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Thanksgiving Elegance: Handsome Half Apron

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This fabric, from Michel Miller's Antiquity Collection, is so lovely, you don't want or need any distractions. We chose to design a classic half apron with clean, simple lines to showcase the stunning motifs with their sparkling gold metallic accents. Kathy Miller, co-owner of Michael Miller Fabrics and the designer of this fabulous collection, described it as 'Dr. Zhivago meets Anthropologie.' A perfect image... although now I'm tempted to wear it with one of those giant Russian fur hats. Faux fur, of course.


An absolutely straight and centered fabric design and perfectly matched pockets are the keys to this apron's elegant finish.

Our thanks to the great folks at Michael Miller for providing all the Antiquity fabrics for our Thanksgiving Elegance series. Antiquity is available online and in stores now, including from our friends at Fabric.com and FatQuarterShop.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon... you could really use any machine; we just love the Horizon)
  • Zipper foot

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for apron front: we used Antiquity in Quartz Delilah by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • 1 yard of 44-45" coordinating lining fabric: we used Bella Solids by Moda in Ivory
  • 1/3 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • 3 yards of 3/8" twisted cording for waist tie: we used Wrights cording in Daffodil
  • 1 yard of 3/16" twisted cording, with lip, for pocket accents: we used Wrights cording in Daffodil
    NOTE: The cording for the waist and the pockets should be the same color.
  • All purpose thread
  • Pattern paper or tracing paper to make pocket pattern for fussy-cutting
  • See-through ruler
  • Long metal ruler
  • Fabric marker, pen or chalk
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. In order to achieve our precise design placement, the first thing to do is make sure the cut edge of your fabric is perpendicular to the selvedge.
  2. There are several ways to do this, but one easy way is to lay the fabric flat on your work surface, aligning the selvedge edge along one straight edge of a table. Place the fabric right side up, and if you are using a directional design, make sure the bottom of the design is facing the bottom of the table.
  3. Scoot the fabric's cut edge as close as possible to the bottom right corner of the table. In essence, you are using your table like a giant T-square. Place a ruler at the corner so the right edge and bottom of the ruler are aligned with the bottom right corner of the table. If you have a real T-square, use it to make sure your corner is a true 90˚. Mark a line all the way across the width of the fabric.
    NOTE: You should use the longest ruler you have do do this, but you're probably unlikely to have a 45-50" ruler, which means you will have to draw the line in multiple sections. To do this, draw your straight line from the right corner to the end of the ruler. Then slide the ruler to the left, but leave about 8-9" aligned with your previously drawn line. Hold the ruler firmly in place and continue your line. Do this as many times as necessary to cross the entire width of the fabric. For a great tool to keep your ruler straight and steady, check our article: Beyond the Basics: Specialty Rulers To Make Your Sewing Faster & More Accurate, and read about the Gypsy Quilter Gripper .
  4. You now have a perfectly straight edge, which will become the bottom hem of your apron.

Cutting the apron skirt

  1. The cut size of the apron skirt is 39" wide x 21" long, and the fabric design should be centered on this rectangle. You will need to be careful with your cutting.
  2. First, find a center point of your design repeat with plenty of room to each side. Mark the point with a pin. Measure 19½" to the right and 19½" to the left of this center point.
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  3. Repeat this step so you have three or four marks at 19½" right and 19½" left.
  4. Using the straight bottom edge to align your ruler, draw two vertical lines: one 19½" to the right of the center point, one 19½" to the left.
  5. Finally, measure 21" up from the bottom along each vertical line, and draw a horizontal line to complete your rectangle. Remember, the bottom of the rectangle is the straight bottom edge you cut above.
  6. Cut out the 39" x 21" apron skirt.

Making the apron pattern

  1. The pockets are fussy cut to exactly match the apron skirt. To do this, first you have to create a paper pattern. Find your pattern or tracing paper and a ruler. It's also helpful to use a gridded cutting mat.
  2. Draw a 10" wide and 11" high rectangle. Make sure all your corners are true 90˚ angles.
  3. Draw ½" seam lines inside the 10" x 11" rectangle on all sides.
  4. Measure 5" inches up from the bottom edge (not the ½" seam line, the outside line) along the left side. Make a mark at this point.
  5. Measure 1½" in from the top right corner and make another mark (again, you are measuring from the outside line not the ½" seam line).
  6. Draw a diagonal line connecting these two marks. Then, draw another line ½" in from it to indicate the seam allowance.
  7. Cut out the pattern along the outside lines.
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Fussy cutting the apron pockets

  1. Lay the tissue pattern over the 39" x 21" apron skirt fabric you just cut (your fabric should be right side up), lining up the 5" side of the pocket pattern along the left side edge of the skirt and the top 1½" corner of the pattern along the top edge of the skirt.
  2. Trace the fabric motif in a few key spots onto the tissue. We also marked a vertical line through the pattern to help us keep everything straight.
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  3. Find the remaining apron front fabric. Place the pocket pattern on the right side of the fabric and move it around until you perfectly match the tracing on the pattern to the motif on the fabric. Pin the pattern in place and cut out one pocket.
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  4. Flip the pocket pattern over and return to your 39" x 21" apron skirt piece. This time, place the pattern on the right edge of the apron and trace the motif again. If the fabric is printed exactly – bonus! Your motifs will be in exactly the same place. Ours was a bit off, which is actually pretty common, so we re-traced it.
  5. Go back to your remaining fabric, once again match the fabric motif to the traced pattern and cut out the second pocket.

Lining and interfacing and waistband

  1. Use the cut pockets to cut two matching pocket pieces from the lining fabric.
  2. Cut a 39" x 21" piece from the lining fabric.
  3. Use the cut pockets to also cut two matching pocket pieces from the lightweight fusible interfacing. Then, trim down these interfacing pocket pieces by ½" on all sides.
  4. Cut a 3" x 29" strip from the apron front fabric for the waistband.
    NOTE: We cut our waistband fabric so the motifs were running horizontally as an accent to the vertical motifs on our apron skirt.
  5. And, last but not least, cut a 2" x 29" strip from the lightweight fusible interfacing.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Making and attaching the pockets

  1. Following manufacturer's directions, iron the interfacing to the wrong side of each pocket piece.
  2. Place the lipped cord along the angled cut of the pocket. Cut to fit; the cord should extend just a bit beyond the fabric on each end. The edge of the 'lip' – called a flange, should align with the raw edge of the fabric. Pin in place.
  3. Using a Zipper foot, stitch the cord in place, staying as close to the cord as possible.
  4. Repeat to attach the cord to the second pocket.
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  5. Place the pocket lining right sides together with the corded pocket piece, sandwiching the cord in between the layers. Pin in place. Stitch in place through all the layers, following in your previous stitching line... nice and close to the cord.
  6. Repeat for the second pocket.  
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  7. Pin the two remaining long edges of the pocket and lining. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch these two sides together, pivoting at the corner. Clip the corner. The 5" side remains open for turning and the little 1½" top edge also remains a little bit open, but that's fine because it will be sewn into and secured by the waistband.
  8. Repeat for the second pocket.
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  9. Turn both pockets right side out. Using a blunt tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick, push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press well.
  10. Pin the pockets in place on the apron skirt, matching the fabric motifs.
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  11. Topstitch in place staying very close to the edge.
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Hemming and lining

  1. Make a simple hem along the bottom of the apron skirt. To do this, fold up the bottom edge ½" and press. Then, fold up another 2" and press again.
  2. Place the lining piece over the skirt piece, right sides together, matching the top edge. Pin in place along both sides.
  3. Open out the pressed hem and trim the bottom edge of the lining to just above the second fold line of the skirt hem.
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  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both side seams, ending the seam at the bottom edge of the lining.
  5. Turn the skirt right side out and press the sides.
  6. Re-fold the hem up and over the lining. Press again. Pin in place, and edgestitch along the top folded edge.
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  1. The waistband on this apron is really just a casing for the big gold cord to pass through.
  2. 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 skirt through all the layers. 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 .
  3. Pull the two rows of machine basting threads to gather the skirt to approximately 28". Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
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  4. Find your 3" x 29" waistband strip and 2" x 29" interfacing strip.
  5. Following manufacturer's directions, center the strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the waistband piece and fuse in place.
  6. Turn in ½" on each short end and press. Stitch in place.
  7. Press up ½" along one long side of the waistband but do not stitch it.
  8. Place the waistband right sides together with the skirt front, aligning the raw edge of the waistband (not the folded edge) with the top raw edge of the skirt. Pin in place, adjusting the gathers of the skirt as necessary to fit the waistband.
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  9. Stitch the waistband in place, using a ½" seam allowance.
  10. Remove the gathering's basting stitches (you can do this because you didn't back tack them... right?).
  11. If you have a serger, this is a good time to use it to clean up the ravelly top edge of the skirt edges. If you don't have a serger, just go over the raw edge once with a zig-zag stitch.
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  12. Fold the waistband up and over the top raw edge so the folded edge of the waistband sits below the previous stitching line about 1/8". Make sure your fold is even along the length of the waistband. Press in place.
  13. On the front of the apron, place pins 'in the ditch' of the seam line, which is right along the seam line of the skirt and waistband. You will remove the pins as you sew your seam.
  14. Using a straight stitch, sew 'in the ditch' - again, this is right along the seam line of the skirt and the waistband.
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    NOTE: You can sew in the ditch with a regular presser foot, you just need to be very careful placing your foot on the fabric and aligning your needle. Then, sew slowly and keep your fabric running along a needle plate guide line. We're very lucky to have Janome as our signature sponsor, because they have a wonderful Ditch Quilting foot. It has a handy guide that runs right in the previous seam to keep the ditch stitching perfectly straight.
  15. From the back, you've caught the bottom edge of the casing. From the front, the stitches are all but invisible.
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  16. Feed the gold cord through the casing, cut to the length you like, and knot the ends.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever


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