SEW & SHOW: A Shearling Scarf

by Jamie on December 31, 2015


To all vegans reading this, unfortunately today’s post may not be for you.

However, If you are ok about wearing and sewing leather, today’s post may be of some interest.

I made a scarf from lambs wool. No knitting required!

It’s made of shearling to be exact – a two-faced, tanned lambskin with the wool left on.

What am I doing sewing winter accessories when high summer is upon us in Australia you may ask? Well, I just couldn’t wait until our winter to sew it together. I was itching to make my own – even though it won’t be worn for quite a few months.


Ok – about the scarf…. I LOVE IT!… and it’s been the product of some serendipity over the past couple of weeks.

Initially, I had been shopping for slippers with lambswool lining and had spotted on a nearby shelf a shearling scarf. I immediately fell in love but quickly put it back when I saw the price. It was over $300.00 AU… Pretty pricey and well out of my budget.


So, fast forward a few days and I was at The Fabric Store in Melbourne. As luck would have it, a beautifully soft piece of black shearling was displayed with other hides in the store. It was clearly destined to be fashioned into the scarf I had coveted a few days earlier and I bought it without hesitation.

In planning to make the scarf, I estimated that enough pieces could be cut from the baby hide to join together for a substantial scarf length. After doing some rudimentary math to establish how to cut the scarf pieces from the hide as economically as possible, I worked out I could get 5 pieces of varying lengths 15cm wide, to make a finished scarf of approximately 118cm in length.

Before going any further, I needed to research how to cut and sew this precious piece of lambskin. I managed to find some very good information in the Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide – a fantastic resource for sewing nearly any type of material you can think of. There is a great section in this book about sewing leather and fur and even has a section dedicated to the sewing of Shearling.


So armed with a little more information, I ruled the dimensions of the pieces onto the suede side of the skin with a permanent marker – a bit risky being permanent, but my chalk maker was not making a clear enough mark on the suede. Being black on black the marker pen produced just enough of a subtle mark to use as a cutting line. Before I cut into the lambskin I marked the direction of the wool nap by sticking scotch magic tape onto each marked piece and drew an arrow on each in the direction of the nap.

Initially, I started to use a surgical blade to separate the individual scarf pieces, but as I cut along the ruler it pulled and stretched the leather way too much. I was concerned not to blunt-cut the wool pile when cutting each piece – and I found the only way to do this was to cut along the ruled lines, taking small snips with a sharp pair of scissors to the suede at the base of the wool.


I arranged the pieces in a symmetrical way, organising the two longest pieces each end and the shorter pieces in the center, ensuring all my arrows were pointing in the one direction.

When it came to sewing the scarf together, I again consulted the fabric sewing guide. It recommended using a jeans needle for the shearling with a teflon foot attached to reduce the foot sticking to the suede and distorting the seams. I took the advice re foot and used a HJ 90/14 size needle.

In choosing an appropriate seam type, I had taken a good look at the scarf in the shop and noted they had used a lapped seam – which was probably the best seam option. I devised a way to mark the lap-over position without marking the suede. I did this by using the scotch magic tape to mark a straight line 1/2″ away from the under seam edge – so the upper seam edge could be guided along side. This worked a treat, but after sewing the first seam I realised the teflon foot was still catching on the leather and stretching the top seam more than the under seam… not a good look!

Luckily, I was able to unpick the seam without leaving any tell tale needle marks  – although in a normal garment join, this may have weakened any seam likely to be subjected to extra strain and wear.


Again, I referred to the scotch magic tape for assistance and taped the edge of the top lapped seam.


It worked well, as it created a slippery underfoot surface and also supported the upper seam, stopping it from stretching as it was stitched to the under seam. Once sewn, I carefully pealed the tape off, gently scratching any remanent tape away from under the stitched seam.


I joined all seams of the scarf together this way, except the first seam join, whereby I left a gap in the center of the seam large enough for the other end of the scarf to be pulled through when worn.

The seam ends were secured by leaving the threads long enough to knot and thread back with a needle through the lapped seam. Apparently, backstitching is a no-no when finishing seams in leather, as it weakens the join with too many perforations.


Finally, I cut away a 1/4″ excess on all seam joins on the wool side of the skin to neaten the finished appearance.


I left the suede side and did not clip the seam, leaving a little bit of fur poking out from under the lapped edge. I felt this looked like a decorative feature, so was ok with how it looked suede-side-up.


Voila! – a cool scarf sewn from a warm piece of shearling. I can’t wait for winter as I know it will get lots of wear.

Thinking practically, I will probably wear the scarf with the wool side facing inward –  to get the benefit of the wool warmth around my neck, but I think it’d look great with the wool side facing out as well.


I hope I have inspired you to make your own shearling scarf this winter too.

Sew, Wear, Love












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