An apron is such a fun project to tackle in an afternoon. Like a dress minus the closures, you can really have a lot of fun designing an apron to be as simple or as frilly as you like. The instructions below are for a child’s apron, but you can see measurements at the bottom for an adult’s apron and adapt the instructions below for that size. I have also included several ideas for customizing your apron at the end of this tutorial.
- 1/2 yard main fabric
- 1/2 yard contrast fabric for ties
- coordinating thread
- 9 pins
- preferred rulers and cutting tools
From your main fabric cut the following: two 8x9” rectangles for the bodice and one 16x30” rectangle for the skirted portion From your contrast fabric cut the following: one 4”xWOF (width of the fabric which is likely 44”) for the waist ties and one 3”xWOF for the neckties Note: if you are making this apron for a child who’s waist is bigger than say 23”, you will probably find it good to cut two strips and sew them together at the short end. It's always better to have extra tie that can wrap around the front than to have too little!
To begin, we will make the ties for the neck portion. Fold your fabric in half lengthwise and press. Then open it up and fold both raw edges so they meet in the center and press again. Fold-down the middle again and press. Finally, open up the ends, fold down the raw edges (or selvages if you haven’t cut them off), then refold your fabric so that you will have a clean, flat strip.
Move your needle over so that you will be sewing about 1/8” from the folded edge. I am sewing on the Skyline S9 and have moved my needle over to the 7 position, and have increased my stitch length to 3.0). I almost always increase stitch length for visible or top stitches since they appear much cleaner. I am also using my walking foot to keep everything running through the machine as smoothly as possible. Beginning with one short end, stitch and backstitch, then pivot the strip by raising the presser foot with the needle down, and sew until you reach the other short end, then again pivot, stitch to the end, and backstitch.
Cut your sewn strip in half so you have two ties for around the neck. Place a strip on either top corner of your bodice piece 3/8” in from the side. The bodice should be oriented so that the 9” is the width and the 8” is lengthwise. Pin the straps in place and baste them in place with a scant 1/4” seam. Layer the other bodice piece over that piece right sides together, and sew starting at the bottom side with a 1/4” seam allowance, pivot at the corner, sew across the top (catching your straps), and pivot and sew down the other side. Be sure as you sew that the straps are only caught in your stitches along the top where they are basted in place. It can be helpful to gather the bulk of them toward the center of the bodice where you are not sewing so they don’t accidentally get caught. Clip the top corners without cutting any of the stitching- this will give the apron bodice nice, sharp corners without bulk.
Turn your bodice right side out and press. Sew around whole bodice (including the bottom with raw edges) with 1/4” seam, lengthened to 3. Set aside.
Now we are going to prep our waist ties. Be sure to check that note at the top to be certain your waist ties are long enough! To begin, find the center on one of the long edges of your waist tie and place a pin there. This will be quite easy if you had to use two pieces to make a tie since it will be the seam you sewed together in the beginning. Now place two more pins, 7.5” away from either side of the center like so. We will NOT be sewing this pinned area together yet, and the pins will help us know where to stop. Make sure your needle is centered and that your stitch length is shortened back down to 2-2.5.
Keeping those pins right where they are, fold your tie right sides together. Beginning with the short side on one end and using a 1/2” seam allowance, backstitch, stitch, and pivot, and continue to stitch along the long side until you reach your first pin. When you get to that, stop and backstitch and cut your thread. Move down to your third pin and begin stitching again (be sure to backstitch at the beginning), and continue to stitch all the way around the other short side and backstitch to finish. Clip the corners where you pivoted your stitches, being careful not to clip into the stitches. Also, clip into the seam allowance directly above where the two outer pins are. Clip just down to right above where you stopped/started your stitching.
Turn your waist tie piece right side out by guiding the stitched portions out through the center. Go slow, and use the help of a point turner if you want, just be sure not to use too much force so that you don’t push through your stitches. Press your waist ties flat. Go ahead and turn one of the two unstitched portions under by 1/2” and press. That will be the backside of your waist tie, and it will make the sewing easier in a few steps. Set aside.
Finally, we are going to prepare the skirt of your apron. First, stitch down either side of the skirt with a line of stitches 3/8” from the raw edge. This will be a folding guide. Head over to your iron, and first fold along your line of stitches and press. Then fold again and press. Repeat with the other side. At your machine, adjust your stitch length to 3, and using a scant 3/8” seam (accuracy is important here, so go slow if you need to), stitch down the sides of your apron to finish those edges. Your stitches should be just a smidge inside of your fold and create a beautiful finish.
Along the bottom edge of the skirt portion, sew a line of stitches 1/2” from the raw edge to act as a folding guide. Just as you did with the sides, fold along the stitch line and press, then fold again and press. Use a scant 1/2” seam allowance with a stitch length of 3, stitch along the bottom of the skirt backstitching at the beginning and end. Look at that beautiful hem!
Fold your skirt in half, so that you can make a small snip at the top’s raw edge to mark the center. Put your needle down the up again to catch the bobbin thread, and pull both the top and bobbin thread out by about 6”. Lengthen your stitch length or 4.5 and sew two lines of stitches 3/8” and 5/8” from the top raw edge, leaving 6” tails at the beginning and ends of both lines (don’t use your machine’s auto thread cutter (if it has one).
Pick up your waist tie and match up the center of the waist tie with the center of the skirt right sides together, pin in place. Match up the side of the skirt with the corresponding pin on the waist tie and pin in place, and repeat with the other side. Now on one side of your skirt, grab BOTH of the thread tails that are visible on the wrong side that should be facing you. Pull-on those threads to gather up your skirt, and use your other hand to distribute the gathers evenly. Once your skirt has been gathered adequately, it will match up with the opening on the waist tie. You should wrap your thread tails in figure 8 around the pin on the end, and then use 3 more pins between the side and center pin to keep your gathers in place for sewing. Repeat this gathering and pinning on the second half of the skirt's waist. Be sure to pin the other half of the waist tie out of the way since we do not want to stitch that yet. You may find it easiest to pin at the beginning, then move it once you start stitching, and then be mindful to move it again at the end when you get to it.
Reduce your stitch length to 2-2.5, and using a 1/2” seam allowance, begin stitching the gathered skirt to the waist tie. Stitches should fall right between the two rows you already sewed. Go slow and remove the pins as you go. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end.
Pull again on thread tails to remove them. If you stitched over them at some point, they may be a little fiddly, so clip them out if you need to. Press your seam upward so that the waistband folds and the skirt are flat. Cover the seam with the folded edge that you pressed a while back, and press again so that you will have a neat and even surface to stitch in a moment. That fold should just meet your line of stitches that on the gathered skirt. You can pin it in place if you would like to do so,
Flip over the skirt and waistband so that you are looking at the right side. You are going to stitch through the waistband front, skirt, and waistband back to enclose the gathered skirt with a nice, clean finish. Align the bottom of the waistband with the <— left side of your walking foot and move your needle over to about 1.5 so that you can sew 1/8” from the bottom of the waistband. Begin just beyond the side of the skirt, stitch until you reach the other side, backstitching at the beginning and end.
Pick up your bodice, fold it in half to locate the center along the bottom of it. With the wrong side of your skirt up, pin the bottom of the bodice to the waistband wrong side down, and pin it in place just below the folded edge of the waistband. See photo below:
Stitch in place with a 3/8” seam
Fold the bodice up to the proper position and press. Using a 1/8” seam allowance, stitch along the top edge of the waistband to enclose the raw edge of the bodice and finish your apron.
Your apron is complete and now it's time to get cooking!
- You can embroider your bodice with a title like “Abigail’s Baking Co.”, a fun floral motif, or even a patch of some sort
- You can add a patch pocket to the bodice or to the skirt using rectangles of fabric
- You can totally change the shape of the bodice- Valentine’s Day is coming up and it would be super cute to have a heart-shaped bodice. To do this, you would enclose your heart bodice completely, and then later it over the waistband a bit and attach by following the shape of the bottom of the heart for as far as it covers the lower portion of the apron
- You can make only the skirt portion
- You can add ruffles or ribbons for some extra flair. Try reshaping the skirt portion so that it is rounded at the bottom and add a ruffle!
Adult Apron Measurements and Quick Adjustment Guide
- For the bodice cut two rectangles 11x9” (11” will go across the bust, 9” is the height, can be adjusted as needed)
- For the skirt, use a full half yard cut and you can use a wider hem if you want it to be shorter
- For the waistband use two 4”xWOF cuts and sew together the short ends to create a long waistband. Use a 18-20” opening rather than the 15” used for the child’s pattern.