Make an Adjustable Scrub Cap (with Sewing Patterns)
Posted on July 31, 2020
These are instructions to make a one-size-fits-all scrub cap with a convertible cuff! The cuff can be folded up to adjust for depth. There is also elastic in the back (so you can cram as much or as little hair underneath as you need to) and ties to make sure the cap is secure. The scrub cap consists of 3 main pieces (the Top, Base, and Cuff), and takes between 2 1/2 to 5 hours to sew depending on your experience level. However, we designed the scrub cap so that anyone can make it, regardless of their skill level.
Why a Scrub Cap?
With the pandemic still in full swing and PPE scarce, we at First Stop Cosplay wanted to find a way to help out all of the medical professionals working around the clock to combat the virus. Then, an old friend of ours reached out to us on behalf of nurses in San Diego who desperately need scrub caps.
We’ve been making scrub caps and sending them to San Diego-based nurses ever since, but there’s only so much that we can do on our own. That’s why we’ve decided to make our sewing patterns for the scrub cap available for free to anyone who wants them, whether it’s to make a cap for yourself, for others, or just to learn something new. We’ve also created video tutorials—that’s right, more than one!—to supplement the written instructions and photos below.
First Stop Cosplay is all about helping people make things on their own. That’s why we made our sewing patterns so that they can be printed to scale. This means that you don’t need to know anything about patternmaking. All you have to do is a little bit of assembly! We’ve also designed the scrub cap, as well as the tutorials, to be as beginner-friendly as possible, while also making sure that the cap is utilitarian.
We had a lot of fun getting everything ready for you, and we hope you have just as much fun making your own scrub cap! The patterns, instructions, and video tutorials are all 100% free to use. All we ask in return is that if you have some time to spare, please fill out a very short survey letting us know what you think about the tutorials and sewing patterns.
First Stop Cosplay exists to find ways to help you improve your skills. Therefore, we welcome all feedback so that we can make improvements in the future. As always, if you have any questions, you can contact us via the Contact page here on our website, as well as through any of our social media accounts. Or you can just leave a comment below.
If you want to make scrub caps to donate to hospitals, nurses have told us that the best way to do so is to call your local hospital. Tell them that you have scrub/surgical caps you want to donate. You can then either arrange to mail them to a specific person who works there or drop the caps off at the hospital’s ER or COVID floor.
Table of Contents
If you want to skip to a specific step, and don’t want to scroll through the whole blog post, simply click on any heading the table of contents to go straight there.
We made one long video showing how to make the scrub cap from start to finish. However, we also made videos that include tips and tricks for each step, just in case you want more detailed guidance.
What you need to assemble the sewing patterns:
|• Nine sheets of 8.5 x 11 printer paper (to print out the sewing patterns)|
|• Paper scissors (aka not fabric shears)|
|• Ruler (to check that the patterns printed to scale and that they’re|
|• Pencil or pen|
|• (Optional) Clear beveled plastic ruler (for drawing on the seam lines)|
|• (Optional) Manila paper or folders (to make manila versions of the|
|• Stapler (if you’re making manila versions)|
What you need to sew the scrub cap:
|• 3/4 yard of woven fabric (the fabric can be any color or design,|
|although we recommend that it’s 100% cotton or a cotton blend)|
|• 2 inches of 3/4” elastic|
|• Something to mark the fabric (chalk, pencil, fabric marker, etc.)|
|• Fabric shears|
|• (Optional) A lighter (to seal the edges of the elastic)|
|• Sewing machine|
|• General-purpose presser foot/zigzag presser foot|
|• (Optional) 1/4” straight stitch presser foot (to make sewing a 1/4” seam|
|• Thread (we recommend 100% spun polyester thread because of its|
|high tensile strength)|
|• Sewing pins|
|• Ironing board|
|• One safety pin (for feeding the elastic, but feel free to use any other|
|tool you might already have)|
|• (Optional) Seam ripper (in case you make a mistake)|
Want a little more guidance? You can watch the full-length video or Step 1 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
When you print the patterns, make sure you have your printer print them TO SCALE. By default, many printers print on the “fit to page” setting, which, as the name suggests, fits the image to the page. This means that, although it might look like the image is printing at the right size, it’s actually printing smaller because “fit to page” shrinks it to fit within the margin. To prevent this from happening, make sure you have your printer print “to scale” or “at 100%.”
We also provided a handy-dandy 1-inch guide on every page, so you can easily check whether the patterns printed at the right size. Just hold your ruler up to the guide; if it measures exactly 1,” you’re good to go!
Our scrub cap consists of four patterns total: the Base (pages 2-4), the Top (pages 5-7), the Right Cuff (page 8), and the Left Cuff (page 9). Page 1 is the master sheet, which is meant as a reference to check whether you assembled the patterns correctly, as well as an aide while you sew the scrub cap.
There are written instructions for assembling the paper patterns on pages 2-9. But just in case you want the extra guidance, we’ve also put together a step-by-step tutorial below, complete with pictures!
To assemble the Base, first cut along the blue dotted line on the scrub cap Base (Right) pattern on page 2. Then tape it to the RIGHT SIDE of the Base (Center Front) pattern on page 3, placing your ruler along the grainline of the taped patterns to make sure they’re straight.
Next, cut along the blue dotted line on the Base (Left) pattern on page 4. Tape it to the LEFT SIDE of the Base (Center Front) pattern on page 3, using your ruler along the grainline again to check that the pattern is straight.
To assemble the Top, start by cutting along the dotted line of the scrub cap Top (Middle) pattern on page 6. Tape it to the FRONT of the Top (Center Front) pattern on page 5. Like with the Base pattern, place your ruler along the grainline to make sure it’s straight.
Next, cut along the dotted line on the Top (Center Back) pattern on page 7 and tape it to the MIDDLE of the Top (Middle) pattern on page 6. Use your ruler to check that the grainline is straight.
Lastly, you want to assemble the patterns for the Right and Left Cuff. First, cut the bold blue dotted line on page 8 to separate the different sections of the Right Cuff patterns. Then cut along the blue dotted line on the Right Cuff (Side) pattern and tape it to the RIGHT SIDE of the Right Cuff (Center Front) pattern, using your ruler to ensure that the grainline is straight.
Repeat the same steps for the Left Cuff patterns on page 9.
If you plan on making multiple scrub caps, we suggest you make manila paper versions of the patterns. If so, proceed to step 2 below before cutting out the assembled pattern pieces. Otherwise, cut out the pattern pieces using paper scissors.
Tip: Before cutting out the assembled patterns, trim away some of the excess paper on the back of the patterns to reduce bulk.
Tip: After cutting out the assembled patterns, use a couple of pieces of tape on the back of the patterns to secure the overlapping paper.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 2 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
After you have assembled the paper patterns, stop before you cut them out and get your manila paper. If you’re using manila folders, tape them together until they’re roughly big enough to fit the patterns.
Note: In this tutorial, we used legal-sized manila folders. If you use letter-sized folders, you may need to tape three together instead of two.
Tip: When you tape manila folders together, make sure that you line up the ridged parts along the fold in the middle. This is because you don’t want to use that part in the patterns. Lining them up minimizes the amount of space that they take up.
Tip: To ensure you transfer the grainline correctly onto the manila patterns, first extend the grainline on the paper patterns all the way to the ends of the page. Place the pattern on the manila, mark both ends of the grainline, and draw a straight line on the manila that goes through both marks. Then, match the extended grainline on the paper patterns to the line on the manila.
Next, staple the paper patterns to the manila, placing the staples just inside the outer edge of each patterns so that the paper doesn’t shift when you cut them out. Once you’re done stapling, carefully cut out the patterns with paper scissors, cutting through both the paper and manila.
Tip: You don’t have to remove the paper patterns and can keep them stapled to the manila if you want. However, if you do that, make sure to staple directly on top of each notch and at each side of the grainline to prevent them from shifting when you trace them onto fabric.
After you’ve cut out the patterns, transfer the grainline and all notches. Next, remove the staples and the paper patterns and finish labeling the patterns and the seam allowance measurements.
Tip: If you want a more visual representation of the seam allowance (rather than just writing out the number measurements), you can use a ruler to draw the seam lines onto the manila versions to mimic the paper patterns.
Once you’ve finished labeling the patterns and transferring all the markings, cut a strip of manila approximately 1/2” wide and tape it over any places that are taped together. This is to reinforce those areas. Tape the manila strips ON TOP of the pattern, because putting it on the bottom will result in inaccuracies when you trace the patterns onto fabric. Once you’ve taped the strips down, trim the edges so that they’re flush with the rest of the pattern.
Now you’re ready to cut out the pattern pieces in fabric!
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 3 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
If you haven’t already done so, prep the fabric by washing and ironing it. Washing the fabric beforehand takes care of any shrinkage that might occur so that it won’t happen after you’ve already sewn the scrub cap.
Lay the patterns out on the fabric, matching the grainline on the patterns to the selvage on the fabric. If you’re using paper patterns, pin them to the fabric. If you’re using manila patterns, hold the patterns in place by putting something heavy on top of them.
Tip: You want to use enough pins to prevent the patterns from shifting when you trace them. You don’t want to use too many pins or place them too close to the edge of the pattern because that may cause the fabric to pucker. We recommend placing the pins somewhere between 1/2” and 3/4” from the edge.
Next, trace the patterns. Don’t forget to include ALL the notches!
Tip: An easy way to mark the notches is to mark the notch outside of the pattern pieces. Then, after you’ve removed the paper patterns, extend the notch inward.
Once you’ve finished tracing, remove the patterns. Using fabric shears, carefully cut out the pattern pieces.
Optional: The seam allowance is already included on the sewing patterns, but you can use a clear beveled plastic ruler to draw the seam line directly onto the fabric. Some people find it helpful to have the seam lines marked, but it really comes down to personal preference.
Note: If you decide to draw on the seam lines, the French seam (B1 and B2) has two lines: 1/4” seam allowance on the right sides of the fabric and 1/2” seam allowance on the wrong sides of the fabric. Otherwise, all of the other seam lines are marked on the wrong side of the fabric.
After you finish cutting out the patterns, check to make sure that you’ve transferred all the notches from the sewing patterns and then iron all of the pieces to get them ready for sewing.
Tip: If you have a serger/overlock machine and want to use that to finish off the raw edges, serge edges B1 and B2. However, do this with the serger’s BLADE DISENGAGED and BEFORE you start sewing. You don’t want to take any of the fabric off, but you also want to serge the edges before you sew the elastic casing.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 4 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
Cut a 2” strip of the elastic.
Optional: Although you don’t have to seal the edges of your elastic, we highly recommend doing it to prevent it from fraying over time, which can potentially lead to the elastic come loose inside the casing. If you choose to do this, please make sure to do it in a safe, fireproof area, such as a kitchen sink, glass cutting board, or stone countertop.
Take a lighter and pass each edge of the elastic through the flame one or two times, just enough for the fibers to melt.
Next, you want to prepare sewing the elastic casing on the Top. Start by folding the raw edge of Seam A to the first row of notches and iron it down. Next, fold it to the second row of notches and iron it again.
Once you’ve done that, pin the casing in place along the inner crease and sew. You want to sew as close to the edge of the crease as you can to ensure that the casing will be wide enough to fit the elastic.
Tip: Always clip your thread after sewing a seam, so you don’t forget to do it later and miss a thread at the end.
Insert the elastic into the casing by feeding it through from one side.
Tip: Although there are special tools for feeding elastic, a safety pin also works just as well.
Position the end of the elastic that is not attached to the safety pin just inside the seam allowance and pin it in place before sewing across the elastic.
Next, pull the elastic the rest of the way through the casing and remove the safety pin. Be careful not to let go of the elastic! If you do, it’ll disappear back into the casing, and you’ll have to fish it out.
Pin the end of the elastic in place, like on the other side. Move as much of the fabric of the casing to the other side, so it’s out of the way, and sew it down.
Adjust the fabric of the casing so that it’s evenly distributed along the length of the elastic, and you’re ready to move on to the next step!
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 5 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
Since scrub caps must endure a lot of wear and tear, we designed the scrub cap so that all raw edges are finished off. In this cap, the only raw edges that remain exposed after you’ve finished sewing the scrub cap are the edges of Seam B (B1 on the Base and B2 on the Top). In this tutorial, we use what’s called a French seam to sew Seam B to ensure that those edges won’t start to fray over time.
We chose to use a French seam because you can do it using a regular sewing machine and without any special presser feet or needles. However, if you have a serger/overlock machine, or some other means of finishing off a raw edge, feel free to use that method instead. The most important thing is that you finish off the raw edges well enough that they will stand up to being washed and worn over and over again.
The cap part of the scrub cap is comprised of the Top and Base pieces, which are sewn together at Seam B (B1 on the Base and B2 on the Top). Pin B1 and B2 on the Top and Base patterns together, wrong side to wrong side, and matching the center front notches.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to use as many or as few pins as you need to make sure the fabric stays place. Also, if you can’t get all of the fabric to lay flat on the curved seam, that’s totally fine! You only need the seam allowance plus a little extra to lay flat so that you can sew the seam without any tucks.
Tip: When you pin the Top and Base patterns together, you can use a pin as a marker for one of the center front notches.
Sew the seam at 1/4” seam allowance.
Tip: A straight stitch presser foot works really well to sew a 1/4” seam allowance. However, you want to test it first to check that it measures 1/4” from the center of the foot to its edge. For this tutorial, we marked the seam line before sewing the first seam and then used a straight stitch presser foot for the second seam.
After you’ve finished sewing the seam at a 1/4” seam allowance, trim the seam allowance down to about 1/8.” Then, iron the whole seam again so that the seam allowance lays flat against the Base.
Tip: When you trim the seam allowance, make small cuts, and take your time to avoid accidentally cutting part of the cap. If you encounter any resistance while cutting, stop and check! You can also pinch the fabric near the seam to keep it in place and prevent it from bunching up underneath the seam.
Turn the cap inside out so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, and the seam allowance is encased between them. Pin Seam B again and sew it at another 1/4” seam allowance.
Lastly, iron the seam so that the seam allowance lays against the Base again.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 6 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
Before you can sew the Cuff onto the Base, you first need to sew the Left and Right Cuff pieces together at Seam C (C1 and C2), or center front. With the fabric right side to right side, pin C1 and C2) and then sew it at 1/2” seam allowance. Iron the seam open so that the seam allowance lays flat. (You do this so that the fabric of the seam allowance won’t get in the way while you’re sewing later on.)
Next, pin Seam D together (D1 on the Base) and (D2 on the Cuff), placing the fabric right side to right side and matching the center front seam of the Cuff (C1/C2) to the center front notch at the bottom of the Base (D1). Pin the rest of D1 and D2 together, ending at the back of the Base where the elastic casing starts.
Tip: When you pin the Cuff to the Base, the notches on the Cuff should line up with where the elastic casing begins on the cap.
Sew the seam from one side notch to the other at 1/2” seam allowance.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 7 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
The seams for the ties are Seam E (E1 and E2) and Seam G (G1 and G2). Although we start with Seam E, you can start with either one.
First, you want to match E1 and E2 by folding the tie in half lengthwise, right side to right side. Then, pin Seam E until you reach the side notch. Sew along the length of the tie at a 1/2” seam allowance, beginning the seam about 1/4” away from the raw edge of Seam F and ending it just before you reach the side notch. Repeat with Seam G (G1 and G2) on the other tie.
Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t meet up with the end of the other seam. You’ll take care of this later when you topstitch the ties at the end.
Sew the end of the tie (Seam F) at a 1/4” seam allowance, beginning and ending the seam about 1/4” away from the raw edges. Do the same thing with the other tie (Seam H).
Along the length of each tie (Seams E and G), trim the seam allowance down to about 1/8.” Start from the end of the tie and go until about 1/3 of the way down the length of the tie.
Tip: Be careful to cut around the stitches in the corner! If you cut through any of the stitches, you’ll compromise the integrity of the seam and will have to go back and reinforce it.
Turn both ties inside out. The end of a pencil or pen works really well for this. Also, if you pinch the end of the tie, it makes it a little easier to wedge your pencil (or whatever you decide to use) in place to turn it inside out.
Tip: You can use a pin to help pull out the corners after you turn the ties inside out.
After you turn both ties inside out, iron them flat, stopping right before the side notches. If you want to make extra sure that the seam will iron properly, or if you’re worried about your fingers possibly getting burned by the iron, you can pin the seam with heat resistant pins beforehand.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 8 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
Fold the part of the Cuff that’s sewn to the Base in half lengthwise so that I and D2 are matching. Then, iron only the fold to form a crease. This will help serve as a guide later on.
Unfold the Cuff and turn the seam allowance of Seam D so that it faces downwards, away from the Base, and iron it flat.
Using the crease that you ironed in earlier, fold the Cuff lengthwise again. Turn the seam allowance (1/2”) of Seam I under. The easiest way to do this is by starting at one side notch (where the sewn ties start) and working your way along Seam I until you reach the other side notch. Once you’re done, the entire Cuff (both the part you just folded and the ties) should measure about 1” in width.
Tip: Iron it in 2 – 3” sections rather than trying to do it all at once.
Pin the ironed part in place.
Turn the Cuff over so that the outside of the scrub cap is facing up. Starting at one side notch, sew directly in the Cuff seam (Seam D) until you reach the other side notch.
This technique is called “stitching in the ditch.” If you do it correctly, the stitches aren’t visible from the outside, and you have a nice, clean row of stitches on the inside. In this case, because the Cuff can be folded upward, that row of stitches will also serve a decorative purpose as topstitching.
Note: If for any reason, you’d prefer not to stitch in the ditch, you can also sew as close as possible to the inside of Cuff’s seam line (the side of the seam that’s on the Cuff rather than the Base). This won’t provide the seamless look that stitching in the ditch does, but it will serve the same function in that it finishes sewing the Cuff onto the scrub cap.
Want a little more guidance? Watch the full-length video or Step 9 video (with extra tips and tricks) on YouTube for a more visual reference:
Like with step 7, when we sewed the ties, it doesn’t matter which tie you begin with.
Stitch along Seam E, staying as close to the edge as you can. Start at the very end of the tie and sew until you reach the back of the cap, blending the stitches into Seam D (the Cuff seam) so that it looks like the stitches disappear into the seam.
Tip: If your presser foot has trouble picking up the fabric at the very end, you can hold onto the extra thread and use it to gently pull on the fabric from behind to help guide it under the presser foot.
Next, stitch along Seam F (the end of the right tie), also staying as close to the edge as you can.
Repeat with the other tie.
You are done making the scrub cap!
We hope this tutorial helped to guide you through making a scrub cap and provided you with some useful tips that you can use in future projects!
If you could take a short survey about our tutorial, it would really help us improve our future posts. Thank you!