T-shirt Scarves: The Art of Repurposing

Scarves repurposed from T-shirts. It’s nothing new. It’s been done. In about a zillion ways. But I believe that the best design for T-shirt scarves has everything to do with not just the graphics, but the cropping of them. I wear scarves, a lot, as where we live, near the Northern California Pacific Coast, it gets very cold in the evenings while watching kid’s outdoor sports as the fog bank hits around 6pm year ’round. T-shirts are such perfect material as they are so soft and flexible. So, here’s my quick and easy, no pins, minimal ironing T-shirt scarf project.

I began by digging through the Goodwill racks today in search of some yummy graphics.

I picked up several light-weight T’s from the Junior and Ladies sections and some heavyweight graphic T’s from the Mens and Boys sections. I did a quick-cycle launder on the shirts before cutting up.I created a patchwork template from a standard No. 10 business envelope. Making a window template helps you isolate the section of graphics that works best. I prefer cropping tight on graphics. Some T-shirts yielded two to three sections of graphics, while others only one good envelope sized section. Using a white colored pencil on dark shirts and brown pencil on light, I traced out the rectangles and cut out the pieces. I used 20-21 sections for the fronts of my scarves.

After each section was cut, I laid them out in the best visual order then simply sewed one to another, 1/4″ seam allowances to the back. Once all were sewn together, I pressed the seams flat. I then created the back side of the scarves by cutting solid sections of the remaining T-shirt fabric. For my lightweight scarf, I again used the envelope for a template and made one more section than the front and sewed the horizontal seams askew from one side to the other, not intending for the seams to line up. For my heavyweight scarf, I used longer blocks of fabric.

I seamed back sections together, then stitched front scarf sections to back sections, leaving an opening for turning right side out. I trimmed away excess selvage and cut angles along each corner. I turned the scarves and stitched the openings closed. I pressed the finished pieces, using parchment paper when ironing over silk-screened sections.

Finished lightweight scarf.

Finished heavyweight scarf.For added interest, I cut out a smaller graphic section and stitched it to the back of the heavyweight scarf.

If you want to make a unique graphic scarf like these, watch for thrift store sales that offer $1 shirts, as the cost can add up pretty fast with this many shirts. Dig through the closets in your house for shirts no one really wears anymore. And, just like those T-shirt quilts, scarves make nice gifts using the personal T-shirts of someone special. In fact, while I was making these, my kids brought me rarely-worn shirts from their own closets to include in my new neckwear.

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