How to make a scarf out of an old saree

Sarees are made from long cuts of fabric and often adorned with beautiful embroidery or patterns. So if you have a saree that is getting a little old or tired you can make use of the fabric by sewing a decorative scarf. Square headscarves are perfect for tying at the neck or knotting into a vintage hairstyle. With the average saree over five metres in length, you’ll also have plenty of fabric to make a longer scarf to dress up an outfit.

Draw your scarf shape on pattern paper and cut it out. Measure this carefully, using a ruler, and following the square guides on the paper so that the shape is straight. Allow for a hem by making the pattern a centimeter larger all round.

Pin the pattern to the saree and mark around the paper with tailor’s chalk for accuracy. Then carefully cut out the fabric.

Start the hem by folding over 5mm, or half, of the 1cm border, and pinning in place. Use a seam gauge if you are not a tidy folder, to make sure this is the same all the way round. If you use proper glass head dressmaking pins, you can iron over them but if not, tack the hem with loose stitches and then take out pins one by one as you iron the hem flat.

Fold and pin the remaining 5mm of the hem over a second time. Iron again, then sew with small straight stitches, close to the edge. You can sew this by hand but a machine is quicker. Once the scarf is sewn, snip the tacking stitches and slide them out.


If you find sewing fiddly, double the size of the hem for ease.

Iron the saree before starting and do all the work on a large table.

Enhance the pattern of the saree with some hand embroidery, or by attaching sequins and beads. Or hem a long scarf with heavy fringing to help it drape.

The best sarees are made from silk or cotton rather than nylon, and these make the best scarves.

If you have an overlocker, you do not need to use this double fold method for the hem but can simply pin and press it once, then use the machine to seal the hem with a topstitch.

Skilled sewers using a very fine silk saree, could try rolling the hem. Each section is folded between thumb and fingers and stitched loosely. Pulling the thread then creates a tight rolled edge with a vintage couture look.


Pin and cut the saree along grain of fabric or the scarf will not stay in shape.

Double check you have taken out all the pins before wearing.

Things You'll Need

  • Old saree
  • Dressmaking scissors
  • Pattern paper
  • Paper skissors
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Cotton thread
  • Needle
  • Iron
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Tacking cotton (optional)
  • Sewing machine (optional)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.