Easy Modesty Shrug / Shawl / Wrap

It seems that all formal & wedding dresses these days are strapless, spaghetti strap or halters. Fashion choices are frequently limited for women who don’t want to wear these. Several online retailers offer matching jackets, which can look very classy.

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However, most department stores don’t sell coordinating jackets. If modest women cannot find a coordinating cover (jacket, wrap, shawl, shrug, etc.), they must look for a generic jacket that kind-of goes with the dress. This often looks hasty and unplanned, and it detracts from the beauty of the dress.


Rather than buying a plain black, white or other solid color jacket, as the two pictures above have done, one option is to make one in a coordinating fabric. A solid color dress with a coordinating pattern shawl can add elegance. I greatly admire many Muslim women for combining fashion and modestly with elaborate outfits that coordinate from head to toe (literally)!

Firefly is one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It is a space western done by Joss Whedon, writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a little thing called The Avengers. Despite the fact that the show was cancelled midway through the first season, the show has steadily grown in fandom over the past 10 years. Their official fan club is called the Browncoats. The Browncoats organizations have two goals: enjoying the company of other Firefly fans and raising money for charities. The Arizona Browncoats are hosting this year’s International Browncoats Ball in Phoenix. I chose to make a cosplay tribute to the elegant Inara for this night. Now, Inara is a professional “Companion”, which is pretty much a high class Courtesan or Geisha. She is not at all worried about modesty, but elegance is not about how much skin you can show. In the episode Shindig, Captain Mal Reynolds accidentally challenges a rich jerk to a duel for what Mal feels is insulting Inara’s honor. Inara wears a plum colored dress to the duel with a gold paisley shrug over it. The dress is for another blog entry, but here was the process for the shrug.


This shawl is so easy, you don’t even need a pattern for it. I started with a rectangle of gold brocade which resembled her fabric. The following guidelines would work for size: S: 60×30, M: 75×30, L: 90×30, XL: 105×30, etc. Keep in mind it is quite oversized, so you may want to estimate lower than your actual size.

Because I chose a Brocade, I had to line it. I found an inexpensive coordinating sheer to line it, and I like the result quite well. It may not need a liner if you choose a sheer or silky fabric. I suggest avoiding slippery fabrics. 😦 It probably took me longer to sew the 4 edges of the lining on than the rest of the project took!

Pin the lining and fabric, pretty sides together. Sew left, top and right lining to fabric. Trim the edges close to the seam. You may consider sewing a second seam close or using an alternating stitch if fabrics are slippery.

ImageTurn fabrics pretty side out and press seams. Press and narrow hem bottom side as close to the seam as you can get it.

Fold the rectangle in half vertically. Press the fold, or mark with chalk at least halfway up. Measure and place a pin 5 inches from the bottom along center line. Measure and place another pin 10 inches from the bottom line.


Pinch the two pins together, right sides facing each other, and pin together on the wrong side of fabric (pretty side of liner). Measure another pin 5 inches from this second fold (15 inches from bottom).


Pinch the three sections together and pin in the same manner as before. The three sections should be barely visible, as seen below.


Fold the bottom line up, right sides facing together, to meet the three sections. You now have 4 sections pinned together, 0″, 5″, 10″ and 15″ from the bottom. Bring bottom right side of fabric to center and pinch in place.


Bring bottom left side of fabric to center and pinch in place. Pin through all 6 layers.


Stitch together all 6 layers. If your sewing machine can handle this, you may want to switch to a heavy duty needle. Mine didn’t fit underneath the foot, so I hand stitched the layers together. Here is the final result:



Here is a sneak peak at the outfit together:



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