Sunday, March 19, 2006

make your own scrub cap (or: how to be the classiest dork on the block)

OK, so the first thing you have to do is pick a fabric. I don't know if it's at every hospital of just mine, but you have to be unique about this. Wear the same scrub cap as someone else (unless it's the disposable kind) is as much a faux pas as two girls wearing the same dress to the prom. I picked this fabric displayed below, which is kind of retro and mod, because I am so old school. (Read: old.) There are tons and tons of places to find novelty fabric (you can look here or here to start), but I got the fabric shown below at this place.

Since it's eventually going to end up on your head, I would recommend getting a cotton fabric--be careful if you're buying online to look that you're not actually getting some heavy canvas for upholstering furniture. Also, I bought a yard of fabric because I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but you only need about half a yard for the hat. Or, get a yard and make two hats. Or two yards and make four hats! Math, folks. MATH.

The next thing you have to do is find a pattern. Maybe if you are some Home Ec spatial-relations whiz, you can figure out how to make a 3D hat out of a piece of 2D cloth, but I'm not that smart. I got my pattern here (it's called the "Day 'n' Night" hat), and like I mentioned before, it's actually designed as a hat for chemo patients. But that's OK! It can be a hat for chemo patients and those of us that take care of chemo patients! And if you make some extras, you can give them out! Unless you choose a really ugly fabric that your patients hate. Then just keep them for yourself.

OK, so you have the pattern and you cut out the cloth in the shape dictated by the little piece of paper. (It's actually bilaterally symmetrical, so you cut it out folded and then unfold it like a butterfly.) The first thing thing I thought when I saw the pattern cut out was, "The hell? This doesn't look like a hat!" Patience, grasshopper. There is still work to do.

Lay your fabric so it looks like an upside-down letter T. Then fold the bottom edge up and pin it in place. This is going to be the brim of the hat. How much you fold the edge under depends on what kind of a fit you want for your hat. For a close-fitting hat (like the one Joe has on in this picture) fold more of the fabric under, so there's less loose fabric in the end. For a looser hat (which you can cram your ponytail or 'fro in, or what have you) fold less of the fabric under. So anyway, you fold it and pin it and then you iron it down.

"What, first you get a sewing machine, and now you're talking to me about ironing? I thought you went to Wellesley!" Yeah, but listen--the iron is just to make the edge all smushed down and flat and crisp. See how I took this picture as though the iron is doing the work all by itself, like Roomba? Oh, only in my dreams. Anyway, after you iron down the edge, then you start the actual sewing part.

I don't know what kind of stitch this is called, it's just the kind where you go up and down through the two pieces of cloth in a straight line. Just make sure you choose a matching, or, barring the ability to completely match, a coordinating color of thread, since this will show through the front, along the edge of the brim. When you get to the end of the piece of cloth, tie off the thread and cut it off.

Who needs a sewing machine when you can hand stitch with such precision? (Humor me, here.) Next up is the part of the sewing where we make everything 3D.

Find the curvy part of the pattern and fold the two edges together so that the back side of the fabric is showing. Then sew this together along the edge (the edge on the left side as shown in the picture above) to make one of the seams along the top of the hat. It looks weird, but when it's done, you kind of turn it inside out and it's all good, really.

When you finish one side, fold over the other side and repeat. Basically, if you can't picture what we're doing, you've just sewn both bars of the T-shape to the stem.

Flip the hat right side out--now see how the front of the hat is done. However, the back is still all open and flapping in the breeze. We need to make the drawstring closure next.

Lay the hat flat and fold up the edge of the back about an inch and a half. Do the whole pinning and ironing bit again. Then stich the back to itself about an inch from the edge. This will make a little tunnel of cloth through which you can funnel the drawstring.

I use this for the drawstring. It's something called "bias tape." I have no idea why it's biased or what it's really for, but it's basically just a flat piece of cloth that comes in a lot of different colors, and it's easy to find. Of course, you can also make a matching cord out of the fabric itself, like I did for Joe's hat, but that takes more time and effort, and I'm lazy.

But how to push the drawstring through? Here's the part where I use THE MYSTICISM OF THE ORIENT: I tape the end of the bias tape to a chopstick, and I push the chopstick through the tube of cloth, scrunching it as I go. Then I untape the string from the chopstick, and voila, she is through. If you don't have chopsticks, I suppose you could use a pencil or a knitting needle or something similarly skinny and long. (No off-color jokes, please.)

And you're done! Put on your hat, cinch it to fit, and walk around insouciently with your stylish headgear, you!

Oh lord, what's happening to me? If I start threatening to grow and dye my own cotton, just shoot me.

Currently watching: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." My sister brought over the DVD yesterday. It was OK, and Ralph Fiennes was creepy as Voldemort, but my sister pointed out to me early on in the movie how much Hermione overacts with her eyebrows, and it started to get really distracting.


  1. Anonymous10:41 PM

    I've never read a blog before. I am glad that this was the first. You are both entertaining and self-deprecating in a pleasant way. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. As a Junior High Home Economics teacher (15 years worth) I really enjoyed your blog! The way you explained things is basically the same way I explain things to my students when sewing (some get it & some never will). Thank you for the laughs this morning; I needed to laugh today! :) Your directions are very easy to follow. I look forward to making some hats for my cousin.


  3. That was awesome! Great with my morning coffee

  4. Anonymous10:40 PM

    well illustrated-I believe I could make this! Can you post the pattern? I clicked on your link, but it did not work.

  5. Anonymous10:37 AM

    To get the elastic through the tunnel, I put a safety pin on the end, and it is then easy to push the pin through, and just unpin it at the other end. Use a straight pin to hold it in place at the ends until you sew it.

  6. Hello Michelle,

    Very Beautiful work!!! I'm from Spain and I've been searching on the net how to make my own scrub cap, and the only site where I find useful information is your blog. But I don't have the pattern, and I would thank you very much if you could send me by mail a copy of yours. My mail is

    Thanks and greetings from Spain!!!

  7. Anonymous1:19 PM

    I couln not get the pattern! Could you put the pattern on here again. Thanks so much!

  8. Anonymous9:17 AM

    please post pattern again :)

  9. Michelle K12:32 AM

    I have to own up to scaling the pattern up from the photos and voila, a really simple scrub hat. i use elastic instead of the bias though. works a treat and i am sooooooo happy. thanks for the great instructions xx from one Michelle to another

  10. Anonymous11:00 PM

    thanks so much , I just made a surgical cap for my husbands Halloween costume.

  11. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Great Post! Thanx darling :D

  12. i know you posted this a long time ago, but the link for the pattern is no longer available. any idea where i can find a pattern?

    btw, I think you have a new blog fan!

  13. Anonymous5:40 PM
    worked for me :)

  14. Anonymous6:34 PM

    I would like the pattern that you used. Is it possible to email me the pattern to

  15. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Buy a "bodkin" (they are cheap and at all fabric stores) to pull the ties through.

  16. Anonymous7:42 AM

    Thank you for the tutorial. How can I obtain the pattern?


  17. Anonymous7:57 PM

    How can i find the pattern, please?


  18. Anonymous5:49 PM

    How can I get a copy of the pattern?

  19. Anonymous12:53 PM

    I'm trying to figure out what the actual sizes are of how I have to cut the but I can't. Can you post it?

  20. Is there anyway you can send me a new link to the scrub hat pattern? I tried linking to it but it doesn't work. Thanks! My email is

  21. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Running-stitch....I couldn't stop wondering. I am going to make me a surg cap tomorrow. Thanks for the tips. I was actually driving around shopping for one. Guess what...yeah no progress.

  22. Can you send me the pattern? Pleeease! The link doesn't work...
    My email is
    Thanks! ^.~

  23. Anonymous3:19 PM

    Lol, LOVED your blog! My girlfriend told me today that her mom is losing her hair from Chemo and wont go out of the house:( She asked me to make her a chemo hat. I googled and read your wonderful instructions. However, snafu... the link wont work :( I would LOVE to have the pattern! Could you email me as well? I would so appreciate it so much! Thank you again for such a delightful post!

    Michi I'Lundaria

  24. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Can anyone email me this pattern if they received it!!?? Please and thank you!!

  25. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Did anyone get the pattern? If so, could someone email it to me please? Thank you!

  26. Anonymous6:17 PM

    Can someone email me the Pattern also thanks

  27. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Just get paper and make the pattern by looking at the picture its easy.
    Thank you I was able to make a hat for a neighbors daughter she needed it for school. They had a day the students had to dress what there profession will be. She plans on being a doctor.

  28. Anonymous12:43 AM

    Hi can you send me the pattern to at thanks!!!

  29. Anonymous9:22 AM

    Hi there - sorry to be a pain, i know you published this blog post a while ago.. but could someone please send me the pattern as well? i would really like to TRY and make this!

    1. Hi. Try 20cm for the head-top piece and 25cm for the strap wrapping around the head. I hope this help! Hv fun trying :)

  30. Anonymous7:07 PM

    i loved this stencil !

  31. First and foremost, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE WONDERFUL TUTORIAL! Just by looking at yr example I managed to finish one on my own, hand-sewn thoroughly to be exact! Im satisfied with the result, although few adjustments need to be made. Again, I thank you! ;-)

  32. Anonymous3:47 PM

    fabulous, just fab... Im really wanting to try it, can someone send me the pattern? Please? Thank you in advance, to:

  33. Anonymous3:28 PM

    You could also use ribbon :) Very easy to follow and funny!

  34. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Hello I would love to make my own hats as well, can someone help me getting the pattern, Please I will really is my email

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  39. Anonymous2:49 PM

    the pattern didnt post

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  41. Hello!! i've been trying to find a pattern online for scrub caps. its really hard to find one!!!This one looked like the easiest. :D the pattern you posted doesn't exist anymore I guess. I winged my first one and used your photos as a little reference. I wish that pattern site worked! for my first one it isn't horrible but good practice, i'll have to adjust somethings. yeah it didn't look like a hat a first but i keep following your steps and it eventually started coming together. haha. Thanks very much!!! will be looking to purchasing your novel soon.

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  48. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Can you are anyone please email me a copy of this pattern? ASAP I would greatly appreciate it from anyone
    ....please send to
    Thanks to all!

  49. Anonymous6:44 AM

    awesome blog

  50. Okay, you're hysterical and this is the best Blog post I've ever read. I've been sewing for years, so reading your "layman's" explanations of things I already knew about cracked me up and made me think about what sewing looks like to someone who doesn't sew. I've read so many BAD Blogs, and I was thinking about writing one of my own, but I think I'll just read yours instead! Thanks for the grins. I bet you're fun to hang out with.

  51. Okay, you're hysterical and this is the best Blog post I've ever read. I've been sewing for years, so reading your "layman's" explanations of things I already knew about cracked me up and made me think about what sewing looks like to someone who doesn't sew. I've read so many BAD Blogs, and I was thinking about writing one of my own, but I think I'll just read yours instead! Thanks for the grins. I bet you're fun to hang out with.

  52. Anonymous3:31 PM

    You can order this pattern from The pattern is called Day 'n Night. Send her an email and she'll send you pricing info.

  53. Hello,
    the tutorial is no longer available. :(
    Do you think you can send it to me?

  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Has anyone actually got this pattern. I would love if too. Please send to

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  59. Anonymous1:33 PM

    I would love to have the pattern sent to me. Thanks

  60. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Would love this pattern too please, email at

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  63. Hi can you email me your stencil please? The link is no longer available. Email:


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