how to upcycle a dress shirt into an infinity scarf {tutorial}

Written by Emily McClements of Live Renewed

Today I want to show you how to turn an ugly dress shirt into a super cute scarf. This project has quite a few steps, but let me assure you it is an easy beginner project. If you can cut and pin material and sew a straight line (or semi-straight in my case), you can make this scarf. And if I can do this, you can do this, because I definitely don’t have any special crafty or sewing skills.

I found this tutorial for making an infinity scarf before Christmas when I was looking for easy gifts to make for my family. I made a few scarves for gifts out of material that I purchased, and got the hang of the pattern. Then, I was shopping at a thrift store recently and stumbled upon this ugly shirt. But, I was drawn to the fabric for some reason, and I thought it would make a cute scarf. So I bought the shirt, upcycled it into a scarf, and am really happy with the way it turned out!

I followed basically the same method that I used to make scarves out of a long piece of material, but this time using material that I cut from the shirt. Read on for the tutorial.

How to upcycle a dress shirt into an infinity scarf

upcycle a dress shirt

Step One

Cut the arms, side seams, collar, button placket and button holes off of the shirt. Keep the hem along the bottom of the shirt, because that is one less seam you will have to sew.

sew an infinity scarf

Step Two

Cut off the shoulders of the shirt, from the bottom of the arm holes up, to give yourself three rectangles of material; two from the front panels of the shirt, and one from the back panel.

You want to to make sure you have the most material possible, but the two front panels should be the same height from top to bottom, and the back panel should be double the height of the front panels. My front panels were 10″ high and my back panel was 20″ high.

upcycle a dress shirt

Step Three

Fold the back panel (the bigger panel) in half from top to bottom, so that it is the same height as the front panels, and cut it along the fold. When you’re done, you want to have four rectangle panels that are all basically the same height. You will sew these panels into one long length to make your scarf.

sewing and infinity scarf

Step Four

Line your panels up into one long length of material, with the wrong side facing up. Make sure one of the shirt hems is at each end of the length because you want finished hems on the ends of the scarf. If you want, you can rip out, or cut off, the other shirt hems to give you more material to sew together, or to make the seams less bulky.

sewing an infinity scarf

Pin the ends of the panels right sides together. This is where you will sew the panels together to make the length for the scarf. You will have three seams to pin together. Sew a straight line up each seam, back stitching at the beginning and end of each seam to secure it. These seams will be barely noticeable when the scarf is finished.

When you’ve sewn your three seams, you will have one long piece of material. Mine was 76″ inches long, and I think it is a perfect length. I can wrap the scarf around twice loosely, or three times more tightly. Your length will vary based on the size of the shirt you used, and you may need to test the scarf around your neck and adjust the length accordingly, or you can do that later, see Step Seven below.

Step Five

Lay out your piece of material and fold it up, in half, right sides together, along the length of the piece. In other words, fold it in half, height-wise, so that you still have one long, but skinny length of material. Mine was 5″ tall after folding it in half, and 76″ long. Pin the material right sides together, along the whole length of the scarf. Basically, you’re going to be sewing one long tube out of the material.

sewing an infinity scarf

Step Six

Sew a straight line (or as straight as possible), along the entire length of the material. Sew right sides together to create a long, skinny tube.

sewing an infinity scarf

Step Seven

Turn your tube right side out, and holding onto each end, turn one side of the material up to make a kind of twist in the middle so the scarf will lay nicely. You don’t want it to be a full twist, just a half twist. Then tuck one end of the tube into the other, and pin together. You should have one big circle with a half twist in the middle.

This is when you’ll want to test the length of your scarf again, and make sure it’s not too long. If it is, you can just cut off one of the ends until it is the right length (be sure to allow some overlap to sew the scarf together), and then tuck the cut, unfinished end into the end with the hem. Pin one end of the tube inside the other to create the round circle of material.

DIY infinity scarf

Step Eight

Sew a straight line to secure the ends together, back stitching on both ends, cut off the extra thread, and you’re finished!

DIY infinity scarf

Step Nine

Wear and enjoy your scarf, knowing that it’s one of a kind, and you made it yourself!

*Note: the larger the original shirt is, the bigger your scarf will be. If you want a wider, chunkier scarf, choose a large, or XL, men’s size shirt made out of a thick material. I think a flannel scarf would be really cute. The shirt I used was a woman’s size medium, polyester knit, and I think it was the perfect size and length for the type of material.

Find the original infinity scarf tutorials, using a yard of material, here and here.

Does this look like a project that you could do? Do you have any questions, or something that I could explain better for you?

How have you upcycled a thrift store clothing item to make it into something fun and functional?