Summer Shawl, Etc.

My finished summer shawl. A bit of embroidery and a standout trim makes it fun and festive.
My finished summer shawl. A bit of embroidery and a standout trim makes it fun and festive.

While on a recent trip, I decided I needed a light weight, large summer shawl for a variety of reasons.  At that particular moment, we were in Key Largo running through a brief rain shower into Sundowners Restaurant.

Upon entering the restaurant’s bathroom, I found no cloths to use to dry off.  The wall-mounted hand dryer was awkward to say the least.  My mind went to the Japanese cloths carried by man, woman and child.  Is the name for those Tenugui or Furoshiki?

If I have had a summer shawl, I could have used it to cover me while running into the restaurant, dried my arms once in the restaurant,used it as a tablecloth while at the restaurant, used it as a pareo, etc.

If done correctly, it should be pretty, but light weight so that it could fit easily in carry-on luggage.  Then it could also be a covering for sleeping on the plane.

I had just noticed some gorgeous Turkish towels offered by Mark & Graham, which had the look I wanted.  I believe they had a terry side, if my memory is correct.

For the fabric, I am in love with the white muslin I used for my summer gown. Using such a simple fabric allows for lots of decorative options.  A few that come to mind are:

  1. Hand or machine embroider.
  2. Monogram.
  3. Tie-dye.
  4. Stripe with a running stitch.
  5. Paint a scene on the fabric.
  6. Use fabric dye to make your own design on the fabric.
  7. Sew colorful ribbons on the fabric to create stripes.
  8. Embellish the ends with tassels, ribbons, balls, crochet trim, etc.

To make a summer shawl, you will need:

1 1/2 yards of white muslin or fabric of your choice.  Linen would be nice as well. A good width is about 30″ – 40″.  If larger than 44″, you may want to make it more narrow.

Matching or contrasting thread.


Sewing machine.

Pre-wash your fabric and embellishments so that any shrinking has occurred before you sew.   Next, paint, dye, or sew any decorations on the fabric.

I embroidered my initials and a design on my summer shawl.
I embroidered my initials and a design on my summer shawl.

Then hem the long edges, cutting away any selvage.

Next hem the short ends, adding fringe or trim as you wish.

A bit of trim brings it all together.
A bit of trim brings it all together.

If monogramming, you can add that at the end.  Use a contrasting or monochromatic thread, depending on the look you are going for. Location options include:

  1.  A large monogram centered in the middle of the shawl, with the top and bottom pointing toward the long sides.
  2. A medium-sized monogram, locating the bottom of the monogram close to a short edge, centered between the long edges.
  3. A smaller monogram angled in a corner.

There are other great uses for these, such as a beach towel, chair cover, scarf, head covering, purse embellishment (let some of the pretty trim and fabric hang out of your tote), the ideas are endless.

Depending on the fabric you choose, they are also inexpensive.  I think I will make several.  They would be great to keep in the car for times when it turns cold, you go to a movie and need a wrap, or you decide to have a picnic!  It would be nice to keep one in your luggage and one at the office.  I also think they would make a nice gift!

I hope you will make a few for friends, family and yourself and that you find them to be as versatile as I have.  Enjoy your summer shawl!  That’s a wrap (get it!) for this post!

Bonus Information:  A friend that had lived several years in Japan gave a beautiful piece of cloth to me.  He said that the Japanese carried them with them at all times to use as a napkin while eating.  I don’t recall the term he used for them.

An Internet search showed Furoshiki was traditionally used as a wrapping cloth for gifts, picnics, bento boxes, purchases, etc.  These are large squares of fabric.

On the other hand, Tenugui are oblong pieces of fabric used as a towel, washcloth, headband, etc.


Inspiration for an easy summer shawl comes from a recent Neiman Marcus catalogue. This lovely silk and wool shawl is by Bindya.  Reimagined as a summer shawl, one could use white cotton fabric trimmed with a color lace or black cotton fabric trimmed with white lace.

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