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1-Hour Project: How to Sew A Shrug In 3 Simple Steps — No Pattern Needed!

With temperatures starting to cool down, especially at night, we find ourselves reaching for cover-ups constantly this time of year. A bolero covers just enough of the shoulders and arms without ruining the look of a sleeveless or strapless outfit and is a great option. Or, one can go for a full-on jacket for optimal warmth.

An even easier and more flattering alternative is the shrug, which generally covers less of the body than a vest would, but is more tailored than a shawl. Like a bolero, a shrug typically just covers the arms and shoulders. They are soft and slouchy while boleros are much more structured and fitted to the body.

In this post, we’ll show you how to sew a shrug in three simple steps

Simple Shrug on a Dress Form

How to sew a shrug

Notes on this project:

  • This style works best when made from any soft material with a good amount of drape, but it can be made out of any light to medium weight fabric as well. It’s a great option for a light and dressy cover-up over an evening dress, but can work as a fun, casual daytime jacket.
  • This one is done in a jersey style knit with lots of drape and “slouch.” It looks great over jeans for a wonderful casual look.
  • No pattern is needed to make this, just a rectangular length of fabric and some matching thread. This one used a piece of material that was 48” long cut on the crosswise grain, by 30” wide, or just a smidge less than 7/8 of a yard. Because I chose to serge the raw edges, four spools of thread were needed.
  • The look of this basic shrug can be easily varied. Simply adjust the width and length based on your personal size or by how much you want the sleeves to hang, how much cover you want in the back or the size of the opening you slip your arms into. Do this and you can have a shrug that fits every occasion!

Step 1:

Using a length of fabric to your specifications or the dimensions of the one pictured – 48” by 30” — finish the raw edges of both the short and long sides. The easiest and fastest method is to overcast them with a serger using either three or four threads. This produces a simple, yet effective finisPinning Fabric to Make a Shrug

Sewing a Seam for a Handmade Shrug

Step 2:

Pin the long edges together, with right sides facing each other. Make a mark 9” from each short end. Now stitch a seam from the short end to the 9” mark using a 1/4 – 3/8” seam allowance. Press each seam open. A 30” opening in the center should remain. Since a knit was used, a walking foot helped produce a nice, straight, flat seam.

Sewing a ShrugClose-up shot of handmade shrugSewing a Shrug

Step 3:

Fold down the un-sewn edges of the center opening the same width as the seam allowances used in Step 2. Press in place. Also fold down the sleeve opening edges the same amount and press these in place as well. Now topstitch the top and bottom edges of the center opening and the sleeve openings ¼” from the edge to finish the shrug.

Simple Shrug on a Dress Form

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I have read, and re-read, and stared at this… There has got to be some info missing. It doesn’t make sense.


I agree with Thia!!! It’s a great idea…..further explanation?


Thia and Kathy, it’s basically a cylinder with an opening in the middle that you put your arms through.
I hope that helps.


i don’t get it even. Without knowing the person intention and having not worked with this person. I have the idea but there is not enough information to help me see what they are seeing.

Thanks but not helpful!!


I think the final photo is confusing. Is that only the shrug, or the shrug and a tube top? One piece, or two? I think I know how this is done, but not 100% sure.


Yes. The top is shown from the same fabric. The shrug is short in length. In circumference, it covers the back, shoulders, and arms. It often drapes down the front from the neck line to the sleeve, especially in a knit fabric. There is not coverage at the front chest, like a bolero. If you do the instructions step by step, it is easy. Give it a try.


i have actually made one of these by another name, but it still took a LONNG time to figure what the instructions meant. Maybe it would have been less confusing if the words came before the pictures in each step. Otherwise, it’s a cute idea.


I still don’t get it :((

Liz Fox

I got it!!! I tried it with an old pillow case from a jersey sheet set just to see, since it was already in a tube when I cut off the short end. Then I cut the seam of the long end in the middle to about 8″ from each end. And tried it on. It worked. Haven’t sewn anything yet, just trying to get the concept down.

I’m going to wear it when the AC comes blasting down while watching tv.


Can’t wait to make this one. Thanks for sharing.


Basically, you take a rectangle the width of the fabric or the measurement between your wrists with your arms outstretched, or elbows or wherever you want the shrug to hit your arms (for long sleeves usually around 48 inches.), by around 30 inches. Finish the short ends. Mark 9 inches in from the short ends, match the right sides together along the long edge, and sew a 3/8 inch seam from each short end to the 9 inch marks. You should have a big opening along the middle. Press 3/8 inch to the wrong side, stitch to finish the edge of the opening and you’re done. Slip each arm through the big opening through the small ends to wear your shrug. A diagram would have been better than those photos, I think. Using the same fabric to drape the form for a top was too confusing! I hope this simplified version of the directions helps.

Heather Webb

Made it! Super easy! Super fast! What a great idea! I am always ending up with sleeveless clothes and I don’t like bare arms…


Easy shrug to make! I used white chiffon for a little extra “challenge”…. the shrug will be worn with a knit sundress I made for my granddaughter. Thanks for sharing the instructions. I’m sure I’ll be making this again!

Ruth C.

It would be great if the instructions included how to get the measurements. Is the height from the nape of the neck? If it wasn’t for Julie in her comment above, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.


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