Cross Stitch Apron with Drawstring Ties
Start with a neutral solid, add a few special details, and in no time you can whip up a gorgeous chef-style apron for yourself or to give as a gift. Its classic one-piece cut is a great style for most body types. And the intricate cross stitch flower on the bib is done with a built-in machine embroidery design! So easy yet so beautiful.
The apron is fully lined; we used a linen blend for the exterior backed with a standard quilting weight cotton in a coordinating neutral print. The extra weight and drape of the linen allows the apron to hug your body and move with you as you cook.
Our thanks to sponsor, Janome America for providing all our hardworking studio sewing machines. For this project, we used the versatile Janome Skyline S9, a sewing and embroidery model that is not only fabulously functional, it’s also a very affordable option if you’re ready to add sewing and embroidery to your arsenal.
The Skyline S9 comes with 250 built-in designs as well as a library of 300 decorative stitches. We selected one of the 40 exclusive Anna Maria Horner built-in embroidery designs. It is mesmerizing to watch your machine create such an intricate cross stitch pattern!
For the top of the full-width pocket, we chose an Heirloom decorative stitch that echoed the look of cross stitch. The color of this decorative stitching is pulled from one of the six colors within the embroidery design. Then, we found a matching olive green linen to create the drawstring tie, adding a pop of color that accents without overwhelming.
Facings along the sides and top of the bib create the casings, which are threaded through an extra-long tie. This continuous drawstring forms both the adjustable neck loop as well as the wraparound… and around and around… waist ties. Because the tie slides freely through the casings it’s easy to adjust the neck loop to position the bib for your most comfortable fit.
This is a super fast and simple apron project – perfect for a beginning sewer. Plus, we provide links for several of our most popular technique tutorials, such as clipping curves, sharp corners, and understitching.
A free pattern download is offered below for both the side cut-outs as well as the facings. These have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easy.
As with store-bought aprons, our 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, this apron finishes approximately 25″ wide at its widest point across the center, the narrowest point at the top of the bib is approximately 9½”, and the total length, top of the bib to the bottom hem, is approximately 31“; the continuous tie is approximately 150″ long, which allows for extra-long, wraparound ties.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- To add the embroidery to the bib as we did, you need an embroidery machine; we used the Janome Skyline S9 and selected the built-in Anna Maria Horner Floral Cross Stitch design
- Satin Stitch foot; optional but good for decorative stitching
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1⅓ yards of 45″+ wide mid-weight cotton/linen blend or similar for the main panel exterior and pocket exterior; we used a 54” linen blend in natural
- 1⅓ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the main panel lining, pocket lining, and facings; we used a coordinating white quilting cotton with a faint natural, all-over motif – choose something close in color to the exterior fabric
- ¼ yard of 45”+ wide linen or similar for the ties; we used a 54″ linen blend in olive green, picking up one of the colors in the embroidery design
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- SIX colors of 40wt embroidery thread as indicated by the built-in Anna Maria Horner machine cross stitch embroidery design; the Janome embroidery thread colors are: 246-Moss Green, 232 Navy Blue, 215 Wine Red, 216 Pale Sky, 209, Pale Violet, and 203 Orange
- Stabilizer as indicated for your machine; we used an approximate 10” square of cut-away stabilizer,
NOTE: As shown below, we recommend a test stitch to best confirm the positioning on the bib of the apron, so make sure you have enough stabilizer on hand for both your test stitching as well as your final stitching.
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Large safety pin
- Seam sealant; optional for tie ends
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out our two patterns sheets: the Bib Cutaway and the two pieces that make up the Bib Facing. These patterns have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern element is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page to confirm your print out is to size
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines. Butt together the two facing pieces at the arrows as indicated on the pattern pieces. Do not overlap. Tape together to form the complete facing pattern.
- From the fabric for the apron exterior (the natural linen blend in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 26″ wide x 32″ high rectangle for the apron body exterior
ONE 26” wide x 8” high rectangle for the pocket exterior
- From the fabric for the apron lining (the quilting cotton in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 26″ wide x 32″ high rectangle for the apron body lining
ONE 26” wide x 8” high rectangle for the pocket lining
ONE 13” x 2” strip for the upper facing
Using the facing pattern, cut TWO for the armhole facings
- From the fabric for the apron ties (the green linen blend in our sample), cut THREE 1½” wide x 48” (length of fabric) strips
NOTE: You need enough strips to seam together into at least 135-140” — the longer the finished tie, the more times you can wrap it around when wearing.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Bib cut planning and embroidery placement
- Find the main exterior panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the Bib Cutaway pattern. Place it in the upper corner, aligning the pattern with the top and side raw edges. Pin in place and trace the curve of the cut out with a fabric pen or pencil.
NOTE: You can see in our photo above that we chose to first trace our 26” x 32” rectangle rather than cutting to size. This is totally optional – we often do it when confirming patterning sizing. When using a cut rectangle, as stated above, simply align the pattern with the top and side raw edges of the cut panel.
- DO NOT CUT along the drawn pattern curve yet.
- Repeat to drawn in the curve at the opposite side of your panel. Note that you will need to slip the pattern piece wrong side up to draw in the curve on this opposite corner.
NOTE: Remember, any time you are working on the right side of your fabric, make sure you are using a marking tool that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
Cross stitch machine embroidery
- Select your embroidery design. We chose an Anna Maria Horner built-in design on our Janome Skyline S9.
- The Cross Stitch Flower we chose was not quite as large as we wanted for our apron bib. But the flexibility of the Janome on-screen editing makes it easy to enlarge. We simply brought the selected design onto the grid screen.
- Then selected the enlarge icon.
- And increased to the maximum of 120%.
NOTE: Any time you reduce or enlarge a design, we recommend doing a test stitch-out so you can do your final placement planning with an actual size design. This is what we did and what you’ll see in the steps below. This test stitch-out can be done on a scrap of same or similar fabric and is also a good way to test your thread color selections.
- Return to your work surface where your main exterior panel should still be right side up and flat with the arm hole curves drawn in on either side.
- Measure and mark the center point between the inner edges of the drawn armhole curves.
- Find the test stitch-out described above.
- Place the test stitch-out on the apron panel, centering it side to side between the drawn armhole curves. Our enlarged cross stitch flower was positioned so the very top-most point of the design’s center line was approximately 2½” down from the top raw edge of the panel. Mark the center line of the design as well as the top-most and bottom-most points of the design.
- Find your machine’s appropriate hoop, we used the SQ14a Hoop on our Janome Skyline S9.
- Hoop your stabilizer. We used one layer of cut-away stabilizer.
- Place the exterior apron panel over the top of the hoop, using your marks to center the bib area of the apron over the hooped stabilizer. Pin in place.
NOTE: Many Janome models have a Baste function that can be used instead of pins. We opted for pins due the loose weave of the linen.
- Find the test stitch-out once more to confirm the position of the apron panel. You can see in the photo below that we measured and clipped center notches at the top, bottom, and sides of our test stitch-out to make this centering even easier.
- With everything correctly positioned, start your embroidery.
- Continue, changing thread colors as directed, until the design is complete.
- Remove the hoop from the machine. Remove the stitched apron panel.
- On the wrong side, trim away the excess stabilizer close to the design.
Final trim of the armhole curves
- Press the top of the bib, using a pressing cloth to protect the machine embroidery.
- Place the lining panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the exterior panel right side up and flat on top of the lining panel (in other words, wrong sides together), aligning all raw edges of both layers.
- This is an opportunity to re-draw the armhole curves slightly should you feel that is necessary in order for your finished embroidery design to be perfectly centered.
- Trim along the drawn curve lines through both layers.
- Discard the cutaway sections or drop into your stash.
Create, stitch, and place the pocket
- Find the two 26” x 8” pocket panels: one exterior panel and one lining panel.
- Place the two panels right sides together and pin along the top and bottom edges. The 8” side edges remain un-pinned.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top and bottom.
- Turn the pocket right side out through one of the open ends and press flat.
- Fold in each side towards the middle 7½” and press well to set a visible crease line. This will be the guide line you’ll use later to stitch the two pocket divisions. If you don’t feel your crease line is distinct enough, you can draw in a vertical guide line on the pocket exterior 7½” in from each side edge.
- Select a decorative stitch for the top of the pocket. On our Janome Skyline S9, we selected stitch #29 from within the Heirloom Decorative Stitch collection.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the drawstring ties in the top and bobbin.
- Attach a Satin Stitch foot or similar and stitch across the pocket’s top edge.
- As a reference for position, the center of our chosen stitch is approximately ⅝” down from the top seamed edge.
- With the decorative stitching completed, place the apron body exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pocket right side up on top of the body panel. The bottom edge of the pocket should be 8½” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and the side edges of the pocket should be flush with raw side edges of the main panel. Pin in place across the bottom of the pocket only.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the apron fabric in the top and bottom and re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Edgestitch across the pocket along the bottom edge only.
Seam front to back and stitch pocket divisions
- Place the exterior and lining apron panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. It helps to lightly pin the pocket along the top edge to keep it secure.
- Pin together the layers, from the bottom of the armhole curve on each side, down the sides and across the bottom. Do not pin along the curve itself. We added just a few pins across the top to help keep the layers secure.
- Re-set for a standard stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side – from the bottom of the armhole curve – and across the bottom.
- Clip the corners and turn right side out through the open top section of the apron.
- Using a long, blunt tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, gently push out the bottom corners so they are nice and sharp.
- Flatten the layers, which are now wrong sides together, so the top edge and armhole curves of both layers are flush. Press well.
- Re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Using either your pre-pressed pocket crease lines or drawn in guide lines, stitch the two pocket divisions through both layers. Use a lock stitch to start and stop your seam. If your machine does not have this function, leave the thread tails long, pull through to the back, and hand knot to secure.
Attach the side facings
- Find the two facing pieces.
- Re-set for a standard stitch length.
- Along the curved outer edge of each facing, stitch a guide line ¼” in from the raw edge. For tiny folds on curved pieces, having a stitch line to fold against makes it easier to get a precise hem.
- Using the stitch line as your guide, press back the outer curve of each facing piece ¼”.
- Place one facing piece right sides together along each each side of the front of the apron bib. As shown in the photo below the ends of the facing are flush with the top and side of the apron panel.
- The bottom of the facing will extend beyond the main apron panel. Fold back this excess amount to create a tiny him.
- Stitch the tiny hem in place. You are just stitching the facing – do not stitch onto the main apron panel. This tiny hem will allow a nicely finished edge to the bottom opening of the channel for the drawstring ties.
- Readjust the facing as needed so the top raw edges and bottom hemmed edges are flush with the curve of the main apron panel. Pin the facings in place on each side.
- Using ½” seam allowances, stitch each facing in place.
NOTE: The next four images were done as a prototype in bolder colors in order to better show the clipping and understitching steps. Our exterior and lining fabrics were so similar in tone, it was hard to tell what was going on. In these shots, the burgundy is the apron exterior and the pink is the apron lining.
- Generously clip the curves of each seam allowance and clip into the narrow hem of the outer edge of each facing to allow for the flattest finish.
- Press the seam allowance towards the facing.
- Flip over and understitch along the inner curve of each facing.
- Here’s what the understitching looks like from the back.
NOTE: If you are brand new to this technique, take a look at our step-by-step tutorial on Understitching prior to starting.
Attach the top facing and create the casings
- Find the top 13” x 2” facing.
- As you did with the armhole facings, stitch a ¼” guide line along one 13” edge. Then press back along this guide line.
- Place the raw 13” edge of the facing across the top of the apron panel. In order for the facing to fit side by side, as shown in the photo below, the armhole facings must be folded all the way out, including their tiny ¼” hems. Pin across the top.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top.
- Understitch this seam as you did the facing seams.
- Bring the top facing up and around to back, and re-folding all the original tiny hems, fold the side facings into position over the top facing.
- Pin along the inner curved edge of each armhole facing.
- Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch and edgestitch along each inner curve to create the side drawstring casings.
Make and insert the continuous tie
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the tie fabric. Re-set for a standard stitch length.
- Pin together the lengths of 1½” tie strips end to end. Then stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance, to create the long, continuous tie. As mentioned above, it should be approximately 140” in length when seamed together. Our tie was slightly longer since we started with a wide width linen fabric.
- Press open the seam allowances and clip away the “dog ears” extending beyond the strip.
- Fold the tie in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease line.
- Open up the tie, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. Fold in each long raw edge ¼” and press well.
- Fold again along the original crease line, concealing the raw edges within the folds. Those folded edges should be flush and the finished width of the tie should be ½”. Both ends are raw.
- Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch, edgestitch along the folded edges.
NOTE: It is easier to stitch evenly if the strip feeds into the center of the presser foot. Move the needle as far to the right as needed to sew along the folded edges.
- Make a simple knot in each end of the finished tie.
- Attach the large safety pin to one end.
- Insert the end through one side casing, from the bottom to the top, then loop over and insert through the opposite side casing from the top to the bottom.
- With the drawstring tie insert, trim the tails close to the knot and add a dab of seam sealant to each end to prevent raveling.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever
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Really nice close up stitching. Thanks!
Thanks, Kris! Machine cross stitch is pretty cool!