How to make a scarf from a sweater


How to decorate clothes with metal rings

How to make a scarf from a sweater
From sweater to infinity scarf DIY

For this refashion I am happy to show you a few things; how to make a scarf from a sweater, how to decorate clothes with metal rings. And to follow the current piercing-inspired clothing trend I will demonstrate the best way to make jump rings and how to open and close jump rings (yes, it is a must to know). This will save you money and allow you to make jump rings in the material and at the size that you need.

I have previously made another scarf from a garment, if you wish to see it T-shirt to infinity scarf

Let’s start with this one!

How to make a scarf from a sweater

For the passed few years we have seen a growing interest for piercing-inspired ornaments adorning hair and embellishing clothes. It’s a fashion trend that I like. A rebellious aesthetic with a nice edge (maybe a flash back to the rebellious 80′s???).

To make the scarf I will use this sweater vest that I have never worn. Let me explain ….

Repurpose a sweater into a scarf
Repurpose a sweater into a scarf

….. One browses through the sales rack. One’s eyes pop out when one touches a copper metallic coated knit. One sees that it is one size (or two) too small. One is a sewist and thinks that ANYTHING can be fixed (especially when the price is twice reduced) ….

So one follows her impulse and buys the nice piece of flashy fabric. Can anyone relate? (Please say yes).

From sweater to cowl scarf

How to make a scarf from a sweater
Cut across the sweater just under the armpits

Lay your sweater on a flat surface and straighten the side seams and align the bottom hem.

Cut a horizontal line across the sweater just under the armpits.

If your fabric edge isn’t fraying; simply stretch the sweater at the end where you cut it and this will roll back the edge. Your scarf is done!

If your fabric edge is fraying you could hem the edge by folding the fabric over twice and hand stitch or machine stitch the hem. Or you could secure the edge with a zigzag stitch with a sewing machine. Or you could finish the sweater edge with an overlock stitch with a serger.

Repurpose a sweater into a scarf DIY
Stop edges from fraying

I finished the raw edge on my fabric with an overlock stitch.  I will simply tuck in the over-locked edges when I’ll wear the scarf.

Now it’s time to think about the metal piercings. These metal rings are commonly called jump rings.

As a reference, jump rings destined for jewelry making range in sizes from 1/4” to 3/8” diameter (approximately 4mm to 10mm) and they are of different gauges. I wanted my jump rings to be noticeable  and measure about 1/2” diameter (1.30cm).

As a general rule the size of the ring you want determines the size of the gauge; the larger the ring diameter the thicker the wire.

I browsed the internet and found bling rings for hair and metal rings for pierced braid and dreadlocks decorations (ring sizes up to 6/8“- 1.5 cm). But that meant that I would of have had to wait….. no patience for that! I went scavenge hunting in my supplies to search for other metal ring solutions I could use.

Best way to make jump rings
Deciding which type of wire to use

I found spools of copper and brass wires (the types we purchase in hardware stores). I chose the gauge size 20 and made a few metal rings in each wire to decide which color would best suit the color of my knit fabric. The ring on the left is made with copper wire and the ring on the right is made with brass wire. I preferred the color match of the copper wire.

Note: I used what I had on hand but you can buy spools of aluminum wire designated for jewelry making. Some anodized wires come in wide variety of fun colors like red, green, pink, blue…..

The best way to make jump rings

The best way to make jump rings
Material needed to make jump rings

Your wire selection

Flush-cut wire cutters

Two flat nose-pliers

A rod or a mandrel to set the diameter size of your finished jump ring. As an alternative you can use a pencil, a knitting needle or a nice big spike nail like I used.

Best way to make jump rings
Best way to make jump rings

Make a coil by wrapping the wire around the rod.

Use the wire cutter to cut the end of the coil (use the flat side of the pliers to make sure the ends are flat).

Remove the coil from the rod, pull on the coil a little to loosen out the space between the coils.

Place your wire cutter on the second layer of the coil, cut through the loop cutting it from the coil.

Continue to cut the jump rings off the coil by finding the point where the previous cut ends and cut through the loop of the next layer below.

The best way to make jump rings
Make your own jump rings for the fraction of the price

You could file the end of the jump rings with a jeweler’s file or a metal nail file, but I didn’t find that necessary. When jump rings are closed the proper way both ends fit together and give a flush close.

It is very important to properly open and close your jump rings. (Properly closed rings, with ends that are flush, are required to ensure rings remain attached to the fabric). Once opened improperly jump rings won’t close properly.

How to open and close a jump ring
Once distorted jump rings won’t reform

Do not pull the ring ends apart to open them. Here is the proper way to open them.

Grab a pair of nose pliers in each hand

Hold the jump ring firmly with one pair of pliers

Use your dominant hand to grab the other side of the ring and twist the nose pliers away from you.

Basically, simply twist one side of the ring until the required opening is achieved. Do not open the ring too wide or it will distort it’s rounded shape.

I found this useful and short video for you How to open and close jump rings 

How to decorate knits with metal rings

Insert the rings one by one and open them with pliers as you go.

How to make jump rings
Insert the rings through the knitted stitches

Pull one side of a knitted stitch away from the knit and insert one end of the ring inside the loop. It is easier to insert the ring inside a pulled loop and this way the ring ends won’t snag the yarn.

Close the jump rings with the pliers and turn the ring to hide the closure under the stitch.

Now let’s play and see where I want the jump rings to be on the scarf.

How to decorate clothes with metal rings
How to decorate clothes with metal rings

I experimented with a few things; looping a few rings along the edge and along a knitted rib, testing what was feasible. Because of the scarf’s draped neckline in my opinion the best placement for the piercings is at the bottom of the scarf (on the sweater ribbed waistband).

…. Decision taken!

How to decorate clothes with metal rings
Vertical lines of piercings on the waistband ribs

This is my pattern for the piercing embellishments; the rings will be inserted on vertical lines, every 5th rib. And each rib will have 7 rings inserted on the top stitch of every 4th row.

(I decided to not insert jump rings along the ribbing edge, they looked crooked and out of place).

I will repeat the piercing pattern for the front side of the scarf, from the sweater original side seam to the other.

How to decorate clothes with metal rings
Here is the final look!

Above you see the vertical lines of piercings inserted in the sweater original waistband.

How to decorate clothes with metal rings
Fitting session

Once I placed the scarf on the fitting mannequin I noticed that having piercings that ended at the side seams didn’t look finished because it didn’t follow up along the side of my neck.

I needed to add rows of piercings and extend them about 3 inches past the side seams upwards towards the back of my neck.

30 minutes later the piercings were all done and the scarf was ready for a second fitting.

DIY scarf from a sweater
Fitting to verify the neckline drape

I wanted to have an elegant draped cowl neckline, and this was not it! The neckline hung too low and the fabric was scrunched up at the bottom of the center front.

I needed to modify the shape of the scarf.

Repurpose a sweater into a scarf
Some fitting adjustments

I pinned out fabric on each side of the sweater at the original lateral seams, removing about 4” (10.16 cm). Now, this is the appearance I was looking for!

I then tried the scarf on myself; good thing that I did. The neckline circumference was now too small and I couldn’t pass the scarf over my head (without taking my makeup off!!).

DIY sweater to cowl scarf
Make adjustments to reduce the neckline

I therefore removed fabric from the front part of the scarf only. It will still give me a nice cowl neckline. I removed 2.5” (6.35 cm) from each side seam to nothing above the ribbed waistband.

DIY sweater to cowl scarf
Sew the seams right sides together

I pinned each side seam back together, keeping the fabric flat and well distributed. Being careful not to stretch the fabric when sewing. And sew the seams right sides together with an overlock stitch.

At this point the scarf could have been considered finished….

Make an accurate fold with and hem gauge
Make an accurate fold with and hem gauge

If it wasn’t for another element I noted when I tried on the scarf; the top side of the scarf (the side that I just wanted to fold and tuck in ) kept turning and the edges were rolling out showing the over-locked finished edge.

It was better to hem the top side of the scarf to have a nice finish. I folded the fabric over once and pinned a 2” (5 cm) single fold hem.

Hand sewn slip stitch
Hem the scarf with an invisible slip stitch

I didn’t want to have a visible machine stitched line near my neck on the right side of the scarf. So I hand sewed the hem with a nice invisible slip stitch (also known as blind stitch).

Next, press the scarf.

Pressing is different than ironing. When you press a garment you press your iron on your garment and you lift the iron when you want to press another area of the garment. It is an up and down motion.

As oppose to ironing, which involves pushing and dragging the iron over the garment. Ironing may stretch seams and distort the fabric grain.

Be careful not to put the weight of the iron on the knit
Be careful not to put the weight of the iron on the knit

I pressed and flattened the hem using a damp cloth. A pressing cloth was important with this laminated knit to protect it from direct heat and to prevent shine.

With knits it is also important to not over press because it will remove some of the surface texture.

Laminated fabric may only be ironed on the wrong side
Laminated fabric may only be ironed on the wrong side

I pressed and flattened the side seams also using a damp cloth.

Et voilà!

Sweater repurposed into a scarf
Sweater repurposed into a scarf

Funny how my scarf looks like a little skirt!

How to decorate clothes with metal rings
How to decorate clothes with metal rings

This is the finished product of “How to make a scarf from a sweater” tutorial.

Below the side view of the finished cowl scarf.

Embellish a scarf with metal piercings
How to make a scarf from a sweater

What do you think? Do you find that the scarf has a medieval feel? Hum….. It is maybe because of the metal laminated knitted fabric. I have to be careful and pair the scarf with light colored clothes to stay away from the neck chain-mail vibe!

Hope that you enjoyed this refashion and that it will inspire you to make your own scarf from a sweater or to adorn your knits with metal piercings!

Thank you for passing by

Au revoir!


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