When we moved to the country a few years ago, one of the first differences we noticed were the birds. In the city, there wasn't much in the way of bird diversity. You have pigeons, starlings and crows - not much else. But out here, we're surrounded by a variety of feathered friends singing, swooping and scattering as we drive down the narrow country lanes. The first project in our Nature's Palette series, a sweet apron with accent buttons and a wraparound pocket, uses one of the most beautiful prints in Marjolein's collection: Gathered in Blue is criss-crossed by birds and flowers and set against the beautiful clarity of a summer sky.
When working with dynamic motifs, such as Gathered, it's a nice idea too add a solid color as a way to give your eyes a rest. We used a soft Pearl White Designer Essentials Solid for our apron's waistband, neck ties and pocket binding. The solid breaks up the print, actually making it more dramatic by framing and showcasing it.
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 waistband of this apron is approximately 20" wide, the waist ties are each approximately 29" long, the skirt length is 16", and the bib is about 12" at its widest point (along the bottom) and 9½" high. Our pretty waist ties are extra wide; pleats allow them to be inserted into the narrower waistband.
Our thanks to all our friends at FreeSpirit for selecting us to create the debut project collection for their new Marjolein Bastin collection. Nature's Palette ships this month to in-store and online retailers. Click here for a complete FreeSpirit Dealer Locator. Not all dealers receive and/or display fabrics at the same time. And remember, if your favorite retailer doesn't carry Nature's Palette you can always request a special order.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 2 yards of 44-45" wide fabric for the body of the apron; we used Gathered in Blue (001-Blue) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the accent borders, neck ties and bib lining; we used Designer Essentials Solids in Pearl (S30) from FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ¾ yard of 20" wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 950F Shir-Tailor® by Pellon
- FOUR 1" accent buttons; we used Belle Buttons by Dritz
- 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
- Download and print the TWO 8½" x 11" bib pattern sheets: Apron Bib Part 1 and Apron Bib Part 2.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- Following the arrows on the patterns, butt the two pieces together and tape in place. Do NOT overlap. You now have one complete bib pattern.
- From the fabric for the main body of the apron (Gathered in Blue in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 17" high x 32" wide rectangle for the skirt
TWO 11" high x 32" wide rectangles for the pocket
NOTE: Because our fabric is directional, we could not use a wider piece to fold for the pocket or one side would have been upside down.
TWO 7" x 30" strips for the waist ties
Fussy cut ONE bib, using the pattern
- From the solid fabric (Pearl white in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 3" x 38" strips for the bib border/neck ties
TWO 2½" x 21" strips for the waistband
ONE 3" x 32" strip for the pocket binding
- From the interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 1½" x 20 strip for the waistband
FOUR 1" x 20" strips for the bib border/neck ties
NOTE: You'll need to butt together and slightly trim two pieces to create the finished 37" length for each side.
ONE bib, using the pattern
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the bib interfacing to the wrong side of bib lining.
- Place the interfaced lining right sides together with the main bib piece. Pin in place along the top and bottom. The sides remain unpinned.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Clip the top curve.
- Turn right side out and press flat.
Bib borders and neck ties
- Find the two 3" x 38" solid fabric strips and the four 1" x 20" interfacing strips.
- Fold a fabric strip in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Place two interfacing strips on the wrong side of the fabric, aligning one long side of the interfacing strips with the center crease line of the fabric. Butt together the two interfacing pieces in the center of the fabric strip. Lightly fuse in the center to hold the butted-together pieces in place. Trim away each end of the interfacing strips to ½" in from each end of the fabric. Following manufacturer's instructions, completely fuse the interfacing in place.
- Along the side without interfacing, press in the long raw edge ½"
- Along the side with interfacing, press in the long raw edge ½", which means it will fold right along the edge of the interfacing.
- Press back each end of the strip ¼".
- Repeat to fuse and press the remaining strip.
- Find the apron bib.
- Slip one tie over one side, encasing the raw edge of the apron bib within the fold of the tie. Slide the bib all the way into the tie so its raw edge butts up against the center crease of the tie.
- The interfaced side of the tie should be against the back of the bib, the plain side against the front. The bottom folded edge should be flush with the seamed bottom of the bib.
- Pin in place from the bottom of the bib to the top of the tie.
- Repeat to wrap and pin the remaining tie on the opposite side of the bib.
- If necessary, thread your machine with thread to best match the tie fabric in both the top and the bobbin.
- Edgestitch both ties in place through all the layers. Go slowly to insure your seam is straight and the tie doesn't shift; you want to make sure you catch both the front and back of the tie. Start at the bottom, stitch all the way up to the top, pivot at the top corner and stitch across the end to seal the seam.
- Set the bib aside.
Waist ties and waistband
- Find the two 7" x 30" strips. Fold each in half, right sides together, so they are now 3½" x 30". Pin along one end and down the long side. Leave the opposite end open.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the end and down the long side of both ties. Clip the corners and press the seam open.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Gently poke out the sewn corners with a long, blunt end tool so they are nice and sharp; a chopstick or knitting needle works well. Press flat.
- Find the two 2½" x 21" solid fabric waistband strips and the one 1½" x 20" interfacing strip.
- Following manufacturer's instructions fuse the interfacing strip to the wrong side of one of the fabric strips. It should be centered on the fabric with ½" all around.
- On the the remaining plain strip, fold up one 20" edge ½" and press in place.
- Place the interfaced waistband strip interfaced side up on your work surface.
- Place the raw end of a waist tie flush with the raw end of the waistband strip. Align the bottom edge of the waist tie along the edge of the interfacing, in other words, ½" from the raw edge of fabric strip. Pin in place.
- Fold a pleat into the waist tie to reveal ½" of fabric along the top edge of the waist tie.
- Repeat to pleat and pin the remaining waist tie at the opposite end of the interfaced waistband strip.
- Find the plain waistband strip. Place it right sides together with the interfaced strip, sandwiching the ties in between the layers. Pin together along the top raw edges and across both ends.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both ends and across the top, pivoting at the corners. Your seam should start and stop at the folded edge of the non-interfaced waistband strip as shown in the photo below.
- Clip the corners and press the seam open.
- Turn right side out through the unsewn bottom of the waistband. Pull out the waist ties into position. Press flat.
- Set aside.
Pockets: make, bind and place on skirt panel
- Find the two 11" x 32" pocket panels. Place them right sides together. If you are using a directional print as we did, make sure the directions match so motif will be right side up on both the front and back when sewn and turned.
- Pin the panels together along the bottom edge only.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the bottom edge.
- Press the seam open turn the panels right side out so they are now wrong sides together. Machine baste the raw side edges together.
- Find the 3" x 32" solid strip. Fold the strip in half wrong sides together so it's now 1½" x 32". Press to set a center crease. Fold in each 32" edge ½" towards the center crease to create a binding.
- Slip this binding over the top raw edges of the pocket panels. Slide the pocket panels all the way into the binding so their raw edges butt up against the center crease of the binding.
- Pin in place.
- If necessary, thread your machine with thread to best match the binding fabric in both the top and the bobbin.
- Edgestitch the binding in place through all the layers. Go slowly to insure your seam is straight and the binding doesn't shift; you want to make sure you catch both the front and back of the binding.
- Find the main skirt panel. Along the bottom 32" edge, make a ½" double turn hem. To do this, fold up ½" and press. Fold up an additional ½" and press again. Stitch in place close to the fold.
- Place the hemmed skirt panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the pocket right side up on the skirt panel. The raw edges along the sides should be aligned. The bottom of the pocket should be 1½" up from the bottom hemmed edge of the skirt.
- Edgestich the pocket in place along the bottom edge.
- To finish the skirt, make a ¼" double turn hem along both sides. To do this, fold back each side ¼" and press. Fold back an additional ¼" and press again.
- Stitch in place close to the fold along both sides.
- Place the finished skirt panel pocket side up and flat on your work surface. Measure and mark for the pocket divisions. Measure 10" in from the left hemmed side and draw a vertical line to follow. Then, measure 10" from the right hemmed side and draw a vertical line to follow. Make sure the fabric pen or pencil you are using will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air; you are working on the right side of the fabric.
- Stitch along each drawn line to create the pocket divisions. If possible, use a lock stitch to start and end your seam or leave your thread tails long and knot to secure. This will look neater than backstitching.
Gather skirt and attach waistband
- Fold the skirt panel in half to find the center and mark with a pin along the top edge.
- Fold the waistband in half to find and mark its center point as well.
- Run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt. To do this, stitch two lines of machine basting approximately ⅜" from the top edge. Do not lock the beginning or end of the seam.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial on Making Gathers by Machine.
- Pin the raw edge of the waistband, right sides together, to the gathered top raw edge of the skirt, matching the center pin points.l
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew across the width of the skirt through both layers. Sew with the gathered skirt lyaer on top so you can see the gathers and make sure they stay even and don't fold over on themselves.
- Press the seam allowance up towards the waistband.
- Bring the folded edge of the waistband down into place on the back so it covers the gathered seam. Pin in place.
- Thread a hand sewing needle and whip stitch the waistband in place across the entire back edge of the waistband.
Final buttons and buttonholes
- Lay the finished skirt on top of the finished bib, aligning the bottom of the bib with the bottom edge of the waistband.
- Place pins along the waistband to mark the center point for each button. You can use the markings on the original bib pattern or simply measure and evenly space. Our button center points were approximate 3½" apart.
- Following the directions in your sewing machine's manual, make four horizontal buttonholes to fit your buttons.
- When the buttonholes are complete and cut open. Again lay the finished skirt on top of the finished bib, aligning the bottom of the bib with the bottom edge of the waistband.
- Place a pin through center point of each buttonhole to the bib behind to make sure your original four marked points are still correct. To further check your work, measure between the re-marked points with a seam gauge to make sure they are truly even. The buttons are a focal point along the waistband; you want them to be even!
- Hand stitch a button in place at each point.
- Button the bib to the skirt.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild