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June is 4 Home Improvement: Mom's Favorite Apron

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With summer comes time to do some much needed chores around the house. There's the wonderful bounty from the gardens and orchards to pick, can and bake into pretty pies. There are painting projects calling your name. And isn't it time to freshen up your décor with new pillows or curtains? Of course, you'll whistle while you work, but you should also be wearing your favorite apron! For this, I want you to close your eyes and imagine your mom, your grandma or maybe even your favorite next door neighbor. The woman who was always wearing an apron as she bustled through her household chores. Maybe she's hanging sheets on the line, maybe sweeping off the front steps with an old wooden broom, maybe pulling her umpteenth cherry pie warm from the oven. The fabric was a pretty little print in fresh spring colors. It was long enough to cover all the way to her knees, and soft enough to float in the breeze from her open kitchen windows. That apron... her apron... is what we have for you today.

Do you have the picture in your mind? Then open your eyes... you'll need them for the instructions, which you'll be pleasantly surprised to find out are very quick and easy. Our design is so clever, you only need one pattern piece, which we provide as a free download, for the armhole cut outs. Everything else is made of simple rectangles!

Our sweet fabric is from the California Girl collection by Joanna Figueroa for Moda Fabrics. Leave it to Joanna to come up with the perfect nostalgic combination of design and palette, and then give it just a bit of a modern twist. You'll also love her newest collection, which debuted at Spring Market: Honeysweet. Of course, this is just one of the multitude of gorgeous cottons available. The secret to the vintage feel is a pretty tiny print in soft colors.

We used a lightweight interfacing for the top of the bodice, neck strap and pocket. If you want a super-soft and slouchy feel, this can be omitted. However, we would recommend placing at least a bit of interfacing at the upper corners of the bodice to support the buckles.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • 1⅓-2 yards of 44-45" wide print fabric for the apron front, pocket and straps
    NOTE: The variation is because of the optional bias cut for the neck tie. If you'd like to cut on the bias, purchase the larger amount. 
  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide solid fabric for the apron lining, ties and pocket accent; we used Bella Broadcloth by Moda Fabrics in Ivory from Fabric.com
  • ¾ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing for the pocket, neck strap and bodice
  • 2½ yards (one package) of coordinating piping; we used Wrights Maxi Piping in light orange, similar to this
  • Two 1" overall buckles; we used Dritz Overall Buckles with No-Sew Buttons
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam ripper
  • Seam gauge
  • Straight pins
  • Small hammer

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the Apron Cut Out Part One and Apron Cut Out Part Two templates.
    IMPORTANT: Each template is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines. Butt the pieces together at the arrows as indicated on the templates. Do not overlap. Tape together to form the complete template.
  3. Fold the apron lining (Bella Broadcloth in our sample) and the apron front fabric (California Girl in our sample) in half (so they are now both 22" wide).
  4. Using the folded edge as one long side, from each fabric cut ONE rectangle 21" x 16½" tall. Do not cut the fold.
  5. While the fabric piece is still folded, align the assembled Apron Cut Out Template in the upper right corner (the raw edges corner, not the folded corner) and trim out that shape to create the arm hole.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Do this for both the front fabric folded piece and the lining fabric folded piece.
  7. You now have two finished main body pieces that, when unfolded, should measure 21" high x 33" with two armhole cuts.
  8. From the remaining print fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 11" wide x 13" high rectangle for the pocket
    TWO 3½" x 30" strips for the ties
    ONE 3½" x 28 strip ON THE BIAS for the neck strap
    ONE 14" x WOF (width of fabric) strip for the bottom ruffle
    NOTE: Cutting the neck strap on the bias is not 100% necessary, but it does allow the strap to gently curve, which makes it lay nicely around the neck.
  9. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 10" x 6" rectangle for the pocket
    ONE 2½" x 27" strip for the neck strap
    Using the apron top piece as a pattern, cut a piece of interfacing to match the top edge and armhole curves and that is approximately 9-10" in depth.
    NOTE: You simply want enough interfacing to give the top of the apron a little bit of body and provide extra support for the overall buckles.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Press all pieces to remove any wrinkles.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing pieces to the WRONG side of all the corresponding apron front pieces (the print fabric pieces) as follows: on the bodice piece, align the top edge and the armhole curves. On the neck strap, center the interfacing down the length of the strap. On the interior pocket piece, first fold the fabric in half, making it 6½" x 11. Press a center crease. Open up the fabric again and align the top of the interfacing with the crease line. This will leave a ½" of fabric extending along both sides and across the bottom.

Attach piping to apron front

  1. Cut the piping to fit the top of the bodice and the bottom edge of the apron top. You want to piping to extend beyond the fabric edges on both ends to allow for any shifting. You'll trim it flush when it's stitched in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Pin the piping in place, aligning the raw edges of the piping's insertion tape and the fabric.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Attach your zipper foot.
  4. Stitch the piping in place, using a ¼" seam allowance along the top of the bodice, and stitching right along the piping's seam to attach the bottom. This bottom seam will be about a ⅜" seam allowance, but use the piping's stitching as your guide rather than your needle plate markings.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Trim the piping flush with the edges of the fabric. Don't worry about cutting through your seam line, it will be secured into the final side seams in a later step.
  6. Set the apron top aside.

Make and place the waist ties

  1. Find the two 3½" x 30" waist ties. Both ties are created in the exact same manner.
  2. Fold the strip in half right sides together so it is now 1¾" x 30".
  3. Switch back to your regular presser foot.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch one end and the long side. Leave the opposite end open for turning. Remember to pivot at the corners.
  5. Clip the corners. Turn the tube right side out. We used our hemostat trick. Square up the corners with a long, blunt-end tool, and press well.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Place the ties on the apron front. One waist tie should be pinned at each side ⅜" below the bottom of the arm hole curve.
  7. The raw ends of the ties should be flush with the raw edges of the apron front. Pin the tails of the ties to the middle of the apron to keep them out of the way of the final seam.
    Click to Enlarge

Assemble the apron top

  1. Place the apron lining right sides together with the apron front, sandwiching the ties and the sewn piping in between the two layers.
  2. Pin well, making sure your ties don't shift position. If you are unsure of your pinning accuracy, you could baste the ties in place prior to layering the lining and the front.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Using a ⅜" seam allowance (we are using this slightly smaller seam allowance because that is the width of the piping's insertion tape), stitch along the sides, around the arm hole curves, and across the top. Leave the entire bottom open.
  4. Go slowly to keep your arm hole curve nice and even. Backstitch over each of the ties for extra stability.
  5. When done, clip all the corners and the curves.
  6. Turn right side out through the bottom opening. Use a long, blunt-end tool to poke out and square all the corners, smooth out the curves and push out the piping along the top edge; a chopstick works nicely.
  7. Pull out the ties. Press well.
    Click to Enlarge

Make and insert the bottom ruffle

  1. Find the 14" x WOF strip.
  2. Make a ¼" double-turn hem along both sides and across the bottom. We used our favorite clean finished corners. If you are new to hemming, as well as this cornering technique, take a look at our tutorial.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Run two lines of gathering stitches along the top raw edge. Softly gather the strip to fit the bottom apron opening, approximately 32".
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, we have a tutorial on the subject.
    Click to Enlarge

Finish the edges of the bottom opening and insert the ruffle

  1. Fold under the bottom of the apron front. You are folding right on the piping seam line, so the raw edges will turn in, leaving a clean line of piping along the bottom.
  2. Fold under the raw edge of the lining to match. It will be an approximate ⅜" fold, however, rather than using your seam gauge, use the piping itself as your guide. I held the fold in place with pins as I moved across the bottom.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Press lightly over the pins to set the folds.
  4. Insert the gathered strip into the bottom opening.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Even out the gathers if necessary. The hemmed edges of the gathered strip should be flush against the edges of the opening. Pin in place.
    NOTE: I first pinned from the front, then flipped the apron over and added pins along the back as well. I will be sewing along the right side of the apron and so wanted to insure I would catch the hem of the lining. Adding the extra pins helped hold the lining in place. Because you can simply flip up the ruffle and reach in, it was easy to remove the pins from on top and underneath as I stitched. Always stop with your needle in the down position so your fabric doesn't shift.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Take the apron to the machine. The start point should be the side hem of the ruffle. From this start point, stitch ¼" from the piped seam through all the layers across the entire front of the apron.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. As you did at the start of the seam, stop the seam at the side hemline of the ruffle.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Here's the finished seam from the front and the back.
    Click to Enlarge

Make the neck strap

  1. Find the 3½" x 28" bias cut neck strap, to which you should have already fused the appropriate interfacing strip.
  2. Fold the strip in half right sides together so it is now 1¾" x 28".
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch one end, down the long side, stopping in the middle of the long side and leaving an approximate 4" opening for turning. Continue the seam to the end of the long side and across the opposite end.
  4. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the opening.
  5. Clip the corners. Turn the tube right side out. We again used our hemostat trick.
  6. Square up the corners with a long, blunt-end tool.
  7. Fold in the raw edges of the opening used for turning so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  8. Hand stitch the opening closed.
  9. Press well. As mentioned above, when cut on the bias, the neck strap should have a gentle curve to it.

Make the pocket

  1. Find the 11" x 13" pocket piece, to which you should have already fused the appropriate interfacing piece.
  2. As above, pin and then stitch the piping across the top raw edge of the pocket. The piping should extend beyond the edges of the fabric. 
    Click to Enlarge
  3. When the piping is stitched in place, trim the ends flush with the edges of the fabric. As above with the arpon front piping, don't worry about cutting through your seam line, it will be secured into the final side seams.
  4. Fold the pocket in half, right sides together so it is now 11" x 6½". The piping will be sandwiched in between the layers.
  5. Pin along both sides and across the top piped edge. Leave a 3-4" opening along one side for turning.
  6. Switch to your zipper foot again.
  7. Using a ⅜" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the top, remembering the leave the 3-4" opening along one SIDE. Place the pocket under the needle with the piping seam facing up so you can follow along exactly in this seam when stitching across the top of the pocket.
  8. Pivot at the corners and lock your seam at either side of the 3-4" opening.
  9. Trim the seam allowance to ¼" and clip corners at a diagonal, being careful not to cut into your seam.
  10. Turn right side out through the side opening.
  11. Use a long, blunt-end tool, like my fave - a chopstick, to square the corners and gently push the piping into a nice straight line.
  12. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.

Attach the pocket to the apron front

  1. Place the finished pocket on the right side of the apron front, centering the pocket side to side (10¾" from both sides) and with the bottom edge of the pocket 1½" up from the bottom line of piping
  2. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  4. Backstitch at the top corners of the pocket to help secure these areas that will take the most stress.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: You are stitching through both the front and the lining layers to attach the pocket. In many projects, we have you place the pocket first and then sew the front to the lining. However, for this project, because we are using a lightweight cotton, we felt it was best to attach the pocket through both layers for the best stability. The apron is not meant to be reversible, so this won't hurt the design.

Neck strap and overall buckles

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, attach the overall buttons and buckles. The instructions that came with our Dritz buckles were quite easy, and you get to hit something with a hammer!
  2. Thread the neck strap through the buckles, making sure to not twist the strap loop. Here is what the threading pattern looks like from the front of one buckle and the back of the other.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Mark the position for the buttons. We put ours 1½" in from each side edge and an equal 1½" from the top piped edge.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Insert the button tack from the back through to the front at your marked points.
    NOTE: Do one button at a time.
  5. Flip the apron over and drop the point of the tack into the hollow shank of the button cap.
  6. Make sure your button cap is sitting absolutely flat on a hard surface. I used my cutting mat. When the two pieces are in position, cover up the back of the tack with a piece of fabric to protect it, and WHACK it several times with a hammer. Make your swings strong and even. It takes some force to drive the tack into place and you don't want any twisting.
    Click to Enlarge

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Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson

Other machines suitable for this project include the Husqvarna Viking H-Class H10 and the Elna eXperience 520.

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Comments (2)

Claudine said:
Claudine's picture

Just love love this pattern! And it is exactly what I was looking for! I was never quite happy with the apron patterns I had already used so this one makes my day! thanks for sharing! Greetings from Germany

Cheryl Higa said:
Cheryl Higa's picture

I love your tutorials. They are always clear and easy to follow, and photos just where they're needed. Very cute apron, too.

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