No Elastic Scrub Cap Sewing Tutorial for COVID-19 Support

My sister is an ICU nurse, working directly with COVID-19 patients. She mentioned that a lot of wonderful people are making and donating much needed masks, but at her hospital, they also really needed scrub caps to help supplement and extent the life of disposable ones they are using.

I looked at several patterns online and even tested out a couple, but many had problems. They were too small—unable to accommodate different hairstyles; they needed elastic and/or bias tape which are both scarce due to mask making; and/or they were not well suited for bulk/quick sewing. So, I came up with my own design.

Model, I am not

This is a bouffant-style scrub cap that requires no currently scarce materials, and is a quick and easy sew. Please feel free to use this pattern for personal use or to make for the medical staff in your community. My only request is that you do not attempt to sell your caps or use them for profit.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photos below, and that I did not bother to tidy up my sewing room. I felt speed was better in this case than well-lit, edited photos and a space free of thread bunnies.



  • Paper for creating pattern
    • You can use taped together copy paper, brown kraft paper (or paper grocery bags), or, like I’m using below, poster board.
  • 1 yard of cotton woven fabric, like a high quality quilting cotton, with little to no stretch. This amount will make at least two caps.
    • Prewash in hot water to allow for any shrinkage before the caps are made, then tumble dry and iron before cutting.
  • One yard of ribbon, bias tape, cording, or a tie you sew yourself (I like the flat strap method at the end of this post.)
  • Cord lock (optional)

Creating the Pattern

There are only two pattern pieces. Easy peasy.

Note: I designed this pattern with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If you prefer to use a standard 5/8, be sure to adjust your pattern.

For the first piece, the band:

  • Create a rectangle 20-3/4  x 5 inches.
  • Mark the center point.

For the second, the top, you’ll need a piece of paper at least 14-1/4  x  7-1/2 inches. Taped together copy paper is fine.

  • Measure down one side making marks at 7-1/8 and 14-1/4 inches.
  • At your 7-1/8 mark, draw a perpendicular line straight out, measuring 7-1/4 inches. This is going to be your pattern’s center point. 
  • Draw a curved line connecting the straight line you just made to your mark at 14-1/4 inches. Eyeballing the curve is fine.
  • Cut along your curved line and fold over at the center line.
  • Trace curve on other side of your paper to make symmetrical half-oval shape.
  • Cut out.

  • From center line measure out 1-3/4 inches to the right and make a mark along the top of the curve.
  • Make a second mark 1-3/4 inches to the left of the center line. (If this is confusing, see photo of completed pattern in next step.)
  • The marks you just made should be 3-1/2 inches apart and equal distance from the center line.
  • Add a circle mark to the center line. You will transfer these three marks to your fabric.

Cutting Your Fabric

  • Multiple layers fabric can be cut at once. I like to use a mat and ruler, with a sharp rotary cutter, but good, sharp fabric scissors will also do.
  • Cut one of the circular pattern pieces (the top) on the fold, transferring marks to one layer of fabric only.
  • Cut two of the rectangular pattern pieces (the band), transferring center mark to one piece of fabric only.


  • Make a box pleat on top piece:
    • With your circular pattern piece right side up, pinch one of the side marks you made.

    • Fold inward, matching your side mark to the circle in the center.

    • Repeat with other side and pin in place.

    • Baste stitch within seam allowance (I’m using a dark thread so you can easily see)

  • Set top piece aside and turn attention to the band pieces. With right sides together, sew short sides, joining both pieces into one large loop.
    • Note: I am using a serger, but that is not necessary. However, if you do use a regular sewing machine, please be sure to finish seams by sewing them together with a zigzag or three-step zigzag on the seam allowance side of your joining stitch. This will keep the fabric from fraying as it is worn and washed.

  • We are going to create a casing along one of the long edges by turning the raw edge up 1/4″ and pressing, then another 1/2″ (total of 3/4) and pressing again.
    • Tip: I find it quicker to let my machine do the measuring by sewing lines at 1/4 and 3/4, then pressing up at the stitch lines.

  • While you are pressing up to create the casing, find that mark you made at the center point of one piece. I put a pin there to help keep track of this spot. Once your casing is pressed, add two more pins, each about a quarter inch from that center mark. This is to signify an area that you will not sew, so that you can insert your tie into the casing.


Those guide lines work a lot better if you don’t forget that you had your needle moved away from center position. Oops!

  • Starting at one pin, stitch the casing down, about 1/8 inch from the edge. Stop when you come around again and read the other pin, leaving an opening for your tie. Reinforce with some additional stitches at either side of the opening for strength. This open area will become your center back.

  • Join band to top
    • Align pieces so center back of the band lines up with the center of the pleat you made on the top.

    • With right sides together, pin raw edges all the way around.
    • Sew or serge with 1/4 inch seam allowance.



  • Use a safety pin to guide tie through casing.

  • To avoid tie from being pulled out with use, stitch a line though casing, catching the tie, at center front of hat.
  • If your tie is a ribbon or something that may unravel, hit cut ends with fray check.

When wearing, the ends can be pulled to tighten then tied in a bow. Alternately, you can purchase cord locks like these on Amazon, to make for greater ease in adjusting.

I hope this helps! Happy sewing and thank you for doing all you can to help the medical personnel in your area.

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments below.





The Parable of the Couch, or What Are You Worth? #KidlitWomen

It’s Women’s History Month and the children’s literature community is celebrating with 31 days of posts seeking to address gender and social inequalities in our industry. Join the conversation at KidlitWomen on Facebook and by searching #KidlitWomen on Twitter.

If you have known me for any length of time, you have probably heard me tell a little story—a true story, first told to me by my dad—that I like to call The Parable of the Couch.

Many, many years ago, my parents’ had a neighbor who bought a new couch. He dragged his old one to his curb and placed a small cardboard sign upon it, marked FREE.


Photo Credit: Jason Matthews, used under a creative commons license

The couch sat outside, without so much as a single inquiry, for an entire week. The neighbor, not wanting to haul it away himself, developed a different strategy: He removed the FREE sign and replaced it with a new one—this one marked: $10.00.

Friends, someone stole his couch that very night.

Here’s a truth: When you value something, other people value it as well.

Publishing doesn’t like to talk about money—at least not out in the open—so I can link to no studies showing the gender wage disparity when it comes to school visits and speaking fees. But anecdotally, I have heard account after account of men, at similar, or even lower, career levels to their female  counterparts, being paid more—often when speaking at the very same event. Could part of the problem lie with women not asking for enough?

At the time of this posting the following tweet has been shared more than 30,000 times, and liked nearly 170,000. Though its subject is design work, the principle is the same:

[Generalization Alert] Men, I love  your confidence. I love that you can ask top dollar—demand top dollar—without worrying too much whether you deserve it or not. That is truly a skill, and one that doesn’t come easy to many women.

Women, stop undervaluing yourselves.

Stop feeling guilty for wanting to be paid well.

Stop standing at the curb with a FREE sign around your neck, hoping to be noticed.

You have worked extremely hard to get to where you are. You are an expert in your field. Throw your shoulders back and act like it.



Approach every negotiation with the confidence of this kid.

How much more? That depends on a lot of factors, but consider saying something like the following at the negotiating stage. You may be surprised where it leads you:

Women/Non-Binary People: “My speaking fee is negotiable, but I must be paid as much as the man you had speak last year.”

While we are on the subject, male allies can lend support by saying this:

Male Allies: “I would ask that any women speaking are paid the same amount as I am.”

And since we cannot rightly look at issues of gender equality without considering intersectionality, white people, let’s all go one better:

White Allies of Any Gender: “I would ask that any people of color speaking are paid the same amount as I am.”

Let’s each place a high value on the work that we, and our industry peers, do. Let’s work together, and use what privilege we have, to raise each other up.

We are worth it.

End note: Though this essay focused mainly on women, the disparities mentioned also apply, and often to an even greater degree, to people who identify outside the gender binary. My apologies if anyone felt excluded. 


hey kid

Hey kid!

It is fourth grade. A big year for you—new house, new school, new friends. Or at least new kids who mostly will be mean to you but eventually will be your friends. But don’t worry about all that right now. In fourth grade, you’ll be asked to learn lots of things. But only two of them will stick with you forever.

The first is how to dip yarn in glue and wrap it around a balloon. Let it dry. Pop the balloon. Boom. You have an ornament. This is not really helpful information to learn and you’ll never actually do it again, but you’ll always remember how. So there’s that.

The second is that your teacher will insist sneezing down your shirt is way less germ-spreading than sneezing into your elbow or your hand. This is actually helpful information and one day dozens of kids (your students, your own children) will learn the same thing from you. So thank you, Mrs. Bilbrey.

The rest of fourth grade is kind of boring frankly. Even though you’ll try to make it interesting by constantly switching BFFs each week and driving your teacher crazy with all the desk rearranging.

But then—one day—you’ll discover something that makes it interesting. A book. The Diary of Anne Frank.

skila-childYou’ll discover this book in a public library because it has the word diary in the title and you love diaries and the idea that someone could publish their own book of secrets and ponderings intrigues you. And then, you’ll take it up to the check-out desk and the lady there will try to dissuade you from the book. She’ll tell you it’s a little too grown-up for you. She’ll look at your mother and they’ll have one of those conversations grown-ups have about kids in front of them like the kids can’t hear. So annoying.

But that clinches it. You have to read the book now. (This will be a pattern your whole life, really. Doing the thing people tell you not to do.)

And so, you bring it with you to school and you read it at your desk while you’re waiting on everyone else to finish their spelling or their cursive. And once you will go up to the teacher’s desk to ask her what a word in the book means but that’s bogus really. You’ve never had a problem with context clues. You only want her to see what you’re reading and be impressed. You won’t remember if she is. But you will remember that book. That girl. It will change something inside of you, shatter some bit of childhood that made you think the world was basically a kind place.

You’ll learn this year that kids have bigger problems than being teased or dodgeball or even poverty. You’ll never stop thinking about Anne Frank and kids like her. Ever. You’ll grow up and write stories about kids who survive really tough things because you just can’t get those kids out of your head, no matter how hard you try.

But that’s a long way off. It’s fourth grade for you now. So go back to it. You have some books to read. I’m not talking about those Sweet Valley High books. Just put those aside. Really. Read the other stuff, the stuff that makes you think more and tastes less like marshmallow cream.

Because that’s the stuff that will shape you into who you become to be.


51regfwxerl-_sx329_bo1204203200_“The gravity of the cannibalism, now synonymous with the Donner Party, is treated deftly, conveying Mary Ann’s visceral reactions without becoming steeped in grisly detail. As loss compounds loss, brevity and repetition…intensify key moments in a harrowing, exhausting trek.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

The journey west by wagon train promises to be long and arduous for nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves and her parents and eight siblings. But she is hopeful about their new life in California, and the possibility of freedom from family demands that she aches for.

But when winter comes early to the Sierra Nevada, the Graves family, traveling alongside the Donner and Reed families, experiences one of the most harrowing, tragic, and storied journeys in American history.

Amid the pain of loss and the constant threats of freezing temperatures and meager supplies, Mary Ann learns what it means to be part of a family, to make sacrifices for those we love, and, above all, to persevere. To Stay Alive is a moving narrative told from the viewpoint of one of the survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party of 1846.

Find To Stay Alive on IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble or ask for it in libraries and bookstores near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Skila Brown is the author of verse novels Caminar and To Stay Alive, as well as the picture book Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, all with Candlewick Press. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee and now lives in Indiana where she writes books for readers of all ages.
Connect with Skila on

Cover Reveal Quartz Creek Ranch: Shy Girl & Shy Guy (AND A GIVEAWAY!)

I haven’t done a lot of cover reveals here, but  when my friends Kiersi Burkhart and Amber Keyser contacted me to see if I would like to host a reveal for one of the titles in their Quartz Creek Ranch series, I nearly broke my capslock emailing back an emphatic YESSSSS. These are just the books middle-grade me would have loved: awesome girl main characters and horses. But don’t just take eleven-year-old me’s word for it. Find out for yourself, early, by winning an advance copy! Details at the end of this post.
Giddy up!

Quartz Creek Ranch: Shy Girl & Shy Guy


For every kid, there’s a horse that can help. At least, that’s the idea at Quartz Creek Ranch. But Hanna doubts it will be true for her. Going to Quartz Creek was her mother’s idea; Hanna’s too terrified of horses to even go near them.

Then Hanna meets Shy Guy, a gray gelding who’s just as afraid of people as she is of horses. Of all people, Hanna is the one Shy Guy begins to trust, revealing his grace and skill in the arena. But when Shy Guy’s mysterious past comes to light, everything they’ve worked for starts slipping away. Can Shy Guy’s confidence in Hanna give her the self-confidence she needs to save him?

Preorder Shy Girl & Shy Guy, as well as any of the other Quartz Creek Ranch novels, on B&N and Amazon, or at your local indie thorough IndieBound.

Add Shy Girl & Shy Guy to your Goodreads shelf.

Here’s what Kiersi Burkhart has to say about this wonderful book and its cover:

Last week, we unveiled the cover for ONE BRAVE SUMMER, one of the other four Quartz Creek Ranch novels, over at Pop! Goes the Reader. Go take a look if you haven’t seen it yet—we are so pleased with the design of all these books!

Before Quartz Creek Ranch, I had never tried “co-writing” with someone before. It’s been such a privilege and a pleasure working with Amber! We’ve become more than just writers-in-arms; we’re close friends, sisters, partners in crime, and sometimes we even mom each other a little.


We both rode horses in our childhood, so most of our story ideas grew out of that shared history. But each book in the Quartz Creek Ranch series started with a seed of an idea that was unique and special to one of us.

Shy Girl & Shy Guy, in particular, is one of those very personal stories for me.

Shy Guy is a beautiful dapple grey who was abandoned by his owner, and finds his way to Quartz Creek Ranch. His fearful behavior leads the knowledgeable horse people at the ranch to believe he’s been abused. The main character, Hanna, is tasked with his rehabilitation.

This isn’t far from an experience I had when I was about Hanna’s age—probably eleven or twelve. I was volunteering at a neighborhood barn when I met Spring.

Her owner had grazed her on the barn’s property, then disappeared. I’m sure that abandonment was a big part of her dislike and fear of humans. Deep down, Spring was a gentle soul. Her people meant a lot to her.

Nobody else at the barn had the time to work with a horse who had spent years left out in a field. Her hooves had become long and curly, and her disposition had grown less and less inclined toward people.

I cared for her every day—brushing her, feeding her, socializing her to barn life so we could trim her long hooves back and work off the massive belly she’d gained from grazing all day. It wasn’t long before she warmed up to me and I could start exercising her again.

Spring was the best trail horse a girl could ask for. Calm, sweet, and mild-mannered, she still knew how to run when I wanted to run. Spring taught me an incredible amount about horsemanship, about compassion, and about the way that hurt leaves its mark on all of us. Especially, though, how hurt can be healed with love and patience.

Once I had rehabilitated Spring enough that any intermediate rider could take her out on the trail, the barn owner waited until I was gone for a few days… and sold her.

I had no opportunity to say goodbye.

Shy Girl & Shy Guy is the book I wrote for Spring. Our story wasn’t nearly so dramatic as Shy Guy and Hanna’s story, of course. But Spring was the horse that taught me I could accomplish the things I set out to do; who taught me that no horse was ever a “lost cause.” In the years following, I acquired another horse that had been neglected and misunderstood—a horse who eventually became the best barrel racer I’ve ever met.

Though Hanna and I don’t have a lot in common in terms of our personality or life story, when I look at the girl on the cover of this book, I feel an intense pang of understanding. I know what the look on her face means. It’s the look you give a horse who has changed your life. Darby Creek did such an incredible job with this cover that I cried when I saw it for the first time.

I hope you like it just as much as I do.



GIVEAWAY: Enter to win an ARC of Shy Girl & Shy Guy by commenting on this post. I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday, October 18 at 8am Pacific. (U.S. only, please.)

Kiersi Burkhart grew up riding horses on the Colorado Front Range. At sixteen, she attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland and spent her young adult years in beautiful Oregon — until she discovered her sense of adventure was calling her elsewhere. Now she travels around with her best friend, a mutt named Baby, writing fiction for children of all ages.
Connect with Kiersi on, @kiersi on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Amber J. Keyser is happiest when she is in the wilderness with her family. Lucky for her, the rivers and forests of Central Oregon let her paddle, hike, ski, and ride horses right outside her front door. When she isn’t adventuring, Amber writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers and goes running with her dog, Gilda
Connect with Amber on, @amberjkeyser on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Giraffes Ruin Publication Days

It’s publication day for Giraffes Ruin Everything!


I’m so grateful for everyone involved with this book: illustrator extraordinaire Chris Robertson, my agent, Brooks Sherman, editor Mary Kate Castellani, publicist Lizzy Mason, and everyone at Bloomsbury Kids, and to all my fellow giraffe suspicioners out there. Thank you!

Here’s what people are saying about the book:

“Giraffes really do ruin everything. … A young child learns to navigate the nuances of social relationships, with help from a spotted, lanky friend.” —Kirkus

“In an age where hurling accusations about someone else’s shortcomings has become something of a social norm, this is a gentle but firm reminder that patience and understanding have their rewards.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“What starts off as a story about how awful being friends with a giraffe can be turns into a heartwarming lesson of learning to understand and accept friends as they are.” —School Library Journal

“The full page, brightly colored illustrations complement the text perfectly and are very engaging. Young readers, especially animal lovers, will want to read this book.” —School Library Connection

Find Giraffes Ruin Everything on IndieBoundBarnes & NobleAmazon,  Bloomsbury Publishing or at bookstores and libraries near you.

I’d love to have you celebrate with me! I’ll be ruining the following locations. Details are on my events page. Hope to see you!

Giraffe Tour Update


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