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Empire Waist Apron in Wonderful Waverly Fabrics

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We step back into the wonderful world of Waverly with this lovely empire waist apron. You've likely seen the Waverly brand on all kinds of home decor items, from window treatments to storage to bed linens. But their original product line was fabric. Starting in 1923, Waverly has produced some of the most beautiful and long-standing collections of any manufacturer. We've broken out of the standard home décor box of cushions and coverings with an apron design, which uses two Waverly medium weight, 100% cotton twills: Paisley Prism and View Finder from the Latte colorway.

This apron has a unique empire waist and lovely details that make it almost pretty enough to wear on its own: piping, gentle gathering across the skirt, an eye-catching oval pocket, and an optional fabric flower. We added a safety-pin to the back of our flower so it could be worn at strap level, at the empire waist or simply removed. 

Downloadable patterns are offered below for both the bodice and the pocket.

The Waverly fabrics we chose from their Latte colorway are 54" wide and 100% cotton. A medium-weight twill, this fabric was wonderful to work with in a non-traditional, garment capacity. It has a beautiful drape and more durability than a traditional quilting weight cotton. Plus, with the heavier fabric, there was no need interfacing. If you choose a lighter weight cotton, you should add interfacing to the bodice and pocket.

You may sometimes see a "dry clean only" notice on Waverly fabrics, which makes some sewers reluctant to choose it. They're afraid it will be too expensive to care for. However, the recommendation to "dry clean only" is often listed because consumers don't/won't follow instructions carefully. Manufacturers fall back on this professional cleaning warning in an attempt to avoid problems attributed to improper care. Here's the inside scoop we got from our friends at Waverly: although dry cleaning is certainly an option, it isn't your only choice. You can machine wash the fabric if you are careful and take the following steps:

  1. Set your washing machine to a Hand Wash, Delicate, or Gentle setting.
  2. Select Cold Wash/Cold Rinse.
  3. Use a very mild detergent designed to keep dark colors from running, such as Woolite®.
  4. After the fabric is washed, hang it out to drip dry. Do not dry in the dryer!
  5. If you need to iron, use a cool setting with steam. Iron from the back side and use a pressing cloth. 

Waverly fabrics are available at fine in-store and online retailers everywhere. Our links below will take you to the fabric we found from the Waverly selection at Fabric.com.

Jo-Ann Fabric Stores also have a wide range of Waverly. 

You can follow Waverly (and all their beautiful photos) on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

As with store-bought aprons, our design is meant to be one-size-fits-all. However, we realize you may still wish to make yours smaller or larger. As a reference, this empire-waist apron is approximately 17" wide across the bottom of the bodice, the waist ties are each approximately 26" long, the neck ties are each approximately 23" long, the skirt length is 25", and the bodice is about 7" high at the highest points of the curves. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1 yard of 45"+ wide medium weight fabric with a bold motif for the apron's skirt and pocket; we used 54" Paisely Prism in Latte by Waverly
  • 1 yard of 45"+ wide medium weight coordinating fabric with a smaller motif for the apron's bodice, bottom skirt accent and ties; we used 54" View Finder in Latte by Waverly
  • 3 yards (two packages) of ½" pre-made piping; we used Wright's Bias Tape Maxi Piping in Blue Haze
  • Two 1" buttons; we used wooden buttons purchased locally 
    NOTE: You only need one button if you are not making the optional flower
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Pocket and Bodice patterns.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern download consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
  3. From the fabric for for the apron's skirt and pocket (Paisley Prism in Latte by Waverly in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 37" wide x 21" high rectangle for the main skirt
    Using the pattern, fussy cut TWO pocket pieces
  4. From the fabric for the apron's bodice, bottom skirt accent and ties (View Finder in Latte by Waverly in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 4" x 24" strips for the neck ties
    TWO 5" x 27" strips for the waist ties
    ONE 6" x 37" strip for the bottom skirt accent
    Using the pattern, fussy cut TWO bodice pieces on the fold

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Make the ties

  1. Find the two 4" x 24" strips for the neck ties and the two 5" x 27" strips for the waist ties.
  2. Fold each tie in half lengthwise, right sides together.
  3. With a see-through ruler and rotary cutter, trim one end of each folded tie at a slight angle.
  4. Pin the long side and across the angled end of each tie.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the side and across the angled end, pivoting at the corner. Leave opposite end open for turning.  
  6. Clip the corners
  7. Turn both ties right side out and press flat. 
  8. Set the ties aside.

Make the pocket

  1. Find the two pocket pieces.
  2. Cut one 30" length of piping.
  3. Pin a length of piping to the right side of one of the two pocket pieces. If one fussy cut is better than the other, use the best one as this will be the pocket front.
  4. To connect the piping ends, use a seam ripper to open up the piping fabric on one end. 
  5. Trim back this end so it butts together perfectly with the opposite end. 
  6. Fold back the piping fabric and overlap the ends. 
  7. Pin in place, matching the rest of the piping so it is now a continuous curve. 
  8. Using a Zipper foot, machine baste the piping in place.
  9. Place the back pocket piece and the front piped pocket piece right sides together. Pin in place, leaving a 2" opening along one side. 
  10. Using a Zipper foot, stitch the layers together, staying as close to the piping as possible. Lock your seam on either side of the 2" opening left for turning. 
  11. Turn the pocket right side out through the 2" opening.
  12. Lay the pattern on top of each pocket. There are dots indicating where you will stop and start when sewing the pocket to the skirt. This is also the fold line for the pocket. Place a pin at these dots on the pocket. Then, place a pin at the dot indicating button placement
  13. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with sewn seam. 
  14. Set the pocket aside.

Skirt

  1. Find the main 37" x 21" skirt rectangle. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  2. Cut a 37" length of piping. 
  3. Pin the piping along the bottom raw edge of the skirt.
  4. Machine baste the piping in place. 
  5. Find the 6" x 37" bottom accent band. 
  6. Place the top raw edge of the accent band right sides together with the bottom raw edge of the skirt, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place. 
  7. Using a Zipper foot, stitch together, running your seam as close as possible to the piping. 
  8. This seam allowance will be visible on the back of the apron, so we finished it with a neat overcast stitch, using our Janome Overedge foot
  9. Press the completed skirt panel flat, pressing the seam allowance up and away from the bottom accent band. 
  10. Place the skirt panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Measure 7" in from the right raw edge of the skirt panel and 10½" down from the top raw edge of the skirt panel. Place a pin at the intersection of these two measurements. 
  11. Measure 5½" to the left of this first pin and place a second pin. 
  12. Find the pocket. Align the two marking pins at the outer edges of the pocket with the two marking pins on the skirt. Make sure the pocket is sitting straight up and down on the skirt panel. 
  13. Pin the pocket in place from the pins and around the bottom of the pocket. There are no pins along the top curve of the pocket. 
  14. Use a Zipper foot to stitch the pocket in place, running the seam right along the piping (stitching in the ditch of the piping). Remember to start and stop at the pin points.
  15. Fold the loose top of the pocket down into position. If necessary, place the pattern piece over the folded edge again to check the position of the button.
  16. Hand stitch the button in place through all the layers of the pocket, but NOT through the apron skirt. This stitched button is what holds the folded top of the pocket in place.
  17. With your hand needle still thread, hand stitch the pocket opening closed, concealing your stitches next to the piping. 
  18. Along both sides and across the bottom fold, press into place a narrow ¼" double turn hem with clean corners. 
  19. Using a ¼" seam allowance the thread that best matches the skirt fabric in the top and bobbin, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. We're using our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot

    NOTE: If you are need to narrow hemming with these pretty corners, we have an easy, step-by-step tutorial you can review
  20. Gather the top edge of the skirt panel. To do this, run one or two lines of basting across the panels, keeping the the basting within the ½" seam allowance. Remember, don't lock either end of your seam.
  21. Pull the basting to gather the skirt to approximately 17".
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, take a look at our article: How to Make Gathers by Machine.
  22. Set the skirt aside. 

Bodice

  1. If you have not already done it, transfer the marking dots (for the neck ties and waist ties) from the bodice pattern to the fabric. We used small snips into the seam allowance as our marks. Make sure you mark both the left and right sides of both bodice layers.
  2. Place one bodice piece right side up and flat on your work surface. Pin a length of piping along curved top edge and the flat bottom edge. There is no piping along the sides. 
  3. Machine baste the piping in place along the top and bottom.
  4. Find all the ties. 
  5. Using your marks as your guide (remember, we used small snips into the very edge of the fabric), place the two narrower neck ties at the left and right marks along the top curved edge. Then, place the two wider waist ties at the left and right marks along both sides. Pin the ties in place, aligning the raw ends of the ties with the raw edges of the fabric. Gather up the ends of the ties and lightly pin them in place at the center of the bodice so they will be out of the way of the outer seam. 
  6. Find the back bodice layer. Fold up the straight bottom edge of this panel ½" and press in place. 
  7. Place the back bodice layer right sides together with the front bodice layer, sandwiching the piping and all the gathered-up ties between the layers.
  8. Pin in place along the two sides and across the top curved edge. The bottom remains open.
  9. Using a Zipper foot, stitch across the top and along both sides, pivoting at the corners and going slowly around the top curves. Along the top, the seam should be as close as possible to the piping. Down the sides, default to a ½" seam allowance. 
  10. Clip the corners and the curves and the "V" at the center front, being careful to not cut into your seam. Press the seam allowance open. 
  11. Turn right side out and press flat. 
  12. Place the piped bottom edge of the bodice front right sides together against the top gathered edge of the skirt panel, aligning the raw edges. Pull the folded bottom edge of the bodice back up and out of the way. Adjust the gathers as needed to fit the skirt against the bodice. Pin in place.
  13. Stitch across the top of the skirt through all the layers (remember, you are not stitching through the back layer of the bodice, just the front). We are still using our Zipper foot to make sure we are staying as close as possible to the piping. This may be slightly larger or smaller than our traditional ½" seam allowance
  14. Press the seam allowance up towards the waistband.
  15. Bring the folded edge of the bodice back layer down into place, covering the seam you just made. Pin in place.
  16. Hand stitch the folded edge of the bodice into place. We used a whip stitch.

Optional fabric flower

  1. Cut a 3½" x 36" length from one of the two fabrics. We used the View Finder fabric from the bodice, ties and accent band. 
  2. Complete the flower using the Fabric Flower tutorial featured in our Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements Series opening article. 
  3. Stitch a button in the center of the flower to match the button on the pocket.
  4. Stitch a large safety pin to the back and place on the bodice at the strap line or the bottom piping line.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructions: Debbie Guild

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Comments (3)

Annie Dee said:
Annie Dee's picture

Love.  Love!  LOVE This pattern!  Gave it a try today using cotton instead of home dec (I just added interfacing on the bodice) and left out the piping.  It came out great!!  Gotta go to sleep otherwise I'd make another one tonight.  Wait.  Do I really need to sleep?!  Maybe not.  THANKS for posting.  And btw - the Waverly fabrics are gorgeous.  I've used View Finder in Latte by Waverly for a different project.  

scootertn said:
scootertn's picture

I think this is the perfect apron pattern!  The empire waist hits the smallest area and provides a nice shape.  The pocket is too cute and love the bodice shape.  Needless to say I am making a few of these.  I see a couple of Christmas gifts in this beautiful pattern .  And such lovely Waverly fabrics!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ scootertn - Perfect?!? Thanks for that!! We think it's pretty cool as well. And, yes, LOVE those Waverly fabrics. So wonderful to work with.

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