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Girl’s Ribbon Accented Apron in Three Sizes

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Everyone who loves Mary Engelbreit raise your hand! You’re in good company; this creative woman has been stealing our hearts with her adorable designs for decades. And now: ribbons! We are thrilled our friends at Renaissance Ribbons are now offering Mary Engelbreit ribbons. We designed a sweet little girl’s apron to feature their latest Over The Rainbow Ribbon Pack. Our pattern and cuts are detailed in small, medium, and large sizes. 

Done in a classic bib and gathered skirt style, this apron is a fast and easy project. In fact, if you know a young girl learning to sew, this would be a delightful project for her to use to polish her skills.

The bib and skirt are lined and so we kept our interfacing to a minimum in order to retain a soft fit. There’s just one layer of lightweight interfacing on the bib and a mid-weight only on the waistband and pocket.

These Mary Engelbreit ribbons are so cute, you’ll want to choose a understated pattern or even a solid color as your main fabric. We choose a subtle polka dot in a pale sage green with a plain white for the lining. There’s a wide variety of pretty colors within the ribbons so it’s easy to find blendable fabric.

Because of the vibrant colors inherent in most ribbons, we prefer to stitch them in place with monofilament thread in the top and bobbin for a nearly invisible finish. This is not mandatory, but it is a nicer look against the ribbon. For best results, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It's also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Finally, always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent shifting and puckering. If you'd prefer not to use invisible thread, choose colors that very closely match your ribbon, and take the time to re-thread as often as needed to maintain a perfect match.

Renaissance Ribbons offers the Mary Engelbreit ribbons by the yard or within coordinated Ribbon Packs, which is what we used. The Ribbon packs include five to six different ribbons in one-yard lengths.

Our apron is offered in the three most standard girl's sizes: Large (8-10), Medium (5-7), and Small (2-4). The Large finishes at approximately 23" from the top of the bib to the bottom of the skirt with an 11" waistband, the Medium finishes at approximately 20½" top to bottom with a 10" waistband, and the small finishes at approximately 17" top to bottom with a 9" waistband. As a comparison, our nine year old, 4' 8" model is wearing the Large version of the apron. 

Sewing Tools You Need


Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Our supplies show what was used for the Large apron version we made as a sample, which means by using these amounts, you’d have enough for any of the sizes. However, we do offer some adjustment notes if working with the Small or Medium size. As always when figuring yardage, remember to take into account the size of your motif and if that motif is directional. Precise fussy cutting can mean you'll need more yardage.

  • ¾ yard of 44”+ quilting weight cotton for the main front fabric; we used Dots in Sage from the Bliss collection by Riley Blake Fabrics
    NOTE: If making the Medium apron you could get away with  yard; if making the Small apron, you could get away with ½ yard.
  • ½ yard of 44”+ quilting weight cotton for the lining; we used  a standard solid quilting weight cotton in white
    NOTE: If making the Medium or Small apron, you could get away with ⅜ yard, but it's a tight cut – we recommend staying with ½ yard.
  • Scrap or yard of 45”+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing for the pocket and waistband; we used 45” Pellon Décor Bond
    NOTE: If making the Medium or Small apron, we recommend staying with the same size as above.
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 20”+ lightweight fusible interfacing for the bib; we used 20” Pellon Shape-Flex
    NOTE: If making the Medium or Small apron, we recommend staying with the same size as above.
  • THREE lengths of coordinating ribbon; we used Mary Engelbreit ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons:
    ¾ yard length of 1½” ribbon for the lower skirt accent; we used Cottage
    1 yard length of ” wide ribbon for the upper skirt accent and pocket accent; we used Scotties and Rainbows
    ½ yard length of ” wide ribbon for the waistband accent; we used Pink Garland
    NOTE: If making the Medium or Small apron, we recommend staying with the same sizes as above.
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • All purpose thread to match ribbon, or use our favorite option for ribbon stitching: transparent monofilament thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started and Pattern Download

  1. Download and print the Bib pattern in the correct size (Large, Medium or Small). These three size options have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier; print all three pages, or select and print just the page you need.
    IMPORTANT: Each of the three 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.
  2. From the main fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 25” wide x 14” high rectangle for the skirt
    TWO 21” x 4” strips for the waist ties
    TWO 18” x 3” strips for the neck ties
    TWO 12” x 2” strips for the waistband
    ONE 5” wide x 6” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern fussy cut ONE – remember to transfer the double dots in the upper corners from the pattern to the fabric, these indicate the neck tie placement
  3. We recommend first folding your fabric in half to center your motif, which in our case meant folding to center a dot.
  4. With the fold straight and true, align the bib pattern along the fold as shown on the pattern’s markings, pin in place, and cut through the layers.

    If making the Medium Apron:
    ONE 24” wide x 13” high rectangle for the skirt
    TWO 20” x 4” strips for the waist ties
    TWO 17” x 3” strips for the neck ties
    TWO 11” x 2” strips for the waistband
    ONE 5” wide x 6” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern fussy cut ONE
    If making the Small Apron:
    ONE 23” wide x 11” high rectangle for the skirt
    TWO 19” x 4” strips for the waist ties
    TWO 16” x 3” strips for the neck ties
    TWO 10” x 2” strips for the waistband
    ONE 5” wide x 5½” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern, fussy cut ONE
  5. From the lining fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 25” wide x 14” high rectangle for the skirt
    ONE 5” wide x 6” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern, cut ONE
    If making the Medium Apron:
    ONE 24” wide x 13” high rectangle for the skirt
    ONE 5” wide x 6” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern, cut ONE
    If making the Small Apron:
    ONE 23” wide x 11” high rectangle for the skirt
    ONE 5” wide x 5½” high rectangle for the pocket
    Using the bib pattern, cut ONE
  6. From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 12” x 1” strip for the waistband
    ONE 4” x 5” rectangle for the pocket
    If making the Medium Apron:
    ONE 11” x 1” strip for the waistband
    ONE 4” x 5” rectangle for the pocket
    If making the Small Apron:
    ONE 10” x 1” strip for the waistband
    ONE 4” wide x 4½” rectangle for the pocket
  7. From the lightweight interfacing, trim the bib pattern along the dotted seam line and cut ONE on the fold.

    If making the Medium or Small Apron: do the same – trim the bib pattern along the dotted seam line and cut ONE on the fold.
  8. Fussy cut the ribbon into the following lengths:
    From the 1½” ribbon for the lower skirt accent, cut ONE 25” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the upper skirt accent and pocket accent, cut ONE 25” length and ONE 5” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the waistband accent, cut ONE 12” length
    If making the Medium Apron:
    From the 1½” ribbon for the lower skirt accent, cut ONE 24” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the upper skirt accent and pocket accent, cut ONE 24” length and ONE 5” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the waistband accent, cut ONE 11” length
    If Making the Small Apron:
    From the 1½” ribbon for the lower skirt accent, cut ONE 23” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the upper skirt accent and pocket accent, cut ONE 23” length and ONE 4½” length
    From the ” wide ribbon for the waistband accent, cut ONE 10” length

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: The steps show construction of the Large apron. The construction is exactly the same for the Medium and Small options, only the sizes of the elements differ.

Apply the ribbons to the skirt front and stitch front to lining

  1. Find the main skirt panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
  2. Using a tape measure or ruler, measure 9” and 10” down from the top raw edge of the panel and make a mark at both of these points along both sides of the panel.
  3. Align the bottom of the upper accent ribbon (the ” Scotties/Rainbows in our sample) with the 9” mark and the top of the lower accent ribbon (the 1½” Cottage in our sample) with the 10” mark. Pin in place across the front of the skirt panel.
  4. Take the time to make sure the ribbons are even top to bottom and parallel with one another across the entire width of the panel.
  5. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the ribbon in the top and to best match the fabric in the bobbin or use our favorite option: transparent monofilament thread.
  6. Edgestitch along both sides of both lengths of ribbons.
    NOTE: Remember, when working with ribbon, stitch in the same direction along both sides to help eliminate any rippling.
  7. With the ribbons in place, find the skirt lining panel. Place the two skirt layers right sides together, sandwiching the ribbons between the layers. All raw edge of both layers should be flush. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. The top remains raw.
  9. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the open top. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long, blunt tool works well for this, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  10. Press flat.
  11. Run one or two gathering stitches across the top of the skirt. Gently pull the gathering threads to gather the skirt down to about 12” to fit the waistband. Adjust the gathers so they are even across the panel. If you are brand new to this technique, we have a full tutorial on machine gathering.
  12. Set aside the skirt panel.

Create and place the pocket

  1. Find the main pocket panel and its coordinating interfacing panel. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  2. Lay the interfaced panel it right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the 5” length of ribbon (the ” Scotties/Rainbows in our sample). Place the ribbon across the top of the pocket panel. The top of the ribbon should sit ¾” down from the top raw edge of the fabric.
    NOTE: You’ll see in our photo below that we fussy cut our 5” ribbon length after cutting the pocket panel in order to make sure we got a perfectly centered motif on the ribbon. This is why the ribbon looks so much longer than the panel. This is optional. You can certainly simply cut a centered motif using your ruler.
  3. Edgestitch the ribbon in place along both sides.

    NOTE: Remember to change out your thread as needed to match the ribbon or use an invisible monofilament thread.
  4. Find the pocket lining panel. Place the lining right sides together with the main fabric panel, sandwiching the ribbon between the layers. All raw edge of both layers should be flush. Pin along the top and down both sides. The bottom remains raw.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the top and down both sides, pivoting at the corners. Clip the corners.
  6. Turn right side out through the open bottom. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. As above, a long, blunt tool works well for this, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Press flat.
  7. Find the exterior bib panel and its coordinating interfacing panel. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  8. Flip over the bib panel so it is now right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pocket on the bib panel.  It should be right side up, centered side to side, and the bottom raw edges of the pocket should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the bib panel. Pin in place.
  9. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the main fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  10. Edgestitch along both sides of the pocket.

Prepare the neck and waist ties

  1. Find the four strips for the neck ties and waist ties. None of these strips are interfaced so they remain soft and pliable to tie into a knot or a pretty bow.
  2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise and pin along one end and down the side. This means the waist ties will now each be 21” x 2” and the neck ties will be 18” x 1½”.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across one end and down the side, pivoting at the corner.
  4. Clip the corners. Turn each tie right side out through the open end.
  5. Press each tie flat and set aside.

Place the neck ties and complete the bib prep

  1. Place the bib right side up and flat on your work surface. It should already have the pocket edgestitched in place. You should have also already transferred the double dots from the paper pattern to the fabric panel. There are two dots in each upper corner that indicate the position for the neck ties.
  2. Place the raw end of each neck tie between the dots. As shown in the photo below, the ties should be positioned at a slight angle to follow the angle of the side of the bib. When sewn and brought up into position, the ties will then gently angle in towards the neck for a better fit. Pin both ties in place then machine baste each tie in place.
    NOTE: Make sure the seams of your neck ties are facing the same direction – both facing in or both facing out. Our tie seams are both facing in.
  3. Find the bib lining. Place it right sides together with the bib front, sandwiching the ties and the pocket between the layers. You may want to pull the ties toward the center of the bib and lightly secure them with a pin or two to keep them out of the way of the perimeter seam.
  4. Pin together along both sides and across the top. The bottom remains open.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the top. Remember to pivot at the upper corners and to leave the bottom open.
  6. Clip the corners and turn the bib right side out through the open bottom. As above with the skirt and the pocket, gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Un-pin the ties if necessary and pull them up into position. Press flat.

Create the waistband

  1. Find the two fabric strips for the waistband, the coordinating interfacing strip, and the 12” length of waistband accent ribbon (the ” Pink Garland in our sample).
  2. Select the strip that will be the front panel of the waistband. Both strips are the same, but if you feel one cut is better than the other, use it as the front.
  3. Flip over the fabric strip and center the interfacing strip on the wrong side so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  4. Flip over the interfaced strip and place the accent ribbon on the right side, centering it top to bottom and centering the ribbon’s motif as necessary. Pin in place.
  5. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the ribbon in the top and to best match the fabric in the bobbin. Or, use our favorite: monofilament thread; in this case we used a smoke monofilament to best coordinate with the dark color of our chosen ribbon.
  6. Edgestitch along both sides of the ribbon. Remember, to stitch in the same direction along each side.
  7. Set aside the front waistband strip and find the back waistband strip. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
  8. Find the two waist ties. Fold a small pleat in the raw end of each tie, narrowing the tie down to 1” to fit within the waistband. Place a pleated tie right sides together on either end of the back waistband. On each side, the pleated raw edge of the tie should be centered top to bottom and flush with the raw end of the tie. Pin in place and then machine baste in place.

Assemble waistband/ties to bib and insert the skirt

  1. Find the bib. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the front waistband strip. Place it right sides together along the bottom raw edge of the bib. If your chosen ribbon has a directional motif double-check the positioning of your waistband strip; you want the top edge of the waistband/ribbon aligned with the bottom edge of the bib.
  2. Center the waistband side to side and pin in place. It will extend beyond the bib about 1” on either side.
  3. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers.
  5. With the front waistband strip sewn in place, flip over the bib so it is now lining side up. Find the back waistband strip, which should have the two waist ties basted on either end.
  6. Place the waistband strip right sides together along the bottom of the bib, sandwiching the ties between the layers. Move the ties to the center of the bib so they will be well out of the way of the seams of the waistband. The ends of the front and back waistband strips should be flush to either side of the bib, and the bottom raw edges of all the layers should be flush. Pin in place.
  7. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the bib through all the layers as you did on the front, except on the back, you will also pivot and stitch up the sides of the waistband strips. When you sew these side seams, make sure to stitch just a little farther away from the cut edge (a little wider than ½”) so the basting stitches holding the ties in place won't show after turning right side out.
  8. Grade the seam allowance and clip the corners.
  9. Turn the waistband right side out, folding it down into position as you do so. Pull the ties out to the side. As you fold down the waistband down, the bottom raw edge on both the front and the back will naturally want to start to fold up. Yay — that’s just want you want it to do. Fold under the raw edge of the waistband ½” along both the front and back. Press well. Remember to use a pressing cloth to protect the ribbon.
  10. Find the gathered skirt panel. Adjust the gathers as necessary so they are even across the front of the skirt and so the top raw edge of the skirt panel fits the width of the waistband. Slip the gathered top of the skirt between the front and back layers of the waistband.
  11. Pin the waistband flat across the front of the apron. You are pinning through all the layers.
  12. The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the fabric in both the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. You will be stitching through quite a few layers so you might also consider switching to a Walking or Even Feed foot or engaging your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex feeding system on many of the Janome models. We simply continued to use our standard presser foot. That’s the beauty of the Janome machines: power and precision to tackle the thick layers.
  13. Stitch across the apron, running the stitching  between the bottom of the accent ribbon and the folded edge of the waistband.
  14. Go slowly and carefully in order to keep the seam straight and true and to make sure you’re catching both the front and back layers in this one seam.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

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