• Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Print
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • PDF
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Print

If A is for Apron, this hardworking half continues through the alphabet with B is for Bees and C is for Cute! Our beginner-friendly design in tough cotton canvas lends itself to indoor or outdoor chores. You can even choose machine embroidery and decorative stitching accents to add fashion to its five-pocket function. 

There’s no fancy pattern required; it’s simply one main panel plus three strips to form the waistband. You need just one yard of mid-weight fabric, such as the cotton canvas we used or perhaps a denim, outdoor fabric or even a poly/cotton poplin. It should be sturdy but not super stiff or the apron may not wrap comfortably and the hems could become too bulky.

S4H loves to add a little embellishment when possible, and since we used a solid color base fabric, a bit of machine embroidery and decorative stitching was just the thing. The Queen Bee embroidery is a S4H Custom Design, available for purchase in our S4H Etsy Shop. Click here for details. You could, of course, use another embroidery design of your choice, an appliqué or forgo the option altogether and keep your pockets plain. 

Our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring this apron project. We used the sewing and embroidery Skyline S9 for our sample construction, but depending on whether or not you opt to add all the decorative options, it’s a project that could easily be done on any model… with the caveat that anytime you’re working with thick seams and dense hems, you need a machine that can handle the heavy stuff. We’re proud to be a Janome exclusive studio because it means we don’t worry about fabric feeding challenges. Janome machines are known throughout the industry for their power and precision. We detail all our presser foot and stitch setting choices below.

The decorative stitching is a standard design (#30 on the Janome Skyline S9). It echoed the frame of our Queen Bee embroidery. When choosing a decorative stitch design, you want a narrower finish that will fit within the ¾” waistband as well as along each of the pocket divisions. Our thread was a 40wt rayon. As always, don’t forget to test your stitch options first to make sure you love the look before you dive into your project. 

At the top of each pocket division, we stitched a small wooden button, using the excellent Janome Button Stitching foot and the appropriate stitch settings on the Skyline S9. There are a lot of layers coming together at these points so incorporating a little “machine power” was a plus. With a strong needle and a good thimble, you could certainly opt to hand stitch. 

The pocket top accents are another choice you get to make: follow our sample with pretty buttons or substitute rivets. As a hardworking half apron, we do recommend some type of support along the pocket top. It’s the main stress point when reaching in and out as you go about your chores, and it deserves some extra reinforcement. 

If you stick with a heavier substrate as described, no interfacing or lining is required. The back of the embroidery design is completely hidden on the inside of the pocket so any stabilizer remnants won’t be visible. 

As with store-bought aprons, our design is meant to be one-size-fits-most. However, we realize you may still wish to make yours smaller or larger. As a reference, this half apron finishes at approximately 24” wide across the main panel, 13” high, and with two wraparound ties – each about 28” (long enough to tie at the back with a bow or wrap around to the front and knot). The five pockets are 8” deep. We created four pockets at 4” wide and one center pocket at 8” wide; you can, of course, change the pocket divisions to best fit your tools. 

Our thanks to Janome America for their support of this project and many of the other most popular projects across the S4H site. To understand first-hand why we are a Janome Exclusive Studio, we invite you to visit a local Janome dealer for an in-person test stitch on the machines we consider to be the best in the industry. To find out more before you go, visit the Janome website and follow them on social media.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1 yard of 45”+ cotton canvas or similar mid-weight fabric, such as denim, outdoor fabric or even a sturdy poly/cotton poplin; we used a standard 45” cotton canvas in chocolate brown
  • 40wt polyester embroidery thread for machine embroidery and decorative stitching – it should coordinate with but stand out against the fabric; we used Sulky 40wt Rayon in Copper
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric for construction
  • SIX ” – ” buttons; optional for pocket top accents; we used ” wooden buttons – another option would be metal rivets – look for rivets with a longer shank
  • Tearaway stabilizer as recommended for your machine; if doing the machine embroidery
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth; optional but a good idea when pressing machine embroidery and/or decorative stitching
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Heavy duty hand sewing needle and thimble; optional if hand sewing the accent buttons
  • Straight pins and/or clips; clips can be good option for securing thick layers

Getting Started and Optional Embroidery Download

  1. From the fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 26” wide x 22” high rectangle
    THREE 3” x WOF (width of fabric) strips
    NOTE: Why WOF? Because it is easiest to trim at the proper width then trim to size as there is less chance of inconsistencies in the width, which is the most important dimension.
  2. From the THREE 3” strips, trim off the selvedges then trim ONE strip to 25” and each of the other TWO strips to 29”.
  3. If you wish to use our Queen Bee embroidery design; you can purchase it from our Etsy Shop. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: Throughout the project, we recommend you use a quality, hot iron, adding steam when appropriate. When working with heavier fabrics, it can be harder to achieve strong creases, hems, and other folds without proper tools. Also, as mentioned above, a pressing cloth is a good option when pressing embroidery and/or decorative stitching. 

Stitch together the waistband/tie strips and create three crease lines

  1. Find the THREE 3” strips. 
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch a 29” strip to either end of the 25” strip. The cotton canvas fabric we used was the same front and back; if you have a more distinct fabric, your fabric should be right sides together when stitching. 
  3. Press the two seam allowances open and flat.
  4. Fold the sewn strip in half, so it is now 1½” in width, and press well to set a very strong crease line.
  5. Unfold so that center crease line is visible and fold each long, raw edge into the middle to meet at the original center crease. Again, press well to set these two additional crease lines.

    NOTE: If your fabric has a distinct right side and wrong side, do this folding with the fabric wrong side together, which means when unfolded and right side up, your crease lines will actually peak upwards, like a long mountain range. This will make them easier to see and will allow you to better center the decorative stitching as well as to re-fold the waistband/ties prior to final placement.
  6. Set aside the folded strip. 

Hem the bottom 

  1. Along the bottom raw edge of the main panel (the bottom 26” raw edge), create a double-turn ½” hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge ½” and press well. Then, fold back another ½” and press again. Your original raw edge is now hidden within the double folds.
  2. Pin or clip the hem in place.
  3. Thread the machine with all purpose thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. 
  4. Stitch the hem in place, staying close to the inner fold.

Optional front pocket embellishment

  1. As mentioned above, we chose to use the single-color Queen Bee embroidery design available from our S4H Etsy Shop. You can choose your favorite design, opt instead for appliqué or hand-embroidery, or simply leave the pocket plain. 
  2. Fold up the hemmed bottom edge 8” – it should measure 8” from the bottom of the fold to the top of the hem. Press well to set a visible crease line.
  3. Unfold and flip over the panel so the bottom pocket section is right side up. 
  4. Find the exact center point side-to-side across the entire panel and top-to-bottom within the 8” section you just measured above. 
  5. Set up your machine for embroidery with the contrasting rayon machine embroidery thread in the top and bobbin.
  6. We hooped our tear-away stabilizer and then placed the fabric on top of the hoop.

    NOTE: Cotton canvas is especially susceptible to hoop marks, which can be very difficult to remove. It’s better to place the fabric above the hoop and rely on a baste function to hold the fabric against the hooped stabilizer. We do love the Janome embroidery baste function!
  7. Begin stitching.
  8. Our design was chosen for its subtle, one-color finish. As always, the final embellishment choices are up to you.
  9. Remove the hoop from the machine and the fabric from the hoop. Tear away as much of the residual stabilizer as possible, but don’t stress about it too much as the back of the embroidery will be hidden inside the pocket. 

Re-position pocket, hem sides, add pocket divisions and decorative stitching

  1. With your pocket embellishment complete, re-fold the pocket up into position – 8” in depth from the bottom fold to the top of the hem. Press well.
  2. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  3. Along each side edge, machine baste the layers to insure there will be no shifting of the pocket.
  4. Create a double-turn ½” hem, that wraps from front around to the back, along each side. Similar to above, this means you will fold back the basted edge ½” and press well, then fold an additional ½” and press again.
  5. Pin or clip the hems in place.
  6. Stitch the hems in place, staying close to the inner fold.
  7. With the side hems complete, place the apron panel right side up and flat on your work surface to mark for the pocket divisions. 
  8. The exact measurements for your pockets may vary from our sample based on the size of the embellishment, if any, you added to the center of the pocket panel. We enlarged our Queen Bee embroidery slightly, using the on-board editing functions on our Janome Skyline S9, so it finished at just under 6” square. Because of this finished size, we wanted our center pocket to be approximately 8” in width.
  9. This left us with 8” to either side of the center pocket, which we divided equally into two 4” pockets on each side. On both side edges, we measured and marked at 4” in from the side and 8” in from the side.
  10. Make these measurements both top and bottom to insure your pocket divisions will be as straight and true as possible.
  11. Use a marking tool connect the top and bottom marked points to create your four vertical pocket division lines. You are working on the right side of the fabric, so make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. Or – choose our technique of folding and pressing to create visible crease lines.
  12. The machine should still be threaded with matching thread in the top and bobbin. 
  13. Stitch along each vertical guide line to create the four pocket divisions.
  14. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting rayon embroidery thread in the top and bobbin.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we used our standard presser foot for all decorative stitching. For an even wider view, either the regular Satin Stitch foot or the Open Toe Satin Stitch foot would be a good alternative. 
  15. Select a decorative stitch.
    NOTE: As mentioned within the introduction above, when choosing a decorative stitch design, you want a narrower finish that will fit within the ¾” waistband as well as along each of the pocket divisions. In addition, remember thicker fabrics can sometimes require a slightly denser stitch pattern in order to really show up well. We selected Decorative Stitch #30 on the Janome Skyline S9, which fit all our criteria and was a good match to the details on the Queen Bee embroidery. We used a full 9mm stitch width.
  16. Stitch along each of the four vertical guidelines.
  17. Then, stitch within the hems on either side — you are just stitching within the hem to the top of the pocket; do not stitch above the pocket. And, you are not following a crease line for the hem stitching, you should simply center your stitching with the hem itself.

Attach the waistband, including adding its decorative stitching

  1. Find the waistband/ties strip, which should have its three crease lines already in place. 
  2. With the strip right side up, stitch within the third “channel,” just to the right of the center crease line. As above with the hem, you are centering your stitching within this channel.
  3. Run the decorative stitch the entire length of the strip.
  4. Along the length of the strip, fold in the raw edges so they meet in the middle. The layers should be wrong sides together.
  5. At each tie end, fold along the center crease, right sides together.
  6. Pin each end in this right-sides-together position. 
  7. Once again, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across each end through all the layers.
  9. Trim back the seam allowance at each end.
  10. Flip the ends right side out to reveal your neatly finished tie ends. Yay, you! The center of the waistband is still unsewn, which is correct.
  11. Find the exact center point of the waistband and mark this point with a pin. Then, find the exact center point along the top raw edge of the main panel and mark this point with a pin. 
  12. With right sides together, align your two center pin points. As shown in the photo below, make sure you are aligning the raw edge of the waistband that is closest to your decorative stitching to the top raw edge of the main panel. These two raw edges should be flush.
  13. Stitch all the way across the main panel, through both layers, running the seam right along the upper crease line. You are stitching side-hem-to-side-hem across the panel.
  14. Fold the waistband up and around to the back, revealing the decorative stitching “channel” at the front and the folded plain channel at the back. Each tie simply folds together on itself.
  15. We switched to our Janome Blind Hem foot for our final topstitching for a super-precise seam. 
  16. We also moved our needle position to the left (to 1.0), which allowed us to use the Blind Hem foot’s center flange to become the perfect guide.
  17. Stitch from the end of one tie…
  18. … across the main panel, and out to the end of the opposite tie.
  19. It’s a beautiful finish from to back.

Pocket top accents

  1. We stitched a button at the top of each pocket division to help reinforce these stress points. Our choice was to use the Janome Button Sewing foot.
  2. There are a lot of layers coming together at these points so incorporating a little “machine power” was a plus. With a strong needle and a good thimble, you could certainly opt to hand stitch.
    NOTE: If you are new to using the Janome Button Sewing foot, you can check out our step-by-step tutorial prior to starting.
  3. Another option would be to substitute long-shank rivets for the buttons. 


Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

Notify of

*Sew4Home reserves the right to restrict comments that don’t relate to the article, contain profanity, personal attacks or promote personal or other business. When commenting, your name will display but your email will not.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Translate »

You cannot copy content of this page



Enter your email address below to subscribe to the Sew4Home newsletter. Be the first to see new projects and patterns, helpful techniques, and new resources to enhance your sewing experience.


We will never sell, rent or trade your personal information to third parties.