A beautiful apron is the perfect introduction to clothing construction. When you’re just starting out on your sewing journey, an apron allows you to practice some traditional garment sewing techniques in an easy, flat format. Our third project in the SIY-Sew It Yourself!™ series we originally did in partnership with Jaftex is a classic bib-and-skirt apron design – a favorite of cooks everywhere.
Perhaps you’re one of the hundreds of folks who’ve already enjoyed making our Vintage Notes Patchwork Pillow as well as our great Shoulder Sling Shopping Totes with their own matching Fold ’n’ Store Carry Case.
The goal of the SIY program was to bring new and returning sewers inspiring projects, which are specially developed to be beginner-friendly yet creative and interesting enough to keep you motivated and learning new skills. Our first two projects introduced piecing, piping, buttons and buttonholes, placing a pocket, sewing smooth curves, making darts, and more.
Now it’s time to step up your sewing skills yet again with our pretty apron project. Learn how to work with patterns, handle larger fabric panels, apply interfacing basics, use wide binding as trim, place patch pockets, gather, create a waistband and ties, and practice topstitching and edgestitching.
With a lined bib as well as both underskirt and overskirt panels, this apron is substantial yet still lightweight. Long neck and waist ties allow for an adjustable fit. It’s a full coverage, comfortable design.
When you put together an apron, you’re working with nice, big panels of fabric so you can really take advantage of complete motifs and lots of color blending. In this case, you’ll be mixing and matching up to six different fabrics. Changing out fabric on a project is a bit like giving your walls a fresh coat of paint; there’s a new look every time.
Our main sample apron was originally made in Dark Forest by Melissa Wang for Studio E Fabrics. Botanical style images of ferns and leaves are rendered in rich, earthy tones. There’s a bit whimsy in the mix as well with playful tossed mushrooms and a multi-colored stripe. We also added a coordinating blender from the Peppered Cottons collection by Pepper Cory, also for Studio E.
You may also want to take a look at our companion article that goes behind the scenes – and the seams – to discuss some of our favorite garment sewing basics along with background on the Jaftex fabrics we selected and the designers who created them.
As with store-bought aprons, this 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 for any alterations, the waistband of this apron is approximately 18″ wide, the waist ties are each approximately 30″ long, the underskirt length is 19″, the overskirt length is 17”, the underskirt flares out to approximately 36” across the bottom, the neck ties are each approximately 21” long, and the bib is about 12″ at its widest point and 11″ high with the waistband adding another 2” below the bottom of the bib.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
Our custom apron design uses SIX coordinated prints. We originally executed this design in three different collections from within the Jaftex family of fabrics: FreeSpirit Fabrics, Henry Glass & Co., Inc., and Studio E Fabrics.
For our featured sample, we used FIVE prints from the Dark Forest collection by Melissa Wang for Studio E Fabrics along with ONE coordinating blender from the Peppered Cottons collection by Pepper Cory, also for Studio E.
For the most part, the fabrics we chose had random motifs. There are some directional notes when cutting the one stripe we used for our featured sample, but in general, it is easy to place and cut all the pieces within the yardages recommended. If you choose a different fabric with a very strong directional motif, more yardage may be required to properly fussy cut.
The illustrations below show all the pieces and their cut sizing. By referencing the size of each of the pieces, you can determine the yardage changes necessary should you wish to include fewer fabrics, more fabrics, and/or – as noted above – need to do some directional fussy cutting.
As aways, our goal is to recommend more than enough fabric. With a project designed specifically for beginners, we want to make sure extra is available, in case there’s a mistake as someone gets used to precise cutting. This means we usually round up to the next nearest standard yardage cut. For the “super sewers” out there, you can look at the size of each of the pieces and plan your most efficient yardages.
- Fabric A (piece 1 – bib exterior): ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Moon Phases in Dark Chocolate #6278-39
- Fabric B (pieces 2 and 11 – bib trim and pocket lining): ¼ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Peppered Cottons in Gingko Gold #27
- Fabric C (pieces 3 and 5 – bib lining and overskirt lining): ⅞ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Tone on Tone Leaves in Green #6279-66
- Fabric D (piece 4 – underskirt): ¾ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Mushrooms in Rust #6275-38
- Fabric E (pieces 6 and 10 – pocket front and overskirt front): ⅝ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Leaves in Dark Green #6273-69
- Fabric F (pieces 7, 8, and 9 – waistband, waist ties and neck ties): ¾ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric; we originally used Stripe in Multi #6277-36
- ¾ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- TWO apx ¾” to 1” buttons – two or four hole/not shank buttons; we used 1” four-hole wooden buttons
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the TWO pattern pieces: Apron Bib and Apron Bib Trim, which have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier. Note that both patterns are designed to be cut on the fold.
IMPORTANT: You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There are guide rules on each page to confirm your print out is to size.
- Cut out each of the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- From Fabric A (Moon Phases in Dark Chocolate in our sample), cut the following:
Using the Apron Bib pattern, cut ONE on the fold
NOTE: Fold your fabric right sides together and place the pattern’s curved arrows flush with the fold. Pin in place and cut, but do not cut the fold itself. Un-pin and open the piece right side up to reveal the full exterior bib. When choosing where to fold, consider your fabric’s motif. We folded along a vertical column of moons. The photo below shows you the pattern with the bib front and lining pieces after they’ve been cut on the fold.
- From Fabric B (Peppered Cotton in Gingko Gold in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 6½” wide x 7” high rectangles for the pocket linings
Using the Apron Bib Trim pattern, cut TWO on the fold
- From Fabric C (Tone on Tone Leaves in Green in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 33” wide x 18” high rectangle for the overskirt lining
Using the Apron Bib pattern, cut ONE on the fold
- From Fabric D (Mushrooms in Rust in our sample), cut ONE 37” wide x 20” high rectangle for the underskirt.
- From Fabric E (Leaves in Dark Green in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 6½” wide x 7” high rectangles for the pocket fronts
ONE 33” wide x 18” high rectangle for the overskirt front
NOTE: Our selected fabric was random and busy, so we did not fussy cut the pockets to be a perfect match to the background panel. If your selected fabric is more distinct, you may want a perfect match. If so, refer to our full tutorial for more details about and options for matching pockets to a background panel.
- From Fabric F (Stripe in Multi in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 3” x 19” strips for the waistband
FOUR 3” x 30” strips for the waist ties
TWO 4” x 33” strips for the bib side trim/neck ties
NOTE: All our strips were cut width of fabric so the stripes would run vertically on the waistband and ties, and when rotated, horizontally on the bib side trim and neck ties.
- From the lightweight interfacing, find the original paper pattern pieces for the Apron Bib and Apron Bib Trim. Trim the patterns along their upper and lower dotted seam lines (the solid lines remain as-is). Tape the Trim to the top of the Bib to create a full pattern. Then, cut the following:
Using the trimmed and taped pattern, cut ONE for the bib on the fold
TWO 5½” x 6” rectangles for the pockets
ONE 2” x 18” strip for the waistband
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, your machine should be threaded and re-threaded as necessary with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Set length and width for a standard straight stitch and attach a basic presser foot.
Create the bib
- Find the bib front and bib lining pieces as well as the two bib trim pieces.
- Place a trim piece right sides together along the top of both the bib front and the bib lining. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top to secure the trim to each main bib piece.
- Press the trim itself as well as the seam allowance up and away from the main bib panel.
- Find the panel of bib interfacing. Center it on the wrong side of the assembled bib front. It should sit ½” down from the bib panel’s top raw edge, ½” up from the bottom raw edge, and be flush side to side. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the bib front and bib lining right sides together and pin along the top edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across, which means you are stitching right along the edge of the fused interfacing.
- Fold the bib right side out so the front and lining are now wrong sides together and the upper trim seam is straight across the top of the bib. Press flat.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch and edgestitch within the trim across the bib panel through all the layers. Remember to change out the thread to make sure it matches the trim fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Set aside the bib.
Create the pockets
- Find the pocket fronts, pocket linings, and pocket interfacing panels.
- Center an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each of the pocket fronts. There should be ½” of fabric extending beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse each interfacing panel in place.
- Put each interfaced pocket front panel right sides together with a pocket lining panel. All four raw edges of the two layers should be flush. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom edge of each layered pair.
- Re-set for a standard stitch length. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the layers together around all four sides. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the 3” opening. Gently push out all four corners so they are sharp, 90˚ angles. A long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Set aside the flat pockets. You’ll fold the corner and add the button after the skirt panels are prepared.
Create the underskirt
- Find the 37” wide x 20” high underskirt panel (Mushrooms in Rust in our sample).
- Make a narrow, double turn hem along both sides and across the bottom. To do this, turn under the raw edge ¼” and press.
- Turn under an additional ¼” and press again. At each corner make a clean diagonal point.
NOTE: If you are new to this classic hemming technique, take a look at our full step-by-step tutorial. It’s a good skill to master and can be used on all kinds of projects that require a narrow hem and tidy corners.
- Pin in place and stitch close to the folded edge along both sides and across the bottom of each panel. The top edge remains raw/un-hemmed. As always, make sure you re-thread as needed so your thread in both the top and the bobbin matches the fabric.
- Set aside the underskirt.
Create the overskirt
- Find the TWO 33” x 18” panels that will make up the overskirt (Leaves in Dark Green for the front and Tone on Tone Leaves for the lining in our sample).
- Place the two panels right sides together. All four sides should be flush.
- Pin along both sides and across the bottom. The top remains unpinned.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting sharply at the two bottom corners. The top remains unsewn.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the overskirt right side out through the open top and press flat, gently pushing out the corners so they are nice and sharp as you did above with a long, blunt tool. Also, take the time to make sure your side and bottom seams run straight and true along the edge – they should not roll to the front or back.
Place the pockets on the overskirt
- Find the overskirt panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place each pocket into position, also right side up, on the skirt panel. Each pocket should sit 4½” down from the upper raw edge of the skirt panel, 7” up from bottom finished edge, and 5½” in from each finished edge, which leaves 10” between the pockets at the center. Lightly pin each pocket in place along the sides and across the bottom.
- Unpin the outer corner of each pocket. Fold down this outer corner to create the pocket flap. You are folding at a diagonal. The base of the diagonal is approximately 3½” up from the bottom corner of the pocket.
- Lightly press the flap fold. Re-pin the side of the pocket if necessary.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place, starting at the upper inside corner of the pocket.
- Pivot at the bottom corner, stitch across the bottom (this closes the opening used for turning), pivot, then stitch back up the opposite side, stopping and locking the seam at the bottom the folded pocket flap.
- The next step is to stitch a button at the point of each pocket flap. Find the two buttons and thread the hand sewing needle with thread to best match the pocket lining.
- The button should be centered in the point of the flap. We recommend taking a few stitches through just the button and the point of the flap so the knot of the thread will be hidden under the flap.
- Then re-fold along the diagonal and continue hand sewing the button in place through all the layers of the pocket. Remember, you are sewing through the flap and the front of the pocket – not the skirt… don’t sew the pocket closed!
Layer and gather the skirt panels
- Fold each skirt panel in half to find the exact center across its top edge. Place a pin at each center point.
- Place the hemmed underskirt panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Center the finished overskirt panel right side up on the underskirt, aligning the two center point pins.
- Pin all the way across through all the layers. There should be approximately 2” of the underskirt showing to either side of the overskirt.
- Re-set the machine for a gathering stitch (your longest possible straight stitch). Run one or two lines of gathering stitches (we used two) across the top of the layered skirt panels.
- This is a gathering stitch so do not lock the seam at the start or end and leave the thread tails long. Here is a view from the back of the underskirt of the two finished lines of gathering stitches.
- Set aside the layered skirt panels. You will pull the gathering stitches later in the steps, prior to inserting the skirt into the waistband.
Create the side bib trim and neck ties
- Find the two 4″ x 33″ bib side trim/neck tie strips.
- Along both long sides of each strip, press back the raw edge ½”.
- Fold the fabric strip in half, wrong sides together, aligning the outer folded edges.
- Unfold and press back one end of each strip ¼”.
- Re-fold each strip along the original center crease line and press well again. Each tie is now finished along both long sides and one end.
- Find the apron bib.
- Slip one folded tie over each 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 bottom raw edge of each tie should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the bib. The bib is slightly angled, which means the ties will not run straight up and down but will angle in towards one another a little bit. The top folded edge of each tie extends beyond the top of the bib approximately 21″.
- Pin in place from the bottom of the bib all the way to the top of each tie.
- If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the tie fabric in the top and the bobbin. Re-set for the same slightly lengthened stitch you’ve used above for edgestitghing.
- 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 with this one seam. Start at the bottom and stitch up.
NOTE: We used our Blind Hem foot with its center flange to keep a straight, narrow seam. This is helpful but optional; a standard presser foot would also work.
- Continue stitching beyond the bib, just along the tie all the way up to the top, pivot at the top corner and stitch across the end of each tie to seal the seam.
Create the waistband and waist ties
- Find the two 3” x 19” strips for the waistband and the 2” x 18 interfacing strip.
- Center the interfacing strip on the wrong side of one waistband strip so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place. This interfaced piece is the front waistband. You want to keep track of which is which; this more stable piece is the front of the waistband.
- You now have two sets of three pieces for the front and back of the waistband/ties: one interfaced waistband and two ties, and one plain waistband and two ties. Pin ties, right sides together, to either end of each waistband piece.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the two short seams in both assembled sets of three.
- Press the seam allowances open and flat. You now have two long waistband/tie strips.
- Pin these two long strips right sides together all around both ties, but do not pin the waistband strips together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around one waist tie. Start approximately 2” beyond the seam that attaches the tie to the waistband.
- Run up and across the end, pivoting at the corners.
- Come back down the opposite long side of the tie, ending your stitching about 2” before you get back to the seam that attaches the tie to the waistband and lock your stitch (just opposite from where you started).
- Repeat to stitch around the other waist tie. Remember, you are not stitching across the waistband.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the ties right side out, but do not attempt to turn the center waistband yet. Press the ties flat.
Attach the layered skirt to the waistband
- Find the exact center of both the front and back of the waistband. Mark this point with a pin. Then, re-find the exact center of the layered skirt and mark this point with a pin.
- Pull the gathering stitches along the top until the width of the skirt measures 18” to match the waistband.
- Bring up the skirt in between the waistband layers until the top gathered edge of the skirt is flush with the top raw edges of the front and back waistband pieces. The front waistband panel (the interfaced panel) is right sides together with the layered skirt panel. The right side of the back waistband panel is against the wrong side of the underskirt panel.
- Pin in place from seam to seam, adjusting the skirt gathers as necessary so the waistband seams are in line with the hemmed outer sides of the underskirt panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers. You are starting your stitch on top of the end point of your original seam — approximately 2” from the vertical waistband seam.
- Stitch all the way across, ending on top of the opposite original start/stop point. Make sure the waist tie ends are pulled out of the way of the seam.
- Flip the waistband right side out, and at the same time, pull the waist ties all the way right side out. Bring both the front and back of the waistband up into their final positions.
- Press the waistband and the seam allowances up. Then, press in the top raw edges of the waistband opening ½” so they are flush with the sewn tie seams.
Insert the apron bib
- Find the completed bib. Measure to re-confirm the exact center point along both the bottom raw edge of the bib and the top folded edges of the waistband.
- Insert the bib into the waistband aligning the centering pins. Make sure you are inserting the bib with the front of the bib facing the front of the the waistband (the interfaced side of the waistband).
- The bottom of the bib should rest against the skirt seam inside the waistband.
- Pin all the way across the waistband through all the layers.
- Make sure the top folded edges of the waistband panels are flush front to back.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the waistband in the top and bobbin. Re-set for the same slightly lengthened stitch as used above.
- Topstitch across the top of the waistband and ties. Start at one end of one tie and stitch all along the top of the tie/waistband to the end of the opposite tie.
- Go slowly and carefully across the bib through all the layers to insure your stitching stays straight and neat. This closes the opening left for inserting the bib as well as the slight gaps from the ties to the side seams (those original 2” start/stop points).
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever