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The Hostess Apron Comeback Series: #2 - It's a Graveyard Smash

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We have a monstrous crush on The Ghastlies collection from Alexander Henry Fabrics. "In Ghastlie Manor on Ghastlie Street, there's a Ghastlie family you need to meet." The designs are reminiscent of the work of Charles Addams, who brought the quirky Addams Family to life in 1938 in The New Yorker magazine and spawned a decades-long fascination with Morticia, Gomez and their fabulously freaky family. In fact, we can totally envision svelte Morticia wearing today's It's A Graveyard Smash Halloween Hostess apron. This is the second in our new series of retro hostess apron tutorials. With a fluttering batwing organza overlay, velvet waistband and a poison rose accent, you too can be hauntingly haute couture, serving bubbling potions to your ghastly guests.

Today's project is sponsored in part by our friends and Shopping Directory featured member, Fashionable Fabrics. Husband and wife team, Tonia and Dennis have created a wonderful online fabric shopping site filled with the 'cool stuff' you simply can't find in the chain stores. They have a particularly swell selection of novelty prints, like Ghastlies. And because they are located in the same area as Alexander Henry Fabrics, they have a great selection of both their latest collections as well as some of the hard-to-find earlier prints.

We purchased the organza and ribbon for this project locally at Jo-Ann Fabrics. We also found good selections of organza online at Fabric.com. And, our friends at Ribbon Retreat have some wonderful ribbon options for both the waistband itself and the rose accent on the waistband.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the apron skirt and waistband; we used The Ghastlies in Smoke from the Ghastlies collection by Alexander Henry Fabrics
  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide organza for the apron overlay; we used black
  • 1 yard of 1½" wide coordinating solid ribbon for waistband; we used black velveteen
  • 1½ - 2 yards of 1" wide solid color, double-sided accent ribbon for the waistband rose - the length variation is to allow you to make a smaller or larger rose - double-sided means it is shiny on both sides; we used a dark pink satin to match the pink the Ghastlies print
  • Fray Check or similar seam sealant
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics and ribbons
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Fabric marker, pen, or tailor's chalk for marking fabric
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print our TWO 8½" x 11" pattern sheets: It's A Graveyard Smash Part 1 and It's A Graveyard Smash Part 2.
    IMPORTANT: You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
  3. Following the arrows on the patterns, butt the two pieces together and tape in place. Do NOT overlap. You now have one complete triangle pattern
  4. If you are new to working with sheer fabric, like organza, check out our tutorial for some tips and tricks. For example, when cutting the organza, it is best cut as a single layer and once you get it straight on your mat, tape it is place so it doesn't shift. You could also use push pins or fabric weights, depending on your cutting surface.
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  5. From the skirt fabric (The Ghastlies in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 16¼" x 37¼" rectangle for the skirt
    ONE 21" x 4" strip for the waistband
    NOTE: To make the fussy cutting a bit easier, on the large piece, we first cut a piece 16¼" x the width of the fabric (WOF), then fussy cut it down to 37¼" to best center a ghastly design. On the waistband piece, we first cut a piece 4" x WOF ad then fussy cut it down to 21".
  6. From the organza, cut FOUR 31" x 5" strips for the ties, then layer all four pieces and cut one end of all four ties at a slight angle. I call this the "sash slash".
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  7. Using the triangle pattern, cut THREE full triangles on the fold; and ONE triangle pattern NOT on the fold (in other words, this fourth cut will yield two half-triangles)
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  8. From the solid waistband ribbon, cut one 21" length

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Finishing the edges of the cotton skirt

  1. Many of your have probably used our narrow hems with clever corners tutorial for napkins, placemats and more. We use it here to finish both sides and the bottom of the 16¼" x 37¼" cotton skirt. The top edge remains raw.
  2. Turn under each edge ½" and press well.
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  3. Unfold so the ½" crease line is visible. Fold the raw edge up to this crease line (that's a ¼" fold) the, fold again right along the original crease line (that's another ¼" fold). Press well.
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  4. Unfold at the corner so you can now see BOTH crease lines.
  5. Trim off the corner to ¼" and fold it down at a 45˚ angle.
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  6. Re-fold the sides to form the mitered corner.
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  7. Pin everything in place and edgestitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
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Finishing the edges of the organza triangles

  1. As we mentioned above, sheer fabrics, like organza can be challenging to work with, but if you go slowly and carefully, the results are lovely. For this project, we are adjusting the above hemming and mitering technique just slightly in order to account for the stubbornness of the organza.
  2. On each triangle (the three full triangles and the two half triangles... or isosceles triangles as the case may be), turn under each long side ½" and press in place. Press one side, then the other side; the top remains raw.
  3. Unfold at the point so you can see your ½" crease lines.
  4. Trim off the point to ¼" and fold it down at a 45˚ angle.
  5. Re-fold the sides first TO the original crease line (that's a ¼" fold) then, fold again right along the original crease line (that's another ¼" fold) to form the mitered corner.
  6. The folded hem apart from the point remains a single ½" pressed fold. Here is where this technique differs from our traditional narrow hem and clean corner tutorial. It's much easier to create a ½" fold in the tricky organza than two tiny ¼" folds. So in order to get your double fold, you will tuck under the raw edge. In other words, you are kind of rolling it in on itself so the raw edge rolls under and back and rests against the original ½" crease, making a ¼" double turn hem.
  7. Pin like a crazy person to hold everything in place, but make sure you remove the pins as you sew, because sewing over pins in organza can cause a pull, which can result in an unwanted pleat and sometimes can cause an ugly snag.
  8. Edgestitch both sides, pivoting at the point.
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Layer the skirt and organza triangles and gather the top edge

  1. Place the hemmed cotton skirt right side up and flat on your work surface. Find and mark the center point along the top. Mark with a pin. In true Ghastlies fashion, I love that our center point went right through the witch's eye!
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  2. Find two of the full triangles. Place them, right side up, on the skirt so the inside corner points overlap at your center point mark and the outside corner points reach to each outside edge of the skirt.
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  3. Find the remaining full triangle and the two half triangles. The full triangle should be centered over the top of the of the first two full triangles. In other words, the center of this last full triangle should be aligned with the original center point mark on the skirt.
  4. The two half triangles should be placed on the outside edges, aligning the straight edge of each half triangle with each hemmed edge of the apron skirt. Pin across the top through all layers.
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  5. Edgestitch the layers together with a zig zag stitch. This keeps the layers from fraying while you are gathering. 
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  6. Run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt. To do this, stitch one line of machine basting approximately ⅜" from the top edge through both layers.
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy.
  7. Pull the row of machine basting to gather the skirt to approximately 20". Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly. Set the skirt aside.
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Make the waist ties

  1. Find the four organza waist ties with the angled ends. Pair them up and match them right sides together so the angled ends align. Pin in place.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together along both long sides and across the angled end, pivoting at the corners. Leave the straight cut end open.
  3. Repeat for the second pair of ties.
  4. Press the seams open.
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  5. Turn each sewn tie right side out and using a long, blunt-end tool, such a chopstick or knitting needle, push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press the ties flat.
  6. Topstitch ¼" from the edge along both sides and across the angled end. The organza tends to want to roll, so the topstitching will keep the edge of the ties looking nice.
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  7. Turn each tie wrong side out and trim the seam allowance close to the topstitching seam.
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  8. Run a line of Fray Check or a similar seam sealant along all the cut edges. Because organza is so sheer, trimming back the seam allowance like this gives you a cleaner look from the front.
  9. Turn each tie right side out again and press again. Set the ties aside.

Create the waistband

  1. Find the 21" x 4" waistband strip. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is 21" x 2" and press well.
  2. Pin the waistband to the back of the skirt, cotton to cotton, so the raw edges of all the layers are flush. It should be centered on the skirt so there is ½" free on both ends of the waistband; in other words, ½" extending beyond the gathered top of the skirt.
  3. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Stitch the seam with the gathers facing up so you can make sure the gathers stay even and don't twist and turn.
  4. Finish the raw edges of the seam allowance with a machine sewn stitch, a serged edge or at least with Fray Check as the organza will fray.
  5. Press the waistband and the gathered seam allowance UP. This gathered edge will eventually be hidden by the ribbon.
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Layer the waist ties and ribbon to complete the apron

  1. Still working from the back of the apron, you should have two free "tabs" sticking out ½" at each end of the cotton waistband. Measure ¾" down for the top edge (the folded edge) and mark this point with a pin.
  2. On the raw-edged end of both ties, find the exact center and mark that with a pin.
  3. Align the marked point on the cotton waistband with the marked point on the tie. Pin the two pieces together at this mutual point.
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  4. Make two pleats in the organza tie, bringing the sides of the tie in to the center so the organza tie is now the same width as the cotton waistband "tab."
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  5. Repeat on the opposite of the apron. The finished ends of the ties should be facing one another towards the middle of the apron.
  6. Place the 21" length of decorative ribbon right side DOWN across the back of the apron, creating a three-layer sandwich of: cotton waistband tab, pleated organza sash, and velveteen ribbon. Pin the layers together at each end.
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  7. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance, which should be perfectly in line with the hemmed sides of the skirt.
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  8. Fold this ½" seam allowance towards the center of the waistband and stitch the seam allowance in place with a scant ¼" seam. Trim the seam allowance back close to the seam and put Fray Check or a similar seam sealant on the trimmed edges.
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  9. Turn the ribbon right side out and over to the front of the skirt.
  10. Hand stitch the top and bottom edges of the ribbon/waistband together with a whip stitch.
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Make the waistband rose

  1. Find the 1½ - 2 yards of coordinating satin ribbon.
  2. Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to match your ribbon.
  3. Fold down one corner and hand stitch to secure this corner fold. You don't need to knot the thread in place (there is a knot on the end though) and for sure don't cut it... we have more to do.
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  4. Roll up the ribbon about five to six turns to create a small tube. Hand stitch to secure the bottom of the tube. Again - the needle remains threaded.
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  5. Fold the ribbon to the left of the rolled tube at a full 45˚angle (top to bottom).
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  6. Roll up the ribbon until that 45˚ fold disappears and you once again have a full width of ribbon to the left of the rolled tube.
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  7. Secure again with your needle and thread. Make sure you stitch through all the layers.
  8. Fold the ribbon to the left of the rolled tube again at a full 45˚ angle, and again, roll up the tube until that fold disappears.
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  9. Continue in this manner (fold and roll) until you have a rose the size you want.
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  10. Trim off any excess ribbon. Fold under the ribbon's end to create a clean edge. And stitch that end securely in place.
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  11. Stitch the rose in place on the waistband. It should be just slightly off dead center.
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  12. Make sure you stitch all the way around so the rose doesn't droop or fall to one side.

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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 210 and the Singer 5500 fashion Mate.


Comments (16)

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

I made it!!!!!! A year later & I'm a proud owner of a Ghastly apron!! Thanks for this awesome apron idea!! And I'm never going to sew with organza again. Ever. :P

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ asfnatic -- smilies/shocked.gif Oh no! Great catch -- I knew one of the letters was doubled.... at least I was consistent. All fixed. I thank you... Thing thanks you smilies/cheesy.gif
asfnatic said:
asfnatic's picture
I love the sheer overlay- too cute. Gotta love the misspell too- Addams family, not Aadams... smilies/wink.gif
Theresa (Miss Charlotte) said:
Theresa (Miss Charlotte)'s picture
Le sigh....I absolutely adore this apron! I must share...I must have! Thanks for posting this! Cheers! (have you ever seen so many exclamation points?)
kimberlee said:
kimberlee's picture
this is the coolest apron!! The organdy, the fabric print, the colors-LOVE!!
Justmarriedlady said:
Justmarriedlady's picture
I just got all my fabric and ribbon. Lucked out and found the Ghastlies locally. Thanks for the sheer sewing article. I'm pretty new to sewing and absolutely new to sheers. Good helpful photos.
Kellyinhouston said:
Kellyinhouston's picture
Sew4home has the most beautiful aprons. I'm so making this. The Ghastlies fabric is a hoot 'n a half!
Deborah St.Germain said:
Deborah  St.Germain's picture
That is so fun, what a great idea for that fabric and a party.

jeancreates.blogspot.com said:
jeancreates.blogspot.com's picture
Oh. my. gosh. I so love, love,love this apron! I'm not a huge halloween fan, but this rocks HUGE socks!!!!!!!!!!!!

major 100-score on the cuteness scale.smilies/smiley.gif
Ariel S. said:
Ariel S.'s picture
This apron is so gorgeous. Love love LOVE it. Making it soon as I get fabric!!
Wag Doll said:
I'm totally in love with this series of aprons - I want to make them all! Thanks for such detailed instructions x