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Fat Quarter Apron

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Awhile back, with no project in mind, I picked up five fat quarters from Amy Butler's Love collection while browsing at Bolt Fabric Boutique here in Portland, OR. What to do with five fat quarters? I challenged myself to create an apron where there would be virtually no wasted fabric. What remains from this pretty flower garden apron would fit in a teacup.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

When choosing your fat quarters, determine whether the direction of the print is compatible with the apron layout. A strongly directional print may be inappropriate. All seams are ½" unless otherwise noted.

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  • 5 fat quarters (or cut 5 rectangles that measure 18" x 22"). We used Amy Butler's Love collection in: (1) Sandlewood/Turquoise, (2) Bliss Bouquet/Teal, (3) Tumble Roses/Pink, (4) Memento/Midnight and (5) Arabesque/Lime.
  • Apron top and pocket lining: ½ yard of 44" fabric (We used a quilting weight ivory sateen.)
    NOTE: You will need the full half yard.
  • 3 yards of 1" lightweight cotton webbing in natural
  • 2 feet of 3/8" rick rack to coordinate with fabric (optional)
  • All purpose thread to go with fabric selection
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measures
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Following the cutting guide below, cut up your 18" x 22" fat quarters as shown. Fat Quarter (FQ) 1 is cut into 9" x 11" quarters, FQ 2 & FQ 3 are left uncut at 18" x 22", FQs 4 & 5 are cut in half lengthwise to yield two 9" x 22" rectangles.  
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  2. Download and print out.
    IMPORTANT: The Apron Top consists of four 8.5" x 11" sheets. You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  3. Butt the pages together to create a complete pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together and trim pattern piece along solid cutting line.
  4. Download and print out.
    IMPORTANT: The Apron Pocket pattern is ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  5. Cut out the pattern piece along the solid cutting line
  6. Cut APRON TOP from lining fabric.
  7. From webbing, cut one 22" strip for the neck strap and two 36" strips for the waist ties.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Apron top

  1. With right sides together and raw edges aligned at bottom edge, sew pieces 1c and 1d to piece 2. Press towards center.
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  2. Fold your sewn piece in half vertically so the outside raw edges of pieces 1c and 1d align.
  3. Place APRON TOP pattern on fold, pin and cut.
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  4. Pin ties as shown in the image below: flush with top and sides, and 5/8" from armhole edges to avoid catching in seam. It's helpful to additionally pin down the ties as shown so they don't accidentally catch in a seam.
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  5. Sew top and lining right sides together leaving bottom open.
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  6. Trim seams, clip corners and snip curves taking care not to cut through seam.
  7. Turn right side out and press.
  8. Fold bottom edge of apron top (front and lining) under ½" all the way around as shown below. 
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  9. Find the center of the bottom of the apron top and mark with a fabric pencil or straight pin.

Apron pockets

  1. Place pieces 1a and 1b right sides together, and pin the POCKET CUT OUT pattern piece in the upper left corner as shown in Step 1 in the diagram below. Cut. Remove the corner you just cut. What remains are your two pockets.
    Diagram
  2. Take one of the pockets you just cut, and use it as a pattern piece to cut the lining from the lining fabric as shown in Step 2 above.
  3. To attach rick rack to the pockets (an optional step... but isn't it cute?), pin rick rack to the right side of each pocket along the curve. The center of the rick rack should be on the ½" seam line. Machine baste in place.
    Diagram
  4. Place pocket and pocket lining right sides together, sandwiching the rick rack in between the layers. With the lining side down, sew directly on top of the basting stitch along the pocket curve. Then sew the bottom of the pocket, using a ½"seam allowance.
  5. Turn right-side out and press. Repeat for other pocket.
  6. Sew pockets to fabric piece 4a and 4b as shown below.
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Apron skirt

  1. Sew the five apron strips together in the order shown. Press all seams away from pocket panels. 
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  2. To make bottom hem, fold under the bottom edge of the skirt ½" and press. Fold again at 1", press and pin.
  3. Sew close to the fold to make a simple hem as shown below.
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  4. To finish sides of skirt, fold the sides under ½" and press. Fold again 5/8", press and pin.
  5. Sew close to the fold to finish the side hem as shown above.
  6. You can use a ruffler attachment, or gather the traditional way with two lines of machine basting. If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy.
  7. Mark the center of the apron top with a fabric pencil or straight pin.
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  8. Gather the ruffle to the length of the apron top.
    NOTE: Because I didn't want the top of the pockets to be gathered, I gathered the center panel, in between the pockets, and from the outside edge of each pocket to each side of the apron.

Attach apron bib to apron skirt

  1. Insert gathered skirt between the top front and lining and adjust the gathers to fit. Pin. Be sure you have the lining and front flat and nicely aligned.
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  2. From the front side of the apron, sew through all layers to attach apron bib to apron skirt.
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Finish apron ties

  1. Try on your apron and tie in front. Trim excess length from the waist ties as needed.
  2. From your fat quarter scraps (there aren't a lot), cut TWO 2" x 2" squares of fabric.
  3. Fold each square in half, right sides together, and sew both sides using a 3/8" seam.
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  4. Fold top edge to inside 3/8" to match the sewn seam and press.
  5. Slip the end caps over each end of the tie and sew down with one line of edgestitching as shown above.
  6. You're ready to serve tea and scones in the garden!
    Click to Enlarge

Hints and Tips

If you find yourself in Portland, do check out Bolt Fabric Boutique. It's inspirational! They also have an interesting blog.

Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Bernina aurora 440QE.

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Comments (21)

Sewandsewon said:
Sewandsewon's picture

When I seen that this was large enough and oh so cute, I'm making it for my sister.  She is a 24.  AND I think that pincushion is sweet.  They will make great coffee lady group gifts and scrap booking pal gifts.  Thanks Sew4Home

Carly G said:
Carly G's picture

What did you use for a seam allowance on this apron?

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

The seam allowance is mentioned at the very beginning of the instructions:

"When choosing your fat quarters, determine whether the direction of the print is compatible with the apron layout. A strongly directional print may be inappropriate. All seams are ½" unless otherwise noted."

Carly G said:
Carly G's picture

What did you use for a seam allowance on this apron?

Carly G said:
Carly G's picture

What did you use for a seam allowance on this apron?

gypsycrafter said:
gypsycrafter's picture

All fat quarters are not created equal - they can vary in size, I've found - some are 21" not 22" - or, they aren't cut straight to begin with and are shorter than 18".  Being from the old school of "home ec" sewing in the 50s, I always wash my fabric before I sew, especially for items that will require laundering (like an apron).  After washing and drying, remove any frayed edges and stack the five pieces, aligning the selvage edges and pinning them together about one inch from the selvage.  Flatten and smooth the stack, and, using a rotary cutter and long quilting ruler, clean up all the edges so they're straight and the corners are square - also cut off the selvages which tend to pucker.  You can still use the pattern since you have a nice rectangle (although it may be smaller than 18 x 22).  Cut the pieces as shown in the instructions, simply cutting the halves and quarters from your existing size.  It works fine.  This is an adorable pattern, and I'm enjoying making the aprons as gifts for all of my friends.

Celina said:
Celina's picture
I have been thinking about buying myself a cute apron lately (and Anthropologie, of course, has all the cute ones at a price I can't afford yet), so I am thrilled to find something that looks easy and cost-effective and lovely. smilies/cheesy.gif
The easy part's a real winner, I have only basic sewing skills.. so far anyway smilies/wink.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@TheresaA - this apron might work fine for you as is. It has pretty full coverage, measuring 31" from side to side at the level of the ties. This is almost 10" wider than some aprons. If you wanted additional width, we recommend adding that width in the outer panels. Figure out how much you want to go beyond the 31" to get the coverage you prefer, then split that amount in half and add half to each outer panel. Of course, these additional inches mean it won't work with the fat quarter split we've described above, but you could certainly use regular fabric cuts in similar sizes. Hope that helps.
TheresaA said:
TheresaA's picture
Hi, I am a plus size gal, what adjustments could I make so this would work out (size 26) , Thanks so much! Love it and your site !
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi KitKat1977... how great that you've made this. We don't have our photo sharing option in place quite yet. We'd love to see a pix via email. You can use our contact form. Thanks!
KitKat1977 said:
KitKat1977's picture
I just finished making mine & love it! Is there a way to upload a picture for sharing?
Stacy said:
Stacy's picture
This is really cute. Would also be a great use of fabric scraps!
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
I'm so happy you are liking the fat quarter apron. I have to say, it was surprisingly easy and fast to make. Started and finished in one short evening. For knitpurlgrrl -- the square pincushion is a Heather Bailey free pattern (http://www.heatherbaileydesign...reDeal.pdf) and those flat button pins are WONDERFUL. Probably picked them up at Joann's. They are very flat and easy to handle and if you drop one you can see it right away. smilies/smiley.gif
knitpurlgrrl said:
knitpurlgrrl's picture
Fabulous tutorial. Thanks for sharing this with us.
knitpurlgrrl said:
knitpurlgrrl's picture
I love your square blue pincushion and your button topped basting pins. smilies/grin.gif
knitpurlgrrl said:
knitpurlgrrl's picture
Brilliant use of large print fat quarters! I love it!
jneuman88 said:
jneuman88's picture
Great idea for those beautiful large-scale prints that you hate to cut into small pieces ... love it!

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