There's power in plaid! It's a fashion staple that never goes out of style. Dress it up or dress it down - it's fabulous in every way. We used a double layer of cozy plaid flannel for our classic fringed scarves. It's a great alternative to wool plaids, which can be itchy to wear around your face and neck. Here's a bit of fun flannel history: it was originally made of carded wool or worsted yarn. Today, the coziness comes from cotton. 100% cotton flannel is super soft; with two layers, it's super-duper soft. We picked out our flannels from Fabric Depot where there are enough choices to put together dozens of powerful plaid pairs.
If you thought plaids only came in the traditional colors and designs of Scottish tartans, "Yer bum’s oot the windae" (translation: you're talking nonsense). The red, black, green, gray, and navy are certainly still available, but you can also find modern brights and wide windowpane checks, as well as companion suiting prints, like herringbone and houndstooth.
The main differences between shirting flannels and quilter's or standard flannel are the tightness of the weave and the nap. Quilter's or standard flannel has a very tight weave and is single napped, so you get a definite right side and wrong side. Shirting flannel has a bit of a looser, softer weave and is double napped, so the colors are rich on both the front and back.
Our scarf design finishes at approximately 20" x 78", including a 1½" fringe around all four sides (see below for our two fringing options). This generous size lets you wrap your scarf in a myriad of wonderful ways.
You can even wear it as a shawl, adding a splash of reversible color to your outfit.
Or bundle up your head and shoulders to brave the fall and winter winds in style.
To conserve fabric, we seamed two panels to create our 78" length. It's also a good excuse to practice matching plaids. This seaming is optional; feel free to buy enough yardage to cut continuous 78" panels.
Flannel is known for its tendency to shrink up considerably when washed. We didn't see a lot of shrinkage with our samples, but our recommended yardage below does allow extra just in case. It is important to pre-wash all your flannel for the best results.
The finishing touch on our scarves is their deeply fringed edges. We show you two options below: heavy clipped strips and long, fine fringe. Both look great, but the fine fringe is much more time-consuming. If you have a TV series you've been wanting to binge-watch, pull up a comfy chair and get to fringing!
From purchasing the fabric through construction and even during photography, everyone who spotted these beautiful plaids wanted them for their own. This is a sure sign they would be a perfect gift idea!
Our thanks to Fabric Depot for sharing their love of plaid flannels with us. There are so many great combos, you'll have fun browsing for your favorite. Inventories can change quickly, so although our exact combinations may not be available, there are certainly lots of alternatives, and you can always contact Fabric Depot to be notified when a particular fabric is back in stock and/or to find out if something can be special ordered. Check out these three categories for your flannel fantasy: Primo Flannel, Mammoth/Shetland Flannel, and Woolies Flannel.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional for working with the thicker layers and matching plaids – you could also engage your machines built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system available on many of the Janome models
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies listed below are for one scarf, which finishes at approximately 20" x 78" and includes the 1½" fringe all around.
- 1⅓ yards EACH of TWO 44"+ wide mid-weight flannels
NOTE: The amount of fabric recommended above is enough to account for matching the plaids and any shrinking in the pre-washing. If the plaids you choose have a small repeat, you may be able to get away with 1¼ yards of each.
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors: shears for cutting, small sharp scissors if you choose the cut-fringe method shown below
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Flannel loves to shrink and ravel, so we strongly recommend pre-washing all your fabric in cold water with a fabric softener. Tumble dry on medium heat. Press each flannel piece completely flat prior to cutting.
- From each flannel, fussy cut TWO 20" high x width of fabric (WOF) rectangles.
NOTE: Be very careful to match each WOF strip. This means, depending on the size of the plaid repeat, your strips are unlikely to be cut one right under the other with their edges butted together. Instead, the two pieces should be spread out on the fabric to make sure the plaid pattern within each 20" height is exactly the same.
- Trim each WOF rectangle down to 39½". But don't just hack off those extra inches! Take the time to fussy cut so you can perfectly match what will become the scarf's back seam.
- To do this, place the two panels right sides together and match up the plaids. Determine the repeat point along one 20" side. Measure ½" beyond this repeat point and trim away the excess. When working with plaids, it's best to use scissors rather than a rotary cutter so you can carefully cut along a line within the motif.
- Pin the layers together along this cut edge.
- From the pinned end, measure 39½" and carefully trim away the excess at the opposite end.
- Repeat with the remaining two 20" x WOF rectangles.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Working with the pinned edge of one set of paired rectangles, stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Repeat with the second set of paired rectangles.
- You now have two 20" x 78" panels.
- Place these panels wrong sides together. Make sure the raw edges are flush around all four sides, and carefully align the center back seams.
- Pin the panels together. Remember, they are wrong sides together.
- If possible, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system.
- Thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. If you are working with fabrics of contrasting colors, determine which fabric will be facing up and which will be facing down and thread your upper spool and bobbin accordingly.
- Using a standard straight stitch, stitch around the entire perimeter, staying 1½" in from the raw edges. Remember to pivot at each corner.
- Our Janome studio machines have handy measurement markings that extend beyond the needle plate onto the bed of the machine, which made it easy to check and maintain our 1½" distance. If you don't have this feature, you could draw in a line to follow with a fabric pen or pencil (make sure it will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron), or you could set up a quilt bar to help keep a set distance. It is also helpful to pick a strong line within the plaid itself to use as a guide.
- Stitch around a second time, running this new seam ¼" to the right of the original seam. This second seam is optional, but adds a bit of extra stability and provides a back-up stopping point for the fringe should the first seam ever break.
Fringe Option #1: Heavy clipped strips
- This option is much faster than Option #2. It is a heavier, blanket-style fringe that will continue to gently ravel and fray with wear - similar to a rag quilt. If you launder the scarf several times, it will rag up to create a soft, fluffy edge.
- First cut a 1½" square from each corner, being careful to not cut into your seams.
- Working from each side of the cut out corner, clip a ¼" strip through both layers. It helps to work with small, sharp scissors to get a clean cut through the two layers.
- As with the corners, be careful to not snip through the seams with these straight cuts.
- At the back seam, adjust your strip width as necessary to leave this center seam intact - cut to either side of the seam, do not cut up through the seam itself.
- When you've clipped around the entire outside edge, flip over the scarf and make sure all the cuts are clean on the opposite side.
- Shake out the stray threads (you might want to do this outside unless you love to vacuum) and press flat.
- We tried a little washing experiment to see how much raveling we'd get with this fringing method. Scarves are not really items that require a lot of laundering, but you can see from the photo below that the cut strips will begin to fray, revealing the individual threads.
Fringe Option #2: Long, fine fringe
- For our blue and gold scarf, we opted for the look of individual threaded fringe. This is a more high-fashion style of fringe. It looks great and wears well, but it does take awhile. Pull up in front of your favorite binge-watching TV series and be prepared to spend several hours fringing.
- The rectangles are matched and layered in the same manner as above.
- For this fringe option, we used just a single line of stitching 1½" in from the raw edges.
- Separate the layers. It's best to fringe one layer at a time.
- Using a seam ripper, pick out the individual horizontal threads.
- Pull each thread down and out.
- Yes, we're sorry, but you really do need to do just one or two threads at a time, otherwise the thread will break and you'll have to pick it out again with the seam ripper.
- Once you have the top layer done, flip over the scarf and do the bottom layer.
- As above with Option #1, shake out the stray threads and press flat.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild