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Infinity scarf sewn from a men silk Hawaiian print shirt

Often you have silk shirts that have to be tossed because they are worn out at the sleeves or collar. Sometimes they just don’t fit anymore. Since silk is an expensive fabric, you might consider recycling the fabric. This post shows you how to upcycle an old silk shirt into an infinity scarf in easy to follow steps.

  1. Why to Upcycle Old Clothes into Something New
  2. Up-cycling, Recycling, Consigning Help the Environment, Budget, …
  3. … and Can Be Chic and a Great Deal
  4. How Do You Know What You Can Recycle or Upcycle?
  5. Instructions to Make an Infinity Scarf from a Silk Shirt
  6. Make an Infinity Scarf in a Nutshell


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Why to Upcycle Old Clothes into Something New

Every item in our closets has an environmental footprint. One doesn’t have to go thru the entire production process to see the impact. The most obvious are those related to the production of the yarn, washing and dyeing the yarn, and getting the sewn clothes into the stores. There may have been fertilizers and pesticides involved when the fabric is from yarns harvested from plants. It is well known that fertilizers and pesticides may affect groundwater. When the piece is from wool overgrazing may have occurred which may lead to soil loss, dust uptake and droughts. The material has to be washed prior to spinning. Thus, a valuable resource is used. Dyes may have toxic ingredients. The ready-to-wear clothes have to be transported into the stores meaning emissions. Read more on the environmental impacts of fashion.


lifestyle blogger looking posh in a long leather coat
DIY infinity scarf with LeatherCoatsEtc long quilt lining leather coat with faux fur accents, SAK bag, GNW tight, Adidas sneakers, eBay leather beret, and shearling gloves (all own)


How Up-cycling, Recycling, Conseigning Help the Environment, Budget, …

The longer a piece is worn, the smaller its environmental footprint per wear becomes over time. When a piece doesn’t fit anymore, or it’s not so me anymore, always give the piece a critical look. Can it be worn by another woman a second time around? If so, these pieces go to goodwill, a consignment or thrift store. It depends on the brand of the piece. Medium prize brands sell well in consignment stores, and they provide you some extra money for your fashion budget. Low price brands do well in thrift and charity stores. Thus, donating them gives you some good feeling about being resourceful. When you live in a university town, there may be even a free market. When your girlfriends have a similar size, a clothes swap party may be fun.


mature style blogger in chic winter look and leather beret
Side view of DIY infinity scarf with LeatherCoatsEtc long leather coat with faux fur details, SAK bag, Adidas sneakers, GNW tight, eBay leather beret, and shearling gloves (all own)

… and Can Be Chic and a Great Deal

I have made some great scores in consignments, goodwill and thrift stores. One woman’s trash, can be another woman’s treasure. Of course, one must know the brands, and be patient as one can’t go into such a store expecting to come out with a great deal dress when you are in the market for a dress. Thus, scoring high when shopping second hand can be time consuming. However, there are some time saving tricks when shopping second hand. For instance, knowing which designer brands to look for in thrift shops.


How Do You Know What You Can Recycle or Upcycle?

Some pieces won’t sell second hand, or maybe just for a dollar at a yard sale, and only when you are lucky. These pieces may be nevertheless too precious to go to the landfill. My hubby’s silk Hawaiian shirt is one of these items. When decluttering his closet, this shirt didn’t make the cut to go back in. I didn’t even remember when he wore it the last time. To be honest, I had already forgotten about the shirt. Meanwhile it was out of fashion, i.e. non-sellable except at a yard sale for a dollar (for an upcycling project). Since the silk fabric feels so precious and soft, I thought it would make a great scarf for staying warm. It wouldn’t add the bulk and itchiness of a wool infinity scarf.

It was a right decision.


Hawaiian print silk shirt
Beautiful Hawaiian print silk Vintage Silk shirt from my husband’s closet. He hadn’t worn the shirt for years. The shirt has the colors of my leather coat. Thus, I got the idea to turn the shirt into an infinity scarf to wear with the coat


Instructions to Make an Infinity Scarf from a Silk Shirt

Take a straight hem men’s silk shirt. Measure the length between the shirts hem and the armpit. Mark the length over the entire shirt either with soapstone or pins. I did it with pins as my soapstone didn’t work on the shirt.


DIYfashion Marking the line for the cut
Preparing the line for the cut with pins.


Cut along the marked line.


scissors cutting along white pins
Cutting along the line marked here indicated by white pins. Make sure not to injure yourself with the pins when cutting. Use a tailor pair of scissors.


Cut off buttons, and if there is a pocket, split it off from the left side.


illustration for splitting off buttons and pocket
Photos illustrating the splitting off of the buttons (upper panel), and pocket from the left side of the shirt (middle panel), and the right side of the shirt and the pocket after splitting it off (bottom panel).


Fold the small side over along the full length of the former front and back of the shirt with the right side to the inside. Pin the hem along the cut line.


DIY of an infinity scarf folded over fabric
Cut off body part of the shirt folded over with the left side of the fabric outside and pinned along the former hem of the shirt.


Sew along the hem line making sure that the former hem can’t be seen when you turn the resulting tube’s inside out.


sewing along the hem
Sewing along the former hemline so it won’t be visible after turning the tube around


Turn the tube to the right and iron the tube so the seam is in the middle. This side will be the left side of your infinity scarf.


closing the tube
Tube turned on the right side (upper panel) and pinned ends


Now pin the ends of the tube together as far as possible for sewing them together on the left side (see photo). Make sure that you pin the future outside of the scarf together first. This means aim for the seam along the long side of the scarf being where you can’t pin the fabric together anymore. Sew the ends together as far as possible. There are two possibilities to close the rest. You can do an invisible closure by hand stitching it or just sewing it together on the right side as I did (see photo).


finishing the infinity scarf sewn from a men's shirt
Finishing steps: Showing the remaining open seam (upper panel), closed seam using the sewing machine (middle), and ironing of the infinity scarf


Now your scarf is ready to go. Happy styling.

Done? Here a great idea for your next upcycling project. Revive old wardrobe favorites to look wow-worthy by dyeing.


In a Nutshell

Upcycling reduces your carbon footprint. It also helps you to stay on a budget. DIY is a very relaxing method to stay in good mental health when you enjoy being creative. Thus, why not trying to “up-cycle” old clothes? Do you need you next project? See how to upcycle a sari in the linked DIY tutorial.

Do you upcycle old clothes? I mean besides using old T-shirts for cleaning the house and shoes. Let me know what you up-cycled. I am curious.

Photos of the DIY process: N. Mölders

Photos of me: G. Kramm

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