Dimensions of a Scarf: How to Determine Scarf Length

Dear Madelyn,

I enjoy weaving scarves but I am faced with this dilemma about length. I don’t wear a scarf either for warmth or as an accessory so experience doesn’t help me. I can’t guess if the wearer is going to wrap it once around her neck, tie it or leave it loose. I know there are several considerations; function, yarn, hand etc. but how to decide? I have looked at many projects in Handwoven, and the length varies from 56 inches to 84. Is there some kind of guideline for scarf length? And how do I decide the length of the fringe?

I would love your thoughts.
Sylvia

Hi Sylvia!
There are several issues related to scarf length, but no real rules. A “rule of thumb” that I heard long ago is that a scarf should be as long as the person wearing it is tall. I’m thinking that this measurement applies to a relatively narrow scarf (6-9″, say) that you put around your neck and let hang. This rule of thumb on scarf length provides that the ends of the scarf will fall just below your hips. (This would be the kind of scarf that is a lightweight, decorative accessory, rather than one intended to provide warmth.) If you averaged all the scarf projects in Handwoven (most of these would fall into the decorative accessory category), I bet the average width would be 8″, the average scarf length about 65″, and the average fringe length about 6″.

Bulky-ish Scarf: Scarf length varies on the height of the person and other factors.

Bulky-ish Scarf: Scarf length varies on the height of the person and other factors.

However, these measurements depend on how you wear the scarf. If you want to form a loop in one end of the scarf through which you put the other two ends to make a sort of larks’ head knot around your neck, you might want the scarf to be longer, depending on how far down the front you want the scarf’s ends to fall.

Jennifer Moore’s variation of interweaving the ends of a scarf (you can watch of video of Jennifer tying her scarf) would probably work best with a scarf a bit longer than 65″, also, again depending on where you want the ends to fall at the front.

Scarves that are intended to provide warmth are often wider and bulkier. (It would be interesting to have a discussion with the topic of: When does a scarf become a shawl?) A wide scarf (10″ or more), especially if woven with thick yarns, would not work so well in loops or knots, but might be wound around the neck once for warmth. A long, wide scarf (say 12″ by 70″) could be worn around the neck or around the shoulders, therefore serving as a shawl. These would most likely be woven in wool (either fine wools or heavy wools), and how they feel is as important as how they look. For wide scarves, proportion matters a bit. You wouldn’t want a very wide but short scarf.

I took all of the scarves I’ve woven and measured their lengths and widths. I don’t think I’ve ever had a rule I followed, but they are all about 8-10″ wide, 60-65″ long, with 5-6″ fringe. They are also all in lightweight yarns. The length of the fringe depends a bit on the yarns you are twisting and the thickness of each fringe. In silks, I tend to twist the fringe to be about 6″, and the bouts are not very thick. In wools, with a thickish fringe (like a pencil?), I like how they look if they are shorter. But I think these are all personal preferences.

If you are weaving scarves for sale, you can’t really know the personal preferences of the buyer, so in lightweight silks and cottons, I’d go for those average measurements.

I hope this helps!
Madelyn

Posted August 14, 2013. Updated August 28, 2017.


If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn! Featured Image: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts!


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