fabric scarf styled with gray jacket FI2

How To Make A No-Sew Triangular Fabric Scarf

A triangular fabric scarf is undoubtedly my favorite warmer weather accessory. It can be anything from a cute scarf, to a shawl (when the air conditioning is too high), to a makeshift picnic blanket. Making your own is simple, and a great way to add a completely custom accessory to your wardrobe. You don’t even need to know how to sew! All you need is a square of woven fabric and a comfy place to sit.

Here’s how:

First, do not wash or wet your fabric. Yes, you heard that right. Normally you want to wash fabric first to release the tension in the individual threads and let them move together. For this project, though, we need the individual threads to remain as independent from each other as possible.

Once you’ve recovered from the shock of not pre-washing your fabric, take your fabric and spread it out flat. Check that the sides are all reasonably straight, and trim any that need to be a bit straighter:

fabric scarf being cut to size

Next, measure the width of the fabric in both directions and cut it so that it is square. A square of about 42 inches works well for a triangular fabric scarf:

fabric scarf being measured

Now smooth your fabric out again and get ready to start making the fringe. I must admit that at this point I took a look at this giant square of plaid and questioned the wisdom of what I was about to do:

fabric scarf ready to make fringes

That’s a lot of fabric. I really thought I would have to listen to all of the podcasts ever made as I painstakingly made the fringe. Don’t despair, though! It goes surprisingly fast. Shockingly fast, even. Just concentrate on one edge at at time and you’ll see what I mean.

To make the fringe:

First, start on one side and pull 1-4 threads towards you so that they start to separate from the fabric:

fabric scarf starting fringes

The number of threads you can successfully pull out at a time will depend upon the type and density of your fabric. Keep pulling until the threads are completely free (un-woven) from the fabric.

Tip: you may find it helps to hold the opposite side of the fabric with one hand while you pull the threads with the other so that both hands are pulling in opposite directions.

If you hit a snag:

fabric scarf snag in fringes

Just ease the fringe threads apart and try to smooth them a bit so they won’t keep snagging each time. Once you have at least 1 inch of fringe, longer is also fine, you can move on to the next edge:

fabric scarf fringes measured

Hopefully that went a lot faster than you thought it would. I had a lot of snags because, you guessed it, this fabric is flannel and quite fluffy. I know this was supposed to be a summer scarf, but I just couldn’t resist the plaid! Anyway, I was curious about how long this would take and found that despite the many snags, each side only took about 12 minutes. That’s less than an hour for the whole thing!

The next step is making the knots that will keep the fringe in place.

How and where to make the knots:

There is enough fringe all the way around your triangular fabric scarf at this point that it will not easily unravel if you are a little careful with it. So now it’s time to find that comfy place to sit and just drape the fabric as necessary.

You need to make knots in the fringe, all the way around, to keep the fabric scarf from unraveling when you wear it. The knots should be about 1 – 1 1/2 inches apart, and their size is entirely up to you. Look at your fabric and see if it gives you any clues. Mine has these very useful lines, so I decided to make a knot on each side of the main blue stripe. I wanted to keep the knots small so I used only about 8-12 threads for each knot.

At this point you might, once again, be reconsidering this project. I promise this phase also goes much faster than expected. I was actually kind of disappointed that it went so quickly because I had planned to binge-watch Netflix while knotting, but the whole thing only took 90 minutes.

To make the knots, separate the threads that will be used for the first knot. Divide them in half (approximately), and make a double-knot (also called a Granny Knot). Keep making double-knots along each edge until all four edges have been done:

fabric scarf knots tied in fringes

The knots stick up a bit now, but they will settle into place once the scarf is washed.

The last step:

Now that your fringe is finished, you can launder your fabric scarf as you plan to later. The fabric scarf might shrink a little more in one direction than it does in the other. This is because there is a difference in the tension and twist of the warp and weft threads, so once they’re wet and free to move about as they like, they shrink differently. This should be minimal and won’t be noticeable once you’re wearing it:

fabric scarf styled with striped shirt FI

The threads in the fringe may also twist together a bit as they did here:

fabric scarf fringe detail

That’s actually a good thing as it will help to secure the fabric even further.

What you will need:

  • Woven fabric, at least 42″ square
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure

Tips and tricks:

  • When selecting fabric, look for fabric that drapes well. The heavier the fabric, or more it weighs, the more likely it will be to fall in attractive curves around your neck. Muslin, for example, is very light and will tend to sit up high around your ears.
  • It’s fine to use a fabric that is printed on only one side since you can fold it so the non-printed side is virtually invisible. The non-printed side may show a little at the edges, though, especially if the fabric shrinks more in one direction than in the other. Just tell everyone it’s part of the design and you’ll be fine.
  • Check with your local recycling program to see if you can put the scraps and un-woven threads in the recycling bin.
  • If you enjoyed this project and want to make more scarves, try making a lightweight infinity scarf! See the how-to post here.

Have fun customizing your wardrobe with your handmade triangular fabric scarf. Feel free to leave a comment, ask a question, or share your photos.

fabric scarf finished FI

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2 Replies to “How To Make A No-Sew Triangular Fabric Scarf”

  1. For someone like me who does not own a sewing machine this is great! Your photos and description are easy to follow. Thanks!

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