DIY Claire McCardell-Inspired Wrap/Scarf

Hi, everyone! Julie Eilber of JetSetSewing.com here, with a fun mid-century-style lined wrap project! You can wear it a couple of different ways…

shoulder wrap or scarf

This is the holiday “Um, how many people are showing up for dinner tonight?” look.

shoulder wrap or scarf

And this is the “as a matter of fact, I am sneaking out for Girls Night Out” look. As you can see, it’s a very versatile wardrobe addition. It’s reversible, too!

shoulder wrap or scarf

You may have seen infinity wraps like this in stores in recent years, but this pattern actually is inspired by a 1947 shoulder shrug by mid-century designer Claire McCardell.

Claire McCardell 1940s

McCardell was one of the first American designers to use knits in her garments, as early as the 1930s! She thought of designing as “solving problems” and made practical yet alluring outfits with useful pockets and warm wraps. The original wrap, shown above, was a huge success.

The pattern I’ve created uses two different knit fabrics. Now don’t be afraid of knits! I’ve been sewing them since the “Stretch & Sew” days of yore, and it’s not hard at all. When you have a modern BERNINA sewing machine, (such as my adorable B 560, AKA my “Swiss intern Karl”), sewing knits is a breeze! And even if you’re using a vintage machine, you can still make this wrap with a narrow zigzag stitch.

Supplies

  • 1 yard knit fashion fabric*
  • 1 yard knit lining fabric**
  • A package of lightweight clear elastic
  • Thread matching the fashion fabric and lining
*Choose a knit fabric with a good amount of stretch in the width for the fashion (outside) fabric. It can be a loose sweater knit, French terry, or some other cozy knit.

**Choose a knit lining with a similar amount of stretch in the width. Some of the lining will show, so pick a fabric complementary to the fashion fabric. If you are using a loose knit for your fashion fabric, chose a more stable knit for your lining.

Here are the fabrics I chose, which I found recently at Jo-Ann Fabrics. One is a lightweight knit and the other is a little thicker:

coordinating knit fabrics

Step 1) Prepare the fabric pieces.

Be sure to wash or steam the fabrics first, following manufacturer’s directions.

Download and assemble the pattern. Claire_McCardell-Inspired_Wrap-Scarf_pattern.pdf

I call this pattern “one size fits many,” but you may need to make it wider or narrower in the center of the pattern, depending on bust size and the amount of stretch in the fabric. One way to check the size of the wrap is to make an unlined “test” version of the wrap out of inexpensive fleece. Or measure around your bustline, including your upper arms in the measurement, and compare to the pattern size.

Cut two pattern pieces each of the fashion fabric and lining fabric, with the stretch going across the width. I folded my fabric on the crosswise grain to get the stretch going in the right direction. If you are using stripes, cut each piece one at a time, side by side, to match them. I used a rotary cutter with this delicate knit:

free sewing pattern weights, rocks

(Like my pattern weights? They were free!)

Put a Ballpoint, Jersey, or Stretch needle in your machine.

Pin one side seam of the fashion fabric, right sides together, then hold some lightweight clear elastic over the seamline as you sew the seam, to stabilize it. The elastic really helps the wrap keep its shape over time, and is well worth the effort.

I used a stretch overlock stitch (#10 on my B 560), and Overlock Foot #2A to make a strong seam with a little “give.”. It’s okay if the elastic folds over a little in the seam. On all of these seams, be careful not to stretch the fabric as it goes under the needle.

stitch clear elastic into seam

You can also use a narrow zigzag stitch to create a seam with a 3/8″ seam allowance. If you are matching stripes, using double-forked quilters’ pins can really help hold them in place. Lightly press the seam, but don’t have the iron too hot.

See how nicely the stripes matched up?

matching stripes, chevron

Claire McCardell often put stripes on the bias in a chevron pattern like this, which is one of the reasons I chose this fabric.

Sew one side seam of the lining the same way, but without the clear elastic, and press.

lining seam

Pin the fashion fabric to the lining, right sides together, at the top seam.

match seams

 

Check to see that you have lined up the two side seams.

match seams

Your goal is to have the side seams meet like this on the outside of your wrap:

matching seams

Sew the top seam with the same overlock stitch or zigzag, adding the clear elastic again. Press that seam.

Pin the fashion fabric to the lining at the bottom, right sides together, lining up the side seams again. Sew that seam with the elastic on top as well. Press.

The wrap will look like this:

shoulder wrap

Put your hand inside the wrap and pull the raw edge of one side seam through, until it meets the matching side seam edge, right sides together.

turn partially right side out

Pin those edges in a circle, fashion fabric meeting fashion fabric and lining meeting lining, right sides together. Leave a 4″-long opening in the lining seam to turn the wrap right-side out. Be sure that you have lined up the top and bottom seams next to each other.

match seams, sew in circle

Sew that seam in a circle with the overlock or zigzag, adding clear elastic to the part with the fashion fabric.

stitch seam

Pull the wrap right-side out through the opening.

turn right side out

Turn under the edges of the opening and hand-stitch closed.

hand stitch closed

Press the top seam open so that 1/4 inch of the lining shows at the top, like a binding.

faux binding

The main thread should match the fashion fabric, and the bobbin should match the lining. Topstitch right below the lining/binding with a narrow zigzag.

stitch

Press the bottom seam open so that 1/4″ of the fashion fabric turns under toward the lining. Topstitch with a narrow zigzag 3/4″ from the bottom.

topstitch

Enjoy your retro wrap!

shoulder wrap or scarf

 

 

And scarf.shoulder wrap or scarf

Don’t forget it’s reversible, too!

shoulder wrap or scarf

 

Check out JetSetSewing.com for more fun with vintage sewing, fashion events, and international fabric shopping! I’m on InstaGram, too, as JetSetSewing. See you there!

Projects: fashion, scarfs