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Italiano Kitchen: Mama Apron

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We love aprons here at Sew4Home. So we knew our Italiano Kitchen would not be complete without them. In fact, it would not be complete without two of them: one for Mama and one for Bambina (it debuts tomorrow). Inspired by those wonderful 1960s dresses Sophia Loren wore in her movies, our apron design combines a lovely wrapped front with a full, peek-a-boo skirt. It looks oh-so sophisticated and rather complex to make. But... no tears, no drama, no throwing of plates. In true S4H-fashion, we keep the sophistication, but lose the complexity. Construction is step-by-step easy.

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, the bodice is approximately 18" wide across the bottom of the bodice. The skirt is approximately 27" wide and 16" in length. The waist ties are each approximately 25" long from the sides of the skirt; the neck ties are each approximately 23" long. The bodice is about 10" high from the bottom of the bodice to the bodice/tie seam at the shoulder.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1-5/8 yards of 44-45" wide print fabric: we used Alphabeto Italiano Collezione by Michael Miller Fabrics in Black Parole Italiano
  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide contrasting print fabric: we used Alphabeto Italiano Collezione by Michael Miller Fabrics in Mustard Cha Cha Stripe
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing: you need just enough to cut one 2" x 28" strip for the waistband
  • 1 package of double fold bias tape: we used bright red
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric pen, pencil or chalk
  • Cutting mat & rotary cutter
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Ironing board and iron
  • For the optional tattered flower you'll need one 2" x 44" strip of fabric 
    (we used a leftover scrap of the Cha Cha Stripe)

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Mama Apron Bib Pattern.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of FOUR 8.5" x 11" sheets. You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Butt the pages together in order to create the full pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together.
    NOTE: For this pattern PAGE 2 IS BLANK, which is correct. It's just the way the PDF file prints in order for pages 3 and 4 to be in the correct position. You can use blank page 2 to write out this week's grocery list.
  3. Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
  4. From the main print fabric (Black Parole Italiano in our sample), and using the downloaded pattern, cut:
    TWO Apron Bibs
    TWO Apron Bib linings
    NOTE: You need to cut out your two sets of two pieces with your fabric folded either right sides together or wrong sides together. That way you end up with one Right side and one Left side. I like wrong sides together so I can fussy cut my designs.
    ONE Right Skirt Panel 32½" wide x 17" high
    ONE Left Skirt Panel 22" wide x 17" high
    NOTE: My "Right" and "Left" notations are as you WEAR the apron, ie. the pocket is on the right side when you have it on. When you look at the apron lying flat on your work surface, it would be reversed with the larger pocket-panel to your left and the two-piece panel to your right. If that doesn't mess with your head, I don't know what will!
  5. Transfer all pattern markings to your fabric.
  6. From the contrasting print fabric (Mustard Cha Cha Stripe in our sample), cut:
    ONE Under Skirt Panel 12" x 17"
    TWO 2½" x 28" strips for the waist band
    FOUR 2½" x 28" strips for the waist band ties
    TWO 4½" x 24" strips for the neck ties
    NOTE: If you are using a directional print for the contrasting fabric, such as the cool stripe we used, fussy cut the waist band and waist band ties so the strips will match as one continuous band.
  7. Cut ONE 2" x 28" strip of lightweight fusible interfacing for the waistband.
  8. Place the Right Skirt Panel (main fabric, 32½" x 17" piece) right side up and flat on your work surface so you can mark it for pocket placement. With your fabric pen/pencil and see-through ruler, mark 10" in from the outside edge of the skirt (the left edge as you look at it) and 3" down from upper edge. This point will be the upper outside corner of the pocket.
  9. Looking at the fabric where you made your pocket marking above, cut TWO pocket pieces 6" x 6½"; one piece should be especially carefully fussy cut to match the design of the skirt. This will be the front of the pocket. It might help to make a 6" x 6½" pattern from tracing paper and use it to fussy cut the design. Place the tracing paper on the skirt panel and trace a bit of the motif. Then, bring the pattern to your remaining fabric and move it around on the motifs until your tracings match, and cut your pocket.

At Your Sewing Machine

Right Skirt Panel

  1. Place the two pocket pieces right sides together. Sew around three sides with a ¼" seam allowance, pivoting at the bottom corners and leaving the upper edge open.
  2. Trim the corners and turn right side out. Press. Finish the upper edge with bias binding, turning under the ends of the bias binding so they are even with the finished sides of the pocket.
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    NOTE: If you are new to bias binding, take a look at our tutorial: Bias Tape: How to Make It & Attach It .
  3. Position the pocket right side up on the right side of the Right Skirt Panel (yep... that's three rights, which do NOT make a wrong). Align your marked point with the upper outside corner of the finished pocket. Pin in place.
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  4. Edgestitch along both sides and the bottom of the pocket, leaving the bound upper edge open. Remember to pivot at the corners and back-tack at each upper edge.
  5. Make a narrow double-fold hem along the outside edge and lower edge of the Right Skirt Panel. To do this fold the edge under ¼" and press, then fold under ¼" a second time and press. Edgestitch in place close to the folded edge.
    NOTE: If you are new to hemming, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make a Simple Hem .
  6. The inside edge of the Right Skirt Panel is still raw. The lower inside corner of this panel needs to be rounded to create the peek-a-boo overlap. To do this, use a large bowl or plate as a template. Place the bowl/plate at the corner, and trace around the outside edge, blending your curved line into the straight lines of the side and bottom. Trim along the marked line. Yes ... you will be trimming off a bit of your lower edge hem; that's okay, we'll bind over it.
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  7. Finish the right side of the skirt panel with bias binding. Start at the very top, follow the curve and end 1" beyond the curve along the bottom. Turn under the end of the bias binding to match the bottom hem.
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Left Skirt & Underskirt Panels

  1. The Under Skirt Panel will be sewn to the Left Skirt Panel with a flat felled seam. To do this, first stitch the two pieces right sides together along one 17" side, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the sewn seam. Trim back the seam allowance of the Under Skirt Panel ONLY (the Cha Cha stripe in our sample) to ¼".
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  2. Fold the Left Skirt Panel seam allowance (the Black Parole in our sample) over the trimmed seam allowance, matching the raw edge of the main print to the seam line. Press.
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  3. Turn this 'wrapped' seam toward the Under Skirt Panel (the stripe in our sample) , hiding the raw edge. Press.
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  4. Edgestitch the folded-over seam allowance in place. The photo below shows you what the finished flat felled seam looks like from both sides. This is the kind of seam you find on most jeans.
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  5. Looking at your newly-sewn Left Skirt/Underskirt Panel while it's laying flat and right side up, make a narrow double-fold hem along the outside edges and lower edge. To do this, as above, fold the edge under ¼" and press, then fold under ¼" a second time and press. Edgestitch in place close to the folded edges.
  6. Overlap the skirt panels, Right Skirt Panel over Left Skirt/Underskirt Panel. Match the bias-trimmed edge to the flat felled seam. Pin in place along the upper edge.
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  7. Create two lines of gathering stitches along the top of the skirt. To do this, stitch two lines of machine basting along the entire top edge of the overlapped skirt panels. Do not back-tack either end. One line should be approximately 1/8" from the upper edge. The second line should be approximately 3/8" from the upper edge.
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy .
  8. Set the apron skirt aside. Do not gather yet.

The apron bib

  1. Fold each 4½ x 24" neck tie in half lengthwise (so it is now 2¼" x 24") and stitch with a ¼" seam along the length of the tie and across one end, pivoting at the corners.
  2. Trim the corners, turn right side out through the open end, and press flat. Set aside.  
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  3. Cut two 16" lengths of bias binding.
  4. Press the bias binding open to remove the folds.
  5. Pin one strip of bias binding right sides together along the inside edge (the curved edge) of one Apron Bib piece.
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  6. Stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Press the seam toward the bias binding.
  7. Pin the remaining raw edge of that bias binding right sides together with the curved inside edge of one Apron Bib Lining piece.
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  8. Stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Press the seam toward the bias binding.
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  9. Repeat steps 4-8 to create the second Bib/Binding/Lining pair.
  10. Fold each Apron Bib/Lining unit right sides together. Press.
  11. Open each unit back up, and insert the unfinished end of a neck tie between each bib and bib lining. Pin in place. The edge of the tie should align with the middle of the bias binding
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  12. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the tie end and along the underarm seam of the Apron Bib. Clip the upper corner.
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  13. Turn right sides out through the bottom edge and press well. You've created a lovely bound edge along the front curved edge of the bib and a continuous look to the top of the apron and the tie.
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  14. Edgestitch the bias binding to secure the layers.
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  15. Mark each bib for the position of the gathers. Refer to the original positioning dots on the pattern piece.
  16. On each piece, machine baste between the dots 1/8" from the edge and then again 3/8" from the edge. Do not back-tack at either end. Pull up the threads to gather from 2" to 1". Knot the tails to secure. This gathering creates some fullness in the top of the apron in lieu of darts.
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  17. Overlap the two Apron Bib pieces, aligning the center fronts as shown on the original pattern. Pin in place, then machine baste in place all along the lower edge.
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Waist band and ties and final assembly

  1. Find the two waistband strips and the four waistband tie strips. Pair two tie strips with each waistband strip.
  2. Following manufacturer's directions, center the strip of interfacing on the wrong side of one waistband piece and fuse in place.
  3. Pin each set of three strips together, attaching a tie at either side of the waistband along the 2½" edges. Sew the three strips together, using a ½" seam allowance.
  4. You now have two waistband/tie strips that are 2½" x 82".
  5. Match these two strips right sides together, lining up all raw edges.
  6. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, measure and mark the openings needed in the waistband to insert the apron bib and apron skirt. You can fold the strip in half to find the center and mark it with a pin to help insure the openings are perfectly centered. You need a 18" opening along the top of the waistband and a 30" opening along the bottom of the waist band.
  7. Stitch the two waistband/tie pieces together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Start at the bottom opening, stitch along one side, pivot at the corner, stitch up across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to the top opening. Back tack.
  8. Remove from machine. Move to the other end of the top opening. Start stitching again, down one side, pivot at the corner, stitch across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to the bottom opening. Clip all four corners at a diagonal, being careful not to clip into your seam.
  9. Turn right side out through the middle opening. Press. Make sure you press the opening seam allowances in ¼" so the raw edges are flush with the sewn edges. Reach in to the corner points with a blunt-edged tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick, to help push out the seam and make a nice point. Press well.
  10. Edgestitch along your finished seams, pivoting at all corners, and leaving the top and bottom openings free and clear as you did above.
  11. Find your completed Apron Bib.
  12. Insert the bib into the top opening (the 18" opening) of the waistband. Pin in place.
  13. Edgestitch the apron bib in place, being careful your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece. The bottom of the waistband/ties piece is still open.
  14. Find your completed Apron Skirt.
  15. Pull the two rows of machine basting threads to gather the skirt to fit the bottom opening of the waistband/ties piece. You will need to gather the skirt to approximately 27-28". Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
  16. Insert the gathered top of the skirt into the opening in the bottom of your waistband.
  17. Edgestitch the skirt in place, being careful your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece.

Hints and Tips

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We pinned a pretty tattered flower to the waistband of our apron at the point of where the top and bottom overlaps meet. If you'd like to create one for your apron, you'll find the complete step-by-step instructions in our tutorial: Tattered Flowers For Embellishment.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation and Instructional Editing: Michele Mishler



Comments (42) said:'s picture

I was trying to get the instructions and pattern for the Italiano Bambina Apron but the "read more" link doesn't work; it goes to a witch hat and so do the comments. Please help.

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

Sorry to say that this pattern is a sad disappointment. The bib size provided is certainly adequate for tomboy-type stick-figure women who entirely lack curves. I've just wasted a wonderful piece of fabric (and an entire day of sewing, to add to the misery) on this apron, which, I am quite confident to say, not even the petites among my friends will be able to wear. I love the ideas on your website and the clear instructions, so it was very shattering to find that in this case, the pattern design was not up to scratch. Maybe you could add size options or recommendations in the future to avoid similar experiences?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

This is an older project that has been made many times. We've not had any complaints before about sizing. Our model was a about a woman's size 8, and it fit her without issue. We have compiled all the sizing shown throughout the project steps into one summary paragraph in the intro - perhaps this will be helpful for you and others. I'm so sorry to hear you were disappointed. The sizing is consistent throughout the instructions, and we do always recommend reading through the steps once or twice before starting any project to insure it all makes sense. 

pat wallsten said:
pat wallsten's picture

I HAVE to have this fabric!!! Can not locate it on any site. Can you direct me where I can get it?? Thanks.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ pat wallsten - As you can see above, this aritcle originally posted in 2010. Like fashionable apparel, popular fabrics come and go; at some point, even the most amazing fabrics are no longer in stores or online. You can try Googling the fabric name along with the designer's name or the design house, for example: "Alfabeto Italiano Collezione" and Michael Miller Fabrics. Prints from older collections can also sometimes be found from individual sellers on Etsy or eBay.

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

I have tried for 2 days and even changed my ink but i get the pictures but no print. I thought this was a nice pattern to make for a daughter in law and her daughter but so far lots of paper waste.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Anonymous - we checked both the PDF button and the print button for this article (the icons directly to the right of the aricle's title) and both are operating correctly on our end, showing both the photos and the instructions. We also tested on a couple of different browsers, but were unable to replicate the problem you describe. So sorry you are experiencing problems, but we cannot find any problems with delivery. 

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

its very very good. i can learn beneficial things.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
@ elleasea - Because we don't actually draft and sell our patterns, we do not specifically size them, instead opting to get them as close to a "standard or general" size as possible. Not necessarily "one size fits all" but close. Your best bet is going to be to print out the pattern pieces and make a little paper prototype with the sizing as is. Hold it up to yourself and see what you think. Add inches all around to get your best fit. I would leave the darts, it really helps with the shape. Also - remember that with this design, you get a lot of fitting leeway because of long neck and waist ties.
elleasea said:
elleasea's picture
Any advice on where to enlarge the bib for larger breasts? Can it be done without darts?
Annie Lou Ricci said:
Annie Lou Ricci's picture
How wonderful is this ?????? I need to make one ////not to cook in but to raft in .....
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
@jallen5 -- that's great! I knew you could do it.
jallen5 said:
jallen5's picture
That does help,thank you. I am trying to figure out the apron bib part now, but I think I can get it. The openning of the bias tape for the bib needs to go towards the seam, right?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
@jallen5 - Sorry you are having troublesmilies/shocked.gif. Did you happen to click through and take a look at our original bias binding tutorial? That might help you visualize how to do it. Here is the link again:

Yes, it is one continuous piece of binding along the top of the pocket, and Yes the binding encases the top raw edges of the pocket. I think the tutorial will help if you are new to doing bias binding.
jallen5 said:
jallen5's picture
i am making this apron right now and the pocket turned out a little weird at the bias tape part. was it supposed to be done with one continuous strip of bias tape? also, are the seam allowances for the pocket supposed to be sewn in to the bias tape at the top? i'm a new sewist, so i don't really know what i'm doing! thank you
dandycandi said:
dandycandi's picture
I was looking at this cute apron and thinking wouldn't that be cute as a top over a tees shirt or long sleeve shirt use not a cooking theme but mix and match the fabric I:am going to try it. it would be different a different look for sure!
siber said:
siber's picture
Thank you! Now I see it. I really do like this apron, thank you for the pattern, it is adorable!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hi siber -- I know there are a lot of steps and pictures up there, but the info is really there - I promise smilies/cheesy.gif. The outer edges of the panels are edgestitched. See Right Skirt Panel step 5 and Left Skirt Panel step 5. The kick panel is secured in the waistband seam so it hangs free under the front panel. You finish that outer edge during that same Left Skirt Panel step 5. Have fun, this is an darling apron when complete!
siber said:
siber's picture
What about the outside hems of the apron bottom sides? And does the stripe inside piece hang free behind the right bottom piece or do you tack it down?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hello acwink! Yay -- it worked smilies/grin.gif. Thanks for the pix. Great fabric - love that turquoise!
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Thanks so much, Liz!! I'll send you a link to a picture when I'm done with mine. I think it will turn out pretty. Thank you for helping me out today.

I'm sure the princess flair would look so nice!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Alrighty then, acwink -- I chatted with my seamstress on the project, and she'd made some additional changes to futz with the width of the ties that I didn't realize. There was a hard fix and an easy fix -- we're going with the easy fix: cut the ties: 4-1/2" x 24" and forge ahead. You'll end up with ties that are 1-3/4", which is a bit wider than traditional ties, but will still tie just fine into a pretty bow or knot. Thanks for hanging in there with us. Part of my delay was the the fact that Michael Miller Fabrics loved these aprons so much, we sent them the Mama apron for their booth at Quilt Market and so I didn't have it here at the studio to look at! MMF made their own version of the Bambina apron in one of their new prints for the booth as well -- they added frilly net along the bottom edge so it had a "princess flair" smilies/grin.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hmmmmmm ... some deconstruction is necessary as all my notes show 3" -- please stand by.
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Thank you! But wait!! The bambina ties were fine. When I made it I had no problems with it. It's the mom's ties that are too narrow if you cut them at 3". I think they should be cut to 4.5" so when you fold them and sew them, the width matches the top of the bib. Does it make sense?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hello acwink-of-the-many-questions smilies/cheesy.gif! You are right ... so I'm always happy when people ask. Our seamstress missed both of these steps. I've added the step, directing you when to hem the Left Skirt/Underskirt panel. And, I adjusted the cut width for the Bambina ties from 3" to 1-3/4". Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the catch!
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Oh, and another thing: There are no instructions to hem the left skirt panel. I assume it should be after right step 4 of the "Left Skirt Panel" section.

OK, I'll be quiet now.....
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Hello, again! It's me, acwink, the one with the endless questions, how are you? smilies/grin.gif
I made the bambina apron a few months ago and now I'm working on the mommy apron. I was wondering if by any chance the dimensions of the neck ties might be incorrect. They are the same width as the bambina apron (3") yet the mom's bibs are much wider! When I align the edge of the tie with the middle of the bias binding (step 11 of the bib construction) there's 1 1/4" left over.

I think the ties should be wider. Am I wrong?

I would appreciate it if you could confirm as soon as possible as I need to make this for tomorrow night! Thanks so much!

Bev said:
Bev's picture
I happened to have quite a lot of this fabric on hand because 1. I am a fabric hoarder anf fabric lover, and this fabric is to die for! And 2. because my son and family presently live in Italy. I made this pattern using the exact fabrics for Christmas for my DIL. I'll let you know how crazy (or not) she was about it if it ever arrives there, and when I hear back from her about it. But personally I can tell you that I loved it and will now make one for myself from the same fabric. I love Italy too!
April said:
April   's picture
This is just what I have been looking for! I can't wait to make one for a gift and one for myself, and my daughter... Yay!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hi again .... as your fourth grade teacher said, "there are no bad questions." You only need the one piece and just attach it to the wrong side of ONE of the two waistband pieces. Thanks for asking -- it helps to clarify.
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Hi there, it's me again with my annoying questions! smilies/grin.gif
You indicate we have to cut ONE 2" x 28" strip of interfacing for the waistband, yet later we need to "center a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of each waistband piece and fuse in place." Should we actually cut TWO pieces of interfacing or divide the one we cut in two, or only apply interfacing to one of the waistbands strips?

Thank you!!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Hi acwink -- glad you like the apron... and yes, page 2 is intentionally blank. That's kinda confusing, huh? I'm going to add a note about it above. It's just the way the PDF prints it out in order to get page 3 and 4 in the correct position. Thanks for asking!
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Hi there, thank you for this tutorial. Question: Is page 2 of the PDF supposed to be blank? Thanks!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
As with most aprons, the length of the waist and neck ties allow this apron to be very adjustable. We were able to cinch it up to fit on our model's 12-year-old daughter, of course it fit our model, a petite size 4-6 just great, but we also tested it on folks who normally wear up to a women's size 12-14. Because the top is a bit more fitted, if your wearer is larger on top, you would probably want to enlarge the apron's bib.
Gail Marie said:
Gail Marie's picture
Can you give an idea of the size of this apron? The model appears to be very petite, so I wonder if this is a size small apron. Thank you.
Judith Ann said:
Judith Ann's picture
I love this fabric and want some to cover the binder for my Italian class. My fellow students are going to love it!

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