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Fast Fridays: Scrunchies with Optional Tie

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They’re back! This hairstyle mainstay of the 80s is one of the top trends this year for pulling up your pony. Scrunchies are super fast and fun and take just a tiny bit of fabric and elastic, which makes them a great fit for our Fast Fridays series – projects that are all about creating something wonderful in no time at all. Our scrunchies are done with a unique double-turn method that eliminates the hard center seam found is many other styles. The traditional construction method has a bulky overlapped seam that leaves a flat spot in the scrunchie, and who wants their scrunchie-ness interrupted with that?! Read on to learn our technique for a smooth, stretchy circle. 

If you’ve ever had a scrunchie made in the traditional fashion, you probably know it’s a simple tube, turned right side out. Elastic is inserted, and then the two open ends are overlapped and topstitched to secure. Does it work? Of course it does. But it also means you have an overlap point made up of multiple layers of fabric and elastic, and when you topstitch through all those layers, it creates a bulky flat spot. The gathers of the scrunchie hide some of that, but there’s always going to be a hard, uncomfortable line.

Sew4Home Creative Director, Anne Adams had a better idea that added only one quick step and some tiny hand stitching. The result: a smooth scrunchie that gathers evenly all around without any annoying hard or bulky seams. Scrunchie success!

Instead of a full seam to create your initial tube, you’ll leave a small turn gap. You’ll start to turn that tube right side out, but will stop halfway and securely hand stitch the ends with a simply running stitch. Then, remember that little turn gap? You’ll use it to pull the finished loop right side out. The turn gap is also the opening you need to insert the elastic. Hand stitch the turn gap closed once the elastic is inside and you’re ready to scrunch.

We also include a free pattern download for a cute optional tie. It gives your scrunchie two looks: the standard gathered gorgeousness or wrapped with the tie to simulate a matching bow.

This project is great for all ages, even for those brand spankin’ new to sewing, and it’s a prefect ScrapBusters opportunity. You need just a single 23” x 3½” strip for the basic scunchie; add another scrap of about the same size to cut the two layers you need for the optional tie.

When you digging for scraps, look for fabric that has a soft drape. Stiff fabric won't scrunch up as nicely. We used lightweight corduroy as well as velveteen. We even found a stretch velvet with a bit of a sheen that gathered up beautifully into a party scrunchie. Other good options would be fleece, knits or just standard quilting cotton. Solid colors or petite prints are usually the best choices and make your scunchies an accessory that goes with everything.

If you love the idea of Fast Fridays, enter that phrase into the Search box at the center top of any page to bring up lots of other great fast and easy ideas. Just like these scrunchies, all our Fast Fridays projects are beginner friendly – perfect if you’re new to sewing or spreading the love by teaching someone to sew.

These scrunchies finish at a stretchy standard size to fit both adults and kids. That’s one of the beauties of a scunchie; you can wrap it once, twice, even thrice for your favorite look. The diameter of the inner opening averages about 2”, depending on the thickness of the fabric used.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Scrap or yard of 44”+ wide fabric – the cut is just 23” x 3½” (you'll need to about double this strip size if you use the optional tie pattern - print the pattern first as a guide to use while you're searching for scraps); as mentioned above, a lighter weight, soft fabric is best – we used stretch velvet and standard velveteen in three solid colors plus solid and printed baby-wale corduroy
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of ¼” elastic - your cut is just 8½”
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Safety pin

Getting Started and Pattern Download

  1. If using the optional tie, DOWNLOAD AND PRINT the Scrunchie Tie Pattern.
    IMPORTANTThis pattern consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guideline on the page so you can confirm your print out is to scale.
  2. Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
  3. From the fabric, cut ONE 23” x 3½” strip.
  4. If using the optional tie, cut TWO from the tie pattern.

  5. Cut the elastic into ONE 8½” length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Fold the fabric strip in half so it is now 23” x 1¾”. Pin along the raw edges. Leave an approximate 2” gap for turning near the right end of the strip.
  2. This gap needs to be to the right of center so when the strip is pushed halfway inside itself, the turn gap will remain accessible, allowing the stitched tie to be pulled right side out into its finished loop. Our marked opening was about 8” from the right end of the strip.
  3. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along the 23” side. Remember to lock the seam at either side of the 2” opening. Both ends remain open.
  4. Find the safety pin. Attach to the left open raw end.
    NOTE: Yes, the “left end” is at the right side of the photo below. But it really is at the left end; you can tell because the opening is so far off to the opposite right side that you can’t see it. So, yes, safety pin on the left end.
  5. Push the safety pin into the open tube. You are working the safety-pinned end back through the tube. This is just like how you might turn a standard open-ended tube right side out, but… you’re not going all the way right side out.
  6. Work the end through until it just exits the opposite end. Stop with just a little bit pulled through and remove the safety pin.
  7. Align the raw ends, matching and flattening the seam allowance. Pin in place.
  8. The ends are right sides together and the raw edges are flush. You can look through the circular opening into the tube.
  9. Your turn gap should still be visible at this point. It should not be inside the half turned tube. This is why you positioned the opening to the right of center.
  10. Thread the hand sewing needle. We recommend a double strand knotted at the ends. Prepare to stitch around the opening about ¼” in from the raw edge. Start the stitch at the seam allowance, which allows you to hide the knot.
  11. Stitch all the way around using a tiny running stitch. Secure the stitching with a standard knot when you return to your starting point at the seam allowance.
  12. With the ends secured, pull the loop right side out through the turn gap.
  13. Press the loop flat, keep the seam running straight along one edge opposite the fold. Press well, pressing in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Use a pressing cloth if working with a specialty substrate like velvet.
  14. Find the 8½” length of elastic and attach the safety pin to one end.
  15. Insert the safety-pinned end of the elastic into the open turn gap.
  16. Work the safety-pinned end of the elastic all the way around the loop.
  17. Before the opposite end of the elastic disappears, pin it in place so you can easily grab it later.
  18. As you pull the elastic through and out, the scrunchie will scrunch-up into its pretty ruffled shape.
  19. Unpin both ends, pull them out from the turn gap, and align the two ends.
  20. Tie the ends together into a simple overhand knot.
  21. Pull the knot nice and tight. You only want the tails of the knot to be about ½”. Trim away the excess if need be.
  22. Let go of the knot and gently pull on either side of the turn gap. The knot will naturally suck inside the loop.
  23. Hand stitch the opening closed. We recommend a tiny slip stitch.

Optional tie

  1. Before removing the paper pattern from the two tie layers, mark the dots for the turn gap.
  2. Transfer the marking to the wrong side of the tie layers.
  3. Place the two layers right sides together and pin around the perimeter.
  4. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the perimeter. Remember to lock the seam at either side of the small turn gap opening. 
  5. Press open the seam allowance and turn right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt tool to gently push out the points and smooth the curves. A long knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this. Press flat.
    NOTE: All our fabrics had a soft drape and turned right side out beautifully. If your fabric seems stiffer (like a linen or a quilting cotton), consider clipping the seam allowance a bit to add some ease for a smoother turn.
  6. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Hand stitch the opening closed. As above, we recommend a tiny slip stitch.
  8. Wrap the narrow center of the tie around its matching scrunchie with a single knot as shown in the photos above.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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