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DIY: 7 Uses for Vintage Scarves

by Kelly Rae Smith
craft & maker

I was never the girl with a shoe fetish. Of course, I appreciate a pretty pair of heels like any self-respecting fashion lover, but I’ve always had more of an eye for vintage scarves. They’re like little wearable works of art.

If you look in my vintage shop, you won’t find many scarves, because that’s how greedy I am. I want them all for myself! So, it was only natural that I discover different ways to utilize my progressively tall stack of old scarves. From turning them into flower brooches to converting them to whimsical curtains to decorating purses to using them as wrapping paper, there are a zillion ways to put a vintage scarf to good use.

Here are a few examples, including a tutorial on how to make a scarf corsage.

Purse accessory:

vintage scarf uses

This has always been my favorite use of a scarf. Sure, I love to wear scarves around my neck, but displaying them on your handbag is the perfect way to show them off every day. Living in a city made the purse-scarf accessory a habit for me since I could always steal it away to use as a headscarf in case of sprinkles from the sky.

Wall art

creative uses for vintage scarves

I made this one day eight years ago when I moved to Scotland for grad school and I needed some simple wall art. You can’t exactly pack a lot of home decor in your suitcase, right? I found myself with a beautiful little scarf — too small for comfortably wearing around my neck — so I decided to stick it in this cheap little wooden frame. I loved it so much that I kept it in the same frame and have moved it with me ever since. I guess you can pack home decor in your suitcase, after all.

Whimsical curtains

ways to recycle vintage scarves

One day while figuring out how to display scarves at a local vintage fair, I tied a piece of twine across the front of my table and simply let the scarves fall over it. That’s when I got the idea to apply the same method to decorating a window at home. I do this to keep my mess of scarves organized, so it’s still easy for me to take one from the twine and wear it. It’s important to me that they’re all visible so as to not be forgotten.

I also found this particular silk scarf with the orange flower to be the perfect complement in my living room, so this one does stay put.

ways to use vintage scarves

Wrapping paper

how to wrap presents in scarves

Because my vintage shop is online, I like to think of creative ways to send orders out. Sometimes when a regular customer makes a purchase, I’ll consult my scarf stash and pick one out to wrap the item with. In this picture, I’ve wrapped up a shirt with a polka-dot scarf like a sub sandwich and held it together with a piece of twine.

Turban

scarf turban wrapping

This is a new skill for me, and I love it. Perfect for driving to the beach with the windows down or simply hiding a bad hair day scenario, wrapping my head with a gorgeous scarf makes me feel pretty fabulous. To achieve the turban head, fold the scarf in half so that it’s a triangle. With your hair pinned back, tilt your head down and let the scarf rest on the back of your head with the top point falling down in front of your face. Grab the scarf ends on the left and right and bring them over the top of your head, twisting them twice, and then bring them back down and around your head and tie at the base of your head. Tuck in all edges (in the front and back) underneath the turban.

Necklace

how to wear a scarf

Rather than tying it tightly around your neck, tie the scarf as loosely as possible so it’s like a necklace, or an infinity scarf. This is the perfect way to display the beauty of an entire scarf that can often get obscured when wearing it as say, a belt — a method I use often as well. If I’m headed out of the house in a plain dress and need some quick ‘umph’ to my outfit, I reach for a big scarf. I have several hanging in my room that are already tied so it’s even more convenient.

Scarf corsage:

And finally, here’s a how-to for more ambitious crafters.

One day as I waited for a model and photographer to arrive for a photo shoot, I tried to think of a creative way to show off a couple of amazing scarves from my shop as a way to get as much mileage out of the shoot as possible. With only a few minutes to spare, I envisioned a big scarf as a cool, messy corsage to stick on a vintage blazer, and I quickly made it happen. This is that scarf corsage that I created in (literally) 15 minutes:

scarf corsage

All it takes is a vision and a needle, thread, scissors, pin back (at the time I actually only used a big safety pin), hot glue gun, and some felt.  While you’ll make up your own rules as you go along, you can use this tutorial to loosely guide you to making your own scarf corsage.  I decided to use a smaller-sized scarf for this example, but you can use any size you want.

1 corsage2 corsage

Start by folding all corners in.

3 corsage

Now scrunch the scarf in your hand and play around with the shape to get an idea of what you want.

4 corsage   5 corsage

Get your needle and thread out now and begin sewing the folds together from the back, pulling the thread and pushing the fabric back with each thread to make it a tighter flower.

 6 corsage   7 corsage

This process is where you are left to be your own artist. Let this creation be whatever shape you want. When you’re happy with it, simply tie the loose ends in the back, and then get the glue gun plugged in.

Grab the felt and cut out two little circles. Glue them together so it’s a sturdy little back for your pin. Once it’s cooled off and dry, glue the pinback to the felt, being careful to place it toward the top for balance.

8 corsage   9 corsage

10 corsage   11 corsage

Now just glue the circle to the back off the corsage, again taking care to keep it toward the top for balance, although not too far up so as to hide the pin.

Let it dry, and soon your corsage will be ready to adorn you and your favorite blazer. If you found it to be pretty easy and enjoyable, this will make for great gifts come Christmastime. Enjoy!

how to make a scarf corsage

Kelly Rae Smith writes about thrifting, crafting, vintage fashion and anything else where she can be nostalgia obsessive for eBay.

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Kelly Rae Smith

Kelly is a music editor, vintage seller and lifelong crafter who you can follow on Twitter here.