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Summer Fun: BBQ Apron with Rivet Accents

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Fire up the grill and pull out the spatula; it's barbeque time! Summer Fun means something should be sizzling on the ol' outdoor grill. This tough canvas BBQ apron is a serious sizzle shield with its handsome rivet accents and extra-large pockets for grill tongs, tools and those giant hot pad mitts.

Our apron is modeled by our resident griller-guy-extraordinaire, however, it would be equally cute on a female captain of the coals. The apron is sized for someone about 6' 1" to 6' 3". If you need a shorter option, you should adjust the initial cut length of 43½", because you want to keep the pockets at about 12" deep. We suggest cutting at the original length (43½"), pinning up the pocket panel at the standard 12", and then, holding the apron piece up against its intended recipient, determining how much length you want to cut off the bottom.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 60" wide fabric: we used a heavy cotton duck in dark khaki green
  • All purpose thread to contrast with fabric: we used black
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • 21 rivets in silver: we used Dritz 5/16" (8mm) dimpled jeans rivets - your correct size will depend on the thickness of your chosen fabric
  • Rivet tools, punch and hammer
    NOTE: If you're new to rivets, check out our tutorial, How to Attach Metal Rivets On Sewing Projects
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out Arm Hole Pattern 1 and Arm Hole Pattern 2.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines. Butt the two pieces together at the arrows (do not overlap), and tape to create one pattern piece.
  3. Fold the fabric in half widthwise (60" x 18"). Using the folded edge as one side, cut:
    ONE rectangle 18" wide x 43½" tall. Do not cut the fold.
    TWO strips 4" wide x 18" tall. Do not cut the fold.
    ONE strip 4" wide x 14" tall. Do not cut the fold.
  4. With the main fabric piece still folded, measure 16" from the fold along the top edge and make a corner mark. Align the Arm Hole Pattern piece with this corner mark and the edge of the fabric.
  5. Trim out the curve of the of the pattern, cutting past the bottom of the curve off the edge of the fabric. You are cutting in this manner in order to end up with a scrap of fabric large enough to use to cut your pocket piece.
  6. Again, measure 16" from the fold, making marks at several points along the remaining length of the piece. Connect these dots and trim away the excess. You now have a finished main body piece that, when unfolded, should measure 32" x 43½" with two armhole cuts.
  7. Unfold your strips. You should have TWO 4" x 36" strips for the waist ties and ONE 4" x 28" strip for the neck loop.
  8. From that armhole scrap we so carefully made, cut ONE 9" x 8" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine

Create the bottom pocket panel

  1. Make a ½" double-turn hem along bottom of the apron on the RIGHT side of the fabric (yep -- backwards to the way you would normally hem). To do this, fold the raw edge ½" and press, then fold in another ½" and press. Pin in place. Stitch close to the folded edge to secure. If hemming is a new technique for you, read our tutorial: lengthened my stitch for two reasons: one) it makes it easier to stitch through the thicker fabric, and two) I wanted my topstitching to show and look beefy to go with my rivets.
  2. Fold up the bottom of the apron 12" (you have now hidden your hem on the inside of the pocket panel) and pin in place. Make sure the fold is even; you want a nice, straight line for the top of the pocket panel.
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  3. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil (I used a white pencil to show up against my dark fabric), make one vertical line in the exact center of the pocket (I simply folded the apron in half and marked the fold with a pin to find the center). Then, make two additional lines, each 6" from the center line -- one to the left and one to the right.
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  4. Stitch along each of your three drawn lines with a straight stitch to create the pocket seams.
    NOTE: If you have a lock-stitch function on your machine, use it to lock your seams; it will make a much cleaner finish than a backstitch. If you use a backstitch, just be careful to stay nice and straight when you back up... just like driving out of the garage.

Hem the sides

  1. Make a narrow double-turn hem along both sides, including the arm holes and folded back the double layer raw edges of the pocket panel. To do this, fold in the raw edge ¼"- ½" and press, then fold in another ¼"- ½" and press. Pin in place.
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    NOTE: Because of the multiple layers, you may have to futz a bit to wrap it neatly when you get to the hem of the top of the pocket panel. Tuck and futz as best you can, and remember, they'll be a rivet there later to help secure this point .
  2. Attach the ¼" Seam foot
    NOTE: As mentioned above, this foot is optional (not all machines come with it) but very helpful because the foot has a guide you can run along the folded edge of your hem to keep your stitching perfectly straight and even. If you don't have a ¼" foot, you can follow a point on your regular foot or align the edge of the fabric with a reference mark on your throat plate. Adding a strip of painter's tape along a perfect ¼" line or adhering a row of Post-it® notes (as we did in our Whimsy quilt) are other helpful cloth guide ideas.
  3. Starting at the top of one side, stitch a ¼ seam around the arm hole and down the side on each side of the apron.
    NOTE: Because of the thickness of this fabric, it will help you sew through the layers at the corner of the armhole and side if you make a clean finished corner as shown. Also remember to go slowly around the curves of the arm holes, stopping occasionally as needed, with your needle in the down position, to slightly adjust your foot and keep a smooth curve.
  4. Press your hem all around.
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  5. To create the top hem, fold the raw edge under ½" and press. Fold under another 1", press and pin in place.
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  6. Stitch top hem in place from the back so you can align your foot with the folded edge. Use a ¼" seam allowance to stitch across the top. Press.

Make and attach the pocket

  1. Find your 8" x 9" pocket rectangle.
  2. Still using the ¼" Seam foot, make a narrow double-turn hem along both sides, and across the bottom. To do this, follow the same steps you did for the apron hemming. Fold in the raw edge ¼" and press, then fold in another ¼" and press. Pin in place. Leave the top un-hemmed. This is a horizontal pocket, so remember that the top of your pocket will be one of the 9" sides.
    NOTE: As with the body of the apron, I created
  3. Stitch a ¼" seam down one side, across the bottom, and back up the other side. Remember to stop at the corners with your needle in the down position and pivot.  Press flat.
  4. To create the top hem, fold the raw edge under ½" and press. Fold under another 1", press and pin in place.
  5. Stitch top hem in place from the back so you can align your foot with the folded edge. Use a ¼" seam allowance to stitch across the top. Press.
  6. Finally, stitch an "X" from corner to corner.
  7. Place the finished pocket on the front of the apron. Center the "X" with the centerline of the apron; the edges of the pocket should be about 2¼" from the edge of the arm hole. The top of the pocket should be about 1¾" below the seam line of the apron's top hem. Pin in place.
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  8. Stitch in place along both sides and across the bottom (leaving the top open ... ah, yeah, it's a pocket). Carefully follow the stitching line of the pocket's hem. Press.

Make and attach the ties

  1. If necessary, replace your ¼" Seam foot with a regular sewing foot.
  2. Take the three strips of fabric you cut for your ties. Fold each strip in half lengthwise (one at 2" x 28" and two at 2" x 36"), right sides together, and pin in place.
  3. For the two ties that are 2" x 36" (the waist ties), stitch each, using a ½" seam allowance, across one end and all along the side, pivoting at the corner. Leave the other end open and raw.
  4. For the one tie that is 2" x 28" (the neck loop), stitch, using a ½" seam allowance just along the side. Leave both ends open and raw.
  5. Turn all three strips right side out, poking/pulling out the corners of the waist ties so they are nice and sharp. You now should have one finished strip that is 1½" x 28" and two finished strips that are 1½" x 36".
  6. Press flat. Press the waist ties so the seam is along one edge. Press the neck tie so the seam is in the center as shown.
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  7. Take the two strips that will be your waist ties. Fold under 3/8" on each raw end and press. Fold under an additional 1½" and press.
  8. Pin in place at the bottom corner of the armhole on each side.
  9. Take the strip that will be your neck tie. Fold under 3/8" on both raw ends and press. Fold under an additional 1½" and press.
  10. Pin in place at the top of the apron as shown. Be careful the neck loop isn't twisted when you pin it in place. What I do is pin one side, then stretch the strip straight out, and curve it over and down to the opposite side as if I was drawing a curved line with the fabric. Pin it at the opposite corner.
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  11. To attach the waist ties to the apron, stitch a 1" box, then stitch an ‘X' through the middle of the box.
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Apply rivets

  1. The neck loop is attached with four rivets on the end. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, mark the rivet points. It is very important that you not only get the rivets even on each end, but also that both ends are even with one another.
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  2. Apply four rivets to each end of the neck loop.
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  3. Then apply two rivets to the inside of each waist tie, one rivet to each of the four pocket corners, and four rivets across the top of the bottom pocket panel at each seam line.
  4. If you are new to riveting, have no fear. They are really pretty simple. Check our our tutorial:


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructions: Liz Johnson

Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 210 and the Elna 3230.



Comments (16)

Paddy said:
Paddy's picture

Thank you for this excellent post! I am new to your site and am very impressed. Question...if I choose to make this apron without the rivets and with a basic cotton do you suggest that I line it like you lined the little boy chef apron In one of your other tutorials? Thanks very much. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Paddy -- hello again -- I did respond below to your first comment. 

Paddy said:
Paddy's picture

I came across your site by accident and have just spent over a half hour looking at all you have to offer! Wow! I'm loving everything I see and will sign up for your newsletter. Thank you so much!  Oh.....and I will be heading out to purchase fabric for this apron this afternoon....will make a great Christmas gift! Thanks so much!  Question.....if I use a lighter weight fabric and don't use the rivets do you recommend lining the fabric like you did for your young chef's apron? Thanks! 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Paddy - welcome; we're so glad you found us. This apron is designed for the heavier canvas weight and to feature the rivets. If you decide to use neither, yes, we would recommend a lining. You might want to visit our Project Index (see the navigation tab above on all pages) where there is an Aprons catagory. You might find something the requires less alteration. 

JC said:
JC's picture

Great project. I completed one and my dad liked it so much i had to make one for myself. Changed a couple of things instead of fabric ties for the back and neck, i used webbing and parachute buckles for adjustability. On the one i'm working on now, i'm going a bit longer as well.


sandy d. said:
sandy d.'s picture

going to try this pattern.I am new at sewing, but I think I can do this. My dh does woodworking and really needs this apron.

Dian said:
Dian's picture

THanks so much for the pattern....it is simply awesome....i have made three already...for xmas presents for the men in my life.....what would be your guess for downsizing for a little boy????

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Dian - We're sorry, but we are unable to create revisions to our patterns or projects for size or usage variations. It's a challenge to change dimensions long-distance, especially without access to the item and/or person for whom the project is being adjusted. We would feel awful if we gave you inaccurate advice that caused your finished project to turn out less than successful. Our standard recommendation is to measure your item and/or person and compare those measurements to our original dimensions. Do the math to make adjustments and scale the original dimensions up or down. Then use these new measurements to make a prototype out of a muslin or another inexpensive fabric you have on hand. This is often the exact way we determine our own patterns and instructions. It is not only a good way to re-engineer a project, making a prototype is also a great practice run through the steps of construction.

That said, here's a link to a little boy's apron we did recently, which may also be helpful: http://sew4home.com/projects/kitchen-linens/lil-chef-apron

Stephanie @ SomwhatSimple.com said:
Stephanie @ SomwhatSimple.com's picture
This is a great apron! I am going to feature it on somewhatsimple.com this Thursday. Thanks for the inspiration!
alicia.thommas said:
From the top of the bib to the bottom of the apron, it will finish out at 28". The unfinished body is 43½". Subtract 1½" for the bib hem at the top, and 1" for the hem on the pocket. That leaves 40". When you turn up the bottom 12" to form the pockets the apron will be 28". If that seems too long for you, cut off from the bottom. But the pocket should stay 12" to accommodate the long-handled bbq tools. BTW, the apron fit our 6' model just fine.
Nosuland said:
Nosuland's picture
We are making this apron right now. Only, it seems really long. Does anyone have handy a measurement for the finished length of the apron body?
China Chick said:
China Chick's picture
Love the design. Simple. Clean. Straightforward. Thanks for putting it on the web.
susan L. said:
susan L.'s picture
I have to go find my husband's rivet tool this is a great pattern!
Rene Sharp said:
Rene Sharp's picture
This is a great simple apron project Liz. I am definitely going to try this too. I am really going to need more hours in my day!!