Handmaker's Factory

Silk Scarf Refashion

As I looked around my studio for inspiration for my next project, I noticed that I had collected a lot of scarves. Not the knit, keep you warm type, but the silky, dress-up-your blouse variety. While these scarves really aren't in vogue any more  I was attracted to them for their colors and/or patterns and since they were cheap thrift store finds, I bought them.
One scarf in particular attracted my attention. I loved the colors (purple and teal, an odd combination that seems to work), it was huge, about 2 yards of fabric and the feel and drape of the material was soft.  As I held it up I immediately thought “dress”.

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I could have just cut a hole in the middle and sewed up the side seams and had a flowy, although a bit see-through, caftan-type dress (which I may try on another scarf). But that didn’t really satisfy my creative urge.  I like combining different mediums in the same garment and for this dress I envisioned a crochet yoke. Having just reorganized my sewing room and filled a huge plastic bin with crochet thread, this would be a chance to use some of it up. I’ve also been playing with Irish crochet so the idea for my scarf dress started taking shape.

Sewing the Dress


I decided to use McCall’s pattern 5586 (it’s out of print), a loose fitting top with a self faced yoke, as a starting point. I used view A and altered the neckline (basically cut it straight across) and made it longer to be a dress. Then, based on those alterations, I made a template for the yoke.  Since the fabric was sheer, I did use a lining. Cutting and sewing the dress was easy and only took me a couple of hours. First I sewed the side seams on the lining. finishing them off with the serger. Then I sewed the side seams for the dress and since the scarf was so light and sheer, I used a French seam. Then I put the lining and scarf right sides together and sewed them together at the front and back yoke. I left the armholes open so I could turn the dress right side out. I finished off the armholes with a bias trim from the lining fabric and hemmed it.

Crocheting the Yoke

I'm a bit obsessed with Irish crochet lately. I have a couple of books in my library and dragged  them out to give it a try. Most Irish crochet patterns are from older publications and the terminology isn't always the same. Luckily the patterns are usually heavily illustrated or photographed so if you are familiar with crochet, you can figure a lot of it out on your own. If you are unfamiliar with Irish crochet, it is comprised of motifs (usually flowers, leaves and scrolls) that are either appliquéd onto or attached with a lacy, net-like crochet stitch pattern.

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didn't have a clear idea of what the final design for the yoke would be. I just played around with a couple of different motifs and pinned them in various configurations on the template to see what I liked best. When I had all my motifs finished I decided to crochet the net background and appliqué the motifs to it. But I hit a bit of a snag when I realized that I would not have enough thread to finish it. I wasn't even sure if I would have enough to do it the other way either, but I crossed my fingers and started  crocheting the motifs together in a web of chains, single, double and treble crochets.  As I was filling in my yoke, I realized that having a border of single or double crochet would not only help retain its shape, but would give me a solid edge to attach it to the dress but I was still unsure if I would have enough thread. Fortunately it all worked out but I did have a contingency plan of using a darker purple for the outline since I probably wouldn't be able to match the color I was using. I finished the dress by sewing the yoke (by machine) to the front and back of the dress and giving it a final iron.

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Final Thoughts

This was a fun project and I am extremely pleased with the results. However, I didn't really need a sewing pattern and next time I would figure out how to use the whole scarf so there was no waste. The great thing about these types of projects is that they spawn even more ideas. What about changing the neckline - keyhole, square, v-neck? Or adding cute little cap sleeves. The one I'm most interested in though is  turning a scarf into  a wrap around skirt that could also be a top/dress, with a lacy crochet hem. Oh, the possibilities!


Lynn Burdick is a designer, author and Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach who loves the thrill of the (thrift store) hunt. When she isn't playing with yarn/fabric or helping others follow their bliss, she can be found jogging, cooking, drawing, reading, dreaming of her own garden or plotting her next adventure. You can learn more about her at www.LynnBurdick.com.