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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Frayed Edge Shawls

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Making these Frayed Edge Shawls for Christmas gifts did not turn out to be quite the ‘quick and EZ’ that I had thought they would be!  Like so many project ‘directions’, my feeling is that the directions are too general, and lack the detail that the vast majority of DIYers need to be successful.  Of course, I cannot find the original ‘pin’ on Pinterest from which I got the idea, but after making 3 of these, I have some HOW-To’s to offer.


Fabric Selection

Test, Test, Test!  BEFORE you purchase the fabric.  If the fabric doesn’t ravel out easily at the store, it won’t at home either!  Houndstooth fabrics are especially unlikely to un-ravel, in my experience.  I used coordinating Luxe Flannels  from JoAnn’s Fabric Store for my shawls.  You want to use yarn-dyed fabrics, NOT printed fabrics for this project.  What does ‘yarn-dyed’ mean?  In yarn-dyed fabrics, the yarns are dyed, and THEN the fabric is woven.  Therefore, the color is the same on the front and back of the fabric.  Only with yarn-dyed fabrics, will pulled fringe look good.   I find that the fiber on these fabrics offered at JoAnn’s  is generally either Rayon or Acrylic.

When I was at JoAnn’s on Sunday, I snapped some quick pictures of other fabrics that would be perfect for shawls like this.  There were also some REVERSIBLE fabrics, as shown in the last photo below.  While I created my shawls from two coordinating fabrics layered together, the reversible fabrics obviously need just 1 layer.  Shawls like these can really be quite quick to make, IF you select the right fabric, and IF you follow these directions.

appropriate shawl fabric
good acrylic syarn-dyed fabrics

reversible fabric

Yardage/Cutting Dimensions

The long, wrap-type shawls like these are generally cut 20-24″ wide.  For these, you need LENGTH, so you need TWO of these widths.  Two 24″ widths = 48″ = 1 1/3 yard.  The fabrics I used were 58-60″ wide.  Two lengths work to then yield 118-120″ of length for ‘wrapping’ around the body with this style of shawl.

For my shawls, I purchased 1 1/3 yards.  HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with straight grain cut pieces – especially at JoAnn’s fabrics where they seem to know NOTHING about cutting ‘on grain’.  Though I purchased the 1 1/3 yard, once I straightened edges, and cut to match the plaid at the seam, my shawls turned out only 20″ wide (including fringe).

Construction Steps

  1. Straighten one crosswise edge by pulling a thread and cutting along that pulled thread.

  2. Assess where you need to cut the purchased yardage in half in order to be able to match the plaid at the seam of the two pieces to create one LONG piece.

  3. Assess what length of pulled fringe will look nice on your fabrics.  Realize that the wider the fringe the longer/bigger job you are creating for yourself in pulling the circumference threads.

  4. Match carefully and stitch the short ends of the two pieces together.  Stop and start the stitching at the fringe width points so that the seam does NOT extend into the area to be ‘fringed’.

  5. Measure and pull 1 to 3 threads AT THE FRINGE WIDTH desired.  ONLY by establishing the inner-most ‘line’ by pulling a thread, will you be able to keep everything on grain.  Below, you’ll see the nightmare I got into by NOT realizing up front, the grain issue.  NO excuse – other than perhaps age, and rushing, that I didn’t realize this FACT before starting.  Yes, I CAN stitch straight, but when I’d laid this fabric with the other one, I followed a thread line on the opposite side, and this is what ‘happened’ on the underside.  Hence…my more detailed directions – follow them!

off grain stitching

6.  Align these pulled thread ‘lines’, pin, and STITCH the strips WRONG SIDES TOGETHER with a 2.0 stitch length, pivoting at the intersections at each end.

7.  Next:  The ‘TV’ work!  With a seam ripper in hand to ‘pick’ a thread in the middle of a section, start a thread to pull, and P-U-L-L.

fringed pieces

I found that working 24″ or so at a time worked well.  To try to pull a thread longer than that – well, it WILL break.  To do that, you need to create a ‘vertical’ rip as you see below above my forefinger.  

vertical rip

Below, you can see my ‘nightmare’ houndstooth fabric.  I bet I have 10+ hours in the ‘ravelling’ of this layer!!! And YES, those short threads are as long as I could get out at a time.  Necessary Tool:  My Clover Seam Ripper!  love how this seam ripper just fits in the palm of my hand.

nightmare houndstooth fabric

I have another style of Poncho/Shawl that I created as well, but since the recipient is a friend who reads this Blog – that Post will have to wait a few days!

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