DIY Book Scarf Tutorial

The book scarf idea has been going around for a while. It's the perfect accessory for the fashionable literature nerd. There are lots of lovely ones on Etsy, but I looked at them and decided I could make my own for quite a bit less money. Most of them are screen-printed, but that's kind of spendy and tricky. I've done some of the great fabric paint stencil tutorials for t-shirts, etc, but because I wanted lots of small text, and making a stencil for that sounded incredibly tedious. I settled on using iron-on transfer paper, and made two for birthday gifts for my friends. 

It's super easy sewing project: basically cut a rectangle, apply your iron-on transfers, and sew a few straight seams. (If you're really not into sewing, you could use a pre-made scarf, just make sure its fabric will work with your iron-on paper.)


  • 1.75 yds of jersey fabric, in white or off-white (This is enough to make two scarves.)
  • 6 sheets of Iron-on Transfer Paper (You can it get at craft stores or 
  • onlineMAKE SURE YOU DO NOT PUT THIS PAPER IN A LASER PRINTER. IT WILL RUIN IT! I borrowed my aunt's inkjet printer.)
  • An Iron
  • Fabric Scissors (Or reasonably sharp scissors)
  • Pillowcase or sheet 
  • Sewing Pins
  • White Thread
  • Lint Roller
  • Sewing Machine 
  • Needle and Thread

1. Let's start by washing your fabric. Jersey isn't likely to shrink, but just in case. If it comes out of the dryer wrinkly, iron it before cutting.

2. Cut out a 25" x 64" rectangle.
(That little chunk taken it out is the scrap I used to test my iron-on paper.)

3. Pick your passage of text. I used a section from Emma by Jane Austen for my first one, and The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien for the other. Emma is old enough to be public domain, so I found the pdf on Gutenberg Project, and copied and pasted the section I wanted into Microsoft Word. You may need to clean up the formatting a little. There were some strange paragraph breaks in mine.

4. Find a nice readable font. I used BacktalkSerif BTN in size 16 and Bold for Emma and Nyala in size 18 for The Hobbit. Adjust the margins so they are as small as possible---0.18". The scarf will be approx. 64" so you can fit a little less than 5.5 pages of text on it. For The Hobbit, I also included Thror's map.

5. Next, print your text on the transfer paper, following the directions from the package and/or your printer's manual. My paper included directions about which side of the paper to put up when you load it, etc. Make sure you print everything as a mirror image. Depending on what program and printer your using, you might have to Google how to do that. For my printer, there was checkbox in the printer settings. (You might also want to print a test page on regular paper before you start with the transfer paper.)

See how you can see the image the regular way if you hold it up to the light.

6. Okay, now it's time to get ready for ironing. Turn your iron to a hot setting with no steam. Put a pillow case or sheet on a hard, flat surface and lay your fabric out on it. If there are any wrinkles, go ahead and iron it to smooth it out. Run a lint roller over it to make sure there's no fuzz that will get stuck in your design. Trim the top and bottom edges of each sheet of iron-on paper as close to the edge of the words as possible so you don't end up with gaps.

That line down the middle of my paper made it easier to line up.
7. Lay out all the your printed pages on your fabric, leaving about 1.5" between the edges of the page and the edges of the fabric. Put your paper transfer side down, making sure that everything lines up and nothing is upside down or in the wrong order. (Trust me, I messed that up on the first one.) My paper had a handy line down the middle that made getting it straight easier. You should be able to see the text as it will be: not mirrored, through the back side of the paper.

What happens when you mess up a page and try to peel it off. :(

8. Now iron each page for 2-3 minutes, pressing hard and making sure you cover the entire sheet of paper. Be patient. Don't peel the backing off until you're done---if you iron on a spot that's already transferred and the backing's been removed, it will start melting. Once it's all done and cooled, carefully peel the backing away.
I peeled off my first section, but only after I ironed the next one, so there was no chance of melting this part. 
All done ironing. 

9. Now we just have to sew it up. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half longways, with the right sides of the fabric together. Pin the edges. With a 5/8" seam allowance, sew one end, the long edge, and most of the other end, leaving 2-3" open. Remove the pins and turn the scarf right side out.


Use a hand needle to carefully sew the end up. (You could also make an infinity scarf by following these directions:

Sewing the end closed

Tada! You know how to make a lovely book scarf.

 The one thing I'm not 100% happy with is that the iron-on paper comes out a little bit shiny and stiff. I'm going to look into some different kinds and see if I can find one I like better.


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