Vintage Patchwork Scarf

I recently shared this scarf on IG, and a few people asked me some specifics about how I put it together. 😄

I started with a handful of vintage, hand sewn, very wonky maple leaf blocks I picked up from a second hand store down in So. Ill. I've had the handful of blocks for 8 or more years stored in with my fabric. I've been totally inspired by all the patchwork jackets I've seen online lately, and I had the thought that these blocks might make a fun double-sided patchwork scarf for winter.

These were approximately 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" blocks, and the fabric was very thin cotton. I recognized at least one of the blocks as being made from a vintage hankie. The light colored background looks to be a lightweight muslin. These blocks were very "drapey" compared to today's quilting cotton fabrics, so I thought if I sandwiched them with a piece of white 100% cotton flannel it might still be soft and drape well as a scarf.

I had enough blocks to design a front and back for the scarf as pictured above. Before I could start stitching the blocks together I had to square them up a little bit - or a lot in some cases. These were all hand sewn, and I could still see the ball point pen outline on some of the pieces from the maker marking them with a template (probably made from cardboard, I've seen blocks like this before in unfinished vintage quilts).

I stitched all the blocks together after trimming with a quarter-inch seam, and had two long strips - one for each side of the scarf.

I used a 10" wide piece of 100% cotton flannel in white to sandwich between the two layers. I used temporary spray adhesive to secure one side to the flannel, then flipped it over and used pins to secure the second side. This allowed me to start in the middle of the scarf and try to match up the block seams. This didn't go exactly to plan because like I mentioned above, some of these blocks were really, really wonky! I did a lot of adjusting with pinning to make it work.

I used the Dual Feed feature with the all-purpose Reverse pattern foot #1D to quilt the layers together. I used an open, decorative stitch built-in to the machine, it looks a little like FMQ loop-de-loops. I stitched lengthwise down the scarf, switching directions so the stitches look like they were made in opposite directions.

This is decorative stitch #782 in my BERNINA 570 QE. It doesn't look like loop-de-loops in the stitch menu, but more like little oblong loops that come to a point. I elongated the stitch length to about 14mm to make the stitch look like rounded loops, playing with stitch settings on some scraps before starting to quilt the scarf.

I used a bit of vintage cheater patchwork fabric for the binding, the colors matched up perfectly. I treated the narrow binding just as if this was a quilt, machine sewing to one side and hand sewing to finish. Then I sent the scarf through the washer and dryer (mostly to remove that classic thrift store stank embedded in the old patchwork squares), and I really like the bit of crinkling the wash added to the fabrics. It's just like a grandma quilt.

Because those vintage fabrics are so thin, there's lots of give to the scarf. You can bundle it up pretty easily, tie it around your neck, or just let it hang loose.

It's super cozy! I will add that I did try to recreate this scarf with modern fabrics from my stash, and because the cottons are so thick and tightly woven the final result was super stiff, and wouldn't drape nice around the neck. So I guess I just created a super long table runner? 🙄 Lesson learned!


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