Sneaky shrug tutorial

This is a tutorial to make the shrug below which I blogged here. It’s called a “sneaky shrug” because I got the idea and (ahem) dimensions from one I tried on in a shop, and which cost, I should mention, $600!


Mine is slightly different because the RTW shrug didn’t have those extra flaps at the front. I added them because I wanted to use the full length of available fabric, being a thrifty sort of person.


Before we start: a disclaimer!

I am not a designer and do not claim to know anything much about garment design. I have tested the pattern three times, each time simplifying the construction. The pattern does work, but you may need to make some intuitive leaps. Please do not attempt this with any of your fabulous fabric first. Do not attempt if you are a complete beginner. Although you only really need to sew straight seams, some of the construction is a teeny bit tricky. Now, if you think you can manage all that – are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin:

Fabric required

You will need between 186cm and 158cm of 150cm wide fabric. If your fabric is 115cm wide, you will need to add another 99cm to the length. I have given two lengths in case you don’t want those extra flaps. All you do is cut the first rectangle to the shorter length and have it finish flush with the second rectangle – clear as mud? Don’t worry, hopefully it will all become clear and here is a picture for comparison



The one I copied was a stable knit, and I used a stable knit for my first one, but I’ve since made one in a very floppy, stretchy knit and one in boiled wool with zero stretch. In the summer I shall try a silk one, or a colour blocked one might be interesting.  Basically, pick any fabric, but nothing too stiff, it needs a bit of drape, I think.

Pattern pieces

Please note that this shrug is for my size, which is a 92cm bust. If you are smaller or bigger than this, then please adjust the measurements accordingly by just adding a bit to the length of each piece. Given that it is an open shrug, the armhole to armhole measurement of 90.5cm might be more useful.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 1.10.17 pm

When cutting out these rectangles I ran the long edge along the grainline.

Rectangles 1 and 3 have a seam allowance (shown as the outside box) of 1cm (or 3/8″). If you like 1.5cm (or 5/8″), then just add a bit more. I haven’t given imperial measurements for the three rectangles (sorry!), but they shouldn’t be hard to work out. Rectangle 2 only has seam allowances on the top and bottom. The sides will form the armholes, as represented by the blue lines.


Putting the shrug together takes a bit of faith, but it’s not very difficult. You will have an outside layer (piece 1), a middle layer with armholes (piece 2) and a band at the bottom (piece 3) as per the diagram below:

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 1.14.26 pm

Rectangle 1 is the same width all the way round – I can’t draw very well!

The long bits at the bottom of rectangle 1 are the two flaps should you choose to include them.

The blue lines in rectangle 2 are the armholes

Okay, to work:

  1. Take rectangle 2 and turn under 4cms on each of the short sides and hem however you like – these are now your armholes.
  2. Now you are going to trap rectangle 2 inside the doubled over band formed by rectangle 3.
  3. Mark the centre point of one long side of 2 and both long sides of 3
  4. Lay rectangle 3 on the table, right side up and roll rectangle 2 into a long, tight sausage with the inside of the fabric inside the roll.
  5. IMG_5971
  6. Lay the sausage inside rectangle 3 and pin the raw edges of the long side from the centres out to the sides of 3. This is known as the “burrito method” and is the neatest way to finish a seam. You will have fabric left either side as per the photo above.
  7. Bring the other half of rectangle 1 up to the edge, matching centre points and pin again.
  8. IMG_5972
  9. Stitch the long edge, making sure you have three layers under your needle at all times. If you can’t get your head round this method, RST join one edge of rectangle 3 with one edge of 2, then fold a seam allowance into second edge of rectangle 3  and hem. You should now have the middle rectangle caught into the hem band.
  10. Grade the seam if necessary or overlock/serge it if your fabric frays.
  11. Pull rectangle 2 out of 3 and give it a good press.
  12. IMG_5977

I am now going to do the rest of the instructions for the short version without the flaps:

  1. Lay rectangle 1 on the table with the right side facing upwards
  2. Make sure your centre points are marked on the long edges of rectangle 1 and mark the centre point on the long raw edge of rectangle 2
  3. Starting from the centre points pin the remaining raw edge of rectangle 2 onto rectangle 1 with right sides facing the right side of rectangle 1.
  4. When you get to the armholes, lay the hems next to each other and keep pinning, they will look like this after they are sewn.
  5. IMG_5969
  6. You need to leave 1cm overhang on rectangle 3 on either end, which is your seam allowance.
  7. Once you have pinned all the way round, stitch the two together, including the hem on rectangle 3. Press, making sure that the seam allowance is towards rectangle 1. Grade the seam allowance if necessary.
  8. Now you have a choice: either just press up the seam allowance on the remaining raw edge and hem with your preferred method (by hand or topstitch).  Note that this is a band and you need to double it over prior to hemming. fHowever, you might want to do the burrito method again, as this is the neatest, but also, if I’m frank, a teeny bit complicated and testing.
  9. If you are doing the burrito method, roll rectangles 2 and 3 onto the right side of rectangle 1.
  10. You now need to bring the raw edge of rectangle 1 over to the sewn edge of rectangle 1, encasing all the rest of the fabric. Right sides should be together. Start from your centre marks and pin towards each edge.
  11. You have to wrangle the last part into submission and match up to the seam allowance that you left. Persevere, it can be done. It looks like this – a bit of a hot mess
  12. IMG_5980:
  13. Remember to leave that last end open, so that you can pull the whole shrug through!
  14. Stitch, beginning with one of the short ends, and going all the way round, but leave the second short end open.
  15. Keep checking that you are catching all layers.
  16. Now gently pull the whole garment through that seam that you have left open. Depending on your fabric, this could take some effort.IMG_5981
  17. Give it a good press and press the seam allowance in on the unstitched end.
  18. Slip stitch the end closed.
  19. You are done – reward yourself – wine? chocolate? cake? or simply take your new shrug for a twirl!

If you are doing the long ends, you will have an extra step or two:

  1. Lay rectangle 1 on the table with the right side facing upwards
  2. Starting from one end, measure up 14cm and from this point start pinning rectangles 2 and 3 onto rectangle 1 with right sides facing the right side of rectangle 1, you should have 14cm left at the other side (13cm flap plus 1cm seam allowance)
  3. Do everything as per the flapless version above.

If you make a shrug, please tag me on Instagram@suestoney and #sneakyshrug, or post a photograph in the comments. 


PS If I have made any errors please let me know so that I can update this post.


24 thoughts on “Sneaky shrug tutorial

      1. No, I think with your skills, all those steps seem very straightforward to you. I don’t sew clothing very much so I didn’t realize how many steps would be in a garment like that, but you explained it very well!

  1. That’s what the shops are there for! It’s all a big pecking order of who rips of who anyway!
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post and promise that I will continue to do the same myself

  2. I enjoyed the tutorial. I have a piece of knitted wool fabric that’s been making me feel guilty for a year or two now. When I get back home I’ll have a look at it.

    1. That would be amazing. I’ve made a knitted wool one and wore it today – so warm! You can probably seam it if you don’t quite have enough fabric…

  3. I’m going to print this out and work through logically with the fabric as my brain is fried at the moment after a post workout headache yesterday. This looks such a useful top I need to make one!

  4. I think I might just need a $600 shrug knock-off in my life. Thank you for posting the tutorial and if I have trouble I’ll pop round for expert guidance and coffee!

  5. I loved the shrug when I saw it on you the other day, thanks for the tutorial! I will have to give it a go sometime 🙂 And if I have trouble, maybe I will have to pop over for personal instruction too! 😀

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