How To Decorate A Grad Cap For Dummies: The End-All Be-All Guide

How To Decorate A Grad Cap For Dummies: The End-All Be-All Guide

As you’re slowly checking things off of your graduation to-do list, it’s pretty apparent that it’s getting down to the final moments. Formal is over and your last chapter is officially behind you. Your classes are just about finished and your final exam schedule is just about to send you into an anxiety attack. In a little over a week (or a month, if your school is laggin’), you’re going to be in the elusive real world.

But before you do, you have one last task ahead of you. One of the most important rites of passage before becoming an adult is, of course, decorating your grad cap. Maybe you think it’s tacky, maybe you don’t want to do anything else while you’re up to your eyes in notes, or maybe your school banned decorating caps. Whatever your excuse is, you’re wrong. You’ve spent your entire sorority career crafting, and now you finally get the chance to show off your skills. Plus, you actually get to keep the end product for once. Don’t pass this up.

What You’ll Absolutely Need:

  • Your cap (duh).
  • Fabric glue (like you don’t have a shitton of it already).
  • Scissors.
  • Pencil.
  • Whatever you decide to decorate with (see below).

What You (Might) Need:

  • Contact paper.
  • Scrapbook paper.
  • Scrapbook letters.
  • Acrylic paint.
  • Paint pens.
  • Sharpie.
  • Rhinestones.
  • Feathers? Bows? Random shit to stick on there.
  • And, of course, glitter.

Before you get started: All caps have a button in the center. This is important. This is how your tassel will hang. Sometimes you can remove the button, sometimes you can’t. Either way, be sure to plan your design around it and make sure that if you remove it entirely, your tassel has somewhere to hang, otherwise, you’ll look dumb and they might not give you a diploma.

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want Your Cap To “Say”

There are a lot of different routes you can go with this. Do you want to be funny? Cute? Do you want to thank your parents, honor your chapter, or a have a little bit of everything? Decide what message you want to get across then search Pinterest with the same fury you’ve searched for wedding inspo for the past five years.

Step 2: Sketch A General Outline

If you’re planning an all-out masterpiece, the first step, as it is with any project, is to trace it all out. Sure, you can freehand it. But do you really want your last craft of your college career to look like shit? If you don’t plan to just glue scrapbook letters on there, make sure to stencil your design before you start working, especially since you’re running on negative sleep during finals week.

Step 3: Gather Supplies

Now that you know what you’re doing, it’s time to do your final Michael’s or Hobby Lobby run. It’s okay to get sentimental at this point. Take your time walking through the aisles and wandering down memory lane. Remember all of the good times you had amongst these sacred halls. From the early days of your career, where you stayed up late making gifts for all of your buddies, to the weeks spent going back-and-forth to the store, getting more and more supplies for big/little reveal and initiation. From formal coolers to little, glittle, and gglittle gifts, you’ve spent a good portion of your college career going into debt over paint and t-shirts. Do a final run for old times’ sake.

Step 4: Make Sure The Cap Is Facing The Right Way

I can’t stress this enough. Too many friends have spent hours on their caps only to realize it’s backward. Check, double check, and triple check to make sure the front is actually in the front. Thank me later.

Step 5: Cover The Base Layer

Finally, it’s time to actually do some work. If you’re painting a design with a black background, just skip this. Go away. BUT if you actually want some color in your life (and covering your entire cap), now’s the time. You have three options: You can either paint the entire cap with paint just like you would a cooler, you can cover it with scrapbook paper, contact paper, or fabric, or you can just dump a shitton of glitter on it (and then Mod Podge over it like you’ve never Mod Podged before).

Step 6: Do Any Tracing

Now that you have your bases colored, you have to actually make it look like something. If you plan to paint an actual design, trace it and transfer it over to the cap (to do this, print out your design, trace it on wax or tracing paper, and transfer it to your cap by re-outlining over the paper with a Sharpie or pencil). Or, if tracing isn’t your style, grab a pencil and lightly draw your picture on the cap. You’ll be glad you did once you’re elbow deep in paint and having three-days-without-sleep-and-5-coffees shaking hands.

Step 7: Paint Any Details, Lettering, Or Pictures

Now that you’ve traced your design (you did trace it, right?), it’s time to put your crafting skills to use. Get out your immense collection of brushes, sponges, and pens and create the craft of all crafts. Out of everything you’ve ever made, this is the one you’ll put on a display for years to come. This is the one that will show everyone who you are. And this is the one you have to actually beat everyone else at. No pressure, right? Use vibrant colors and double coats when necessary to have something that will pop in all of your Instagram pictures.

Step 8: Add Any Scrapbook Letters, Cutouts, Or Tokens

Now that all of the painting is complete (and dried. That’s important. You know this, guys), or if you decided to just go the easy route, you can add the rest of your letters and cutouts. Whether it’s an inspirational quote, a thanks to mom and dad, your chapter’s mascot, or something snarky, say what you need to say in your final moments of college. Cut out the letters and place them in different locations on the cap before peeling off the sticky backing and putting them in their spots for the rest of their (and your) lives.

Step 9: Throw On Some Sparkles, Feathers, Or Other Obnoxious “Look At Me” Items

The final but most important step in any crafting process is the glamming stage. In honor of the time you accidentally spilled super fine glitter all over your hall’s rec room or when you decided to glitter-bomb your ex, you owe it to your college career to go out with a sparkle. Be as annoying as you want to be. Cover the entire thing in rhinestones. Throw a giant bow on the back. Hell, glue a tiara on top. However you choose to show the world that you’re a fucking star, do it with style. Once you’re an adult, the number of times you get to wear glitter and a tiara are few and far between.

Step 10: Take A Gross Amount Of Pictures

This one should (and does) go without saying, but I wanted to remind you anyway. Graduation is a lot of things: it’s bittersweet, it’s exciting, it’s scary. But most of all, graduation should be a celebration of you. No matter how much we joke, how much we whined, or how hard it might have been, at the end of the day, you did something pretty damn incredible. You got a college degree. You spend years staying up late and doing projects and taking classes that made you want to die. But you did it all. You took the tests and the finals and did the projects and maybe even failed a class. But you never gave up. You never threw in the towel.

So, be annoying about it. Take pictures in your school’s fountain, in front of your freshman dorm room, and on your football field. Get all of your friends together, old and new, sisters and not, and document your accomplishment. Graduating undergrad only happens once — make the final moments count.

To quote the great Elle Woods, “We did it!” Congrats to the graduating class of 2017. Don’t worry, the postgrad life isn’t so bad.

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Rachel Varina

(yeahokaywhat) Aspiring to be the next Tina Fey, Rachel spends her free time doing nothing to reach that goal. While judging people based on how they use "they're" vs. "there" on social media, she likes eating buffalo chicken dip, watching other people's Netflix, and wearing sweatpants way more than is socially acceptable.

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