Here in the Pacific Northwest, spring has been bursting out all over. The flowers and trees are in full bloom with explosions of color around every corner. We took this floral inspiration to heart in our lovely new apron project. The fabric is from the new Bliss collection from Riley Blake, which features hints of sparkling metallic in many of the prints. Our apron’s front fabric has hints of glittering rose gold.
A new apron always brightens the day. And with its distinctive details, this one seems pretty enough to wear outside the kitchen. But it is all cotton, and it can – and should – be used and enjoyed. Throw it in the washer and dryer, hit it with a steam iron, and it’s ready to wear again to brighten another day.
Our thanks for Riley Blake for sending us cuts from their beautiful Bliss fabric collection. There are 21 different prints from which to choose, including florals, dots, stripes, and more. It combines soothing pastels as well as rich blacks, and as mentioned, there are subtle metallic accents in several of the prints. You can find Bliss on virtual and in-store shelves now at your favorite retails.
By choosing two closely coordinating prints, you end up with an apron that is beautiful from front to back. The Bliss Dot we used in combination with the Bliss Floral adds great accents on the front and peeks out when the neck and waist ties are looped into a knot or bow.
You’ll add pleats across the bib and well as the top of the skirt. The strong vertical lines of the pleats match perfectly above and below the waistband. Pleating guides are offered as part of the free pattern download below to make the technique quick and easy. But if you are brand new to either inverted box pleats or knife pleats, we’ve included links to our full step-by-step tutorials for both.
There is also a link to our tutorial on how to motif-match a pocket to a panel, the technique we used to blend our pockets into the skirt. But we didn’t want the pockets to completely disappear; they have cute diagonal flaps that reveal a bit of the background Bliss Dot fabric, held in place by a pretty button at the point.
This apron is meant to have a soft drape so it wraps your shape and so the neck and waist ties are easy to knot or tie into a bow. Because of this, there is limited use of interfacing – just a little bit in the waistband and pockets and behind the bib pleats to keep them crisp.
A final sweet embellishment is the lace that runs across the top of the bib. You need just a 10” length – you might have just the thing in your scrap stash. If buying new, look for cotton for ease of laundering and choose a design that accents but doesn’t complete with the main fabric.
As we roll into spring and summer wedding season, remember that a cute apron along with a few kitchen essentials and a recipe or two makes a wonderful gift. Or, if you’re searching for something unique for your bridal party, how about matching aprons in the wedding colors?!
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, the waistband of this apron is approximately 19″ wide, the waist ties are each approximately 33″ long, the skirt length is 17″, the bottom of the skirt flares out to approximately 30”, and the bib is about 10″ at its widest point (along the bottom), 9” at its narrowest point (across the top), and 10″ high.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1½ yards of 44”+ quilting weight cotton for the main front fabric; we used Main Floral in Blush with Rose Gold Sparkle from the Bliss collection by Riley Blake Fabrics
NOTE: Yardage shown includes approximately ¼ yard extra for fussy cutting the pockets to match the skirt front.
- 1½ yards of 44”+ quilting weight cotton for the back and accent fabric; we used Dots in Blush from the Bliss collection by Riley Blake Fabrics
- ¼ yard of 45”+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used 45” Pellon Décor Bond
- ½ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 20” Pellon Shape-Flex
- ⅓ yard of lace trim for the bib
- TWO ¾” buttons for the pockets
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern/Template Downloads
- Apron Pattern Binder: Download and print out the FIVE pattern pieces (Bib Front Pleat Panel 1, Bib Front Pleat Panel 2, Bib Front Top, Lining Part A, and Lining Part B ) and the TWO pleating templates (Bib Pleat Guide and Skirt Pleat Guide), which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each of the seven pages within this PDF 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 so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the two pieces that make up the Bib Front Pleat Panel. Using the arrows printed on the pattern pieces, butt them together (do no overlap) and tape together to create the full-size pattern. Repeat to assemble the two pieces that make up the Bib Front Top pattern and the two pieces that make up the Bib Lining pattern.
- Cut out the three sections that make up the Bib Pleat Guide along the solid line, then, using the arrows as a guide, butt together the three pieces (do not overlap) and tape together to create the full-size template. Repeat with the two sections that make up the Skirt Pleat Guide to create this second full size template.
- From the main front fabric (the floral in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 23” wide x 8½” high rectangle for the bib front; this panel will be cut to size with the pattern after pleating
ONE 20” x 2½” strip for the waistband front
TWO 26” x 2½” strips for the neck tie fronts
TWO 31 x 2½” strips for the waist tie fronts
TWO 6½” wide x 7” high rectangles for the pocket fronts
NOTE: We fussy cut our pocket fronts to match the front skirt panel. For more information on this technique, review our full tutorial on matching a pocket to a panel.
ONE 31” wide x 18” high rectangle for the skirt front
- From the main back and accent fabric (the dots in out sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Bib Lining pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled Bib Top pattern, cut ONE
ONE 20” x 2½” strip for the waistband back
TWO 26” x 2½” strips for the neck tie backs
TWO 31 x 2½” strips for the waist tie backs
TWO 6½” wide x 7” high rectangles for the pocket backs
ONE 31” wide x 18” high rectangle for the skirt back
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 19 x 1½” strip for the waistband
TWO 5½ x 6” rectangles for the pockets
- Trim the assembled lining pattern along the dotted seam line. Use this trimmed pattern to cut ONE from the lightweight interfacing.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Pleating the bib
- Find the 23” x 8½” starting panel for the bib front. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the assembled Bib Pleat Guide.
- Center the guide along the bottom of the panel. Lightly pin the guide in place and mark each of the dotted pleat guide lines – both the blue lines and the red lines. We simply made an approximate ¼” clip into the raw edge of the fabric at each mark. You could also mark with a fabric pen or pencil (in different colors to coordinate with the colors on the template) or even use a small hand basting stitch to mark.
- Repeat to center the guide along the top of the panel. Make sure you are EXTRA careful that the guide exactly matches the position you used to mark along the bottom. You might want to use a clear ruler, placing it perpendicular to the center mark along the bottom to mark the center point along the top. Clip in or draw in matching marks along the top of the panel.
- Using the top and bottom marks, press in a vertical fold line for each outer pleat line (all the blue lines on our template). There are five inverted box pleats, each of which has three marks: two blue outer marks and one red center mark). You should end up with a total of 10 vertical fold lines across your 23” x 8½” starting panel.
- To create each inverted box pleat, bring in the outer folds so they meet at the center mark. Pin in place at the top and bottom.
- These pleats are a prominent design element on the apron; it’s very important the pleats are perfectly straight from the top to the bottom.
- Don’t be afraid to use a lot of pins.
- If you are brand new to creating box pleats, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting the project. Below is a back view of the finished pleats.
- Machine baste across all the pleats along both the top and bottom to secure.
- Pleating is not necessarily an exact science, so we have provided a pattern to use to make sure your newly pleated front panel is a perfect match to the lining with the correct angle to each side. Find the assembled Bib Front Pleat Panel pattern.
- Place the pleated starter panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Center the pattern on the fabric, aligning the printed lines on the pattern with your actual pleats. Pin in place.
- Cut around the pattern to create your final bib front panel.
Add the lace and upper bib accent
- Find your length of lace. Centering the lace as required for your trim, place it along the top of the pleated bib panel. Pin in place and trim away the excess from each side.
- Find the Bib Front Top piece. Place it right sides together along the top of the pleated bib panel, sandwiching the lace between the layers. Re-pin through all three layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top through all the layers.
- Press the top piece up into position, pressing up the seam allowance. Grade the seam allowance.
- Find the panel of lightweight fusible interfacing. Center it on the wrong side of the completed front panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Set aside the completed bib front.
Create the neck ties, place the neck ties, and assemble the bib
- Find the two sets of front and back neck tie strips.
- Place each set of two layers right sides together and pin along both sides and across one end.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch along both sides and across the end of each layered pair. Remember to sharply pivot at each upper corner.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Using a long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press the ties flat.
- Find the completed bib front and the bib lining. Place the front and back layers right sides together. Pin together along both sides and across the top.
- As always, you should have already transferred all pattern markings to your fabric panels. If you accidentally forgot, mark the upper dots that indicate the neck tie placement. We again simply clipped into the raw edges for our markings.
- Find the two neck ties, slip them between the front and back layers, aligning the raw end of each tie with the placement marks along the top of the bib. Re-pin in place through all the layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the top of the bib through all the layers. At the upper corners, as you stop to pivot, make sure you are fully past the tie before pivoting; you don’t want to catch the side of the tie in the side seam. Remember, the bottom of the bib remains open.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the bib right side out through the open bottom. Pull the ties up into position. Press the bib flat.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly. Edgestitch along the lace within the top bib accent panel.
- Machine baste the bottom edge of the bib closed ½” up from the bottom raw edge. This will be a helpful guide line below when inserting the bib into the waistband.
- Set aside the completed bib.
Create and place the pockets
- Find the front and back pocket panels and the matching panels of mid-weight interfacing.
- Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each front panel (the floral panel in our sample), centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place each set of two panels right sides together. All four sides of the two layers should be flush. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom edge.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the layers together. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the 3” opening. Gently push out all four corners so they are sharp, 90˚ angles. As above, a long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find the main skirt panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place each pocket into position, also right side up, on the skirt panel. As mentioned above, we fussy cut our front pocket panels to match our skirt panel, which makes placement easy. Each pocket should sit 4” down from the upper raw edge of the skirt panel and 3½” in from the side raw edge. Lightly pin each pocket in place along the sides and across the bottom.
- Unpin the outer corner of each pocket. Fold down this outer corner to create the pocket flap. You are folding at a diagonal. The base of the diagonal is approximately 3½” up from the bottom corner of the pocket. Lightly press the flap fold. Re-pin the side of the pocket as necessary.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place, starting at the upper inside corner of the pocket.
- Pivot at the corner, stitch along the bottom (this closes the opening used for turning), then stitch back up the opposite side, stopping and locking the seam at the bottom the pocket flap.
- The next step is to stitch a button at the point of each pocket flap. Find the two buttons and thread the hand sewing needle with thread to best match the pocket front.
- The button is centered in the point of the flap. We recommend hiding the knot of the thread under the flap at the start of your stitching.
- Then re-fold along the diagonal and continue hand sewing the button in place through all the layers of the pocket. Remember, you are sewing through the flap and the front of the pocket – not the skirt… don’t sew the pocket closed!
Stitch together the main skirt layers
- Place the main front panel, with the pockets in place, right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the skirt back panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the pockets between the layers. The edges of the front panel and the back panel should be flush on all four sides. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The top remains open.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the skirt right side out through the open top and press flat, pushing out the corners so they are nice and sharp as you did above with a long, blunt tool.
Pleat the skirt panel
- The top of the skirt has one inverted box pleat at the center and three knife pleats to either side. Find the Skirt Pleat Guide and place it along the top raw edge of the skirt panel, aligning the exact center of the template with the exact center of the layered skirt panels. Lightly pin the template in place and mark each of the guide lines as you did above when marking the box pleats for the bib.
- For the knife pleats, pinch at the mark and fold in toward the center.
- Pleat three to the left of center and three to the right of center. If you are brand new to making knife pleats, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting the project.
- Finish your pleating sequence with the single inverted box pleat at the center of the panel.
- With all the pleats pinned in position, machine baste to secure.
- At either side of the pleats, run additional lines of machine basting from the edge of the outer pleat to the side of the skirt panel. These two additional lines of basting will act as gathering stitches to fit the skirt into the waist band.
Create waistband and ties, insert the bib and skirt to finish
- Find the front and back waist band panels, the two sets of front and back waist ties, and the matching pieces of mid-weight interfacing for the waistband.
- Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of the front waistband panel (the floral panel in our sample), centering each so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- You now have two sets of three pieces for the front and back of the waistband and ties, one interfaced and one plain.
- Pin the ties to either end of the waistband piece. Do this for both the front and the back sets.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch these two short seams in both assembled sets of three.
- Press the seam allowances open and flat. You now have two long waistband/tie strips.
- Place these two long strips right sides together, lining up all raw edges and the seams.
- 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. Measure and mark carefully to insure the openings are centered. You need a 10″ opening along the top of the waistband and a 19″ opening along the bottom of the waistband.
- Stitch the two waistband/tie pieces together, using a ½” seam allowance. Start at the right side of the bottom opening, stitch along one side all the way out to the end of the tie, pivot at the corner, stitch across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the top of the tie to the right side of the top opening.
- Remove from machine. Move to the other end of the top opening. Start stitching again, down one side, pivot at the corner, stitch across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the bottom of tie, ending at the opposite side of the bottom opening.
- Clip all the corners and press these long seam allowances open and flat.
- Turn right side out through the middle openings. Press. If need be, reach into the corner points with your long, blunt tool to help smooth out the seam and make a nice point at all the corners.
- Make sure you press in the raw edges of the openings so these edges (top and bottom) are flush with the sewn seams.
- With everything pressed flat, find the exact center of the waistband. Mark this point both top and bottom.
- Insert the bib into the top opening (the 10″ opening) of the waistband. Remember that basting stitch you added to the bottom of the bib? You can now use this seam to align the bib, making sure it is inserted evenly and the waistband covers it and is perfectly straight across the front of the bib. Pin in place.
- Find the skirt panel.
- Using the basting to either side of the center pleats, gather the skirt to 19”, making sure the gathers are even to either side of the pleats.
- Insert the skirt into the bottom opening (the 19″ opening) of the waistband. Take the time to make sure your pleats align from the bib to the skirt. Pin in place.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch, within the waistband to secure the bib and skirt in place.
- Locking your seam, start at the left corner of the bib, edgestitch along the bib to the opposite corner, pivot, stitch across the end of the waistband, pivot, stitch along the skirt from one side to the other, pivot again to stitch across the opposite end of the waistband, bringing you back to the corner at which you started. You are simply stitching a long rectangle within the waistband. Do not stitch out onto the ties.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild