How to Sew a Simple Fabric Shawl

person wearing a shawl
Patrik Giardino / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $15

A simple fabric shawl can be a cozy addition to a formal dress or your everyday clothes. Shawls are easy to carry with you and versatile to wear. And if you know how to make your own fabric shawl, you can coordinate the material perfectly with your other articles of clothing. Plus, making your own shawl is often more cost-effective than purchasing one at a clothing store. This project should be quick and easy for beginner sewers.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Fabric marking tool
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board


  • 2 yard 45-inch-wide fabric
  • Matching thread


  1. Cut the Fabric

    First, cut the selvage (edges) off the fabric. Next, square the ends, and cut the width of the fabric in half. Lay both fabric pieces on a flat surface with the right sides of the fabric together, and make sure they are perfectly smooth.

    Trim both layers of fabric, so the edges match and they are identical in size. Align the edges, and pin them together.


    Instead of using one fabric, you can select two coordinating fabrics for a distinctive front and back to the shawl. You'll need 2 yards of each fabric to get the right length for your shawl, and both fabrics must be 45 inches wide. But with 2 yards of each fabric, you'll be able to make two shawls once you cut the widths in half.

    Square and even edges of the fabric
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  2. Sew the Seams

    Find the center of one long side (by folding the length in half and marking the fold), and measure 3 inches to each side of the center to mark a 6-inch area. Place double pins at the beginning and end of the 6-inch area, or make markings with fabric marking tools, such as tailor's chalk. These pins or marks will be reminders not to sew that area.

    Leaving the 6-inch opening alone, sew all edges using a 1/2-inch seam. Backstitch or lockstitch to secure your sewing. When you reach a corner put the needle down, lift the presser foot, turn the fabric, and then put the presser foot down again to pivot at the corners. 

    Sewing while leaving an opening
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  3. Trim, Turn, and Press

    Press all the seams as they were sewn. Then, trim the four corners, and grade the seam allowance (trim the layers to different widths) to remove bulk.

    Turn the shawl right side out through the opening you left in one side. Press the seams, so the seam stitching is at the very edge.

    Then, slip stitch the opening closed. You also can topstitch close to the edge to keep the edges in place, pivoting at the corners as you did when sewing the seams. 

    Trimming, turning, and pressing the fabric
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove