Skip to content

free tutorial – how to make your own quick and easy Irene of New York imitation scarf!

February 15, 2010

Erika from Denmark asked me to demonstrate how she could make her own imitation of the lovely Irene of New York turban from my Hat of the Day Sketch lineup.

imitation Irene of New York turban

Here’s the quick and easy method I created that gives you a lot of bang for very little buck!


You will need:

  • 1/2 yard (or 46cm) fabric – I used stretch velvet with stretch in four directions*
  • 1 barrette clip
  • pattern paper – butcher paper or wrapping paper works fine, too (HINT: wrapping paper with grid lines on the back is wonderful for pattern-making!)
  • fabric scissors or rolling cutter
  • cutting mat
  • pins or fabric weights
  • thread
  • grosgrain ribbon or fabric scrap
  • hot glue or fabric glue (optional)
  • a head on which to fit the scarf
  • a sense of fun and adventure!

* You may need to adjust the pattern width at the front straight edge based on the fabric you choose.  You will want to make sure the stretch direction goes horizontally across the forehead.

Okay!  We’re ready to get started.

Step 1:

Make your pattern per the drawing below.  The long straight edge (marked Bias fold below) is a 16.5″ (41.9cm) FOLDED EDGE (hence two layers of fabric) and should be cut on the bias unless you have a drapey fabric like I did.  The short straight edge is the front of the scarf and measures 11-7/8″ (30.2cm) at the corner, with the widest point of the curve being 12-3/16″ (31cm).  I included 1/2″ (1.27cm) seam allowance on all sides.

I didn’t scale down the pattern for download – if anyone has a hard time converting the photo and dimensions to a paper pattern, let me know and I’ll upload a scale drawing.

make the pattern

Step 2:

Fold your fabric on the long seam (Bias Fold, above), remembering to fold it along the bias if your fabric isn’t naturally drapey.  Pin your pattern to the fabric  or use weights.  As you can see, I use really fancy weights (taken from old bar bells!) to hold my pattern steady.  Canned food works well for this, too, as long as you’re comfortable cutting around the height of the cans.

Step 3:

Cut the fabric and pin the seam allowance under all the way around.

your scarf awaits... this shows the wrong side of fabric with seam allowance tucked and sewn in zig-zag stitch

NOTE:  the finished product is a single thickness of fabric and is not lined.  This makes it cheaper and cooler since velvet can retain a lot of body heat.  If you want to double the fabric and need help figuring out how to do this, contact me and I’ll be happy to guide you.

HINT:  For slippery or napped fabrics like velvet, use twice as many pins to keep it from shifting when you sew.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself swearing a mean streak, and crabby sewers are not fun to be around!

Step 4:

Sew the seams with a zig-zag stitch for all stretchy fabrics to allow the stretch to occur without popping seams.

Step 5:

The barrette is what will hold your scarf in the back.  This is the foundation to which you will attach your fabric roses.  Take your barrette and glue a fabric scrap or grosgrain ribbon across the arch of the barrette.  Make two fabric roses and sew or glue them to each end of the barrette.

the barrette with two roses - all it needs is something covering the arch!

To make super easy fabric roses, cut two circles out of your leftover fabric, grab one circle in the center from the wrong side, pinch and twist into a flower-like shape.

To make roses using a classic millinery technique, cut a strip of fabric 4″ wide (10.16cm) by at least 20″ (50.8cm) long.  Fold in half long-wise and round the corners.  Run a gathering stitch along the raw edges (not the folded edge).  Gather one end and start to roll it into a bud, tacking the raw edges at bottom.  Continue to gather from the bud out toward the other end, rolling and tacking as you go.  The tighter the gathers, the wider your bloom will be.  The looser the gathers, the more closed your rose will be.  The Trystan’s Closet website has good basic photos of what I’m describing.

Step 6:

Here’s the fun part.  You may need someone to help you with this bit.  Put the front stretchy seam on a mannequin or on your own head at the place where you want the finished scarf to sit.

put the front seam where you want it to lie on your head

Take the corners of the front seam in each hand and cross them in back with right side facing the ground and wrong sides facing your head.  Adjust the tightness you want in the scarf at this stage.  If you want to pin it or even tack it with needle and thread that’s okay, too.

Begin at one side and pleat from front to back toward the center back of the scarf, holding the pleats together in the other hand.  Repeat on the other side and clip your dried and finished barrette around the pleats, as if the fabric were hair.

Step 7:

Arrange the gathers in a rose form.  The gathers on the scarf will create the third “rose” at the back.  Again, if you want to make the gathers permanent, hand-baste them together as you form the pleats.

Do note that leaving a fabric like velvet in the barrette for a long period of time will cause the nap to be crushed permanently.  Of course, no one will see that unless you take the barrette out.

If you prefer to stitch everything rather than use the barrette, you are less likely to damage the fabric.  You will just need to use a heavy-duty thread so it doesn’t break, and make sure your stitches are hidden.

Step 8:

Put on your gorgeous scarf and a snazzy outfit, grab a glass of wine with friends, and be proud of yourself for a job well done!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 8:08 am

    THANKS! The measurements in centimeters was a nice personal touch 😉


  1. Hat of the Day Sketch – Irene of New York turban, ca. 1948 « Thoroughly Modern Milliner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: