How to Make a Dress From Scarves

Updated February 21, 2017

Scarves, or shawls, although often much admired, are not always useful accessories anymore. Many people today do not wear large decorative scarves to cover the hair and shoulders as was once the fashion. However, a collection of attractive vintage scarves or shawls need not go to waste, as they can be repurposed for other garments. You can make clothes out of large scarves using many different methods, some of which preserve the shape of the scarves and some which do not. To get started altering your scarves and shawls, choose one of these sewn-scarf dress projects.

Take a very large decorative scarf and fold it in half along the longest sides. Mark the centre of the fold with a pin. Measure 4 inches out from the centre on each side and mark these spots with a pin.

Cut a slit into the fold between the 2 pins. This will be the neckline. If you need a larger neck opening, cut the slit wider.

Fold the sides of the slit under 1/4 inch, then another 1/2 inch. Sew along the inside folded edge to hide the raw edges of the scarf. Iron the neckline flat.

Slip the scarf over your head and adjust it to hang against your body. Have a friend help you pin the sides of the scarf together under your arms, stopping a few inches above the hem. Take the scarf off and sew the pinned sides together, 1/2 inch away from the edges. Iron the seam allowances open.

Slip the scarf over your head again. Take another, smaller scarf and tie it around your waist.

Lay two large scarves side by side along the long edges. Mark the centre of each scarf with a pin.

Measure 4 inches out from the centre on each side of the pin or as much as you need for a neck opening. Mark these positions with pins and remove the centre pin.

Lay one scarf on top of the other, matching the edges. Pin one long edge together, leaving a gap between the two pins from Step 2. Sew along the pinned edges, 1/2 inch away.

Iron the seam allowances open. Put your head through the neck opening and have a friend help you mark the armhole openings with pins. Pin the body openings together and remove the scarves.

Sew along the pinned sides, 1/2 inch away from the edges. Iron the seam allowances open.


You will need fairly large scarves or shawls to complete these dress projects. You can find many vintage or sari scarves that are larger than average, often 60 to 70 inches long, which can create an ideal length for a short dress. Make sure that your scarves or shawls for the first dress are at least 20 inches wide and are 10 inches wide for the second dress.

Things You'll Need

  • Large scarves
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
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About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.