There they sat. Five gorgeous fat quarters we’d been hoarding from Amy Butler’s classic Love collection. They hadn’t been purchased for any particular project, but only because they were just so very pretty. They looked lonely all folded up on a shelf. So, an idea began to percolate. What if we could create an apron from those five fat quarters where there would be virtually no wasted fabric? The scraps from this garden party apron would fit in a garden party teacup.
The apron has a comfortable drop waist and the long waist ties can be fastened at the back in a bow or casually looped back around front and knotted.
Two deep front pockets are rimmed with coordinating rick rack. This is, of course, optional and would look best with a fabric that features a more modern print, such as Amy Butler’s bold Love florals. Although an older collection, Love was re-released not too long ago and can still be found at some retail outlets. We spotted it at Fabric.com and Hawthorne Threads.
In addition to the five fat quarters, you'll need a half yard of a coordinating solid for the bib's lining.
There is a free download provided below, which gives you the bib shape as well as a template for the pocket cut-out. Our patterns are PDFs; please read carefully through our instructions for downloading and printing. If you have trouble, you may also want to reference our article: How to Successfully Print and Assemble PDF Patterns.
A true fat quarter is 18" x 22", and this is what our pattern is built on. However, depending on whether or not a manufacturer includes the selvedge, you might come across some cuts that are 18" x 21". If your fat quarters are 21", our apron is generous enough in both width and length to accommodate this one inch difference. Reduce 1a and 1b to 10½" x 9", reduce 2 to 21” x 18”, and reduce the length of all the bottom skirt panels from 22” to 21”.
For more great information of pre-cuts, check out our full tutorial: A Lesson in Pre-Cut Bundles: Common Names, Sizes, and Shapes. Our thanks to our friends at Fat Quarter Shop for their pre-cut expertise in putting this tutorial together.
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 widest part of the apron, the drop waist, is 31” across; the narrowest point, across the top of the bib, is 11”. The skirt itself is 19” long and the overall length of apron finishes at approximately 35½”. The waist ties are 29” and the neck loop is about 8½”.
Now you not only have a great pattern to use up the fat quarters you’ve been hoarding… you have an excellent reason to buy more!
Sewing Tools You Need
Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
When choosing your fat quarters, determine whether the direction of the print is compatible with the apron layout. A strong directional print may be inappropriate based on how each of the fat quarters must be cut.
- FIVE fat quarters (or cut 5 rectangles that measure 18" x 22"); ours were from Amy Butler's classic Love collection in: (1) Sandlewood/Turquoise, (2) Bliss Bouquet/Teal, (3) Tumble Roses/Pink, (4) Memento/Midnight and (5) Arabesque/Lime.
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bib lining and pocket lining; we used a solid ivory cotton
NOTE: You will need the full half yard; if you are concerned about your cutting and seaming abilities, get ⅝ - ¾ yard.
- 3 yards of 1" wide lightweight cotton webbing; we used natural
- ¾ yard of ⅜" rick rack to coordinate with fabric (optional)
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Download and print out the Apron Bib and Pocket Pattern, which consists of four pattern sheets plus bib pattern assembly instructions. These five sheets have been bundled into one Garden Party Apron PDF file to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern page 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.
- Butt together the four pages of the Apron Bib, matching the lines from one sheet to the next, to create a complete pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together, then trim the completed pattern along the solid line.
- Cut out the pocket pattern along the solid line.
- Following the cutting guide below, cut up your 18" x 22" fat quarters as shown. Fat Quarter (FQ) 1 is cut into 9" x 11" quarters, FQ 2 & FQ 3 are left uncut at 18" x 22", FQs 4 & 5 are cut in half lengthwise to yield two 9" x 22" rectangles.
- From the lining fabric, use the assembled Apron Bib pattern to cut ONE full lining piece. Fold the fabric and place the pattern on the fold as indicated. From the remaining fabric, cut TWO 9" x 11" rectangles.
- From the webbing, cut ONE 22" length for the neck strap and TWO 36" lengths for the waist ties.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- With right sides together and raw edges aligned at the bottom edge, use a ½" seam allowance to stitch piece 1c and 1d to either side of piece 2. Press the seam allowances toward the center panel.
- Fold your sewn piece in half vertically, right sides together, so the outside raw edges of pieces 1c and 1d align.
- Place the Apron Bib pattern along the fold as indicated on the pattern. Pin in place and cut.
- Pin the four ties in place as shown in the image below: flush with top and sides, and ⅝" in from the armhole edges to avoid having the sides catch in the seam. It's helpful to additionally pin down the neck loop and the ends of the waist ties as shown so they don't accidentally catch in a seam when stitching the front to the lining.
- Place the apron bib and the apron bib lining right sides together, alinging the raw edges all around. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two layers together along the sides and top edge, leaving the bottom straight edge open.
- Clip the corners and curves, taking care to not cut through the seam.
- Turn right side out through the open bottom. Gently push out the upper corners and smooth the curves. A long, blunt tool works well for this, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner. Press flat.
- Fold up and press the raw bottom edge of the sewn apron bib (front and lining) ½" all the way around as shown below.
- Along the bottom opening of the apron, fold the bib in half to find the center - both front and lining, and mark these two center points with a fabric pen/pencil or straight pin.
- Place pieces 1a and 1b right sides together, then pin the Pocket Cut Out tempate in the upper left corner as shown in Step 1 in the diagram below. Cut along the inside curve. Remove the corner you just cut and discard it. What remains are your two pockets.
- Find the two 9" x 11" lining pieces. Take one of the pockets you just cut and use it as a pattern piece to cut a matching curve from the two lining pieces, as shown in Step 2 above.
- To attach the rick rack to the pockets (an optional step... but isn't it cute?), pin the rick rack to the right side of each pocket along the curve. The center of the rick rack should run along the ½" seam line. Using a ½" seam allowance, machine baste the rick rack in place.
- Place the pocket and pocket lining right sides together, sandwiching the rick rack in between the layers. All raw edges of the two layers should be flush. Pin in place along the curve and along the bottom.
- Sew directly on top of the rick rack basting seam along the pocket curve. Then sew the bottom of the pocket, using a ½"seam allowance. If not using rick rack, your curve seam allowance is also ½". The top and sides are unsewn.
- Clip the curves.
- Turn right side out and press flat. Repeat for other pocket.
- Place fabric pieces 4a and 4b right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pockets right side up on top of the fabric pieces, aligning the top and side raw edges as shown below. Pin in place.
- Machine or hand baste the top edge of each pocket in place.
- Edgestitch along the bottom edge of each pocket through all layers. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the pocket fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Find the five apron panels. Remember, two of the strips now have a pocket attached.
- Stith together the panels, using a ½" seam allowance, in the order shown. Press all the seam allowances away from pocket panels. Find the seam allowances with your favorite method. We used a simple pinked edge, but if you're looking for more ideas, check out our four-part series of the best options of machine sewn seam finishes.
- To make bottom 1½" hem, fold under the raw edge of the skirt ½" and press. Fold an additional 1", press and pin.
- Stitch close to the fold to make a simple hem as shown below.
- To finish sides of skirt, fold the sides back ½" and press. Fold an additional ⅝", press and pin.
- Sew close to the fold to finish the side hems as shown above.
- The top edge of the apron skirt is lightly gathered to fit the apron top. To create the gathers, run two lines of machine basting along the entire upper raw edge of the assemble skirt panels. If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial on Machine Gathering.
- In the steps above, you found and marked the center front of the apron top and the apron lining. Fold the skirt in half to find its center top and mark this center point with a pin or fabric pen.
- Gently pull the basting stitches to gather the skirt down to the length of the apron top.
NOTE: We didn't want the top of the pockets to be gathered, so we gathered the center panel, in between the pockets, and from the outside edge of each pocket to each hemmed side of the apron, leaving the top of the pockets flat.
Attach apron bib to apron skirt
- Insert the top edge of the gathered skirt between the bib front and lining, adjusting the gathers to fit. Pin. Be sure the lining and the front are flat and nicely aligned. Insert the skirt up into the bib far enough to conceal any basting stitches. Pin the top and lining in place on either side of the skirt. Match the side seams of the bib with the panel seams of the skirt as shown below.
- From the front side of the apron, edgestitch along the bottom of the apron top through all layers, attaching the apron bib to the apron skirt.
Finish apron ties
- Try on your apron and tie it so it's the most comforatable for you: either wrapped around and knotted in front or pulled to the back into a bow. Trim any excess length from the waist ties as needed.
- From your fat quarter scraps (there aren't a lot), cut TWO 2" x 2" squares of fabric.
- Fold each square in half, right sides together, and stitch along both sides using a ⅜" seam.
- Fold the top raw edge to the inside ⅜" to match the sewn seam and press. You've made a little cap.
- Slip an end cap over each end of the tie (remember to take off the apron first!) and stitch the end cap in place with one line of edgestitching as shown above.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Alicia Thommas