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How To Sew A Simple Reversible Scrub Cap

How To Sew A Simple Reversible Scrub Cap

If you’re looking to up your surgical cap game, why not sew a simple reversible scrub cap?

Just like fabric face masks, there are a variety scrub caps patterns depending on a person’s needs.

For some, this free scrub cap pattern with room for long hair has been a great fit.

Others, however, like the “old school” scrub cap design.

The best pattern I’ve found so far for the surgical cap style that people are most familiar with (i.e., the one non-medical professionals see on TV a lot) is a reversible one.

What Fabrics Should I Use For A Scrub Cap?

You probably won’t find this surprising, but the fabrics you’re using to make face masks are also the best fabrics for sewing scrub caps.

This means using 100% cotton with a tight weave (like quilting cottons) that will withstand daily wash and wear.

I highly recommended using very generic and neutral prints if you’re unsure of who will be receiving your donations.

When I made a large donation to a local emergency room at the start of the pandemic, I was fortunate to have a contact who let me know people’s scrub cap style preference.

I also had a point of contact when I donated to The University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re making a bunch of scrub caps to donate, try to find a point of contact first. It will make the process go much more smoothly.

If you’re making a cap for family or friends, then, of course, make sure they rock whatever makes them smile. (Yes, even Disney princesses are allowed, especially if they work in pediatrics.)

Make a reversible scrub cap

Is A Reversible Scrub Cap Important?

Whether or not a scrub cap is reversible is more a personal fit and style choice than anything.

A surgical cap pattern that only provides one “right side” isn’t any less effective in the field.

If you do choose to make a reversible scrub cap, however, I highly recommend that you use two very different fabrics for each side.

In fact, it’s best to use one patterned and one solid color fabric.

Just like with face masks, healthcare workers need a very obvious visual cue which part of the cap was worn on the outside.

This visual difference allows them to see and remember very easily which side of the cap may have been contaminated.

You Can Easily Make A Reversible Scrub Cap

Making a reversible scrub cap isn’t difficult, but it can be a little more time consuming than some of the other patterns.

This was my “go to” style of scrub style at first.

But, in an effort to maximize the time I spent sewing and make the fabric I had on-hand last longer, I created my own scrub cap pattern.

There is still a time and a place for this reversible cap, however, which is why I want to provide a detailed tutorial.

So, here we go!

Materials To Make A Scrub Cap

Materials for easy scrup cap

You need the following materials to make a reversible scrub hat:

100% cotton fabric in a fun pattern or design

While other people sometimes use fabrics other than cotton, I am not convinced they are as effective for comfort or longevity. So I always recommend using 100% cotton fabric with a tight weave.

100% cotton fabric in a complimentary solid color

As I mentioned before, using a solid color as one side of the hat helps people distinguish which side was worn on the outside and could possibly be contaminated.

I also like to use a solid cotton because the fabric is usually less expensive and it helps me use the patterned fabric for additional scrub caps.

40″ of 1/2″ extra wide, double-fold packaged bias tape

The packaged bias tape comes in lengths of 3 yards so you can get binding for 2 hats out of it and then have leftovers for a different project.

You can certainly make your own bias tape too, if you prefer.

What I like about the packaged tape is, well, it’s immediately ready to go, and it’s got a stiffness to it. So it helps hold the hat shape nicely.

Free reversible scrub cap pattern

The credit for this reversible scrub cap pattern goes to Kadiddlehopper, who stopped blogging in July 2020.

To print this pattern, hover over the image then click the little “pop out” box in the top right-hand corner.

This will open another browser tab and you can print the pattern from there.

Rotary cutter and mat

Sewing machine

Six Steps To Make A Simple Scrub Hat

Step One: Cut the top and side pieces for the cap from the patterned and solid fabrics.

Cut the pieces for the reversible scrub cap

You want to cut with the stretch of the fabric (grain) for both the top and side pieces.

I recommend a piece of fabric sized 35″ x 10″ because you can easily cut both pieces out of it.

To do this, you fold the short edge edge of the fabric over to fit the side piece and then cut on the fold (shown above).

Both pieces cut out for DIY surgical cap

When you’re done, you should have a total of four pieces. A top and side piece from the solid fabric and a top and side piece from the patterned fabric.

If you plan on making more than one hat at a time, you can streamline the cutting by doing them in batches and cutting multiple tops at a time too.

Step Two: Clip the top piece to the side piece to prepare for sewing.

Find the center to start preparing pieces for sewing

Now it’s time to clip the pieces together to prepare for sewing.

The easiest way I found to do this is to fold the pieces in half, finger press the fold, then open them up and use that fold as a guide for the center of each piece.

Clip the two pieces together at the middle point to center the band and to get the clipping started. (Yes, it looks a little bit like the flying nun hat…)

Pieces clipped together for scrub cap sewing

After that first center clip, it’s easiest to have the bottom edge of the band face the floor so that your hand can naturally follow the curve and clip the edges together as you go.

The straight edges of the scrub cap are usually easy to sew, but the curve of the hat can be challenging sometimes depending on how cleanly you cut out the pattern.

I therefore recommend using some extra clips around the curve.

Step Three: Sew the pieces together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

After clipping the top and side pieces of the cap together, sew each pair together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.


While you’re sewing, make sure to watch that the edges around the curve don’t tug apart.

The extra clips should help keep the edges in place, but it’s good to check anyway. If edges come apart, you will end up with little holes in the seam.

Finger press to open scrub cap seams

One of the ways that I check for holes is to open and finger press the seams

This also helps the pieces nest together more easily as you continue to construct the scrub cap.

Step Five: Sew the back edge of the hat together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Nest scrub hat pieces together

Now it’s time to start forming the hat.

The first step is to nest the solid fabric piece into the patterned piece, right sides facing each other.

While you’re tucking the solid piece into the patterned piece, push the seams together until the raw edges are aligned nicely.

Clip back edge of scrub cap

Once the hats are nested and the edges are aligned, clip the back edge of the scrub cap to prepare for sewing.

I start clipping where the seams meet to keep the seams open so the hat comes together well and without bumps at the seams.

You should only need a handful of clips, at most, for this step.

Sewn back edge on surgical hat

Once you’ve clipped the edges together, sew the pieces together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step Six: Top stitch back edge, finish the raw edges with bias binding, and sew.

Turn right sides out

Open up the hat so that it’s right sides out.

Now, nest the solid piece into the patterned piece, wrong sides together. p

Push the inner seam into the outer seam so that they tuck together nicely and the raw edges are aligned.

The scrub cap pieces are now right sides out and the finish line is in view!

Top stitch back edge scrub hat

First, top stitch the back edge of the hat.

Now it’s time to use the bias binding to finish the scrub hat’s raw edges.

Finish binding edge

Prepare The Bias Tape To Finish The Cap

Open the end of the binding and fold over the end, then refold the binding and clip it in place.

This finished end will be sewn together when you sew the binding onto the hat. Turning the edge to the inside keeps it from fraying.

Now, measure 7.5″ from the end of the bias tape and mark it with a clip.

This 7.5″ piece of binding will be one of the tails at the end of the scrub cap. A person uses this to tie it against the back of the head for a closer fit.

The 7.5″ mark is also where you’ll start placing the binding over the raw edge of one side of the hat. (If you want to see exactly how this is done, please watch the video tutorial.)

How To Finishing The Scrub Hat With The Binding

Clip binding to scrub hat

Clip the binding to the hat as you go.

When you’ve finished clipping the bias tape to the hat’s raw edges, you will have another tail at the end.

Finish the end of the binding for the second tail just as you did the first one by folding over the raw edge.

Now you start sewing in one continuous process and it goes like this:

– Start sewing the bias tape at one end by sewing the short edge of the binding together

– Turn the tape so that you now have the long edge of the binding ready to be sewn.

– Start straight-line sewing towards the fabric of the cap 1/8″- 1/4″ away from the open edge of the binding. You’ll have to play with it to see what works best depending on your machine because getting through the binding can be tough for some.

– Sew all the way around the cap and finish the second tail’s end by turning and sewing it shut.

Binding sewn to scrub cap

After you’ve finished sewing, check all of the edges of the binding. You want to make sure the binding is sewn shut for both the tails and all of the tape that is sewn to the hat.

If it’s all is good, you’re done!

How Many Scrub Hats Will You Sew?

Finished reversible scrub caps Create To Donate

After finishing the first reversible scrub cap, the process get MUCH faster so you may find yourself making a whole bunch of them.

If you are making these to donate to local health care workers, I have found that any number you can make is greatly appreciated.

As always, please send me a message if you know of any group in need of face masks or scrub caps. I will learn more about them and include them in my posts that call for donations.

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