Reversible Shower Cap Tutorial

When I was in late high school, I used to stay at my Nan’s once a week. Many great things there (no woman can make soup like that woman!), but one was the HUGE shower head. You simply couldn’t have a shower without getting your head wet. But of course, Nana had the shower cap to match. Big, frilly, floral, and 3 layers thick. Ahhh, go Nana.

Try as I might, I’ve never found a shower cap quite like it. I’ve gone from the cheapies to the more expensive, to the ones from the hotel and around again. The most recent hotel edition to our bathroom had become a precarious hat rather than a cap, and so it was time..

Oh goodness.

Enter the reversible fabric shower cap.

Sizes listed are approximate (because all heads are different!) but they are shown as toddler (child, adult). If you have a large head, or a lot of hair, use a larger amount of fabric.

To make it, you need:

  • a square of PUL fabric (or another suitable waterproof fabric) approx.  36 (39, 42)cm
  • a square of lightweight fabric of your choice,  36 (39, 42)cm
  • sewing machine
  • overlocker (only necessary for woven fabric, if you dont have one, use a knit fabric, explained below)
  • taylors chalk (helpful but not necessary)
  • matching thread
  • approx 43 (46, 54)cm length of 6mm swimwear elastic (please refer to description below)
  • any embellishment that takes your fancy!.. lace, buttons, appliques

If you are going to use a knit fabric that you dont plan to finish with an overlocker, take the time to check it. It should be able to be pulled (in the stretch direction) and not run ladders in it, or start to unravel.

There are 3 different elastics that could be used.

Choices for elastic

Personally I find that the see-through plastic swimwear elastic, sometimes known as lastin (left), is a slippery sucker and although it has high elasticity, it can be hard to apply.  It does fatigue more readily, but don’t be put off, its still an option! The rubber swimwear elastic (middle) may last longer, but oh, it can be a pain to apply, and when pulling tightly and sewing through it, it can break. No fun. My personal preference is the woven swimmers elastic (right). It doesn’t break, doesn’t fatigue (be sure it is the swimmers elastic and not just a generic woven), and is easy to apply!

While I have put approximate lengths of elastic in the materials list, if you can measure the persons head, then work the elastic length off that. Use their head circumference, and take approx 4 cm off this. When the elastic is sewn in, it will lose some elasticity, extending the elastics length back to the head circumference.

To begin you need to cut a 36 (39, 42)cm circle from both your waterproof fabric and other fabric. There are a few different methods to get the circle. You may have some appropriate quilting equipment to use.  You could use the right size bowl to draw around (yep, its a BIG bowl!). Another method is to use a piece of string tied to some taylors chalk and anchor the string in the middle with a pin, pulling the string around to draw the circle. The fabric can be folded in 4 and cut from open edge corner to open edge corner in a quarter circle shape, then open up. You can also just hand-draw a circle. The last 2 methods may result in very wonky circle, be warned! Experience led me to this conclusion..

If you are planning to embellish, now is the time. It is advisable not to embellish the waterproof fabric, as extra holes in it will make it less waterproof. Choosing a patterned PUL or waterproof fabric can make that side look decorated enough 🙂 Also make sure that the embellishments or fabric is not too heavy. It won’t sit on the head well, and will become heavier if it absorbs some water.

Here is my embellishment for my stretch knit (cotton elastane). Using strips of the same fabric, I sewed it in from the edge by around 5 cm, tucking one colour in. I repeated this around again, and then gathered some more fabric for the last bit in the middle.

fold, sew, fold, sew, fold, sew, fold, sew....


After it has been embellished, sew the two circles together, right sides facing out, 4 cm in. It is best to use a straight stitch in a moderate to long length stitch.

Next, mark quarters on the flat cap with pins. Fold your elastic in quarters and put pins to mark. Hold the elastic BETWEEN the two layers of fabric up against where the stitches are. Using a moderate size zigzag run a few stitches back and forth to hold the elastic in place. Now stretch the elastic and pull around against the existing stitches while continuing to zigzag around. Aligning the pins at each quarter should help to keep your elastic gather even. Continue all the way around and then finish by running some stitches back and forth again.

Applying elastic using pins to mark quarters

If your shower cap’s fabric is a woven fabric and you have an overlocker, you can now finish the edge with the overlocker, holding it all together. Done!

The finished edge on the overlocked shower cap

If your caps fabric is a knit fabric, use a long stitch and holding the 2 layers together stitch just outside the elastic all the way around. Try not to catch the elastic in this round as it will cause the elastic to lose some of its elasticity.

The finished edge on the raw knit shower cap

Done again!

You can make many shower caps in different sizes and fabric patterns, even making them much wider for a frilly peak. The pattern could be used to make into a costume wig for a small child (add yarn piggytails). It can be made for boys using some boy character fabric. So many options. So simple and easy. Great for your home, or even as a pressie with some soap, or bath mitt. Would love to see some designs that have been come up with 🙂


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