It may be a half apron, but it’s full of pretty details. For yourself or as a delightfully easy gift, this pretty apron mixes a very lightweight solid cotton with a bold quilting cotton print. The gorgeous fabric we chose is from Jennifer Paganelli’s Color Brigade collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Its swirling floral motif and sunny color palette does the heavy-lifting to create eye-catching accents. And the solid sheer cotton helps keep the gathered skirt and wide waist ties soft and flowing.
We added slash pockets, and show you an easy way to create both the bound outer edge, with its pretty rick rack accent, and inside finished edged. In fact, the entire back of this apron is nicely finished with no ragged seam allowances showing despite all the individual pieces coming together. As always, we’ve looked for the easiest way to get the best results.
The little bit o’ rick rack embellishment along the edges of all the floral accents adds just the right texture. This should be a subtle touch; we recommend picking a tone that coordinates with the main color theme of your fabric rather than pulling out a brighter color. Although these brighter colors may indeed be part of the print, they can sometimes pull too much attention away from the main motif. And you know how rowdy it gets when your colors start to fight amongst themselves! We used a medium yellow that coordinates well but still shows up against the pale ivory of the solid panels.
Our waistband is nice and wide, showcasing a generous section of the fabric’s motif at the apron’s center. A wider band can also be more comfortable to wear in this style, and since our waist ties are both wide and long, they can be tied at the back in a beautiful bow or wrapped around the front in a looped knot.
If you’re looking for a great gift idea, this may be just the ticket. Bundle it with matching kitchen utensils, a favorite cookbook or a few summer jams and preserves. No gift wrap is needed when you have such vibrant fabric!
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 front waistband of this apron is 18" wide, the ties are each approximately 34" long, and the total skirt length (from the bottom of the hem to the bottom of the waistband) is 17”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 45"+ wide sheer-weight cotton for the apron skirt's top panel, pockets, and waist ties; we used Manchester Yarn Dyed Cotton Lawn in Ivory from Robert Kaufman
- ⅝ yard of 45"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron skirt's bottom panel, the waistband, and the pocket binding; we used Gretchen in Citrine from the Color Brigade collection by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of mid-weight fusible interfacing for the apron waistband; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- 2 yards of medium rick rack; we used yellow rick rack, purchased locally
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the the apron skirt's top panel, pockets, and waist ties, cut the following:
ONE 35" wide x 9½“ high rectangle for the top skirt panel
TWO 6¾“ wide x 9½” high rectangles for the pockets
TWO 8" x 35" strips for the waist ties
- From the fabric for the apron skirt's bottom panel, the waistband, and the pocket binding, cut the following:
ONE 35" wide x 12½" high rectangle for the bottom skirt panel
ONE 19” wide x 8” high rectangle for the waistband
TWO 10” x 2” strips for the pocket binding
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut ONE 18” x 3½” rectangle.
- Cut the rick rack into ONE 19” length, ONE 35” length, and TWO 8” lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Hem the bottom panel
- Since we were working with a directional print, we hemmed the bottom first to avoid any change of getting it upside down during construction. Yes… even we make mistakes like that sometimes. Better safe than sorry!
- To make this hem, fold back the bottom raw edge of the bottom accent panel ½” and press well.
- Fold an additional 2” and press again. Pin in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch the hem in place, staying close to the inner fold.
- Set accent the hemmed panel.
- Find the 35" x 9½“ top skirt panel.
- Fold the panel in half, wrong sides together so it is now 17½“ x 9½“. Place the folded panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Make sure the panel is positioned so the upper corners are indeed, the upper corners.
- Working along the outside raw edges, not the folded edge, measure 6" in from the corner along the top and 4" down from the corner along the side. Use your ruler to draw a diagonal line connecting the 6" and 4" marks.
- Cut along the drawn line through both layers.
- Open the panel back up. It should still be right side up.
- Find the two 10" x 2" pocket binding strips.
- Press a binding strip in half, wrong sides together, to create a center crease. Re-open the strip, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. Press in each long raw edge to meet in the middle at the crease line. Re-fold the strip along the original crease line, aligning the folded edges. Press again. You have created your own folded binding. Repeat with the second binding strip.
- Slip a binding strip over each pocket slash and pin in place.
- Find an 8” length of rick rack. Slip it under the front folded edge of the binding so half of the rick rack peeks out from the fold across the pocket. Make sure the rick rack reveal is even, then re-pin through all the layers. Repeat on the opposite side.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch the binding in place through all the layers. Stay as close the fold as possible, but make sure you catch both the front and back of the binding in this one seam.
- Trim away the excess binding and rick rack at the top and side edges so everything is flush.
- Find the two 6¾“ x 9½“ pocket pieces. Place the pieces right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Fold forward one 9½” side edge of each pocket panel ¼“. Press in place. The other three edges remain unfolded and raw.
- Place a pocket panel, right side up, behind the main skirt top panel at either side. This means the right side of the pocket is against the wrong side of the main panel in order for the top of the pocket to be facing the proper direction.
- The folded edge of each panel should be facing the center of the main panel and the top, side, and bottom raw edges of the pocket panel should be flush with the top, side, and bottom raw edges of the main panel. Pin in place. You folded that inner edge of the pocket panel forward, so its raw edge is now sandwiched between the layers.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the top panel fabric in the top and bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch.
- Flip over the main panel so it is easier to see the inner folded edge.
- Edgestitch the pocket to the skirt along just this folded edge.
- Repeat to attach the second pocket.
- Flip over the main panel so it is now right side up. Run a second line of stitching ¼” from the first stitching within the pocket.
NOTE: This second line of stitching is optional. Our sheer cotton was prone to fraying so this extra seam helps reinforce the inner edge of the pocket.
- Baste along the raw side and bottom edges of the pocket through both layers.
Assemble the skirt panels
- Find the 35” length of rick rack and the bottom skirt panel.
- Place the rick rack across the top edge of the bottom skirt panel (the panel should already be hemmed along the bottom). The center of the rick rack should be ½” below the raw edge of the fabric panel. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the rick rack and bottom skirt panel in the top and bobbin.
- Machine baste down the center of the rick rack across the entire panel.
- Find the top skirt panel. Place it right sides together with the bottom skirt panel. Remember, you are lining up the bottom of the top skirt panel and the top of the bottom skirt panel. BUT… the two layers are not flush. The raw edge of the top skirt panel should extend ½” above the raw edge of the bottom skirt panel. You will use this extra ½” to finish the seam allowance with a flat felled seam.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Following along in the rick rack basting seam, stitch together the layers.
- Fold that extra ½” down over the seam allowance, then press the entire folded edge down towards the bottom panel, wrapping and concealing the raw edges of the seam allowance.
- Press well across the skirt panel, creating a pretty finished seam at the back of the apron.
- Stitch across again close to the inner fold to secure.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch again.
- Along each side edge, make a 1” double-turn hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge ½” and press. Then, fold back an additional ½” and press again, concealing the raw edge between the folds. Stitch close to the inner fold.
NOTE: We used a very pale yellow thread and so stitched with this color along the entire side edge. If your colors are more distinct, you may want to take the time to stop and re-thread for the best match across each panel.
- Set aside the skirt panel.
Make the waist ties
- Find the two 8" x 35" waist ties.
- Fold each strip in half, right sides together, so it is now 4” x 35”.
- Layer the two folded strips, one on top of the other, so all edges are flush.
- At one end, trim at a 45˚ angle through all the layers to create a point.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the tie fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each folded tie strip along its long side (the raw edges) and across the pointed end, pivoting at the corners. Leave the opposite end open.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn each sewn tie right side out. Using a long blunt-end tool, such a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press the ties flat.
Create the waistband
- Find the 19” x 8” waistband strip, the 18" x 3½“ interfacing strip, the 19” length of rick rack, and the finished waist ties.
- Fold the waistband strip in half and press to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Center the interfacing on one half of the waistband strip. If using a directional print, it should be the bottom half. One long side of the interfacing should align with the center crease and there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on the other three sides. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Press back both long sides ½”.
- Flip the waistband strip so it is right side up and unfold the bottom ½” fold. You should still be able to see the½” crease line. Center the 19” length of rick rack along this crease line. Pin the rick rack in place.
- Fold along the crease line to check that your rick rack reveal is even across the waistband.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the waistband in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a basting stitch.
- Un-fold the bottom ½” again and machine baste the rick rack in place. As above with the skirt panel, stitch down the center of the rick rack, which means you are stitching along the crease line.
- When stitched in place, re-fold again along the bottom ½” crease line.
- Place the waistband strip right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the waist ties.
- Place the raw end of one waist tie against one raw side edge of the waistband, centering the tie within the bottom half between the center crease line and the bottom fold.
- You’ll need to slightly pleat the raw end the waist tie so it fits within the bottom half of the waistband. Pin the end of the tie in place.
- Repeat to pin the remaining tie in place.
- Fold the waistband in half along the original center crease line. The two halves of the waistband are now right sides together, the raw side edges are flush and the long folded edges are flush. The rick rack should extend below. Pin along each side.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across each side through all the layers.
NOTE: You may want to pin the two ties together in the center to keep them out of the way of the seams.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn the waistband to the right side through the open bottom, pull out the ties into position, and press flat.
- The bottom of the waistband, with the folded edges, is open to insert the skirt.
Attach the waistband to the skirt
- Fold the completed skirt panel in half and mark the center point of the top raw edge with a pin.
- Find the completed waistband unit. Find and mark the center of it as well along both the front and back of the bottom open edge.
- Re-set the machine to run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt through all the layers. Stitch one or two lines of machine basting approximately ⅜" from the top edge. Do not lock the beginning or end of the seam.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our Machine Gathering Tutorial.
- Pull the row(s) of machine basting to gather the skirt to approximately 18" to fit the bottom opening of the waistband. Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
- Insert the top of the skirt panel into the bottom opening of the waistband. Match up the center pin points of the two pieces. Adjust the gathers as needed so the skirt fits neatly into the opening with the side edges of the skirt panel flush to the seamed edges of the waistband. The skirt is inserted into the opening about ½”. Pin in place through all the layers.
- Across the back, make sure the folded edge completely covers the basting seam.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Topstitch across the waistband through all the layers. This seam should be ¼” above the folded bottom edge of the waistband. Go slowly and evenly to insure you are catching both the front and the back of the waistband in this one seam.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever