by Taylor Hackbarth
Earlier this year I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to Paris. Amongst all of the famous monuments, beautiful streets, and delicious food, there was one fashion accessory that was on display everywhere. Scarves. Fully embraced by both men and women, I had never seen so many scarves and shops that sell them. Even though August isn’t exactly scarf weather here in Nashville, I was inspired by what I saw in Paris and decided to make one of my own.
I’ve had this idea to make something with various shades of indigo for a long time, and this scarf project was the perfect opportunity to explore this “patchwork” approach to sewing.
I used an indigo dye kit and linen fabric provided by Dharma Trading Company. And they’ve been nice enough to offer the same exact kit and fabric for a lucky reader to win! Scroll through to the end of the post to enter.
Fabric, tools, supplies
Choose a soft fabric that will be comfortable to wear. Since this will be a double sided scarf with two layers, I would also suggest choosing a fabric that is relatively light weight.
You will need approximately 2 yards (60” wide). I chose a 3.8 oz, 100% linen fabric because I thought it would make for some really interesting textures with the indigo.
If you are going to dye your fabric with indigo, the last requirement is that you use a natural fiber fabric such as cotton, linen, or hemp. Synthetic fibers will not hold the indigo dye.
Unless you have experience dyeing with indigo, I would highly suggest starting with a kit like the one I used for this project. The kit has almost everything you need to get started.
In addition, you will also need a five gallon bucket with a lid, a long stir stick, something to protect the area around your dye bucket (like a plastic drop cloth), and a place to hang or set your fabric pieces as they dry and oxidize.
Decide on the dimensions of your scarf. The scarf I made is roughly 12” wide by 82” long when finished, but these dimensions can be adjusted to suit your preference and fabric type. A heavier fabric might warrant a narrower scarf to reduce some bulkiness around your neck.
While the finished scarf might have a randomly pieced together feel, I wanted to work from a standard template to make sure the scarf came out the right length and width. For the individual pieces, you can either make a paper template or cut using a rotary cutter/ruler.
My template is a 15” tall x 13” wide sheet of paper. Simply tape together regular printer paper, measure, and cut to get the correct dimensions. All of the seam allowance is built into this template.
Using the template or a rotary cutter/ruler, cut twelve (15” x 13”) individual rectangles from the fabric.
If using an indigo kit, you can simply follow the included directions, but here are some general suggestions. One short dip will yield a light shade, whereas a longer submersion will yield a darker shade of indigo. Multiple dips in the indigo dye will also contribute to darker shades.
You can also do some shibori dyeing techniques to add different patterns and effects to your dyed pieces. The basic idea is that any place you keep the indigo from touching the fabric will remain white. By using rubber bands, string, blocks of wood, and washers (anything really) you can create some interesting patterns.
I tried to make each of my 12 rectangles unique, both different shades and patterns, to contribute to the random patchwork effect in the finished scarf.
Here are all 12 of my pieces of fabric after dyeing.
Design and sewing
To create an irregular brick or “patch” pattern throughout the scarf, I further divided each of my twelve sections into smaller pieces. First, I cut each block into a 4″, 5″ and 6″ strip. Then I cut each strip into smaller pieces. Here are the exact dimensions:
Each of my original 12 pieces of fabric are now divided into 6 individual sections.
The options for dividing up your pieces are really endless here. As long as you divide the piece into three rows and then each row into two sections, you can really do any dimensions you want.
To keep everything organized, I separated out each of my pieces under the corresponding template piece. Next, I mixed and matched my newly cut pieces into a pleasing arrangement, keeping each block paired with other blocks from the same row (A, B, or C).
Using the 1/4” quilting foot and the IDT™ system on my machine (which is basically a built-in walking foot), I joined all of the short vertical seams first and then pressed the seams open. The IDT™ system worked really well with the lightweight linen to help keep the pieces aligned, and the quilting foot yielded a perfect 1/4” seam throughout.
After all of the vertical seams were joined and pressed open, I joined sets of A, B and C strips at the horizontal seams to reconstruct the twelve blocks. Make sure to keep the arrangement so that the vertical seams are all staggered.
Lay out the front and back of the scarf (six blocks in each) in the way that looks the best to you, taking into account the color and seam position of each row. I tried to keep the vertical seams offset so that two vertical seams never meet each other. Sew all horizontal seams at 1/4” seam allowance, and press all seams open.
At this point you should have 2 long sections identical in length and width. Pin, right sides together, and sew up the long edges with a 1/4” to 3/8” seam allowance. Since the linen shifted and stretched a little bit during the dyeing, cutting, and sewing process, I needed a little bit extra seam allowance on these last two long side seams.
I added some of fringe at the ends of the scarf rather than enclosing the raw edges of the ends inside. If you want to do this, start and stop sewing 1” from the edge of the fabric when sewing up the long side seams.
Press the side seams open, turn the the scarf right side out, and press flat.
Before creating the fringe, I suggest stitching the ends of the scarf closed from the right side. This stitching will also help provide a stopping point for the fringe, so that the ends do not fray more than you want them to.
For me, this was the perfect opportunity to use one of the many decorative stitches on my machine (a Pfaff® quilt ambition™ 2.0). I used the Crazy Patch quilting stitch number 77 which has a really cool honeycomb effect that fit perfectly with the overall look and feel of my scarf. This was sewn as topstitching on the right side of the scarf, 1” from the ends.
Once the ends are sewn up, then start pulling on the weft (cross) threads, one at a time, until the fringe starts to form. Sew your decorative stitch further from the ends to create longer fringe to suit your own personal style.
And that’s it! Your very own hand dyed patchwork indigo scarf!
Enter below to win your own indigo dye kit and 2 yards of linen fabric from Dharma Trading. There are several ways to enter – pick the ones you want! Giveaway runs through Thursday, 8-20-15.
TAYLOR HACKBARTH TaylorTailor
Taylor started sewing six years ago after commandeering his wife’s sewing machine in an attempt to make a pair of jeans. He has been making clothing and bags ever since, and spends nearly all of his free time drafting patterns, or happily hunched over a sewing machine. Taylor currently lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three crazy cats.
Sewing machine: PFAFF® quilt ambition™ 2.0
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