My original intention for this blog is to include all things domestic, from food to sewing to chickens (Yes, chickens). Now, it has been pretty food heavy so far, and I’m pleased to present my inaugural sewing entry! Ta-da! Aprons!
Yes I realize the irony here. I still haven’t gotten away from the food aspect of things completely. But if you really think about it the original purpose of an apron was to protect a woman’s dress from everyday dirt while cleaning, gardening, taking care of kids, collecting eggs, milking the cow, and yes of course cooking since most women only owned a few dresses. They had to take care of their handmade investments and keep their garments from being scorched by the fire.
In my case aprons serve a similar purpose (minus the scorching part) as I have a terrible habit of wiping my hands on my cloths, especially my pants, while I’m working – be it cooking, cleaning, or gardening. So I thought it would be fun to spread the love and clean cloths, and make aprons for several of my friends for Christmas. My mission was 6 aprons in one week. I surprised myself by finishing all of them in 2 and a half days. I’ll have you know that I was not sewing sunrise to sunset either. Which goes to show that this simple pattern process moves swiftly once you’ve got your fabrics picked out.
Each apron only cost me a couple bucks because I used old pillowcases from Thrift Stores, and other fabrics I’ve acquired from my local Freecycle.org group. Also, using old pillow cases for the base of this apron makes starting out more simple because the edge of the pillow case is conveniently hemmed for you, and often has a really pretty pattern. Giving gifts like this is meaningful because you made something with your own hands, and made it especially for someone you love. Plus it just makes sense for someone on a budget!
This basic pattern is easy to adapt and use other fabrics for the waistband, and pocket, if you want contrasting fabrics. It can also be done entirely with one pillowcase. In that case, instead of using the second half of the pillowcase for just the waistband. Cut the pillow case in half once. Cut the half with the closed end in half again. From those two pieces, but the half with the closed side in half length-wise, so you have two four sided squares with two sides closed on each piece. Those can be pockets. The left over piece can then be cut in half width-wise so you have two strips for the waistband.
Here is my version –
Fabric: When I saw this wonderful red polka dot pillow case I immediately thought of my dear friend Grace. It is as spunky and bright as she is. I decided to pair it with a floral patterned pillow case. I like the touches of yellow and green against the red.
Notions: To add a little flair I chose lace and rick-rack. The contrast goes well with Miss Grace since she’s as sweet and soft as she is strong and determined.
Tools: In addition to a sewing machine, and thread (I used white thread for all 6 aprons) your best friends will be an iron, tape measure, pins, and sharp scissors (make sure you never use your sewing shears to cut paper, it dulls the heck out of scissors).
Step 1: Make sure to wash and iron your pillowcases so your cutting will be straighter. Then, take the pillowcase that will be your base and it cut in half width-wise. If you’re particular measure from one end to the other with your measuring tape to find the middle. (I wasn’t very precise at this point. I just kind of figure it out as I go, I suppose.)
Step 2: With the top half of the pillow case (the closed end) cut in half again width-wise.
Step 3: These two pieces will become the waistband on your apron. Cut off the seam that is on the inside edges at the ends of each piece as well as the one along the length of the closed side. So then you have two long lengths of fabric, more or less equal (Mine are always a little bit crooked).
Step 4: Sew the two pieces together along the end, you’ll want to use a basic running stitch. Make sure that the back sides of the pattern face out. Sew a few stitches, then back stitch a few, continue sewing almost to the end and back stitch a few stitches then sew off the end. Lift foot, pull fabric out from machine. Clip thread ends on fabric.
Step 5: Iron the seam so that it is open on the pattern side, and folded to one side on the back.
Step 6: Iron the waistband in half across the entire length.
Step 7: Open the waistband, and iron the all four edges in – along the length and at the ends.
Step 8: To make a tapered end, keep the ironed edge folded in and fold both corners of each end of the waistband in toward the center fold.
Step 9: Fold back along the center fold and check to make sure the edges are even along the length of the waistband. They don’t have to match perfectly, but they must be close so that you don’t miss sewing one side when you attach it to the base of the apron.
Step 10: Re-iron the length of the waistband in this folded position.
Step 11: Now we’re going to attach the waistband to the apron base. Lay out the apron and waistband on a table or the floor. Place your waist band along the cut side of the second half of your apron that you created with the first cut – this is your base. Pick which side you want to be the front of both the waist band and the base. Insert the cut side of the base in between the folds of the waistband, that you ironed out so well. Use your measuring tape to center the base along the waistband. Also be sure to make the bottom of the apron even with the bottom of the waist band, I measured along a spot on the left, middle and right of the apron to make sure the bottom was even.
Step 12: Pin the waist band to the apron base. Be sure you pin through both sides of the waistband, and that the raw edge you ironed under stays tucked in. Pin along the rest of the waistband to each end. Once it was all measured out and was securely pinned I went back, and pinned the lace on top of the waistband using the same pins. On the ends I tucked the lace into the tapered end and pinned it down.
Here you can see the base goes inside the fold of the waistband, and the edges are still tucked in (this is why we do so much ironing initially, it makes this part much easier!). Then I laid the lace over top.
Step 13: Now we get to sew the waistband to the apron base! Starting on which ever end of the waistband seems easier to you start from the bottom corner, on the open side and begin sewing about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge. This is where the lace came in handy, because I could follow the lines of it as I sewed. Sew straight across the bottom side of the waistband all the way to the other end. Don’t forget to back stitch when you start! As you get about 1/8 inch from the other end keep the needle in the fabric, lift the foot and turn the band so you can sew along the edge of the tapered point to the next corner. Do the same at the next corner. Sew back across the top of the waistband to the other end. And repeat the lift and turn to finish off the second end, back stitch to seal the thread. Pull fabric away from the machine and cut the thread. Phew, that was a long run!
Step 14: Now its time to make the pocket! I picked a part of the floral pattern that I liked on my second pillowcase, and cut out a rectangle. Since the fabric was somewhat thin, and I didn’t want the pocket to be transparent I cut out two rectangles the same size. I judged the size of the rectangle for the pocket with my hand, giving it some room on either side, plus about an inch more on each side to account for the edge to be folded under, and for bunching.
Step 15: Iron the pieces, and the fold over the top of the fabric about an inch toward what you want to be the inside of the pocket and iron it down. This will be the top of your pocket.
Step 16: This time as you sew switch your stitch to the longest running stitch your machine will do, and do not back stitch, just sew straight across the folded hem, about an 1/8 inch from the raw edge. Note: If you want a flat top on your pocket, sew straight across and DO back stitch to seal the stitches. For a bunched top to your pocket: Pull the fabric away from the machine and cut the thread leaving about 3 inches of thread on each side of the fabric. Take the bottom thread on one side in your hand and hold tight, with the other hand push the fabric down along the thread so that it bunches. It will most likely bunch more on one side, you can let go of the thread and spread the bunches out across the length of the pocket. Once it is bunched enough for your liking go back to the sewing machine, shorten your stitch, and sew straight across in more or less the same place you sewed before. This time you want to back stitch to seal the ends.
Step 17: Now you get to add the rick-rack. I laid out rick-rack on the pocket to figure out where I wanted it to be, pinned it down and sewed across the middle, back stitching the ends.
Step 18: Turn the pocket over, and fold in the two side edges about 1/4 inch or less and iron down. Then fold up the bottom at an angle from each side so there is a point in the middle. I measured from each side of the pocket to make sure the point was in the middle and adjusted the angled folds as necessary. Ironing and re-ironing as necessary.
Step 19: Turn the pocket back over and place it where you’d like on the apron. Then pin the sides and corners down, keeping the folded edges tucked in.
Step 20: Sew around the edge of the pocket about 1/8 inch from the edge. At the corners, as before, keep the needle in the fabric, lift the foot, turn the fabric, lower the foot and sew to the next corner. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of your sewing to seal the edges.
Ta-da!! You’ve got yourself an apron, and a happy friend!