My lovely niece Megan is going to spend the next semester abroad in Spain, so I’ve been thinking about what I could make her that might be useful. I saw some secret pocket scrunchies that went viral on TikTok, and were available on Amazon. You can hide a house key, a little cash or a tube of lip balm, even while wearing them in your hair.
The problem with the commercially available ones though is that they have a very obvious zipper on the edge, and the zipper pull dangles off. And if they went viral, clearly pickpockets already know about them, so the zipper pull is a dead giveaway. How much easier is it to pull a scrunchie off someone’s wrist or from the end of their braid, in a crowded place? So I googled around and found two tutorials for making one without a zipper! (This one, and then this one.) They are constructed with two pieces of fabric, with elastic casing at the ends overlapping one another (similar to a pillow made with the envelope method), then stitched into a tube. The crossways elastic keeps the items from falling back out and gets rid of the dangling zipper pull. I tried making a few out of some scraps of sari silk in my stash, but was ultimately unhappy with them. The extra elastic made the scrunchies a bit bulky, and the silk fabric was thin & floppy, making it hard to hide an object in.
Finally I gave up on doing it totally from stash (by this point, I was also out of elastic!), so I ran over to Joann’s and picked up a bit of a couple clearance jersey fabrics, and more importantly two sizes of elastic. After making 14 of these now, I have altered what the original tutorials suggested, changing the size of the fabric pieces and switching to two different widths of elastic to reduce bulk. Here’s a tutorial for my new and improved version!
-Jersey fabric, a medium weight
-large yarn needle (not a sharp sewing needle)
-2 safety pins
-Cut 2 pieces of your fabric, 4.5" x 15.5" (11.5 cm x 40 cm) *
-Cut 2 pieces of your 1/8" elastic, 3.5" (9 cm)
-Cut 1 piece of 1/4" elastic, 7.5" (9 cm) * *
Notes If you like a sleek scrunchie (that will hold less) you can reduce the width of your fabric pieces to 4". If you like a larger floppy scrunchie that will hide more, increase to 5". I found 4.5" to be a perfect sweet-spot width. Meanwhile, if you have larger wrists or very thick hair, you may cut your 7.5" elastic longer, up to about 9".
-With each of your pieces of fabric, fold over about 3/8"-1/2", to the wrong side. Using a stretch stitch on your machine, sew along a scant 1/4" from the folded edge. Wide enough to put your 1/8" elastic through, without a lot of extra space in the casing.
-Take one of your pieces of 1/8" elastic, and thread one end through the yarn needle. Start to feed it through the casing, stopping before the end gets pulled inside. Clip or pin in place, then use your machine to stitch along the edge, catching the elastic. (You can use a regular straight stitch here. It doesn’t need to be a stretch stitch.) Be sure to hold the threads of your machine, as you start, so then don’t get pulled into the throat plate, on the edge of your fabric.
-Once that end is secured, pull the other end with the yarn needle the rest of the way through the casing. Make sure the elastic isn’t twisted within the casing, then clip or pin, and stitch the other end.
-Do the same with the second piece of fabric.
-Take your two pieces, overlapping the elastic ends by about 1". Pin or clip them together.
-From the front, on the layer overlapping the other, you are going to stitch from the top edge, down 1", then stop and backstitch, trying to put the new stitching over the previous stitching you made to form the casing. Turn the project the other way, so that right side is still facing up, and stitch from that edge down 1" again, then backstitching. This is going to keep our layers together and keep the pocket partially closed.
-Now fold the 2-piece tube in half, the long way, right sides together. Make sure when you do, you catch the flat edges, AND the elastic casings, which will try to pull back out of the seam. I use clips to hold it together at the middle.
-Starting at the middle, above the first elastic casing/clip, stitch along the long edge, using a stretch stitch.
Note Starting here at the middle ensures that your edges (and more importantly the casings) match up, and don’t get offset from one another over the long length of stretchy fabric. I personally found using a straight pin set perpendicularly, just at the two elastic casings, helped keep everything together, and I didn’t need to pin the rest of the length.
-Now flip the tube, and go back to where you started stitching. Stitch in the other direction to finish closing the tube. I found I didn’t need pins for this end either, as the middles were already together.
-Now we’re going to turn the tube right side out. Place a safety pin in one end, and feed it through the tube, taking care a the middle, to thread the safety pin correctly through the center. Pull it all right side out.
-Place your safety pin through one end of the 7.5" long 1/4" elastic. Use the other safety pin to secure the other end of the elastic to one end of the tube. Thread the first pin through the tube, making sure not to twist it. Now that you have both ends, you can choose to tie a knot in the elastic (which leaves the scrunchie adjustable for the future wearer), or you can sew the elastic closed. I prefer sewing mine, because I think it makes a stronger join. I overlapped my ends about 3/4", then used a zig-zag stitch to secure them.
-Now that your elastic is one loop, adjust your tube of fabric, so that the elastic join is partway through the body of the tube, rather than right where we will join the fabric. At this point you could choose to close the fabric loop invisibly with a needle and thread, but I prefer to do it by machine, with a visible seam. The reason will become clear in a moment.
-Make sure the tube of fabric has the seam facing outwards (along the outermost edge of the circle, rather than along the inner diameter) so that it helps hold the scrunchie edge wide and gives a bit of added body along there. Fold the raw edges of one end of the loop back (into the body of the tube), by about 1/2". Then tuck the other raw end of the fabric into this one, hiding all the raw edges. This might take a little adjusting and perfecting. I liked to use 2 straight pins at this point to hold everything together. This has the added benefit of allowing you to use the pins, to get both front and back seams straight and aligned. Stitch with your machine using a straight stitch. (No stretch stitch needed here.)
-Trim your threads and test out your new scrunchie. The final seam will be directly opposite the opening to the secret pocket. You can now slide items into the tube, and the stitching on the other side will keep your items from getting ‘lost’, while you dig around and around to get them back. They are stuck no further than the halfway point.
-Now that you’ve finished your scrunchie, you can go totally bonkers and make 13 more and find yourself in an early 90’s fever dream. Or just stop there. You’re call.
I think one of the things I like best about these, is that they can both be worn, either in your hair or on a wrist, or they can just be camouflage laying in the bottom of a purse, or the cupholder of a car, so you could keep spare cash or an extra house key just about anywhere.