I don’t know how many folks out there still use scrunchies—the internet seems to think that they belong to the early 90’s along with rhinestone jean jackets and whatever else, but for me they are an essential and non-ostentatious part of my wardrobe. I have very long, very thick hair which I wear in a bun almost every day, and I use a scrunchie to keep all the loose ends of hair tucked away. I usually use plain, solid-color scrunchies that you can buy in a 6-pack of assorted colors, choosing the color that best matches whatever else I am wearing (when I can be bothered to color-coordinate, which is not always). Unfortunately, scrunchies do wear out or get lost, and I recently discovered that I had about 5 bright-red scrunchies on hand (I almost never wear red) and only one denim-blue one left. Further, my local drugstore no longer sold light blue scrunchies at all. On the other hand, I had some nice light-blue jersey fabric hanging around, and I figure, how hard can it be?
Over the last little while I have refined a pattern for scrunchies to where I want it, and I thought I’d share it with you. The main thing I learned is that, at least if your hair is thick like mine and you want your hairties to be effective as well as decorative, many of the tutorials you will find on the internet don’t help: store-bought sewing elastic doesn’t offer nearly enough grip. You are much better off using hair elastics. These often come in large multi-color packs, of which I use the ones that are closest to my hair color but rarely use the rest, so for me random-color elastics are basically free. Using pre-made elastics does have one downside, which is that you can’t sew the long sides together right-side to right-side and then turn the tube inside-out; you have to do some topstitching. If you take your time prepping, though, and get thread that matches the fabric well (or makes a nice contrast) this doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
My scrunchies are based on the ones I had lying around, which are 1.5″ wide and 16″ circumference stretched (about 6.5″ unstretched). Since I use the full stretched circumference to get the thing around my enormous blob of hair, and since the unstretched length for a given stretched length gives you an idea of the strength with which it will grip the hair, I knew I needed similar circumference measurements; the sewing elastic I have has less than a 2:1 stretch, but the hair elastics (goody “ouchless” are what I have) are about the same as the scrunchies. Some hair elastics are shorter overall or less stretchy than this, so check the stretch before you start. Give each elastic a god hard pull to check the stretch—I occasionally get dud elastics that break the first time you stretch them out at all, and I would be a little heartbroken to have a scrunchie snap right after I finished sewing it.
Assuming 3/8″ seam allowances, the fabric should be a rectangle just under 4″ wide and 17″ long to match the scrunchies I have. If you want wider, rufflier scrunchies feel free to expand these measurements. Here’s a scrunchie pattern with those measurements that you can print out; you may need to instruct your printer to print “borderless” or “unscaled” to get the correct measurement—check before you cut your fabric.
- With right sides together, sew the short ends together and press the seam open.
- Fold down 3/8” along the sides, wrong side to wrong side, and hold this fold in place by pressing the crease or pinning. This doesn’t have to be exact, but does have to be pretty consistent. If you are using a lightweight woven fabric (quilting cotton etc.) it is probably easiest to press this crease with your fingernails; if you are using a knit or a heavier fabric it is probably easier to use pins (see photo at right).
- Mark both sides of the strip every few inches, at the same point on both sides of the strip. I do this by flattening the loop of fabric, making sure it’s not wrinkled, and forming a crease at the ends, then weaving pins into the fabric along the crease.
- Fold the fabric lengthwise, wrong side to wrong side, around a hair elastic. You may need to do this a little at a time, as illustrated—pull some fabric through, pin it, sew it, and repeat—rather than trying to manage it all at once.
- Pin the sides together, matching the marks from step 3.
- Sew (top-stitch) closed, close to the edge. I recommend hand-stitching for this, but then I hand-stitch most things; if you are more comfortable with machine sewing, go ahead, and use about a 1/8″ allowance from the folded-over edges of the fabric. If you are hand-stitching and feeling really fancy (or don’t have a good match for thread), you may want to experiment with invisible seaming—this looks like a good phototutorial, or google “invisible seam” or “invisible stitch” for more. If you are machine-stitching and feeling fancy, go nuts with whatever decorative stitches your machine has.
- Marvel at how easy that was and go through your scrap bin for more fabric. Seriously, each scrunchie took less than one episode of a TV show to make; I made four, plus taking pictures and assembling the pattern, in one afternoon. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I was pleasantly surprised.