your finished projects – post your photos in the comments below! Happy Sewing!

How To Sew A Fringed Scarf from A Tee-Shirt
Two Way to Make a Fringed Scarf

One thought on “How To Sew a Fringed T-Shirt Scarf – 2 ways

  1. Thank you so much Roxanne for sharing this how-to for making fringed scarves. Your instructions are so clear and helpful. I have been looking at ways to use up leftover fabrics and old tees. Helps that fringes are “in” among the 2023 fashion trends.

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