How to DIY Your Graduation Cap

About: I just like to make DIY crafts and stuff!

Intro: How to DIY Your Graduation Cap

So I am graduating this semester and was reminded of decorating my graduation cap. I began to look up videos and how-to’s, but none of them really helped me, so I decided to make my own Instructable!


*Note: There are two options of decorating caps- directly on the cap and on cardstock paper to attach onto the cap. This instructable is for the latter.

Step 1: Materials

All materials are from Joann’s. Compared to Amazon, searching for similar supplies, I saved around $20! As I mentioned in the past Instructable, plan ahead so you can save the best coupons and make a single trip.

  • Old Scrapbook Paper
  • Scrapbook Paper- Darice Cardstock (12 x 12, #2 Black Midnight) for $0.99/piece
  • Red Flowers*- Allstate Flower Stem (30”, Hydrangea Spray) for $8.99 original
  • White Marker/Pen:
    • Pen-touch, Permanent Paint Marker, Fine point for $2.99 original
    • DecoColor**, Oil Base Paint Marker, Extra Fine point for $4.99 original
  • Paintbrush- Gold Taklon Fiber (Short flat brush) for $2.49
  • Glitter***:
    • Silver, 0.6 oz, Fine for $0.99
    • Gold, 0.75 oz, Extra Fine for $1.99

I ended up not using the white paint that was in the picture.

*Flowers: The flower stem was 30” long! I immediately chopped off the stem since I knew I would not be using the stem or the huge leaves on my cap. These flowers are small and simple! They’re quite expensive, but I would suggest getting the stemmed ones (~$8-10 originally) which have plenty of flowers and varieties and are cheaper than the wreath or dangling types ($15-18 originally).

**DecoColor marker: This pen started out fine, but for some reason, whether through a long time of not being used, the cap got stuck! I tried to pry the cap off with scissors, pliers, etc. but it was completely stuck. I ended up tossing it and just using the Pen-Touch, so I would suggest not wasting your money.

***Glitter Pics: The silver glitter ($0.99) was perfect amount and cost but they were out of the same type in gold! I was offered the gold in the pic as an option and I thought, “Why not! Sparkling silver and glittering gold, maybe the different size/texture will be good.” In the final steps of adding glitter, I learned that "extra fine" glues on better and forms more clear words.

Step 2: Idea Planning

Decide what you want on your cap, whether it’s a picture(s), a quote, a catchphrase, etc. I already knew I would use a quote about a book or from a book, so I just needed a few choices to narrow down.

The full quote I chose is, "One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us," from Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I sketched the words out a few times on paper and it felt too long, so I shortened it to, "One must always be careful of books... for words have the power to change us."

Note- I had searched on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. for ideas and @kimscustomcaps on IG was very helpful for basic instructions and ideas.

Once my idea was set, I used a Word doc to draft out how my cap could look in terms of word positioning and colors. This was very helpful to me and it gives you the chance to play with different fonts, colors and any inserts, which no other tutorial suggested.

Step 3: Sketching

Now actually sketch it out to size. I used an old piece of scrapbook paper and a pencil and lightly sketched what I wanted. Now you will have a better scale to work with and this can be done before any shopping. Joann's sells single sheets of cardstock if you already know you don’t need a pack but I bought two sheets to be safe.

Step 4: Main Quote/Idea

With my cardstock and materials now ready, I cut the cardstock to size (9.5 x 9.5). Joann’s cardstock is good because the base (what the paper is made of) is also black, so the edges are black as well, despite being cut. I sketched a border and lines to have a clear idea of where my writing would be. The Pen-Touch pen is pretty nice- the two pics show the difference between 1 layer versus 4 layers.

Step 5: Glitter TIme

I filled out the entire quote with the Pen-touch and silver and gold Bic markers, but with the markers, I also outlined them with black.

Now it was glitter time! I used three small cups for the glitters and one for water to dilute the glue, which I used a paintbrush to paint onto the gold and silver letters. This process of painting glue, pouring glitter, and knocking off loose glitter was time-consuming. I would suggest- if you have time- to let the glue dry a bit before checking bald spots and adding more glue and glitter.

*There is a slight difference in the “one” because I redid it, but the process is the same.

Step 6: Finalize

Final product! I added glitter word by word. The extra fine gold stayed glued much better than the fine silver and the words came out much clearer as well, so I would suggest find extra fine glitter if you plan to glue and glitter. I had extra gold ribbon which I used for the border and came out very nicely. The ribbon and flowers were both glue-gunned on, and the books around the border were simply written in one layer with the Pen-Touch pen.

To attach the cardstock onto the cap, I used a Xacto knife to cut a "+" shape into the circle, then cut off the triangles so there was a diamond shape in the circle. I fit and adjusted the size of the diamond as much as possible to fit it onto the cap. Be careful about making cuts too big or you'll have a small hole. If your cardstock is the same color as your cap- no big deal.

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