It's mid-October here in North Texas, and it's still not cold enough to pull out our cold weather garb. Argh! How much longer can a gal wear her summer get-ups before she goes crazy? In hopeful anticipation of cooler weather on the horizon, I've been serging up a storm of scarves. I'm a confessed scarf-a-holic. It's just the perfect way to tie together an outfit and turn any plain assemblage into something with style and flair. A pair of jeans with a white button-down or a simple cardigan looks finished and put-together with a splash of pattern or color around your neck.
For all of these scarves, I cut two-yard lengths of fabric. After personal experimentation and research on the standard dimensions of ready-made scarves, I've concluded that any scarf less than 72 inches in length is just too short. When wrapped around your neck, scarves that are too short look awkward and don't hang properly.
To create lighter-weight scarves, I cut the fabric in half down the center, leaving me with another scarf piece to make as a gift for someone else. With lighter-weight fabrics, one-sided prints, or scarves that I want to wear for serious warmth purposes, I used the entire two-yard cut creating a double-thickness scarf.
All of these scarves (except the Kaffe Fassett Woven Stripe) were serged with woolly nylon thread - (and before you call the spelling police, it can be spelled wooly or woolly. I googled it!) I like to describe woolly nylon thread like a silky, loosely spun knitting yarn. When it winds off the spool, it spreads apart slightly. This quality helps the thread to lay completely flat against the fabric. It can be used to finish seams on garments but I think it's better suited for applications where it is used as a decorative finish.
To create the thick, finished edges on these scarves I removed the right needle, threaded the left needle with regular serger thread (next time I will use coordinating all-purpose thread to match the woolly nylon), and threaded the lower and upper loopers with the woolly nylon. Changing out the upper and lower looper threads was easy as pie - I simply cut each thread at the spool, then tied the ends to the new spools and let the machine pull the new thread all the way through the machine. You can use this technique to rethread the needles as well, but make sure to STOP before the knot gets to the eye of the needle and thread the needle by hand with the new thread. The knot will not pass through the eye, and it will cause a big hair ball of a mess.
Different fabric types and thread types will behave differently in your serger, and typically you will need to adjust your tension settings each time that you change threads or use a new fabric. Make sure to experiment on scraps to adjust the tension settings properly. To achieve the dense stitching, I lowered the stitch length to the smallest setting and played around with the tension settings until I was happy.
After posting one of my first scarves on Instagram, an Instagram buddy (Insta-buddy? Insta-friend?) asked if this edging could be achieved using a conventional sewing machine. My answer? Yes and no. The dense stitching effect can be achieved if you use a very tight zig-zag/satin stitch like you would use for applique. The problem is that some lightweight fabrics need more stability (which is why you use a stabilizer for embroidery and applique) to achieve the look without having crazy bobbin thread and fabric puckering. It also takes FOREVER on a regular sewing machine. I would recommend hemming the edges of your scarf and stitching with a decorative stitch rather than attempt a super dense over-edge effect. It can be done with some experimentation, but it's not for someone looking for a quick and easy, 1o-minute project.
My favorite fabric for make scarves right now is all of our luscious Japanese double-gauze. It hangs beautifully and is super soft to the touch. The solid double gauze looks great with a pop of contrasting color, and I love, love, love the Cosmo plaid. The plaid is white on the back, so I made it into a double-thickness.
Creating good corners is a serger technique that takes some practice. I've never been very good at it, but I found the following serger tutorial on Craftsy quite helpful. It's actually a tutorial for making rolled-hem napkins, but she shows exactly how to tackle the corners issue towards the end of the video.
These scarves make beautiful gifts.