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Retro Half Apron with Matching Hot Pads

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This is the perfect kitchen gift set. There’s an adorable half apron with two matching hot pads. Bundle up the trio with a set of your favorite recipes and a few kitchen utensils to create a handmade-from-the-heart gift basket. As you can probably tell by the cool props in our photos, we're collectors of vintage kitchen goodies, so we recommend a bold retro print to capture our same vintage vibe, and we offer several brand new fabric combos below.

There are a host of pretty details in our little half apron: slash pockets, a mid-skirt highlight flange and bottom bound edge, and pleats where the ties come into the waistband. 

These are the kind of professional details that make such a difference in the quality of your finished project, but none of them are difficult. We offer our signature step-by-step instructions as well as handy links to more in-depth tutorials for binding, curves, and corners.

The fit of the apron is flattering for all figures, and the ties are long enough for a generous bow in the back or to wrap around front with a knot.

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 waistband of this apron is 20" wide, the ties are each approximately 31" long, and the total skirt length is 19”.

We originally used Kiss the Cook from Robert Kaufman Fabrics, an older collection that is no longer readily available. As alternatives, check out these cool combos:

From Fabric Depot, The Jetsons. Who doesn't love these space age characters?!!

                

More options from Fabric.com. Click on a swatch to see more.

                

Our coordinating hot pads are quilted with a layer of insulating fleece. Finished, they are approximately 9" square, a nice size for handling hot pans from the oven or flip them to the flat size and use them on the table as a protective trivet.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The yardages shown below are for one apron and two coordinating hot pads, and include extra for fussy cutting. Should you wish to change up the way the fabrics are mixed-and-matched, check out the Getting Started section below for all the cut specifics. You can map out your own fabric plan with these measurements.

  • 2 yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron skirt's top panel, the apron's waist ties, and the front, back, and pocket of hot pad A
  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron skirt's bottom panel, and the front, back, and pocket of hot pad B
  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron waistband, pocket binding, skirt accent flange, and bottom binding, plus all the binding on both pot holders
  • Scrap or ⅛ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing for the apron waistband; we used Pellon's Shir-Tailor®
  • ½ yard of 45" wide insulated fleece: we used Insul-Bright by The Warm Company
  • 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
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print TWO COPIES of each of the TWO patterns: Hot Pad Front and Hot Pad Pocket. These two patterns have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier. 
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide bar on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each pattern along the solid line. 
  3. Align the center arrows and tape together the two copies of each pattern to make the two complete pattern pieces.
  4. From the fabric for the the apron skirt's top panel, the apron's waist ties, and the front, bac, and pocket of hot pad A (Recipes in Retro in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 36" wide x 14" high rectangle for the top skirt panel 
    FOUR 4" x 32" strips for the waist ties
    TWO 7" wide x 6" high rectangles for the pockets
    NOTE: These pocket rectangles should be fussy cut to best match the upper left and upper right corners of the 36" x 14" skirt panel.
    TWO 11" x 11" squares for the hot pad 
    TWO 11" wide x 8" high rectangles for the hot pad pocket
  5. From the fabric for the apron skirt's bottom panel and the front, back, and pocket of hot pad B (Cooking Ingredients in Black in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 36" wide x 6½" high rectangle for the bottom skirt panel
    TWO 11" x 11" squares for the hot pad 
    TWO 11" wide x 8" high rectangles for the hot pad pocket
  6. From the fabric for the apron waistband, pocket binding, skirt accent flange, and bottom binding, plus all the binding on both pot holders (Small Dots in Yellow in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 2" x 36" strips, one for the flange and one for the bottom binding
    TWO 2" x 8" strips for the pocket binding
    TWO 2½" x 21" strips for the waist band
    TWO 2" x 8½" strips for the hot pad pocket bindings
    TWO 2½" x 5" strips for the hanging loops
    TWO 2" x 36" strips, cut on the bias, for the hot pad perimeter binding
    NOTE: If you are new to cutting bias strips, check out our tutorial: Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching.
  7. From the interfacing, cut ONE 2" x 20" strip.
  8. From the insulating fleece, cut the following:
    TWO 11" x 11" squares
    TWO 11" x 8" rectangles
  9. For each hot pad, find the 11" x 11" front fabric panel, the 11" x 11" back fabric panel and the 11" x 11" insulated fleece panel. Layer the insulated fleece between the two pieces of fabric to create a 'quilt sandwich.' 
  10. Pin the full pattern in place and cut out through all the layers. Carefully position the pattern for a nice fussy cut both front and back. 
  11. Repeat with the 11" x 8" rectangles to cut out each set of pocket layers.
    NOTE: We used matching fabrics for the base and pocket on our hot pads. It would also be cute to mix and match as shown in the drawing below.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Apron Construction

Pockets

  1. Find the 36" x 14" top skirt panel. 
  2. Fold the panel in half, wrong sides together so it is now 18" x 14". Place the folded panel right side up and flat on your work surface. If you have a directional motif as we did, make sure the panel is positioned so the upper corners are indeed, the upper corners.
  3. 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. Mark each point with a pin. Use your ruler to draw a diagonal line connecting the 6" and 4" marks. 
  4. Cut along the drawn line through both layers. 
  5. Open the panel back up. It should still be right side up. 
  6. Find the two 7" x 6" pocket pieces and the two 2" x 8" pocket binding strips.
  7. Press a binding strip in half, wrong sides together, to create a center crease. Open up 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. 
  8. Slip a binding strip over each pocket slash. 
  9. Pin in place.
  10. Thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  11. 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.
  12. Find the two 7" x 6" pocket pieces. You should have fussy cut these pieces so they are a match with the upper corners of the skirt panel, therefore, you should have a definite left and right pocket. Make sure you keep track of which is which and that you are working with each pocket in the correct perspective: the "top" should be at the top, the "right" should be to the right, etc.
  13. Place the pockets right side up on your work surface. Fold up the bottom and inner edge of each pocket ½". Press in place. The top and the outer edge of each pocket will remain unfolded and raw.
  14. Flip over the skirt panel. Place the appropriate pocket back over the bound pocket slash corner, aligning the upper and outer raw edges. 
  15. Pin in place along the folded inner side and folded bottom edge.
  16. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the apron fabric in the top and bobbin.
  17. Edgestitch the pocket to the skirt along the folded side and bottom, pivoting at the corner. 
  18. Repeat to attach the second pocket. 
  19. Trim away any excess pocket binding so the side and top edges and flush.

Assemble the skirt panels and flange

  1. Find the 2" x 36" flange strip. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 1" x 36".  Press well.
  2. Place the flange across the bottom edge of the main skirt panel, aligning the raw edges. Pin in place.
  3. Find the bottom skirt panel. Place it, right sides together, along the bottom edge of the main skirt panel. The raw edges of all the layers are aligned and the flange is now sandwiched in between the two panels. If you have a directional print, double check that you are pining the top raw edge of the bottom skirt panel with the bottom raw edge of the top skirt panel. 
  4. Remove one flange pin at a time and re-pin across the skirt through all the layers.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the layers together. Finish the raw edges of the seam allowance with a machine sewn stitch or a serged edge.
  6. Press the seam allowance up towards the top panel of the skirt. Press the flange down towards the bottom of the skirt.
  7. Topstitch ¼" from the seamline on the upper skirt side (not on the flange). You are topstitching through the seam allowance. We used our Janome Quarter Inch foot to maintain a perfectly straight seam.

Make the waist ties

  1. Find the four 4" x 32" waist ties. Pair them up and match them right sides together. If you have a directional motif as we did, make super sure the motifs are going in the right direction on all four strips. Pin in place.
  2. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together along both long sides and across one end, pivoting at the corners. Leave the opposite end open. 
  4. Repeat for the second pair of ties.
  5. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances. 
  6. 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

  1. Find the two 2½" x 21" waistband strips, the 2" x 20" interfacing strip, and the finished waist ties.
  2. On one of the fabric strips, follow manufacturer's instructions to fuse the interfacing strip to the wrong side. The smaller interfacing strip should be centered side to side and top to bottom on the fabric. 
  3. Flip the interfaced waistband strip so it is now right side up. On both ends of the strip, measure ½" down from the top raw edge and ½" up from the bottom raw edge. Place a pin at each of these points. 
  4. Pleat the raw end of each waist tie so it fits within these two pin points. Remove the marking pins and use them to pin each waist tie in place.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each tie in place.
  6. Find the remaining, non-interfaced waistband strip. Press up one long edge (the bottom edge if you have a directional motif) ½".
  7. Place the plain waistband right sides together with the interfaced-with-ties waistband. Pin in place along both ends and across the top. Leave the bottom open. 
    NOTE: You may want to pin the two ties together in the center to keep them out of the way of the seam.
  8. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the waistband in the top and bobbin.
  9. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both ends and across the top, remembering to pivot at each corner. Press the seam allowance open and clip the corners.
  10. Turn the waistband to the right side, pull out the ties into position, and press flat. The ties should extend straight out to each side in line with the top seam. 

Hem the sides and attach the waistband

  1. Along each side of the skirt, make a narrow, double turn hem. To do this, turn under the raw edge ¼" and press. Turn under an additional ¼" and press again. 
  2. Pin in place.
  3. Slightly lengthen the stitch, and sew close to the folded edge along both sides. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot again to keep a nice straight line.
    NOTE: We also took the time to stop and re-thread our machine on order to match the thread to the top and bottom skirt panel fabrics. 
  4. Fold the skirt in half and mark the center point of the top raw edge with a pin. 
  5. Find the completed waistband unit. Find and mark the center of it as well along the long raw edge (not the folded edge).
  6. Run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt through all the layers. To do this, 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.
  7. Pull the row(s) of machine basting to gather the skirt to approximately 20" to fit the waistband. Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
  8. Pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides together. Match up the center pin points of the two pieces. The top gathered edge of the skirt should be pinned to the raw bottom edge of the waistband.
  9. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  10. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Stitch the seam with the gathers facing up so you can make sure the gathers stay flat and even. 
  11. Press the seam allowance up between the layers of the waistband. The folded edge of the back of the waistband should go over and hide the seam allowance. 
  12. Pin this folded edge in place. Carefully hand stitch to secure and finish. 

Bottom binding

  1. Find the last piece for the apron, the 2" x 36" strip.
  2. As above, press the binding strip in half, wrong sides together, to create a center crease. Open up 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 to create your finished folded binding strip.
  3. This piece also needs finished ends. Fold in each raw end ½" and press in place.
  4. Slip the binding over the bottom raw edge of the skirt. If need be, adjust the folded ends for a perfect fit. You want the side edges to be flush. Pin in place.
  5. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding. Slightly lengthen the stitch. 
  6. Edgestitch in place, being careful to make sure you catch both the front and the back of the binding in this one seam. 

Hot Pad Construction

Quilting

  1. Find the main quilt sandwich base piece for each hot pad.
  2. The next step is to diagonally quilt through all the layers of each quilt sandwich. Our quilting lines are ½" apart. We used a Walking foot with a quilting bar to keep things at an even distance. You could also pre-draw lines to follow with an erasable fabric pen or pencil. 
  3. Quilt across in one direction. We lengthened our stitch and used contrasting (yellow) thread.
  4. Then flip, and quilt across in the opposite direction, at the same spacing, to create a pretty diamond pattern. 
  5. Repeat to quilt each quilt sandwich pocket piece. 

Pocket Binding

  1. Find the 2" x 8½" binding strips.
  2. Following the steps you used above for the apron, fold the press the strip to create folded binding. 
  3. Slip a binding strip over the top edge of each quilted pocket panel. Pin in place.
  4. Re-thread if necessary with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. The stitch should still be lengthened.
  5. Edgestitch in place, being careful to catch both sides of the binding in the seam. 

Create the hanging loops

  1. Find the two 2½" x 5" strips. Fold and press in the same manner as the binding strips above, folding the long sides in to the center. Then fold in half again and edgestitch in place. On each loop, tuck in one end ½" to create a clean finish. Leave the opposite end raw. 

Perimeter binding

  1. Place a hot pad pocket on top of each hot pad base, aligning the bottom edges and curved corners. Machine baste the two layers together, staying about ¼" from the raw edge.
  2. Pin the raw end of one hanging loop to the upper left corner of each hot pad. The opposite finished end should be hanging free towards the center of the hot pad. 
  3. Find the two 2" x 36" bias cut strips. As with all the strips above, fold and press into binding strips.
  4. Starting at the top where the loop is pinned, insert the raw edge of the hot pad layers into the binding. Pin in place all around.
  5. Edgestitch all the way around, being careful to catch both the front and back of the binding. If you're new to working with bias tape, the number one rule is 'slow and steady wins the race.' You're sewing around a curve, which is trickier than a straight line and are binding several layers. Don't fear the pin! Use plenty, removing them as you go. We continued to use our Walking foot.
  6. Finish back at the top with a ½" tucked-in overlap. You will catch the loop as you sew. 
    NOTE: We are stitching our binding in place with the "short cut" slip-over-and-stitch method. If you'd rather use a more traditional two-part stitched binding, but are unsure of this technique, check out our tutorial: Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching.
  7. Bring the finished end of the hanging loop up and over. Align the finished end with the edge of the binding. Pin in place.
  8. Staying in line with the existing stitch line, make a short seam to secure the bottom of the loop. Then stitch just above the binding - this adds even more stability and creates a tighter loop.

Contributors 
Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (6)

Lauren Eckert said:
Lauren Eckert's picture

Hi Liz, I don't see the pattern that I am supposed to download two copies of.  I do see this line in your instructions: INSERT NEW PATTERN BUNDLE

can you direct me to them, I may be missing them.  But I am excited to try my first tutorial with you this weekend as I just sent my kids camping with their cousins and actually have time to pull out my sewing machine!!!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Lauren - we had a glitch this morning with the pattern uploads, but they are there now. If you re-load you should see the links. Have fun, and let us know how your set turns out. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Lisa - we had a glitch this morning with the pattern uploads, but they are there now. If you re-load you should see the links.

Judy Jones said:
Judy Jones's picture

Step 2  of apron construction.  " Fold the panel in half, wrong sides together so it is now 18" x 14"."     This step didn't work out correctly for me.   You want this panel to be 36" wide.

Please consider this correction.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Judy - You only fold it in half to cut the upper corners. That way you can cut once through both layers and the angles will be exactly the same on both sides. Once the cut is made, you unfold it again.

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