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Vintage silk scarves

sewpatsew's picture

Ideas welcomed on how to utilize my accumulation of vintage silk scarves.  Over the years I have been unable to resist buying them in church bazaars and the like.  Now, I am so reluctant to donate them to a charity shop,  but I look at them in the bag and say to myself "what was I thinking?".  

Suggestions gratefully received.


Katina's picture

(post #28458, reply #1 of 77)

I've seen such scarves used successfully in patchwork, underlined with flannel or muslin.  If you don't want to cut them up too much, they can be used for handbags and pouches.  Can you make blouses/shirts underlined with a solid colour lightweight silk?  They may work well as an exciting lining fabric, pieced together in strips.  The Gatherers are sure to be full of ideas.


sewpatsew's picture

(post #28458, reply #7 of 77)

A great big "thank you" to all who responded to my request for ideas on using vintage silk scarves.  The creative brain has now taken a leap into the possibilities.  The first hurdle was what to fuse them to - and Palmer-Plecht fusible lining was the answer.  My project will be a crazy quilt throw backed by silk yardage (but I'll wait until the throw top is finished before I buy the backing.)

Thank you all for the interest shown in my little corner of the world.


Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #8 of 77)

Oh, what a luxurious throw that will be. I hope you'll post photos. Are you planning to use the textured, crinkled technique someone suggested?

sewpat's picture

(post #28458, reply #9 of 77)

I'll experiment with the techniques suggested and then I'm "Off to the Races", as they say!  If it turns out "beauteous" as Meg said it should, then I'll send a pic.  But don't look for a finished project until the spring.  Thanks for your interest, Josefly.


Meg's picture

(post #28458, reply #2 of 77)

You could collage them into a wearable-art jacket or vest. Use some fusible knit interfacing and the scarves to create a beauteous new fabric. In one of the Threads issues, there's an idea where you take some fabric (your scarf) laid out on a table and scrunch it up a little to create 'puckers'. Lay the fusible interfacing on it and pin into position. Take it to the ironing board and fuse your piece into shape. I'm sure I've missed a few steps.....

sewpat's picture

(post #28458, reply #3 of 77)

Thanks, Meg, for the scrunching and fusing idea.  I'll look for the fusable knit fabric on line and try it out.  That would give the body to these delicate scarves that I'd need.


KharminJ's picture

(post #28458, reply #4 of 77)

Hi Pat!

I can sure relate to the "bag full of silk scarves" ~ I've got some from my Mom, my Grandmother, 2 ex-MILs and of course, resale shops, plus some I bought new myself!

I like the scrunch and fuse idea, too. I've also seen them used on/in/as window treatments - either sewn together, or fluttering freely from the rod.

There's been a big diversion-discussion in another thread about remodeling one's Sewing Salon, and they could be a beautiful addition!

Bright Blessings!


clight's picture

(post #28458, reply #22 of 77)

email me at

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #28458, reply #5 of 77) has a technique for fabric collage that would work great for the scarves.  You can do a "search" of old Threads articles with her information.

Wish I had a collections of them, I'd go crazy playing and creating with such great silk material! 

You can get a nicer quality fusible knit interfacing at  which I prefer over the stiffer stuff from Joannes. 

Another suggestions is to use something like Floriani Mesh Stabilizer, it comes in a fusable or nonfusable and my favorite is flesh colored (also comes in black or white)!  It would make excellent backing for your scarves.  It is soft against the skin, and is one of my favorite products for machine embroidery backing on sheer fabrics.  Mary



ThreadKoe's picture

(post #28458, reply #6 of 77)

What a wonderful source of jacket linings you have!  Who says a jacket has to have a plain old lining, or one that matches all the way around?  Think of all the creative possibilities......Cathy

tcsewhat's picture

(post #28458, reply #10 of 77)

I have a friend who paid big $ for a patchwork silk scarf from Chico's.  It is a narrow scarf with knotted fringe at each end.  One is multicolored and the other is different prints all in the same color family.  Each piece is about 6 inches long and 7-9 inches wide.  The pieces are sewn together to make a long 9 inch wide scarf.  This would look great out of vintage scarves.  I think long narrow scarves- like a muffler- are easier to wear.

sewpat's picture

(post #28458, reply #11 of 77)

Hi TC!  Thanks for the input. Good thoughts!  I also love those long scarves that can wind around the neck under a woolen sweater during the wintry months.  And for reminding me of the $$$ for scarves at Chicos.   However, I'm not above copying their ideas on my shoestring.  I'm looking forward more and more to creative projects with my bag of vintage scarves.  


MaryinColorado's picture

(post #28458, reply #12 of 77)

A 2 or 3 thread rolled hem on the serger with Rayon embroidery thread would be lovely, using a very small needle.  You could use this as a seam technique or as an edge/hem technique around the edges. 

If you went to, she has instructions for this on Tips.  Also, after rolled egde serging, she uses a "joining stitch" on the regular sewing machine that works great.  She uses silk, I've done it with rayon with great results using several different joining or decorative stitches. 

One thought on the Palmer Pletch fusable interfacing, it is an excellent product but you will want to line the "wrong side" to hide it.  Maybe with velvet?  That would be so soft and lovely too.  Collars?  Cuffs?  Pockets?  Whole garments?  The sky is the limit! 

 You can cut strips of water soluble stabilizer the length you need and wrap it around the edge of the fabric if necessary to support and protect it.  Use a new very small needle. 

Do you need to heat set the colors using a presscloth on the silk first?  Prehandwash?  (Don't want those lovely colors to run.) 

Thanks for stimulating my creative juices, I'm making scarves for Christmas gifts and a few stockings.  Enjoy the process!  I think it's as much fun as the finished product!  Mary

Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #13 of 77)

You have a lot of good tips in your post. Thank you for those. When you mentioned wrapping water-soluble stabilizer around the edges, did you mean that it makes finishing the edges easier - serging, I mean?

You are a busy stitcher. I think the scarves sound lovely.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #28458, reply #14 of 77)

Thank You!  I wish I could actually make all the ideas and techniques I come up with in my head.  So many projects, so little time.  Mostly it's my attention span just keeps following my imagination around all the time instead of focusing on one thing at a time.  ha ha  I have a zillion UFO's all the time as I like to work on more than one project at a time.  Everything in different stages so if I can do what fits my mood or physical abilities as they change with the weather.

The water soluble stabilizer strip helps the sheer or lightweight fabrics to smoothly glide through the serger.  It also helps to make a more "perfect" rolled edge without any "pokies" if a fabric wants to fray.  Sometimes instead of wrapping it around the edge, I just put a piece one top and one on the bottom if the fabric doesn't ravel.

It also helps knits not stretch if you can't get the differential feed to take care of that issue. 

Then, if I want to do a "joining stitch", it helps to give the fabric some support so the stitches stay uniform and don't try to go down into the feed dogs. 

I serged a fabric for a little antique looking purse out of Perle Crown Rayon thread only with a couple layers of water soluble stabilizer.  You just keep doing 3 thread overlock over and over in rows onto WSS.  It looks like it's crocheted, next time I'll line one for support though and to help it hold it's shape.  (If you flip it over as you add rows, you get a different stitch look like knitting does.) 

You could also use Glamour thread if you like the Sparkles! 

Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #15 of 77)

Fun. The Perle Cotton project sounds lovely. You've experimented with a lot of different techniques and I love hearing about them.

I'm just finally starting to learn how to handle knits - no serger - so I think I can apply your WSS tip, using my machine. Although, I'm pretty proud of my results on a lightweight cotton-with-a-little-bit-of-spandex knit, and a double needle.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #28458, reply #16 of 77)

Thank You!  You can make the scarves with a regular sewing machine too.  Just lay down a variety of ribbons, yarns, fibers, scraps onto water soluble stabilizer.  Cover them with WSS again.  Use a long stitch length and stitch across, just so you are attatching everything together into a long rectangle.  Practice with your decorative stitches or even zig zags. 

Even more fun:  slowly or hand wind thicker threads onto your bobbin (30 wt. or 12 wt. Sulky cotton blendables for instance).  You might have to bypass the tension on the bobbin.  You can even use the 30 wt. in a 90 topstitching needle but loosen the tension.  It looks really cool and you can make a real variety.  (Don't mess with your bobbin tension though, nightmares can result trying to reset it to "normal" factory setting. Yup, the voice of "experience" ha ha, later I bought a special bobbin case for this technique, when I adjust it I put it in a baggie so I don't lose that tiny screw.  )

I "play" more than I make "normal" clothing and such.  Just have fun!  Mary

Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #17 of 77)

Thanks. I'll play some too, and see what I can do.

JunkQueen's picture

(post #28458, reply #18 of 77)

I am so happy to hear someone other than myself has this problem. I seem to have attention span of a gnat these days. I could stay busy all day every day if I were to bring to fruition all the ideas I have banging around in my head.

I love your scarf idea, although I'm more likely to use it as the yoke on a slinky knit tee-shirt. Some of the eye-lash yarn around these days came to mind immediately. I buy it at the thrift stores and when it is deeply discounted at regular stores even though I don't crochet or knit. I've also been saving bits and pieces of unraveled thread (it's curly and has interesting shapes) and slivers of fabric I've trimmed or selvages or serged seams I've trimmed off for something along that line.

I saw an interesting tee at a thrift store Saturday. The base fabric appeared to be a sheer spandex or stretchy net. Another rather sheer, less stretchy, fabric was sewn on top of that (RS to WR). The top fabric has a design on it almost in a cobblestone pattern outlined in white. The seams were about a quarter inch inside each of the oddly shaped areas of print. Then each odd shape was snipped around leaving the quarter inch of white loose (almost like you'd do faux chenille. It looked almost like a shattered quilt top. Really interesting. I might go down and take a picture of it and post it just for a conversation piece.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #28458, reply #19 of 77)

That does sound like an interesting technique.  I think you would also like Kayla Kennington's fabric collage technique.  It would hold up better in clothing because of the backing fabric.  She's featured in several Threads articles through the years.  Mary

Sancin's picture

(post #28458, reply #25 of 77)

There is an interesting article in this months Sew News describing the use of a new thread called Chizimi which is used to scrunch material. One sews normally in whatever design - usually free motion and then iron the fabric - the thread shrinks. The article demonstrates using it in scarves and hats. I thought I may give it a try if I ever find the thread.

Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #20 of 77)

There's an article on the CraftStylish e-newsletter this time about scraps of fabric sewn down onto water-soluble stabilizer, as MaryinColorado was describing doing with yarns and threads. Somehow it makes me feel good to think we're becoming more conscious of how much we consume, and finding pleasure in saving and re-using in clever, fanciful ways. In my opinion, most sewers are well-practiced in that way of living.

Ceeayche's picture

(post #28458, reply #21 of 77)

I recently saw in at least two high end decorating magazines throw pillows that were covered in slip cover shams made from silk scarves. 

This one is a sham made from bandanas.

Here's one made from an Hermes scarf.

and Martha Stewart has directions on how to make it happen

And below I've added a picture of one from the "easy ethical fashion" website, where they tout this as a green thing to do!

My other suggestion comes from a friend of mine who takes sheets of foam core and cuts them to fit the size of frames she picks up from tag sales and spray paints in gold.  She covers the foam core with the fabric and uses tape to hold it to the back of the foam core and then inserts the foam core into the frames-- and she uses them in her dining room and her powder room to set the mood for her parties!  Last year for our cookie exchange she covered the foam core in swaths of gilded holiday fabric.  This time she left the glass off and affixed unique ornaments to the center with a hat pin.  Very unusual and quite pretty!

I'm thinking of copying this for my closet and use one of my grandmother's broaches on a ribbon on top of the scarf!


Edited 11/18/2008 5:50 pm ET by CHL

Greet each day with Joy.  Embrace your blessings.

rodezzy2's picture

(post #28458, reply #23 of 77)

Thanks for the pictures and ideas for pillows, good stuff.   I loved the bandana quilt too!  That's a great idea for a quilt.

Stormee's picture

(post #28458, reply #24 of 77)

I have sewn them altogether and made a dress. The dress turned out beautiful. Actually it was a halter dress with a full skirt. I serged the dress together. The serging gave it an extra touch.

sewpatsew's picture

(post #28458, reply #26 of 77)

I'm SO impressed with your ability not only to make the fabric for a silk-skirted halter dress but to look great in it.  Do you have a picture?  How many scarves did you use?


Stormee's picture

(post #28458, reply #29 of 77)

I used about 10 scarves, I have a friend that hand dyes and paints silk scarves, she lets me buy her "mistakes" for a small fee. The dress did not fit me. Here is a link to a posting of the dress. 

ThreadKoe's picture

(post #28458, reply #30 of 77)

A very attractive, pretty use for scarves, and a one of a kind dress.  Very, very nice!  Thanks for posting the link.  Well Done!  Cathy

sewpatsew's picture

(post #28458, reply #31 of 77)

Thanks, Cathy.  Yes, a real body in this dress sashaying down the street


would be awesome.  Great colors together.


Josefly's picture

(post #28458, reply #32 of 77)

I was just reminded, in another thread, of a pattern I have from Fashion Patterns by Coni. It can be seen here (Pattern V5107):

I think the layers of this type of garment could be made up of scarves, combined with solid colored silk for intervening layers. I think this pattern is out of print, but there are others around which use multiple layers of fabric.