Thursday, December 3, 2020

Sewing for Others - Scrubs

As I sew more for others, my respect for custom clothiers increases. My clients are family members who are naively confident in my skills. Another reason to love them!  But to work with  paying clients, each with  a different body shape, fashion taste, and fit preference would be so stressful.

N, one of the future DILs (daughter-in-law), asked me to make her some scrubs for her birthday.  When she is working at the hospital, she must wear the scrubs in the specified color of her department.  But when working in the offsite locations affiliated with the hospital, she can wear her own. I said yes and was quite proud of myself for having snagged a bunch of scrub patterns off the ASG giveaway table last year.  “Aha, I thought, a chance to sew simple styles in cute cotton prints.”  Wrong!

Scrub Patterns

 She showed me pictures on the internet of the type of scrubs she wanted.  Um, not even close in style to the patterns and the fabrics were all poly spandex  blends.

Inspo Pics

I was taking my mom to medical appointments at the time and  while waiting for the Dr.,  Mom and I  took the opportunity to look at and discuss the scrubs the nurses were wearing.  We also asked the nurses what they liked and disliked about their scrubs. They were happy to chat. Comfort and pockets were the most important features.  

Like all of us, N has her own unique body shape.  She is young and fit (daily boot camp style fitness workouts every morning at 6 AM), with a proportionally small waist, a flat tummy, and curvy derriere. The opposite, in all areas, of the body I normally sew for. I have a large waist, curved tummy, and a flat butt.

To avert the fitting confidence paralysis I was starting to feel,  I asked her to loan me her favorite, best fitting scrubs.   I decided to copy the RTW scrub  top and bottom.  The top was a V neck tunic with princess seams extending into pockets. It had bands at the neckline and pocket openings that were  sewn and turned to the outside to provided a neat, clean finish.

Scrub Top 1

 The top was easy to copy by laying it out flat on paper and using a spiked tracing wheel to transfer the seam lines to the paper.  The pants had an elastic back waistband, a flat front waistband and a drawstring. The elastic waistband and stretch fabric made the pants difficult to lay flat  and copy.  I gave up on that  and used a similar pant pattern, modifying the back for a curvy backside as per a great article  in Threads Magazine, Issue 143-July 2009 "Improve the Bottom Line" (adjust your pants pattern to fit a shapely derriere) by Adrena Johnson. Unfortunately, this article is not available online.  There is an article in the most recent issue of Threads Magazine, Issue 212- January 2021  "Fit the Seat of Your Pants" by Vanessa Nirode with similar information.

I took N to Jo-Ann's Fabrics to pick out fabrics.  She had never been in a fabric store. It was an interesting to experience a total newbie's  visit to a fabric store. Her observations about seeing only fabric, no finished garments on display. How hard is was to choose the appropriate fabric. The long line to the cutting table,  of appropriately distanced customers, each with carts of different fabric.  And the conversation with the cutter, all numbers and units of measure. 

For Scrubs #1 she picked out a poly spandex  print for the top and a black poly spandex double knit for the bottom .  

Scrub Top#1

 The fabrics for Scrubs #2 were three colors of poly spandex double knit. The top was color blocked with banded trim on the sleeve’s neckline and yokes.  When worn, the the sleeves looked like they were raglan sleeves, but on closer inspection they were not. I will remember this trick as inset sleeves fit me better than raglan sleeves, but I like the look of raglan sleeves for casual tops.   I used the  pattern for Scrub top 1, but eliminated the  princess seams, and  made  patterns for the yokes, the shaped trim pieces, and the pockets.

Scrub Top #2

N was delighted by both pairs of scrubs and received many nice comments when she wore them.  And  I got an opportunity to practice my fitting skills.



  1. Love these scrubs! I had a very similar experience sewing scrubs for a close friend this year - different body types and she was interstate so measurements were taken on FaceTime and fabrics were purchased online. I used the Jalie scrub top pattern which funnily enough is almost exactly the same as your first iteration! We were working with more traditional cotton poplin and broadcloth. It’s so good to be able to help our loved ones with our skills! Especially since many of the commercial scrubs seems to be made “universal” fit - which means mostly to fit a masculine shape!!

  2. Bonitos uniformes y tienes mucha razón en lo difícil que resulta coser para otras personas. BESICOS.

  3. What terrific scrubs. Very clever of you to trace off her favourites. Scrubs usually have zero room for female backsides, she must be very pleased to have some that fit so well, much more comfortable!

  4. You did good! This old nurse agrees, scrub patterns are slim pickings. Just awful.

  5. These remind me a little of the Jalie Elaine scrub top. Both my parents were nurses and I remember thinking these looked nothing like the scrubs I grew up seeing (and often taking for my own pajamas and loungewear). But it appears I was the one out of touch because she looks great!