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The “hostess apron” is a nod to the more elegant entertaining of days gone by, when a beautiful apron was a critical part of your party ensemble. We’ve brought back this vintage accessory, but with a bright new spin to match the playful fabric palette we chose – originally from Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden & Bijoux collection.

We combined five fabrics, then added a deep wine red for the waistband and all the ties. Flouncy skirt tiers and a bold bow we tied jauntily at the shoulder are the finishing touches that make this apron a stand out.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for apron bib: ½ yard of 44″+ wide fabric: we originally used Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden & Bijoux Rose Bouquet in Cream
  • Fabric for skirt tier (four total tiers): ½ yard of 44″+ wide fabric will yield one tier: we originally used ½ yard each of Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden & Bijoux: Sway in Cream, Peonies in Red, Tiled Primrose in Canary, and Wallpaper Roses in Green
  • Fabric for apron top lining and apron skirt lining: 1¼ yards of 45″ wide fabric: we originally used a cream cotton sateen
    NOTE: The apron’s top lining can also be self-lined with the fabric you are using for the apron top panel. You should NOT need to buy more than the ½ yard indicated above – both the apron top panel and the apron top lining pieces will fit on this ½ yard x 44″+ wide piece.
  • Fabric for neck ties, waistband, and waist ties: ¾ yard of 44″+ wide fabric: we originally used a red cotton sateen
  • ½ yard of jumbo rick rack trim for top apron edge: we used a deep red
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam ripper
  • Seam gauge
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric you’re using for the apron bib (Rose Bouquet in Cream in our sample) cut ONE rectangle 13″ wide x 11″ high.
  2. From the fabric you’re using for the waist and neck ties (red cotton sateen in our sample) cut EIGHT strips 3″ x 44″.
  3. From the fabric you’re using for the lining (cream sateen in our sample) cut ONE rectangle 13″ wide x 11″ high for the bib and one rectangle 27″ wide x 22″ high for the skirt.
  4. From the four fabrics you’re using for the skirt tiers, cut as follows:
    1 st tier (sway in Cream in our sample): ONE rectangle 27″ wide and 7″ high.
    2 nd tier (Peonies in Red in our sample): ONE rectangle 45″ wide and 7″ high.
    3 rd tier (Tiled Primrose in canary): ONE rectangle 45″ wide and 10″ high.
    4 th tier (Wallpaper Roses in green): ONE rectangle 45″ wide and 10″ high.
  5. Trim rick rack to 13″.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Make the ties

  1. Pair up your eight 3″ x 44″ tie strips, matching right sides together.
  2. Take one pair, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around both long sides and one end, leaving the opposite end open. Start at the open end, stitch down one long side, pivot at the corner, stitch at an angle across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side. Leave the raw edge open.
    Diagram
  3. Clip off the fabric along the sewn edge, following the angle, and leaving an approximate ½” seam allowance.
    Diagram
  4. Turn right side out through the open end. Press. You might need to reach in to the corner point with a blunt-edged tool, like a chopstick, long knitting needle or point turner to help push out the seam and make a nice point.
    NOTE: We have a full tutorial on turning skinny straps you can also review prior to starting.
  5. Edgestitch around three sewn sides. Raw end remains open.
    Diagram
  6. This is one of the neck ties. Repeat to make the second neck tie.
  7. Take another pair, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch, right sides together, along one 3″ side. Repeat with the final pair. This will give you two strips that are 3″ x 87″.
  8. Match these two strips right sides together, lining up all raw edges. This will become your waistband/ties.
  9. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, measure and mark the openings needed in the waistband to insert the apron bib and the apron skirt. You can use the center seam to insure the openings are centered. You need a 12″ opening along the top of the waistband and a 26″ opening along the bottom of the waist band.
    Diagram
  10. Stitch the two waistband/tie pieces together, using a ½” seam allowance. Start at one end of the bottom opening, stitch down one side, pivot at the corner, stitch at an angle across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to start of the top opening. Lock your seam.
  11. Remove from machine. Move to the opposite end of the top opening. Lock your seam and start stitching again, down one side, pivot at the corner, stitch at an angle across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to the bottom opening. Lock the seam at this final stopping point.
    Diagram
  12. Turn right side out through the middle opening. Press. Make sure you press in the opening seam allowances ½” so the opening’s edges are flush with the sewn edges. As you did above with the neck ties, you might need to reach in to the corner points with a blunt tool, to help push out the seam and make a nice point.
  13. Edgestitch along your finished seams, pivoting at all corners, and leaving those top and bottom openings free and clear.
    Diagram
  14. Set all ties aside.

Make the apron bib

  1. Pin your rick rack to the right side of the apron bib front panel. Position the rick rack so it extends approximately ⅞” – 1″ from the raw edge of the apron panel to the highest point in the bottom “wave.”
    NOTE: The drawings below make it seem like the bib is taller than wide, but as mentioned in the cuts and the instructions, it is 13″ wide x 11″ tall – so don’t let the drawing confuse you. Position width x height and align the 13″ of rick rack along the 13″ top edge. 
    Diagram
  2. Stitch rick rack in place, staying close to the raw edge with your stitching, and being careful to keep it nice and straight, so the wavy edge of the rick rack that will be showing is even all along the top of the bib panel. You want to keep your stitching inside the standard ½” seam allowance so it doesn’t show once your final seam is made.
    Diagram
  3. Pin the bib lining to your bib front, right sides together, covering the rick rack and matching the raw edges. You will need to leave the entire bottom open as well as two 2″ openings on each side of the top to insert your two neck ties – as shown on the drawing below.
    Diagram
  4. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance.
  5. Turn right side out, revealing approximately ⅜” – ½” of your rick rack; it should be standing straight up along the top of the apron bib. Press.
  6. Find your two neck ties and insert one raw-edged end into each 2″ opening along the top edge of the apron bib. Pin in place.
  7. Edgestitch along both sides and across the top of the apron bib, securing the ties in place.
    Diagram

Attach top to waistband

  1. Find your waistband/ties piece.
  2. Insert your completed apron bib into the top opening (the 12″ opening) of the waistband. Pin in place.
  3. Edgestitch the apron bib in place, being careful that your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece.
    Diagram
  4. Set aside.

Make the skirt tiers

  1. On the skirt lining panel, the 2nd tier panel, the 3rd tier panel, and the 4th tier panel: make a ¼” double-turn hem along the sides and the bottom edge. To do this, fold in your raw edge ¼” and press. Then, fold an additional ¼” and press. Stitch in place close to the fold. For more information about hemming, read our tutorial: How to Make a Simple Hem.
  2. The skirt lining panel will now be 26″ wide x 21½” high. The 2nd tier panel will now be 44″ wide x 6½” high. The 3rd and 4th tier panels will now each be 44″ wide x 9½” high.
    Diagram
  3. On the 1st tier panel: make a ¼” double-turn hem along the side edges ONLY. This panel will now be 26″ wide x 7″ high.
    Diagram
  4. Gather the top RAW edge of the 2nd tier, then gently pull your gathering stitches until the panel is 26″ wide and the gathers are even.
    NOTE: We have a full tutorial on machine gathering if you are new. 
  5. Pin the gathered raw edge of the 2nd tier to one of the raw edges of the 1 st tier, with right sides of the fabrics together and the hemmed side edges lined up.
  6. Sew together, using a ½” seam.
    Diagram
  7. Flip over to the backside, and press the seam allowances up towards the top raw edge of the 1st tier.
  8. Turn under ½” all along the top raw edge of the 3rd tier. Press well to make a nice folded edge. Topstitch approximately ¼” from the folded edge to secure the fold. Then gather equally across this FINISHED edge. As above, gently pull the gathering stitches until the panel is 24″ wide and the gathers are even.
  9. Repeat step 8 with the 4th tier.
  10. Pin the gathered edge of the 4th tier to the skirt lining panel so the top of the gathered panel is 15½” below the top raw edge of the lining. The edges of the tier should be centered and SET IN 1″ from each hemmed edge of the lining panel.
  11. Sew this gathered tier to the skirt lining panel with a ¼” topstitch.
    Diagram
  12. Pin the gathered edge of the 3rd tier to the skirt lining panel so the gathered edge is 9½” below the top raw edge of the skirt lining panel. As above, the edges of the tier should be centered and SET IN 1″ from each hemmed edge of the lining panel.
  13. Sew this gathered tire to the muslin underskirt panel with a ¼” topstitch. The bottom edge of the 3rd tier should hide the top sewn edge of the 4th tier by about 3″.
    Diagram
  14. Pin the WRONG side of the 1st / 2nd tier combo piece to the RIGHT side of the skirt lining panel (with its two tiers in place), lining up the top raw edges.
  15. Sew together along the top with a ¼” topstitch.
  16. Line up and pin the hemmed side edges of the 1st tier to the hemmed side edges of the lining, and sew together with a ¼” topstitch, following the existing hemmed-edge stitching.
    Diagram

Finishing

  1. Insert the top of the skirt panel into the opening in the bottom of your waistband.
  2. Edgestitch skirt panel in place, being careful that your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece.
    Diagram

Contributors

Project Desgin: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation: Heather Tucker

Instructions: Liz Johnson, Gregory Dickson

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4 Comments
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Kathryn
Kathryn
3 months ago

I have just made this for a Christmas present. Easy to follow and I am so pleased with the finished item. Fabulous!!

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
3 months ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Oh my goodness – this project goes way back! So glad to know you found it and had such great success!

Theresa Pearson
Theresa Pearson
2 years ago

You pin the 13 inch ric rak to the wide side in the apron bib but your diagram shows that you are pinning it to the shorter side of the apron bib, which is 11 inches. So, are you pinning the ric rak to the 13 inch side or the 11 inch side?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
2 years ago

Hi Theresa – wow — this is an oldie but a goodie – we haven’t even reached it as we work backwards to re-categorize all our projects in our new site format. This was back when we did quite a few illustrations rather than photos — so sorry if it was confusing. The rick rack does go along the top of the bib. The top is the 13″ side as noted in the cuts and the instructions – the drawing that simulates the bib does look taller tham it is wide, but you have it correct: 13″ wide x 11″… Read more »

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