Sewing Tips

Scrunchies the Easy Way

“No woman who works at W Magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie!” 

Carrie Bradshaw, 2003 (“Sex and the City”)

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Proof that what goes around, comes around. The 1980’s staple is back. So, aren’t there already a gazillion tutorials and free patterns for scrunchies out there? Yes but….there may be an easier way to sew scrunchies. How do I know this? Working with factories, I’ve picked up a few inside secrets.

Comparing different methods of sewing this simple item is an easy way to learn how “sequence-of-stitching” works. I’ll explain 3 different methods, all based on sewing a fabric tube. (A different method is done by sewing the fabric directly around an elastic, and Petite Stitchery has a tutorial for it. If you are very accurate with edge-stitching, there’s yet another variation at the you-made-my-day blog. )

SUPPLIES NEEDED:

  • scrap of fabric 4′ by 20″ (10 cm x 51 cm)
  • 1/4″ braided elastic 11″ (28 cm) (will fit wrist after tying)
  • safety pin to pull elastic through
  • thread, scissors

HELPFUL EXTRAS:

  • rotary cutter and mat
  • sewing machine (the first 2 methods can be done by hand)
  • pins: I only use them to pick out the corners of the optional ties, but some people like them for holding seams before stitching
  • palette knife: I use one to help turn the optional ties inside out, but a chopstick works well too

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PATTERN: Not truly necessary since your basic scrunchie is a simple rectangle, but you may want one to see if your fabric scraps are big enough to use for this project…..plus here’s an additional pattern for a cute little tie to add onto your scrunchies. Patterns are FREE but you do need to download Adobe Reader (also FREE) here:
https://get.adobe.com/reader/

You can print this pattern in basic adult size (top), plus a smaller child size (bottom), by right-clicking the links under the image and opening in a new window:


https://7pinedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/ScrunchiePattern-4.pdf

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https://7pinedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/MiniScrunchie-1.pdf

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Here are three ways to sew the scrunchie:

METHOD A:

  • fold the fabric lengthwise (“hot-dog style”), right sides together
  • stitch along the long edge, leaving an opening midway
  • flip inside out into a tube
  • pull elastic through and secure ends together
  • close the tube into a circle by inserting one end into the other

METHOD B:

  • fold the fabric lengthwise (“hot-dog style”), right sides together
  • stitch along the long edge, starting /stopping an inch from each end
  • close the tube by stitching the short ends together
  • pull elastic through and secure ends together
  • stitch the elastic-opening closed

METHOD C:

  • fold the fabric width-wise (“hamburger style”), right sides together
  • stitch along the short edge
  • close the long edges together (“burrito style”) and stitch the lengthwise seam while simultaneously pulling the tube inside out
  • pull elastic through and secure ends together
  • stitch the elastic-opening closed

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Here’s METHOD A, probably the most common “DIY” process:

  • Press under 1/4″ from one short end of fabric:
  • Fold the fabric lengthwise (“hot-dog style”), right sides together:
  • Stitch together along the long edge:
  • Flip inside out into a tube, lightly press open the seam:
  • Pull elastic through and secure ends together, trim off excess:
  • Close the tube into a circle by inserting raw end into pressed end:
  • Finish by stitching closed:

This is a good stitching sequence for new sewists, or for teaching sewing, because the steps are intuitive (each one makes sense, and follows logic). The downside is the obvious closure stitching.

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Here is method B, similar but a bit more polished:

  • Fold the fabric lengthwise (“hot-dog style”), right sides together:
  • Stitch together along the long edge, starting /stopping 1 1/2″ (4 cm) from each end:
  • Flip tube inside out, press open the seam lightly:
  • Pinch together fabric ends:
  • Close the tube by stitching the short ends together:
  • Now you’ll have a circular tube with small opening:
  • Pull elastic through:
  • Tie elastic ends together and trim excess:
  • Pull the elastic down into the fabric tube:
  • Tuck in the seam allowance, press, and edge-stitch the elastic-opening closed (you can also edge-stitch all around the edge for a polished look):

So this method, while taking a few more steps, may actually be easier to do.

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Here is Method C, the “burrito method”. This is the one I see most often in factory production. It’s simple to do, just trickier to explain.

  • Fold the fabric width-wise (“hamburger style”), right sides together, and stitch together along the short edge
  • Place the stitched seam in the middle as below and finger-press…or iron-press (it’s easier to press open the end seam in method C than the previous method):
  • Flip the fabric over, now lift up the layer closest to you and fold in thirds towards the center:
  • Encasing the top folded layer, pull up the bottom edge of the underlayer to meet the top edge of the underlayer, closing the long edges together “burrito style”:
  • Stitch the long seam, beginning by matching the previous seamlines to create a neat intersection:
  • Stitch the lengthwise seam until you can’t stitch further:
  • Stop stitching, and from the bottom, pull the inside of the fabric loop towards yourself:
  • Again continue stitching down the long edge as far as you can, then stop and pull the inside fabric towards you. The fabric loop will form in front of you. Repeat until you can’t stitch anymore:
  • When you reach the point that you can’t continue stitching, stop and remove the fabric tube from the machine, clipping threads:
  • Give it a stretch and the tube will be totally inside out, with just a very small seam opening for the elastic:
  • Press lightly:
  • Thread elastic through the tube, tie ends, clip excess:

Stitch the small opening closed:

The burrito method is the most efficient especially if you are making multiples, because the sewing machine helps you turn the fabric tube inside-out. However it is more difficult to explain, and may seem at first to be counter-intuitive.

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Opinions? Do you see a trade-off between easy-to-explain versus easy-to-sew? This is what factory production managers do all the time: try different stitching sequences to see which is the most efficient, which gives the better appearance.

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Adding a tie to your scrunchie:

The pattern sheet includes an optional tie that can add extra flair to your scrunchie. I have designed this shape to be easy to tie (the shallow curve removes some bulk) and also super simple to sew:

  • Cut on fold so that eliminates 1 seam
  • An “inside curve” is easier to stitch than an “outside curve”

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Sewing: fold in half “hotdog style” with right sides together, stitch along lines as indicated on the pattern piece, leaving an opening for turning:

When you reach the bottom corners, sew the final 2 stitches perpendicular to the fold edge. This allows you to trim off more of the excess seam allowance, resulting in a neater finished corner. (This is factory trick: if you keep stitching at the angle all the way to the edge, the result after turning inside out can be a bumpy thick corner):

Flip inside out, press, stitch opening closed:

Add the tie onto your scrunchie and voila!

Use coordinating fabrics and you can mix and match:

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Have fun making scrunchies!

Best, Janet

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