We Show You How to Make and Wear a Scarf Dress

by Kathleen Loxton
How to make your own scarf print dress

Making a DIY scarf dress is a great way to inject some new life into one of your oversized scarves, and it is this model of reuse, reduce and recycle that defines the DIY fashion philosophy. Transforming an item that is traditionally used in the winter months into a sarong cover up or dress for the summer is the ideal way to wear your silk scarf all year round.

If you’re a newbie DIY fashionista and don’t know how to make a scarf dress or how to tie a sarong, then this guide is for you. From the materials to use, the equipment you’ll need, and the different styles that you can follow: this is your definitive guide on how to make a dress from the scarves already hanging in your wardrobe.

Scarf Dress Trend

The silk scarf skirt or dress trend screams boho chic. Worn loosely with a pair of sandals, an oversized hat and long beads, a long scarf dress is perfect for summer months – at festivals, garden parties or a trip to the beach. Making a scarf dress DIY-style is not only fun but also super fashionable; just think how many different prints and patterns you’ll have to play with.

Summer Outfits with Scarves

A sarong wrap or scarf dress is the ideal summer cover up, and works well for all shapes and sizes. Slim women will look lovely in a halter scarf dress, whilst a plus size scarf dress is ideal for curvier women as the loose silhouette will flow comfortably over your curves. Alternatively, if you’ve got a small bust and wide thighs, learn how to make a sarong with a plunging v-neckline. This will draw attention to the slimmest part of your body and expose your narrower shoulders.

Plus Sized Maxi Scarf Dress


Intro to DIY Fashion

Personalisation has been a growing phenomenon for a while now, and learning how to make your own dress out of a scarf is a great introduction to the realm of DIY fashion. There are endless supplies that you can buy if want to turn your spare room into a DIY studio.

Making a scarf dress requires the following items:

  • A scarf or scarves
  • A box of pins
  • A measuring tape
  • A sewing machine
  • Miscellaneous items depending on the style e.g. ribbon, buttons, chains etc.

YouTube DIY Videos

YouTube is a great source of DIY fashion inspiration, with plenty of easy-to-follow videos. This scarf dress tutorial is the perfect place to start if you want to make a fantastic silk scarf dress for the first time:

Different Type of Materials

Scarves come in many shapes, sizes and fabrics. The material of your scarf will determine its texture, appearance, and weather-appropriateness.

Silk – A silk scarf adds a certain chic factor to any outfit. It can be shiny or matte in appearance. Silk has temperature-regulating properties, which makes it ideal for garments in interchangeable climates, and it is a breathable fabric that is robust and resists odours. As such, a silk scarf dress works especially well in the warmer months.
Satin – A satin scarf is cheaper than its silky alternative. Satin usually comes as a lightweight fabric with a fine weave, which is why a satin scarf dress drapes so beautifully.
Chiffon – A lightweight plain-woven sheer fabric that’s commonly made from cotton, silk or a synthetic fibre. The material has some stretch to it and is somewhat rough to the touch. Chiffon is a mesh-like weave that gives a see-through appearance, and therefore a chiffon scarf dress looks great layered over a tighter black top.

Key Materials and Prints to Use

From floral and geometric, to dotted, striped, checked and blocked: there are so many prints to choose from. Any pattern can be used when transforming your scarf into a skirt, sarong or dress. It is simply down to personal preference.

Silk Satin Chiffon Scarf Material


How to Make a Scarf Dress

A scarf print maxi dress is a style that oozes elegance and whimsical freedom, and is definitely smart enough to wear as everyday fashion on the street.

Follow these instructions to make your very own DIY scarf dress:

Materials Required

  • 3 silk scarves (ideally 34.5″ in length – diagonal running from shoulder to hem is 48”)
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Strap material – bias black tape, leather, suede etc
  • A mannequin or willing model

Scarf Dress Instructions

  1. Take two of your scarves and drape from the shoulders. Pin each corner at your shoulder and then pin the two scarves together, in a v-shape, where you want the neckline to meet.
  2. Take your third scarf and pin the corner centrally at the base of your neck.
  3. Pin under the arms where the front scarves meet the back scarf.
  4. Sew down the front where the two scarves meet, from the neckline all the way down to the edge.
  5. Sew down each side from the underarm and pin all the way down the edge.
  6. Pin your straps from the top corners on the front to about 3 inches down from the point on the back. Try on to ensure the straps fit comfortably, adjust if needed, and sew the straps in place.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sew Petite Gal

How to Tie a Scarf into a Dress

There are a number of ‘no sew’ scarf skirts and dress options, too, if you don’t want to go down the DIY route. There are plenty of tutorials which show you how to wrap a scarf into a dress or how to tie a scarf into a vest. This fantastic video from the fabulous Wendy’s Lookbook shows you 25 ways to wear your scarf to instantly update any outfit:

Great Way to Add a Pop of Colour to Any Outfit

Scarf dresses are a great summer look, but scarves in general are a key wardrobe accessory: an instant way to add a pop of colour and freshen up any outfit. In winter, a favourite look is a black dress with scarf, usually either tartan or checked. With no-one really getting the chance to see what you’re wearing underneath all your layers, your scarf becomes your outfit defining piece.

A great trend for the summer months is a more delicate silk scarf, which you can wrap round your neck (or wear as a DIY swimsuit coverup) to give a nod to the 70s and 90s neckerchief trend that is sweeping Instagram right now.

Outfit grid: Scarfs for Summer and Winter


Want in on the action? Shop scarves from some of our favourite retailers:

Don’t Want to DIY? Our Top 10 Scarf Dresses on the High Street

Top High Street Scarf Dresses for women

L-R Free People Beaux Slip Dress in Scarf Print (ASOS – £78.00), Lame Panelled Slip Dress by Boutique (Topshop – £95.00), Petite Scarf Print Midi Dress (Dorothy Perkins – £30.00), Strappy Scarf Print Hanky Hem Dress (Simply Be – £22.00), V by Very Scarf Print Maxi Dress (Very – £45.00)

High Street Scarf Dresses

L-R Arianne Scarf Print Cap Sleeve Shift Dress (Boohoo – £12.00), V by Very Hanky Hem Scarf Dress (Very – £20.00), Mela Multicoloured butterfly print scarf dress (Debenhams – £24.00), Navy Urban Bliss Pamela Scarf Print Apron Maxi Dress (Exhibit – £10.00), Scarf Print Dress (La Redoute – £29.50).

How to Make a Dress Out of a Scarf: Top Tips

•  Ensure the dimensions of the scarf fit the look that you’re going for. You will need an oversized scarf if want to make a maxi dress, for example.
•  Measure twice, cut once!
•  Remember that some styles should be kept to the beach and not the street.
•  Don’t be afraid of colour. Patterns make a perfect print scarf dress.

Read more great articles on women’s fashion here at alexie.co.

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