Shawl Tutorial: Measuring and Mathing

Joined
Apr 26, 2011
Messages
9,879
Location
New Jersey
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Discord
Roh#9677
When it comes to the size of the shawl, I got lucky. I was Raised to Sedai live and the shawl that Jaryd made (without ever having met me) fits me really well. So I have long used that as a guide when I am making myself a new shawl. Never fear, just because you don’t have a shawl to use as a template doesn’t mean you can’t make one! The most important measurement for a shawl is your wingspan. Your wingspan is the length from fingertips to fingertips with your arms extended out to the sides. This measurement is much easier to get with the help of someone else. When making a triangular shawl, the length, at the longest point, will be half of the upper side. I like the upper edge to be at least the same length as your wingspan, if not a bit longer. I’m going to use my shawl here as an example again. My wingspan is about 63”. I like my shawls a little big so that I can wrap the ends around my forearms a bit, therefore, my shawl is 72” across the top. Yours does not need to be this much bigger than you if you don’t want it to, or, if you like things oversized, you can make it even bigger. Just pay attention to the direction of the fabric you have chosen and how it will look as you go bigger. My advice though, is to choose a length that will fit you and will divide in half easily.


So, after you’ve decided how long you want the upper portion to be, divide that number in half, that is how long it should be from the upper edge to the point in a straight line. So for me, that’s 36”. At the midpoint of my upper edge, my shawl is 36” down to the point. Don’t forget to add a seam allowance. You can add however much you are comfortable with. If you are used to commercial sewing patterns, the seam allowance is usually ⅝” but I don’t like to add that to things I am creating a pattern for because it just makes things more complicated. ½” is a much neater number for our purposes. Once you have found those two numbers, I usually choose to stop doing math. I like to use the lining here and mark out those two lines. Then I take a long straight edge, like a yardstick, and just connect the ends. From here you can use the lining as the template to cut out the outer fabric. You can also use butcher paper, or other big rolls of paper to lay out your template if you need to to figure out how much you need. The amount of fringe you need will be a simple measurement along the two lower edges of the triangle you have made here.

In terms of how much fabric you will need, at this point you need to know which direction you will be able to get this onto the shawl. With materials that do not have a direction, it is usually easier to place the longer, top edge along the selvedge line (the outer edge of the fabric that is not cut). Fabrics come in a few common widths, 48", 54", and 60". If you can lay it out along the selvedge, you're in luck! The rest of your math is simple. Divide your final number by 12" to get it into feet, and then divide that by 3 to get it into yards. (Or do a similar conversion from centimeters to meters if that's your chosen units.) Make sure you get a little extra just to be safe.

If your fabric has a pattern and it has to be laid perpendicular to the selvedge, you will need to figure out if you will be able to make it work with one seam, or if you need two. That is dependent on your wingspan and the width of your fabric. When doing the math here, remember to add seam allowances for the seams that you are putting in, on both pieces. It is easier to piece the fabric together and then cut out your shawl from there. So figure out how many pieces wide it needs to be and how long each needs to be. Then you can add those numbers together to get the length of fabric you need, and then do a similar conversion into yards or meters to get the final length you need.

I know this second part is a bit convoluted, if anyone needs help with it, please, let me know!

Have you picked your fabric and fringe yet? Now is the time to do so! Go forth and order all the pretties!
 
Last edited:

Merena Orithana

Accepted
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
3,200
Location
Missouri
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
tenor.gif


....calculating....
 

Delara Morellin

Aes Sedai
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
1,121
Location
England
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Yardstick! THANK YOU! I knew there was something I needed to replace but it had totally slipped my mind until you mentioned it - the last one was left too close to the chinchilla's cage overnight and yeah, Gomez had a great time with that :rofl
 

Polegnyn Nemeara

Aes Sedai
Marketing Project Manager
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
8,802
Location
Kansas, USA
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
What do you recommend if we’d like to go the semi-circle or u-shaped shawl route?

I understand applying the wingspan and depth measurements, but a bit unsure how to create rounded shapes aside from freehanding it on the back of the fabric… do extra-large compasses that use chalk exist?

for example, my wingspan is 175cm/almost 69in… gonna need a huge compass to get the circular shape right :p
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2011
Messages
9,879
Location
New Jersey
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Discord
Roh#9677
  • Thread starter
  • Moderator
  • #5
I usually freehand things like that, I don't know if a compass that big exists? I've seen some pretty big ones in schools for chalkboards but I'm not sure those are big enough?
 

Alora Sionn

Mama Wolf
Gaidin
Company Commander of Val'Cueran
Game Master
Joined
Oct 30, 2012
Messages
43,807
Location
House Redwolf
Can you get two yardsticks together at one end and affix chalk to the end you will draw with?
 

Cattrin al'Modrah

Aes Sedai
Joined
Jan 21, 2008
Messages
14,415
Age
35
Pronouns
  1. None - Use Name
What do you recommend if we’d like to go the semi-circle or u-shaped shawl route?

I understand applying the wingspan and depth measurements, but a bit unsure how to create rounded shapes aside from freehanding it on the back of the fabric… do extra-large compasses that use chalk exist?

for example, my wingspan is 175cm/almost 69in… gonna need a huge compass to get the circular shape right :p

Use the formula for determining the radius of an oval with your wingspan measurements as your diameter and then plot that radius measurement out on the fabric with a fabric measuring tape. (I spent some time working on how to do the calculations via math for this.....if you make a semicircular shawl you can't use piR2 because a semicircular shawl is actually half an oval. It'salso not a triangle, so you can't use Pythagoras.)

Punch a hole in the fabric measuring tape for your pencil at the very end, then have someone hold the tape down in the center point while you mark out the hem with the pencil. Don't forget to add the extra bit taken up by the part holding the pencil!
 

Merena Orithana

Accepted
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
3,200
Location
Missouri
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
So this might be odd to bring up, but I'm short. :rofl

I'm thinking I will also measure if my fabric plus my fringe is dragging on the floor. Is that a normal issue for shawls?
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2011
Messages
9,879
Location
New Jersey
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Discord
Roh#9677
  • Thread starter
  • Moderator
  • #12
How is everyone doing with their mathing? Fabric and supplies ordered yet?
 

Delara Morellin

Aes Sedai
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
1,121
Location
England
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
I'm waiting on samples of the fabrics I picked out, so hopefully they'll be here in the not too distant future.

One thing I know won't be here until next month is my new sewing machine! I could've got one sooner but the local sewing shop was really helpful ('cause I had no idea what I was looking for) so I asked them to order it for me. It's a Janome 725, which is apparently the one used on the Sewing Bee, so it should be more than adequate for me. I've never had a proper machine before and certainly not a brand new one, so I'm super excited! :embarassed:mg
 

Erin al'Denael

Keeper of the Chronicles
Keeper of the Chronicles
Aes Sedai
Joined
Oct 1, 2002
Messages
12,190
Location
TN, USA
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Discord
Erin#8026
The school year started back for me, so I'm now super distracted. :laugh:

I have the interior fabric I want to use though. :) I ordered it off Mood a while back; here's a link.
 

Elia LePhant

Aes Sedai
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
13,937
Age
35
Location
Houston, TX, USA
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
Oh can I join in? :) I have fabric already and I think I’ll be doing a hand fringe.
 

Elia LePhant

Aes Sedai
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
13,937
Age
35
Location
Houston, TX, USA
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
I'm waiting on samples of the fabrics I picked out, so hopefully they'll be here in the not too distant future.

One thing I know won't be here until next month is my new sewing machine! I could've got one sooner but the local sewing shop was really helpful ('cause I had no idea what I was looking for) so I asked them to order it for me. It's a Janome 725, which is apparently the one used on the Sewing Bee, so it should be more than adequate for me. I've never had a proper machine before and certainly not a brand new one, so I'm super excited! :embarassed:mg

I’m excited for you! My new machine was a huge game changer for me with sewing. I love my machine so much.

The school year started back for me, so I'm now super distracted. :laugh:

I have the interior fabric I want to use though. :) I ordered it off Mood a while back; here's a link.

That’s beautiful.
 

Siera al'Cere

Graphic Goddess
Aes Sedai
Director of Marketing
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
6,856
Location
Ontario, Canada
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
I am very bad at math :look:

I'll take my measurements tomorrow but it might take a bit longer for me to get my materials. I still haven't decided on fringe :rofl
 

Merena Orithana

Accepted
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
3,200
Location
Missouri
Pronouns
  1. She - Her
So I have ordered fabric, and received the outer layer. The inner layer I ordered, but haven't received yet:
f5c533aa_big_store.png

Still need to order my fringe. I think I want to go long? But debating beaded versus regular...
 
Top