Today we’re talking all about framing a scarf.
Not too long ago a reader asked me how to frame a Hermes silk scarf. While I don’t own any Hermes silk scarves, in our conversation I realized that I’ve framed a lot of vintage scarves and I have opinions about how to do it!
Vintage scarves can easily become a piece of art in your home that feels fresher than a boring art print.
So I’ll show you a couple different strategies for framing a scarf all involving mounting your scarf onto fabric, and I’ll give you my best tips for where to find great scarves.
Learning how to frame a scarf is seriously one of the easiest DIY projects you will attempt. Even better, it’s the one project that anyone who comes into your home is going to comment on every time.
So dig through your vintage scarves, find a gem, and let’s do this.
First, let’s answer a couple questions.
Do you need a matboard to frame a scarf?
This is really up to you. Most framing places will have you get a matboard. If that’s your jam, and you can find a complimentary color, go for it.
This tutorial is about how to frame a scarf with a fabric background. Why? Because I have a lot of fabric on hand! Also, scarves ARE fabric so mounting a scarf on fabric seems natural to me.
When you should take your scarf to a professional for framing
This project is meant to be an inexpensive DIY framing project. Note, that you should trust a scarf of worth (Dior, Hermes) to a professional who can use archival or museum quality framing to protect the value of your scarf.
I trust my own abilities to make invisible stitches with ultra fine thread and a beading needle which has the finest point available so as not to damage a scarf. If you don’t trust in your own abilities there or your scarf is worth something, take it to a professional.
Where can you buy vintage silk scarves?
Keep your eyes peeled. Thrift stores, Ebay, Etsy, estate sales and antique shops are always good places to look.
I’ve scored scarves for $2 up to about $30.
Fortune favors the persistent here, so look everywhere regularly if this is an art style you enjoy.
Good scarf designers to look for
Get to know some of your favorite designers, colors, styles you like. For me, I always go for color first, then interesting big scale subject matter. One large fun flower or some funky animals will always win the day for me over small scale prints.
I know some people love Hermes scarves and they should, they’re beautiful, but they’re also cost-prohibitive. A quick perusal on Etsy and most of the Hermes scarves I find start around $180.
If Hermes scarves are your style and you’re not wearing them, invest in one.
If not, here’s some other less expensive but also really cool scarf designers whose vintage digs are worth looking for:
- Vera: that’s Vera Neumann and her scarves are easy to find, bold, and always a distinct. She’s my personal favorite!
- Jacqmar: English company with great quality silk, earthy prints of florals and abstracts.
- Anne Klein: rich earthy prints.
- Pat Prichard: mostly handkerchiefs with an offbeat Mid-century illustrative style.
- Echo: wide range of prints, mostly moderately priced.
- Ferragamo: pricier than many but not the most expensive, you’ll find lush, vivid prints here.
- Italian or Japanese scarves: There’s tons of unsigned scarves from both of these countries that are lovely. And sometimes because the designer isn’t named, you can pick them up on the cheap.
Which vintage scarves are the best for framing?
Easy answer: the ones that you like the best.
Real answer: square and smaller rectangular scarves are the most practical to frame. That’s because long rectangular and oblong scarves are tough to find frames that fit.
I have one extra long scarf in my collection of framed scarves, and we had to buy a custom frame which is not cheap. That scarf was worth it, but most of the time, stick to the squares.
Where to find frames for framing a scarf
I used to buy frames at Hobby Lobby with a coupon, but I’ve since learned that there’s more variety at thrift stores for much less money. Also you can find more interesting frames too–something with fun texture.
If you have a weird size scarf that you love, you might need to buy a custom frame.
Bring a tape measure with you and look for a frame that’s 1-2″ larger all around than your scarf. With persistence, I’m confident that you can find a big squarish frame that’s big enough for your scarf.
Use your discretion here. Look for frames with outdated, faded art. Don’t be pirating a picture with original art in it. If it looks cheap, it’s perfect for this project.
With that out of the way, let’s get into actually framing a scarf.
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How to frame a silk scarf
Framing a scarf: supplies
Prep your frame
First things first, open the backside of your frame. Use your pliers if needed to pry back the tabs on your frame.
Pop out the cardboard and old picture.
Add a row of painter’s tape around the inside edge of the frame. This is perfect if you want to paint the frame with acrylic paint.
If you’re planning to use spray paint, cut up a box of thin cardboard. Cereal and taco shell boxes are perfect here.
Set your frame on your drop cloth.
Paint your frame
From here, paint your frame. For acrylic paint, use a foam brush to paint on a thin layer all around the frame. 2-3 coats is usually good for acrylic paint.
If you’re using spray paint, slide your cut up box under the frame where it meets the glass. Spray 2-3 coats, sliding the box under the frame as needed to pick up any overspray.
When everything is dry, remove the painter’s tape.
Clean your glass on the inside and the outside of your frame.
Prep the fabric
Lay your fabric on your rotary mat, then place the cardboard from the frame over the top.
Use your rotary cutter to cut the fabric around the edge of the cardboard.
Press your fabric well so that there’s no wrinkles. Run a lint roller over it if needed.
Place your organza press cloth over the top of the scarf. Press the scarf to remove wrinkles. Be gentle here. Avoid using steam if you can in case your iron accidentally leaks and makes water spots.
Pin the scarf to the center of your prepared fabric.
Sew the scarf to the mounting fabric using a sewing machine
Set your machine to a longer straight stitch (3.0-3.5mm length).
Stitch the scarf to the backing fabric near the edge all the way around the scarf.
Sew the scarf to the mounting fabric by hand
If you’d like, you can also sew a scarf to the backing fabric by hand. This is a great option if you have a really delicate scarf and you don’t want to see any visible stitching.
A whipstitch or a slipstitch works well for this.
For a whipstitch, thread and knot a hand needle. Bring up the needle to right side. Next pierce the other side, letting the fabric loop between layers.
Bring up the needle close to the first stitch and make another looping stitch. Continue this way all the way around the scarf.
For a slipstitch, thread and knot your needle, then bring up needle to right side. Make a tiny stitch on the right side next to where you brought up the thread, then poke the needle down towards the back, bringing up the thread at an angle in the second side of your hole. Repeat making stitches like this all the way around the scarf.
No sew mounting
For something ultra simple, here’s a no sew way to mount the scarf.
Apply a small amount of glue stick to the mounting fabric and press the scarf in place. Add enough to keep the scarf smooth and free of wrinkles but also secure.
Finishing off your frame
Apply glue stick to the cardboard. Place your mounting fabric/scarf on top of the cardboard, smoothing everything into place. Continue adding glue around the edges only. This will prevent any chance of glue seeping through and contacting any part of your scarf. Smooth everything into place.
Set aside the cardboard to dry for at least an hour.
When the glue is dry, pop your scarf back into the frame. Bend the tabs back into place.
Hang it up and enjoy your new framed silk scarf. I told you framing a scarf was super simple!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.