How to tailor a scrub top

Updated February 21, 2017

Scrubs are a great uniform: comfortable, easy to wash, and loosely fitted. This loose fit, however, can be unflattering and may sometimes feel like you are swimming in your scrub top. With a few basic sewing supplies, you can tailor your scrub top so it fits like it is custom-made for you, and it is a fairly quick and simple project. Even if you have little sewing experience, you can make your scrubs fit and look better.

Turn your scrub shirt inside out and put it on. Stand in front of a mirror with your pins and pen or chalk pencil within easy reach. Many scrubs are too long in the shoulder area. Hold the top shoulder seam on one side of you scrub top until it is raised to a point where the top comfortably fits. The arm holes should be comfortable and not too tight. Adjust the shoulder seam until it feels and looks the way you want it to. Starting at the shoulder seam end closest to your neck, pin through both layers of excess fabric. Continue pinning toward the armhole side of the seam. Repeat on the opposite shoulder so both sides are even.

Adjust the size of the arm if it is too big. Starting where you left off pinning your shoulder seams, pull the excess arm fabric up and away from your arm. Pin through both layers of your arm hole fabric, creating a seam that is close enough to the arm to be flattering but loose enough to be comfortable. Repeat on the opposite arm.

Pull the excess fabric out from one side of your upper waist area, starting immediately under the armhole. Work on both sides at the same time, pinning in the same area on both the left and right sides to keep the scrub top centred and even. Be sure to leave at least an inch of extra room on each side, which allows for seam allowance and room to bend and move comfortably. Work down the length of the shirt, pinning on both sides as you go.

Carefully remove your scrub top and measure the excess on both shoulders, both arms and both sides to make sure the right and left sides are even. Use your fabric marker or chalk pencil and make a straight line along the area you pinned on both shoulders and arms. Make new lines along the pins on your waist area; this will most likely be a concave curved line. These will be your new seam lines when you are ready to sew.

Sew along both shoulder seams and continue down to your arms seams, directly on the line you marked with your fabric marker using a straight seam. Backstitch at the beginning and ending of your seams. Repeat with your marked waist seams. Try your scrub top on, inside out, to make sure it fits properly. If it doesn't, re-pin and resew until it does. Cut off the excess fabric with your scissors, leaving a 1/4-inch outside of the seams.

Try your scrub top on inside out again and look at the hemline. If it is too long, fold it up until the bottom folded edge hits the exact length you want it to be. Use about 4 pins and pin a small area of the hemline in place. Take the shirt off and continue pinning the hemline, making sure it is even all the way around. Sew the hemline in place 1/4-inch away from the bottom edge of the hemline, using a straight stitch and backstitching at the beginning and end of your seams. Cut off any fabric in excess of 1/4 inch from the edge of the seam you just sewn. Iron all of your seams flat with a hot iron. Turn right side out and press carefully with your iron.

Things You'll Need

  • Scrub top
  • Coordinating thread
  • Fabric marking pen or chalk pencil
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Based in the Pacific Northwest, Arin Bodden started writing professionally in 2003. Her writing has been featured in "Northwest Boulevard" and "Mermaids." She received the Huston Medal in English in 2005. Bodden has a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches English composition and technical writing at the university level.