We love aprons here at Sew4Home. So we knew our Italiano Kitchen would not be complete without them. In fact, it would not be complete without two of them: one for Mama and one for Bambina (it debuts tomorrow). Inspired by those wonderful 1960s dresses Sophia Loren wore in her movies, our apron design combines a lovely wrapped front with a full, peek-a-boo skirt. It looks oh-so sophisticated and rather complex to make. But... no tears, no drama, no throwing of plates. In true S4H-fashion, we keep the sophistication, but lose the complexity. Construction is step-by-step easy.
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 bodice is approximately 18" wide across the bottom of the bodice. The skirt is approximately 27" wide and 16" in length. The waist ties are each approximately 25" long from the sides of the skirt; the neck ties are each approximately 23" long. The bodice is about 10" high from the bottom of the bodice to the bodice/tie seam at the shoulder.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 3160 Quilter's Decor Computer)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1-5/8 yards of 44-45" wide print fabric: we used Alphabeto Italiano Collezione by Michael Miller Fabrics in Black Parole Italiano
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide contrasting print fabric: we used Alphabeto Italiano Collezione by Michael Miller Fabrics in Mustard Cha Cha Stripe
- Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing: you need just enough to cut one 2" x 28" strip for the waistband
- 1 package of double fold bias tape: we used bright red
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Straight pins
- Fabric pen, pencil or chalk
- Cutting mat & rotary cutter
- See-through ruler
- Seam gauge
- Ironing board and iron
- For the optional tattered flower you'll need one 2" x 44" strip of fabric
(we used a leftover scrap of the Cha Cha Stripe)
- Download and print the Mama Apron Bib Pattern.
IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of FOUR 8.5" x 11" sheets. You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Butt the pages together in order to create the full pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together.
NOTE: For this pattern PAGE 2 IS BLANK, which is correct. It's just the way the PDF file prints in order for pages 3 and 4 to be in the correct position. You can use blank page 2 to write out this week's grocery list.
- Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
- From the main print fabric (Black Parole Italiano in our sample), and using the downloaded pattern, cut:
TWO Apron Bibs
TWO Apron Bib linings
NOTE: You need to cut out your two sets of two pieces with your fabric folded either right sides together or wrong sides together. That way you end up with one Right side and one Left side. I like wrong sides together so I can fussy cut my designs.
ONE Right Skirt Panel 32½" wide x 17" high
ONE Left Skirt Panel 22" wide x 17" high
NOTE: My "Right" and "Left" notations are as you WEAR the apron, ie. the pocket is on the right side when you have it on. When you look at the apron lying flat on your work surface, it would be reversed with the larger pocket-panel to your left and the two-piece panel to your right. If that doesn't mess with your head, I don't know what will!
- Transfer all pattern markings to your fabric.
- From the contrasting print fabric (Mustard Cha Cha Stripe in our sample), cut:
ONE Under Skirt Panel 12" x 17"
TWO 2½" x 28" strips for the waist band
FOUR 2½" x 28" strips for the waist band ties
TWO 4½" x 24" strips for the neck ties
NOTE: If you are using a directional print for the contrasting fabric, such as the cool stripe we used, fussy cut the waist band and waist band ties so the strips will match as one continuous band.
- Cut ONE 2" x 28" strip of lightweight fusible interfacing for the waistband.
- Place the Right Skirt Panel (main fabric, 32½" x 17" piece) right side up and flat on your work surface so you can mark it for pocket placement. With your fabric pen/pencil and see-through ruler, mark 10" in from the outside edge of the skirt (the left edge as you look at it) and 3" down from upper edge. This point will be the upper outside corner of the pocket.
- Looking at the fabric where you made your pocket marking above, cut TWO pocket pieces 6" x 6½"; one piece should be especially carefully fussy cut to match the design of the skirt. This will be the front of the pocket. It might help to make a 6" x 6½" pattern from tracing paper and use it to fussy cut the design. Place the tracing paper on the skirt panel and trace a bit of the motif. Then, bring the pattern to your remaining fabric and move it around on the motifs until your tracings match, and cut your pocket.
At Your Sewing Machine
Right Skirt Panel
- Place the two pocket pieces right sides together. Sew around three sides with a ¼" seam allowance, pivoting at the bottom corners and leaving the upper edge open.
- Trim the corners and turn right side out. Press. Finish the upper edge with bias binding, turning under the ends of the bias binding so they are even with the finished sides of the pocket.
NOTE: If you are new to bias binding, take a look at our tutorial: Bias Tape: How to Make It & Attach It .
- Position the pocket right side up on the right side of the Right Skirt Panel (yep... that's three rights, which do NOT make a wrong). Align your marked point with the upper outside corner of the finished pocket. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch along both sides and the bottom of the pocket, leaving the bound upper edge open. Remember to pivot at the corners and back-tack at each upper edge.
- Make a narrow double-fold hem along the outside edge and lower edge of the Right Skirt Panel. To do this fold the edge under ¼" and press, then fold under ¼" a second time and press. Edgestitch in place close to the folded edge.
NOTE: If you are new to hemming, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make a Simple Hem .
- The inside edge of the Right Skirt Panel is still raw. The lower inside corner of this panel needs to be rounded to create the peek-a-boo overlap. To do this, use a large bowl or plate as a template. Place the bowl/plate at the corner, and trace around the outside edge, blending your curved line into the straight lines of the side and bottom. Trim along the marked line. Yes ... you will be trimming off a bit of your lower edge hem; that's okay, we'll bind over it.
- Finish the right side of the skirt panel with bias binding. Start at the very top, follow the curve and end 1" beyond the curve along the bottom. Turn under the end of the bias binding to match the bottom hem.
Left Skirt & Underskirt Panels
- The Under Skirt Panel will be sewn to the Left Skirt Panel with a flat felled seam. To do this, first stitch the two pieces right sides together along one 17" side, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the sewn seam. Trim back the seam allowance of the Under Skirt Panel ONLY (the Cha Cha stripe in our sample) to ¼".
- Fold the Left Skirt Panel seam allowance (the Black Parole in our sample) over the trimmed seam allowance, matching the raw edge of the main print to the seam line. Press.
- Turn this 'wrapped' seam toward the Under Skirt Panel (the stripe in our sample) , hiding the raw edge. Press.
- Edgestitch the folded-over seam allowance in place. The photo below shows you what the finished flat felled seam looks like from both sides. This is the kind of seam you find on most jeans.
- Looking at your newly-sewn Left Skirt/Underskirt Panel while it's laying flat and right side up, make a narrow double-fold hem along the outside edges and lower edge. To do this, as above, fold the edge under ¼" and press, then fold under ¼" a second time and press. Edgestitch in place close to the folded edges.
- Overlap the skirt panels, Right Skirt Panel over Left Skirt/Underskirt Panel. Match the bias-trimmed edge to the flat felled seam. Pin in place along the upper edge.
- Create two lines of gathering stitches along the top of the skirt. To do this, stitch two lines of machine basting along the entire top edge of the overlapped skirt panels. Do not back-tack either end. One line should be approximately 1/8" from the upper edge. The second line should be approximately 3/8" from the upper edge.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy .
- Set the apron skirt aside. Do not gather yet.
The apron bib
- Fold each 4½ x 24" neck tie in half lengthwise (so it is now 2¼" x 24") and stitch with a ¼" seam along the length of the tie and across one end, pivoting at the corners.
- Trim the corners, turn right side out through the open end, and press flat. Set aside.
- Cut two 16" lengths of bias binding.
- Press the bias binding open to remove the folds.
- Pin one strip of bias binding right sides together along the inside edge (the curved edge) of one Apron Bib piece.
- Stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Press the seam toward the bias binding.
- Pin the remaining raw edge of that bias binding right sides together with the curved inside edge of one Apron Bib Lining piece.
- Stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Press the seam toward the bias binding.
- Repeat steps 4-8 to create the second Bib/Binding/Lining pair.
- Fold each Apron Bib/Lining unit right sides together. Press.
- Open each unit back up, and insert the unfinished end of a neck tie between each bib and bib lining. Pin in place. The edge of the tie should align with the middle of the bias binding
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the tie end and along the underarm seam of the Apron Bib. Clip the upper corner.
- Turn right sides out through the bottom edge and press well. You've created a lovely bound edge along the front curved edge of the bib and a continuous look to the top of the apron and the tie.
- Edgestitch the bias binding to secure the layers.
- Mark each bib for the position of the gathers. Refer to the original positioning dots on the pattern piece.
- On each piece, machine baste between the dots 1/8" from the edge and then again 3/8" from the edge. Do not back-tack at either end. Pull up the threads to gather from 2" to 1". Knot the tails to secure. This gathering creates some fullness in the top of the apron in lieu of darts.
- Overlap the two Apron Bib pieces, aligning the center fronts as shown on the original pattern. Pin in place, then machine baste in place all along the lower edge.
Waist band and ties and final assembly
- Find the two waistband strips and the four waistband tie strips. Pair two tie strips with each waistband strip.
- Following manufacturer's directions, center the strip of interfacing on the wrong side of one waistband piece and fuse in place.
- Pin each set of three strips together, attaching a tie at either side of the waistband along the 2½" edges. Sew the three strips together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- You now have two waistband/tie strips that are 2½" x 82".
- Match these two strips right sides together, lining up all raw edges.
- Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, measure and mark the openings needed in the waistband to insert the apron bib and apron skirt. You can fold the strip in half to find the center and mark it with a pin to help insure the openings are perfectly centered. You need a 18" opening along the top of the waistband and a 30" opening along the bottom of the waist band.
- Stitch the two waistband/tie pieces together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Start at the bottom opening, stitch along one side, pivot at the corner, stitch up across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to the top opening. Back tack.
- 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 remaining long side to the bottom opening. Clip all four corners at a diagonal, being careful not to clip into your seam.
- Turn right side out through the middle opening. Press. Make sure you press the opening seam allowances in ¼" so the raw edges are flush with the sewn edges. Reach in to the corner points with a blunt-edged tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick, to help push out the seam and make a nice point. Press well.
- Edgestitch along your finished seams, pivoting at all corners, and leaving the top and bottom openings free and clear as you did above.
- Find your completed Apron Bib.
- Insert the bib into the top opening (the 18" opening) of the waistband. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch the apron bib in place, being careful your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece. The bottom of the waistband/ties piece is still open.
- Find your completed Apron Skirt.
- Pull the two rows of machine basting threads to gather the skirt to fit the bottom opening of the waistband/ties piece. You will need to gather the skirt to approximately 27-28". Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
- Insert the gathered top of the skirt into the opening in the bottom of your waistband.
- Edgestitch the skirt in place, being careful your new edgestitching matches the existing edgestitching on the waistband/ties piece.
Hints and Tips
We pinned a pretty tattered flower to the waistband of our apron at the point of where the top and bottom overlaps meet. If you'd like to create one for your apron, you'll find the complete step-by-step instructions in our tutorial: Tattered Flowers For Embellishment.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Editing: Michele Mishler