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Flannel Apron with Rick Rack Accents

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An apron in flannel makes for some cozy cookin'! We created our original sample from fat quarters, which is certainly still an option – either in flannel or crisp cotton. But, since flannel can be a bit more difficult to find in pre-cut bundles, our supply list below also specifies standard yardage cuts. The apron's ties adjust with grommets and knots to fit a variety of sizes. And rick rack around the bib and along the waistband is the perfect finishing touch.

The bib of the apron is lined, but the skirt is a single soft layer. The five vertical panels that make up the skirt are put together with pretty French seams so there are not raw seam allowances visible fron the front or back. The steps are outline below, but if you have brand new to the technique, we have a great four-part series on common machine sewn seam finishes that you can review prior to starting this project. 

We originally used Wee Wovens from Moda Fabrics, a collection that is no longer readily available. However, there are lots of beautiful flannels to choose from to create a similar look. Below are two combinations we put together from the flannel selection at Fat Quarter Shop. And, of course, as mentioned above you could certainly use a standard quilting cotton for this design. Click on a swatch for more detail.

Pink & Gray Plaid Combo

        

Gray & Blue Plaid Combo

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All the ties feature an easy, wrap-cinch-and-knot style utilizing metal eyelets, so adjustment for the best fit is very flexible. We also added a hanging loop along the waistband for clipping a hot pad or hand towel. In fact, we created a matching set of hot pads; bundle them together with the apron for a great gift idea. 

Just like off-the-rack aprons, ours is a one-size-fits-all design. For comparison, the bib finishes at 10" across, the waistband at 20", and the single long waist tie at about 40". 

Sewing Tools You Need

Sewing Machine and standard presser foot

Fabric and Other Supplies

We used FIVE Fat Quarters for our apron. Traditionally, these measure  18" x 22", however, these original brushed cottons ran just a bit smaller, approximately 18" x 21-21½". Our cuts are adjusted for this sizing. If you choose not to use Fat Quarters, you'll need ½ yard cuts from FIVE coordinating 44"+ wide cotton or similar fabrics.

  • We used the following FIVE fat quarters as follows: 
    Buffalo Plaid in Aqua for the center skirt panel and bib front
    Tiny Check in Aqua for the two inside skirt panels
    Plaid in Grey/ Aqua for the two outside skirt panels
    Tiny Check in Grey for the ties
    Tiny Plaid in Red for the pocket and bib lining 
  • ½ yard of 20"+ lightweight fusible interfacing for the bib; we used Shir-Tailor® by Pellon
  • 2 yards of jumbo rick rack to coordinate with fabrics; we used red
  • Three extra large (7/16") metal grommets with appropriate setting tools; we used a Dritz Extra Large Eyelet Kit in Nickel
  • All purpose thread to coordinate with fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Seam sealant

Getting Started

  1. Square each fat quarter by tugging on the the opposite corners. Then press to hold the shape. When cutting, using the lines of fabric's motif can help you keep a straight line. 
  2. Find the fat quarter for the two outside skirt panels (Plaid in Grey/Aqua in our sample). Cut it in half so each half now measures approximately 10½" x 18".
  3. Find the fat quarter for the two inside skirt panels (Tiny Check in Aqua in our sample). Cut it in half so each half now measures approximately 10½" x 18".
    NOTE: There's no need to remove the selvedge you may find on either fat quarter. If there, it will be very narrow and will be enclosed in the French seams used to form the skirt.
  4. Find the fat quarter for the center skirt panel and bib (Buffalo Plaid in Aqua in our sample). This buffalo plaid was a one way plaid, so care had to be taken to keep the direction consistent. If you have a similar direction motif, first place the squared fabric on your cutting mat. Cut an 18" x 11" wide panel from one side, keeping the plaid as centered as possible. The remaining panel is the center skirt panel. From the 11" wide panel, fussy cut an 11" x 11" square for the bib.
  5. Find the fat quarter for the ties (Tiny Check in Grey in our sample). From this fat quarter, cut the following:
    ONE 2½" x 21" strip for waistband
    TWO 4" x 21" strips for the waistband tie
    TWO 3½" x 18" strips for the neck tie
  6. Find the fat quarter for the pocket, waistband back, and bib lining (Tiny Plaid in Red in our sample). From this fat quarter, carefully cut the following (you will use nearly the entire piece):
    FIRST CUT: ONE 2½" x 21" strip for the back of the waistband
    ONE 11" x 11" square for the bib lining
    ONE 7" x 15" rectangle for the pocket
    ONE 1½" x 5" strip for the hot pad loop
  7. From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 11" x 11" square
    ONE 2½" x 21" strip
  8. Cut the rick rack into ONE 35" length and ONE 21" length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Assemble the skirt panels

  1. Find the five panels that make up the skirt. Arrange them as shown in the diagram above. For the purposes of the instructions below, we are referring the panels as shown, reading left to right: panel 1,2,3,4,5.
  2. As mentioned above, our apron skirt is not lined, but instead is finished with pretty French seams. If you are new to this technique, we have a step-by-step tutorial series on this and many other machine sewn seam finishes. 
  3. Attach panel 1 and panel 2 with a French seam. This seam starts with the panels sewn wrong sides together. 
  4. The seam is trimmed, then the panels are folded right sides together and stitched again, enclosing the first seam in the second.
  5. The result is a beautiful seam inside and out. 

    NOTE: The traditional garment French seam is based on a ⅝" seam allowance, with the first seam stitched at ⅜" and trimmed to ⅛" from the stitching (trimming off ¼"). The second seam is then stitched at ¼". Because we had such narrow panels, we instead chose to use a scant ¼" for the first stitching with no trimming, and a generous ¼" for the second stitching.
  6. Continue in this same manner to complete the skirt, stitching panel 1/2 to the center panel 3 with a French seam, panel 1/2/3 to panel 4, and panel 1/2/3/4 to panel 5. 
  7. Finish the sides and bottom edge of the sewn skirt panel with a narrow ¼" double turn hem. To do this, fold in the raw edge ¼" and press, then turn in an additional ¼" and press again. 
  8. Stitch in place, staying close to the inside folded edge. 

    NOTE: For more information on this type of narrow hem and the steps to create a pretty corner, see our tutorial: Narrow Hems with Neat Corners.

Pocket

  1. Find the 7" x 15" pocket piece. 
  2. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 7" x 7½".
  3. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along both sides (the 7½" edges are the sides) and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Leave an approximate 2"-3" opening along the bottom for turning. Clip corners. Press open the seam allowance. 
  4. Turn the pocket right side out through the bottom opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick, long knitting needle or point turner works well for this.
  5. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press flat.
  6. Find the sewn and hemmed skirt panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  7. The pocket should be centered over the leftmost panel seam (panels 1 and 2) and 4" down from the top raw edge. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  8. Re-thread the machine as necessary with thread to best match the pocket in the top and to best match the skirt fabric in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  9. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, ie. at the pocket top. This is a stress point for the pocket and it's smart to secure the seam well. 

Apron bib

  1. Find the 11 x 11 bib front, the 11 x 11 bib lining, the 11 x 11 interfacing, and the 35" rick rack length.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the bib front. 
  3. Place the rick rack along both sides and across the top of the bib front. The rick rack goes on the right side of the bib and should be centered on the ½" seam line, ie. the center of the rick rack should be ½" in from the raw edge. Pin in place. We adhered the rick rack as one length, folding on the diagonal at the top corners.
  4. Machine baste the rick rack in place.
  5. Place the bib lining right side together with the bib front, sandwiching the rick rack in between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the top. 
  6. Stitch the two layers together, working with the bib front on top so you can stitch directly over the original rick rack basting seam line. 
  7. Turn the bib right side out through the open bottom edge. Gently push at the corners and press flat. Trim away any excess rick rack from the bottom edge.

Waistband and tie

  1. Find all the following pieces:
    ONE 2½" x 21" strip for the front of the waistband
    TWO 4" x 21" strips for the waistband tie
    ONE 2½" x 21" strip for the back of the waistband
    ONE 2½" x 21" strip of interfacing
    ONE 21 length of rick rack
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the waistband front piece.
  3. Place this fused piece right side up on your work surface.
  4. Place the apron bib right side down on the waistband, centering the bib side to side on the waistband. Pin in place.
  5. Find the waistband back piece. Press under one long edge (one 21" edge) ½".
  6. Place the back waistband piece right sides together with the front waistband piece, aligning the 21" raw edges and sandwiching the bib between the layers. Pin in place.
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch from one end of the waistband to the other through all the layers. 
  8. Flip to the front; press the front of the waistband down and the back of the waistband up (the back will now be behind the bib).
  9. Pin the remaining length of rick rack across the lower raw edge of the front waistband piece. As above, the rick rack should be centered on the ½" seam line. 
  10. Center the rick rack side to side then fold back each end onto itself ½". Pin in place.
  11. Machine baste the rick rack in place. Add a dab of seam sealant on the raw folded-back ends of the rick rack. 
  12. Find the two 4" x 21" waist band tie strips. Pin them together end to end, and then stitch them together, using a ½" seam allowance, to create one long tie.
  13. Place the apron bib right side up on your work surface. Unfold the the ½" folded hem of the back of the waistband a bit just at the left end. 
  14. Place one end of the tie right sides together with this end of the waistband. Pin in place.
  15. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew this short vertical seam. Press the seam allowance flat flat.

Make the optional hot pad loop

  1. Find the 1½" x 5" strip for the hot pad loop.
  2. Fold the loop piece in half wrong sides together so it is now ¾" x 5" and press. 
  3. Open it back up, wrong side up, so the center crease is visible. Fold in each long side to meet in the middle along the center crease. Press. Fold in half again along the original crease line so the folded edges align and press. Pin in place.
  4. Edgestitch along the folded edges to secure. Both ends remain raw. 
  5. Fold this thin loop in half, aligning the raw edges.
  6. Place the loop on top of the stitched-in-place rick rack. The raw ends of the folded loop should be flush with the raw bottom edge of the waistband. We placed ours just inside the right edge of the apron bib. Hand or machine baste the loop in place within the seam allowance. 

Assemble the bib to the skirt with the waistband tie

  1. Find the skirt panel. 
  2. Run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt. To do this, stitch one or two lines of machine basting within th ½" seam allowance. Do not lock the beginning or end of the seam.  
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make Gathers by Machine
  3. Pull the row(s) of machine basting to gather the skirt to approximately 20". Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
  4. Place the waistband/bib right sides together with the gathered skirt panel. You are aligning bottom raw edge of the waistband front (the piece to which you basted the rick rack and loop) and the top gathered edge of the skirt. The waistband should be centered on the skirt so there is ½" free on both ends of the waistband; in other words, ½" of waistband extending beyond the gathered top of the skirt. Make sure the back of the waistband is folded up and out of the way. Pin in place.
  5. Stitch in place with the waistband on top so your new seam can follow the original rick rick machine basting seam line. 
  6. Fold the waistband and bib up into position and press well, pressing the seam allowance up toward the waistband. Your rick rack and loop now show along the bottom edge.
  7. You waistband tie is still one long flat piece hanging off the left side of the waistband. Let's finish it! Fold the tie right sides together, aligning the two long raw edges. Pin in place across the end and along the side. 
  8. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the end at a 45˚ angle.
  9. Pivot and continue stitching all along the side, ending and locking your stitch in line with the skirt's side hem.
  10. Trim the end of the tie.
  11. Turn right side out through the opening at the waistband end of the tie. Press flat.
  12. At the right end of the waistband, you should still have ½" of raw front and back waistband fabric extending beyond the skirt panel. Fold the waistband front and back right sides together, aligning just this short ½" tab. 
  13. Pin and then stitch in place with a ½" seam allowance, which means your seam should be directly in line with the skirt's side hem.
  14. Turn the waistband right side out and back down into its final position so its long folded edge is covering the skirt's top seam.
  15. Edgestitch in place through all the layers across the top of the waistband.
  16. Edgestitch around ALL four sides of the waistband: the long top and bottom edges as well as both short ends. As with most edgestitching, make sure your thread matches your fabric in both the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch.

Neck ties and grommets

  1. Find the two 3½" x 18" strips for the neck tie
  2. Place the two strips end to end, right sides together. Pin in place and then stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance, to make one continuous length. 
  3. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together. Pin in place along both ends and along the side, leaving a 3" opening for turning on the side.
  4. Using a ¼" seam allowance, create a 45˚ angle on both ends as you did with the waist tie above. Pivot and stitch along the side, remembering to lock your seam at either side of the 3" opening. 
  5. Trim the corners and turn the tie right side out through the opening. Poke out the corner points so they are nice and sharp, a long knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this. 
  6. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Hand stitch this opening closed. 
  8. Following manufacturer's instructions, or our own S4H step-by-step tutorial, add the extra large eyelets to the bib and waistband. The placement for the eyelets for the bib is 1" from each side at the upper corners of the bib: 1" from the center of the grommet's hole to the edge of the bib.
  9. The position for the waistband grommet is 1" from the right end of the waistband. 
  10. Thread one tie end through each of the two bib grommets to make the neck loop. 
  11. Holding the ties in place, slip the loop over your head and adjust the tie ends until the bib hits comfortably against your chest but is still loose enough that it can be pulled off over your head.
  12. When you have it just the way you want it, tie a knot in each end to secure.
  13. The waist tie is secured in a similar manner. Wrap the tie around your waist to a comfortable fit. Slip the tie's end through the waistband grommet and make a "sloppy knot" or one-loop bow to secure.
     

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Michele Mishler

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