American Apparel Circle Scarf Knock Off (tutorial)

by ilene on October 17, 2011 · 148 comments

in sewing, tutorial

My friend was wearing this super cute circle scarf from American Apparel and I wanted one!! Circle scarves, also called infinity scarves, are so popular this fall!  I love the look of them! And they are so cozy and warm!  I shared a tutorial last winter on how I upcycled one of Jeff’s cashmere sweaters into an infinity scarf but Jeff won’t let me take scissors to any more of his other sweaters now.  When I went to the American Apparel store, the scarf was selling for $37!  I’m hesitant to spend so much on something that I can easily make myself! For a lot cheaper!  Now that fall is just around the corner and the air is a little crisper, these scarves are the perfect addition to my fall wardrobe.  This is a tutorial on how I made my knock off version.  Each scarf is pretty easy to make- takes only about 15 minutes from start to finish!

The hardest part of making these circle scarves is finding the right fabric.  You need about 2 yards of soft, stretchy knit material. I went with knit instead of basic cotton because its much softer and drapes nicer. I’ve always hard a hard time finding cute patterned knits, they just don’t carry nice knit fabrics at regular fabric stores like Joann’s Fabrics.   I happened to be down in LA a few weeks ago and hit up the Michael Levine Loft in the LA Fashion District.  This place is awesome!!!  The loft is located above the Michael Levine home fabric store and there are bins and bins of remnant fabric – all for $2.50 a pound!!  You sort of have to dig through piles of fabric (they have some fabric in bolts, too) so it can be hit or miss shopping there. Some days there are great selections to snatch up, some days I come up empty.  Lucky for me, I hit the jackpot  this time and found some cute striped knits and some solids:

I got this pile of fabric all for under $20!  I bought so much fabric and other sewing supplies at the Fashion District, I had to fly back to San Francisco with an extra suitcase!! With all this fabric, I made these scarves:

Super cute, right?

And super easy!!  Essentially all you are doing is sewing the ends of a large rectangular piece of fabric together to create a circle.  The trickiest part of sewing the scarves is cutting the fabric.  Because it requires such a large piece of fabric, you need a large even surface to spread out the fabric, measure and cut it.  The floor works great!

I think for the scarf to look good, you need to have a really wide piece of fabric so that it is extra plush and voluminous. The scarf doesn’t look so hot if its skinny and limp.  Most knit fabrics come 54″ wide which is perfect for these scarves!  And the added bonus is that you don’t have to cut the edges of the fabric, just leave the selvage as it is. (see how easy this is?)  If your fabric is wider than 54″ (the pink knit fabric was 66″ wide) and you need to cut it skinnier, don’t fret.  Knit fabric doesn’t fray, so you can cut it and not worry about hemming the edges.   Just cut as straight as you can and the edges will roll up instead of fraying.   Since the scarf is so puffy, it’s pretty forgiving if you don’t cut out the perfect rectangle.  The beauty of these scarves though is that you don’t have to cut the lines perfectly.  There is lots of room for error and different variations.  I also experimented with different lengths of fabric, making some scarves shorter than others.  The yellow striped one is on the shorter side at 60″ long.  The light gray scarf with the skinny blue stripes (top left corner photo) is the longest at 74″. The others fall somewhere in between.  The length can vary, its really up to your own preferences.  When you are fabric shopping, make sure to get at least 2 yards of fabric so that you have enough to at least double loop it around your neck.

Once you cut out the fabric into a rectangle,  fold the scarf in half so that the top edge is aligned with the bottom edge, right sides together. Pin together well. Since knit is pretty stretchy, its important to pin the layers together so that it doesn’t stretch or move when you are sewing it. Then sew the edges together with about a 1/4″ seam.  I sewed over the seam twice to reinforce it:

You can leave the edges raw because they won’t fray. They may even curl up and hide the seam. The American Apparel circle scarf is woven to be seamless but the seam doesn’t bother me. Just adjust the scarf when you are wearing it so that the seam is at the back of your neck. If you are using striped fabric, make sure to align the fabric so that the stripes line up:

These scarves are so versatile, too!! You can wear it with a double loop around the neck like in the photos above or you can also just wear it with one big loop or as a shawl:

The American Apparel gave these other options on how to wear it, though I can’t imagine wearing it as a dress!


The American Apparel website also says that the scarf is unisex!!  Not sure if a lot of guys would be able/willing to pull off this look, but I’ll see if Jeff would wear one.  We could share them!  Or maybe not.  People are already saying that we are starting to look alike, we don’t need to be dressing alike.  BUT I’d be willing to share one of these circle scarves with YOU!  Tomorrow, I’m going to hosting my first ever blog giveaway! One of these scarves could be yours!! So check back tomorrow to see how you can win one!

*Thank you to my friend J who took these photos of me! We had a fun photoshoot last week!

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1 Sini October 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

Oh I love this! I just got a sewing machine and now just need to find perfect fabrics to try this one 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

2 Andrea October 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Ilene these are so cute! When we come visit in the future, we should def go fabric shoppin together!

3 jakennicksmomma October 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

What a great idea, thanks! I saw this and instantly though, holiday gifts.

4 Jane Song October 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great post! You make everything look so easy!

5 marykateleahy October 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm

you make me want to buy a sewing machine so very badly 🙂

6 Mel October 18, 2011 at 1:47 am

Oh my goodness, I love every single one of those scarves! They look amazing! You should make one for every day of the week for yourself. Perfect for the cool SF weather! 🙂

7 Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 10:04 am

great scarf and tutorial!!

8 geekstitching October 18, 2011 at 10:29 am

Absolutely adorable! I can’t wait to enter the giveaway!

xoxo Kim

9 Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Very cute, great job, now I want to try, thanks for sharing….

10 Tony October 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I am grateful for my wife that puts up with me. I plan on rewarding her with a nice scarf!

11 Ale October 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

Wow these seem like the perfect gift forT my girlfriends! (maybe even for Xmas) how much fabric would you say I need to make it work for the shawl one? Thanks again for posting such a great project!

12 ilene October 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

Hi Ale! It takes about 2 yards for each scarf/shawls. 2 yards long and about 54″ wide. good luck!

13 Stephanie @ Life Tastes Like Food October 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

SO cute!! I love these types of scarves and can’t believe the price they are selling for either! I am going to knit my own, but these fabric ones are such a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial, Ilene! 🙂

14 Lee October 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

These are wonderful and adorable! Most fabric stores on the East coast sell upholstery or decorator fabrics. I wonder how an old t-shirt would work (although not stretchy)?

15 Maria October 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I love knit scarves! I just picked up some on clearance at Wal-Mart for $1.50 a yard. 3 yards each please!!! I have scarves to make!

16 Courtney Ann October 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm

So lovely! I dig the infinity scarves as well and will definitely make my own. I also recreate the look without sewing by wrapping a normal scarf around twice and tucking in the ends behind my neck.
Awesome fabric btw


17 New at this October 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Sorry, but I’m new at this. So you fold the fabric right sides together, and then join the edges together and sew them? Then you turn it right side out? I don’t have the fabric yet, so I’m having trouble envisioning it. Sorry to bother you with such a question.

18 ilene October 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Hi! Yes, fold the fabric in half and then sew along the short edge, essentially sewing a circle piece of fabric.

19 Andrea of October 27, 2011 at 1:06 am

Fabulous! Thanks for this! Found you on Pinterest!

20 Sooooz October 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm

This is perfect I have wanted one or even 10 of these scarfs since I first saw them last year. I just bought the fabric for them and I am going to start them as soon as I get home! Thanks so much for your inspiration!!!

21 Monica October 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I’m still a little confused on the cutting and sewing. Are you sewing the selvaged edges together??? If you are cutting them, why do you need two yards of fabric? Any way you could make a diagram for those of us that are technically challenged? How wide are you cutting it? I know you said the fabric is usually 54 inches wide, so if you get two yards, it will be 54″ x 72″…what are you cutting?? Sorry for the confusion, but I just can’t see it in my mind’s eye of what you are doing! Thanks!

22 ruby October 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm

So easy and they look so comfy! This would make a great christmas gift for friends! Thanks for the post. I also found you on Pinterest. 🙂

Girlfriends Are Like Shoes

23 mstesterLee October 30, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Found this on Pinterest- well done on finding a way to make your own!

24 Megan November 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Found this on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing!!! Have some knit fabric I happened upon in the bargain bin that would be just perfect!!

25 melissashipman November 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

Great idea! I think this is something even I could do…and I don’t sew at all!

26 Claire November 6, 2011 at 2:08 am

Just made one of these, though I didn’t have enough fabric so I used two short pieces and it has two seams but still looks awesome. Plan to make a lot more. Thanks for the post 😀

27 Natalie November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Are you sewing the raw edges together or are you sewing the selvages together?

28 ilene November 10, 2011 at 2:42 am

I’ve been seeing the raw edges together!

– ilene 🙂

29 Anonymous November 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I can’t sew, but I wanted to make this for a surprise gift for my daughter. I so excited to try this.

Thank you

30 geekstitching November 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Just posted about a scarf I made based on yours! 🙂

Have a great day Ilene!

xoxo Kim

31 Heather November 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

This is fantastic! I’m off to the fabric store right now and then home to make some for Christmas gifts. Thanks so much!!!

32 Anonymous November 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

Looks Great!!! This is a definite try for me! Thanks

33 ashley December 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

When you say to fold the fabric in half do you fold it length or width? Let’s bring it back to elementary school, do you fold it hot dog or hamburger style? Basically, you say to fold the top edge with the bottom edge, which means we will sew the bottom closed, turn the right side out, and then sew together to make it a circle? Correct?

34 ilene December 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Hi Ashley! Fold it hamburger style. So basically you are sewing the short ends of the rectangle together to create a circle. You only need to sew one seam. Does that make sense?

35 Mara December 20, 2011 at 2:09 am

Ready your post yesterday, went to Michael Levine today. Made 5 scarves in about an hour. Thank you so much for sharing!

36 ilene December 20, 2011 at 2:33 am

Wow, fantastic!!! Thanks for letting me know!!

– ilene 🙂

37 vee January 6, 2012 at 4:22 am

I made these scarves as infinity and circle scarves before american apparel sold them. I will give some as gifts this year and sell some at my truni shows.

38 Kofletch January 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

I have been searching for a decent tutorial on these scarves!! Thanks so much for sharing!! I can’t wait to go hunt down the perfect knits and colors (gotta do a purple for sure!!) to make a couple of these super cute (and warm) accessories!!
Thanks again!!!

39 SassyKay January 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Great post and great scarves! Now I’m on the hunt for the right fabric. Thank you!

40 Julie January 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I will try these this weekend! I will search how to wear it at a dress! Hihi
Good work!

41 Anonymous January 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm

awesome idea! Will be trying one for sure!

42 vee January 23, 2012 at 2:57 am

These directions were listed in the crafting section of Women’s Day magazine in 2010.

43 katie r January 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I bought my material today! I am so excited to make it and WEAR it! This may seem like a weird question, but I really like your white shirt. Where did you get it?

44 ilene January 24, 2012 at 2:53 am

Hi Katie! Thanks! It’s actually just a plain white t shirt from jcrew last summer! It’s “slub cotton”.

– ilene 🙂

45 Anonymous January 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I love these!! 🙂 fantastic idea! 😉

46 fiona March 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

i love love love this! thank you. off to look for some fabric now

47 Bonnie April 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I made several! Thank you for the inspiration!

48 Nicole June 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm

So funny!
I feel like I am living your life. I just visited the Michael Levine Store (LOVE all of them) while taking my MIL on a tour of the fabric district. I went to the loft and bought some great knit that is perfect for scarves and found your site tonight while doing a search for circle scarf tutorials. Talk about Synchronicity!

My hot tip is to also try out a store called the Fabric Hotel one street over. He carries a fantastic selection of cottons that rival ML and trump ML in price. He doesn’t have all the stuff, but a magnificent collection of cotton.

Thanks for the awesome tutorial.

49 ilene June 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hahaha that is funny! Thanks for the tip about Fabric Hotel! I’ll definitely have to go check it out!

50 Bev in Texas August 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I love these circle scarves. So simple and so inexpensive – just the sort of thing that appeals to my lazier side! Thank you for this super idea.

51 Katrine August 3, 2012 at 1:52 am

Hi! 🙂
I love this so much, I featured it in a blog post! 😀 Keep up the great work 🙂

Here’s the link:

Katrine 🙂

52 Denise August 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been wanting to try this style but just not sure how to go about it. You took all the figuring out of it for me. THANKS!

53 bonnie August 21, 2012 at 9:27 am

is it possible to make these without a sewing machine or would that be too labor intensive?

54 Sarah August 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

These are great! I love all your fabric choices. Not sure about the unisex-ness of these scarves though… but maybe some guys could pull it off! =)

55 Marta September 22, 2012 at 8:00 am

Thanks!!! Can’t wait to give this a try.

56 vanina September 24, 2012 at 9:13 am

I love the Michael Levine Loft! I was there visiting 2 weeks ago and got lots of fabrics myself! This tutorial is great, thanks for sharing!

57 Linda September 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

Love these – thanks for sharing am anxious t make some for me and my daughter

58 Anonymous October 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm
59 Julia October 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

These are amazing!

60 cucicucicoo October 26, 2012 at 12:37 am

thanks so much for this tutorial! i made one, but modifying it a bit because my cut of fabric wasn’t quite right. i love it! if you’re interested, here it is:
🙂 lisa

61 Carlyn October 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

When you sew the seam are you sewing thru 4 layers of fabric or 2 layers of fabric. I am not sure if the fabric is open to the full width when you sew it or folded in half like it comes on a fabric bolt. Thanks.

62 ilene October 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm

2 layers of fabric. unfold the fabric so you are only sewing thru 2 layers.

63 Merri Engleman November 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

I love love these scarves. I want to try to make them, the only problem is as for a fabric store we have a very over priced locally owned store and wal-mart. Do you know of a place online that might have some reasonably priced knits? Thank you they just look lovely!

64 Pam Blacksmith November 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Well written, easy to follow instructions, can’t wait to try this. Thanks

65 Hannah November 26, 2012 at 9:55 am

There is an easier way to make an infinity scarf with a scarf you already have. Just take the two ends of the scarf (it works better if there aren’t any tassles), and safety pin them together with 2-3 pins. Then double the scarf and wear so the safety pins are hidden. This idea works if you have a scarf already that you’d like to turn into an infinity one, but don’t want to change it permanenty. Just a helpful tip!

66 Allie November 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I love your scarves! I’ve looked at quite a few tutorials for infinities, but I definitely like yours the most 🙂 A couple of questions:

– 2 yards of 54″ wide fabric per scarf seems like a lot. Am I misunderstanding you here?
– I’ve seen other tutorials where they fold lengthwise, sewed, then sewed the top into a tube before pulling it right-side out. Did you only sew the widths into a circle, with one seam on the whole scarf?

Thanks so much, Ilene!

67 ilene December 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hi Allie! Yes, its a lot of fabric! But I like my scarves to be extra “full” so I used 2 yards for each scarf. I didn’t sew the scarf into a tube first, I just left the raw edges along the length and sewed one seam for the whole scarf- very easy!!

68 chloe December 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Such a good idea! I am sharing this on my blog tomorrow!

69 yannick December 11, 2012 at 6:11 am

Thank you for your tutorial! I just made my first scarf! Guess what everyone is asking as a Christmas gift?
I found some gorgeous double sided knit cotton for just 7$ CAD. I am so happy and it shows in that picture.
I double folded my seams so I wouldn’t have to worry about the seams showing as the material has a double sided prints….THANKS again!
Here is the link to see my scarf:

70 Judy December 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

This is great and I might add you could cover up the seam if you prefer using some crochet hearts or flowers or a fancy soft material belt or felt flowers etc. Thanks Our Craft Club will be making these for our local hospital.

71 diane i January 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I need to check my stash to see if I have some knit to for this project otherwise it is out the door to get some. I love it when you can make such an easy project.

72 Laurie Caid January 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Love Ur blog!!!!

73 January 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

I personally wanted to discuss this specific blog, “American Apparel Circle Scarf
Knock Off (tutorial) | come on, ilene!” along with my own good friends on facebook .
com. I reallyonly just sought to distribute your fantastic
publishing! Thank you, Nikole

74 January 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

“American Apparel Circle Scarf Knock Off (tutorial) | come
on, ilene!” truly enables myself contemplate a small amount further.
I really enjoyed every single part of it. Thanks ,Lolita

75 claudette January 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm

omg! lol. i had the very same situation. love the scarf and hated the price at amer. app. so i actually went to the loft too! how funny. i love that place, however, it allows you to kind of go over board because the price is so great!

76 Condo Blues May 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

I can’t believe it is this easy to make an infinity scarf. Why on earth should we be buying them?

77 hannah n June 25, 2013 at 11:18 am

i crap on these scarves

78 daniel June 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

sorry hannah meant to say that i crap on these scarves, she thinks these are really cute

79 Jordan Mallory July 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

These scarves are so beautiful! I love wearing scarves all year around because they go with so many outfits. I have really been getting into wrapper two different colored scarves together forming a color twist. It brings so much contrast to an outfit. I personally like wearing them around my neck because I can make them a little looser. However, I have seen many girls wear them around their heads and arms which also looks cute. Doing techniques like that need to be down by scarves that are light and durable though.

80 write a Essay October 14, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?

I have a blog ased on the same subjects you discuss
and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you
are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

81 Nicole November 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

Great tutorial thank you! I’m new to sewing bit want to make an infinity scarf/breastfeeding cover. What length do you think I should use for that. Mom probably 2 wider than the person in these pictures. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

82 Lisa November 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Maybe you don’t mind, but in case you do… I saw two of your photos from this tutorial on someone else’s tutorial:

83 Patti November 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Do you really have to double the fabric. I have read somewhere and now I can’t find it. That just cut the length and width that you want, sew up the ends and wear it. Because the knit doesn’t ravel it’s ok not to have double layers and turn inside out. I ordered one for my daughter last Christmas and the person I ordered it from, just cut one layer, sewed up ends and embroidered her initials on it and that was it. My daughter does love it. I have several orders to make them this year and that is how I am going to do it. Your opinion?

84 ilene December 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm

you dont have to double the fabric at all. it depends on how full you want the scarf to be. what you described is exactly how I made it. so easy and simple.

85 heatherh December 7, 2013 at 8:46 am

what kind of fabric do you use??

86 ilene December 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I used a stretchy knit fabric, like a soft comfy t-shirt material.

87 Anonymous December 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Sorry, I’m a little confused here. So you basically have a 72″ x 54″ piece of fabric, correct? Are you folding it in half so you end up with a 36″ x 54″ or a 72″ x 27″? Also, after you fold it, where are you sewing? Are you sewing the bottom part opposite the fold, or the two edges perpendicular of the fold? I understand you turn it over after folding, and then sew the two short ends (perpendicular of the fold) together to create the final loop (am I correct?), but I am unsure of the steps to get there. Sorry about all the questions, but it’s a very cool scarf and I would love to be able to do it correctly! 🙂

88 ilene December 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

hi! I only folded the scarf in half to sew the two short ends together to create one giant loop of fabric. there is no fold in the fabric once its done. does that make sense? its super easy and i think the simplicity makes it confusing!

89 Anonymous December 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Okay, I think I understand now. Thanks! Looking forward to making it 🙂

90 Brittany December 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I had a question. About how much fabric would you use for kids? About 12 and 10 years old.

91 Samantha December 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

I have the same question as Brittany. I have two daughters 10 and 13 years old. Although I like my scarfs full I don’t want to overpower the younger ones necks and heads. Maybe only a yard…a yard and a half?? Thoughts??

92 rachel @ the brown abode December 20, 2013 at 11:02 am

Loved how simple and easy this tutorial is! I just whipped a couple up (in under 30 minutes!) to wrap some store bought presents up for my sisters. Thanks for saving me from feeling lame for not making even one present this Christmas!

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98 L'Atelier à Malices April 10, 2014 at 4:54 am

Wow ! That´s just great 🙂 Thanks a lot for sharing this tutorial

99 Cindy September 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Thanks so much. The tutorial was very helpful!

100 Natalie January 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Can’t I just fold 2 yards of fabric in half without cutting? It comes as a rectangle, right?

101 Fay February 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Tried it and loved it. Played around with different materials i’e Chiffon for a night out and also edged one with tassels for a bit of extravagance. In UK we also have fabric shops that do fabric bargain bin which is excellent for a product like this

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