Up-cycled Toddler T-Shirt Scarf

So for Christmas this year, I decided I would make as many of our Christmas gifts as possible. I thought it would be especially nice to make the gifts for our extended family members, so that when we gave them their gift, it would have a bit of sentimental value. The fact that I could save us some money may also have aided in this decision making process.

One of the people I needed to make a gift for happens to be my nephew, who is not quite two years old. Most toddlers I know have need of very little, and since they generally enjoy playing with random household items (spoons, spatulas, boxes, etc.) more than their toys, I felt no need to contribute to his toy collection. Once I had settled on making him a scarf, I knew it would have to fit him well, be comfy and cozy to wear, and most of all, that it must keep him warm.

I ended up making him a variation of a t-shirt scarf, and since I’m rather pleased with how it turned out, I thought I’d share a little tutorial with you.


old t-shirts, blankets, or scrap material, totaling about 1/4 yard of fabric

fleece, flannel, or something soft and warm, totaling about 1/4 yard of fabric (approximately 1/2 yard overall)

sewing machine or serger

needle and thread

rotary cutter, straight edge, and cutting mat

sewing scissors

iron and ironing board



For this project, I used an old double layer receiving blanket. The blanket I used had a different pattern on each side, and was only sewn together by the binding on the sides, so I ended up with two nice coordinating pieces of material for the top side of the scarf. I think these scarves typically look nicer with more than two different patterns for the top, but this is what I had on hand, so we made it work. I also had some fleece at home that worked perfectly for the soft back side of the scarf.

The first step is preparing your material. I started by cutting all the binding off the sides of the blanket.

After I had all the binding off, I separated the two layers of fabric.

Next, I squared the fabric, so that I would have an easier time cutting my strips.

See? Nice and square.

Next I decided how wide I wanted little H’s scarf to be, and figured 6″-7″ would be perfect. I cut my fabric (which in the picture above is folded to make it fit on my small-ish cutting mat) to 7″ wide, to allow for seam allowances.

After I had cut a few strips of both of the different fabrics, I began cutting the strips into the shapes I wanted them to have. I should add that I only ended up using one 7″ x 22″ strip of each pattern, since I wanted my finished product to be about 40″ long.

I just laid my two pieces one right on top of the other and cut different shapes that would fit together nicely.

You could cut each piece the exact same size, or you could piece the top of the scarf together, like a quilt. Make sure that if you are using knit, you are careful when you cut, as it likes to stretch. 

I laid my pieces out, alternating patterns, to see how it would look, and then it was time to sew. Start at one end and work your way towards the other, sewing right sides together as you go. I sewed 1/4″ seam allowances.

All sewn together, but a bit ragged:

Since my pieces didn’t match up perfectly, I squared the entire scarf top by lining it up on my cutting mat and cutting off the ragged edges on both sides. Not that it’s nice and tidy, it looks much better. I also ironed the back side of the top of the scarf, so that all the seams were facing one direction, and my scarf top would have a flat, wrinkle-free appearance.

Now take whatever material you are using for the back side of your scarf and cut it to fit the measurements of your top piece. At this point, my top was about 6.5″ x 41″.

After you have cut your fleece, place the top and bottom scarf pieces right sides together. You can now pin them for some extra hold while sewing, or you can just hold them together with your hands as you sew, which is what I did, and it worked just fine. Just make sure you leave an opening to turn it right-side out.

Now you need to pull the right sides through the opening you left, so your scarf is right-side out. I then ironed it again, so it was nice and flat for the next steps. After you have ironed it, it’s time to close up the opening. I used a ladder stitch, but failed to take pictures of this last part, so if you are unfamiliar with this stitch, follow my link for a video with instructions. This is an invaluable stitch to be able to sew by hand, as it comes in handy for so many projects: stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, basically any time you need to close up an opening but don’t want your stitches to show. After your opening is closed up, you can either be finished with your scarf, or you can sew some detail to add character as well as hold your scarf in place. I chose to add detail with my sewing machine. I simply took my fabric and moved it around to create the design I wanted onto each piece of the scarf. I don’t have a special foot or needle on my machine, just the same one I use for everyday sewing. It isn’t perfect, but it works for me, and I like the finished product.

So there you have it! I am hoping this scarf keeps little H warm this winter, and that if you are looking for a scarf for your little one, you’ll give this a try.

No Comments

  1. Heather P. -  January 7, 2012 - 4:09 pm

    Thank you so much for showing how to do the Ladder Stitch! I have been wanting know how to do tat as long as I can remember!

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