If you watch the TV cooking personalities on air or online, it seems like food preparation is nothing but fun and games, from The Naked Chef to Chopped to Avec Eric. Since cooking is such a good time, you definitely need today's flouncy little apron to put you in the mood. There are three tiers of ruffles in a shorter, sassier style plus an extra flounce across the bodice. An easy-to-assemble pattern is offered below as a free download.
All four flounces are simple to make and gather. We specify an extra wide hem along the sides and bottom of each, so when you're kicking up your heels with cooking enthusiasm, no unfinished edges will show.
We originally used the Up Parasol collection from Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit Fabrics, which is no longer readily available. Below are some fun new options we spotted at Fat Quarter Shop. Click on a swatch group below to see the full collection:
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. Remember, this design is intended to be short-and-flouncy. As a reference, the waist is approximately 24" wide across the bottom of the bodice, the waist ties are each approximately 30" long, the neck ties are each approximately 24" long, the skirt length (the three gathered panels) is about 10½", and the bodice is about 11" high from the top of the first gathered panel of the skirt to the outer points of the curving neckline of the bodice.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron's bodice and skirt flounce #1
NOTE: Our motif was random, so to make best use of the fabric; the pieces in this fabric were cut across the WOF (width of fabric). The assembled pattern is just 17" x 12.5" so the two panels fit side by side (17" + 17") across the standard 44" WOF and take up 25" of the depth of the yard, leaving 11" x WOF to cut the 8½" x 38" flounce. If you feel your fabric must be cut vertically, you'll want to get at least 1¼ yards.
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the apron's bodice flounce and skirt flounce #2
- ¾ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for skirt flounce #3, waist ties, and neck ties
- ¾ yard of 20"+ wide lightweight interfacing; we used 950F Pellon ShirTailor
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- 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
Getting Started & Pattern Download
- Download and print out the THREE-piece pattern binder: Apron Piece 1, Apron Piece 2 and Apron Piece 3, which have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern piece in 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.
- Cut out each pattern along the solid line. Using the arrows printed on the pieces as your guides, assemble the three pieces to form one completed bodice pattern to be cut on the fold. Do not overlap the pieces; butt them together and tape as shown below.
- From the fabric for the apron's bodice and skirt flounce #1, cut the following:
ONE 8½" high x 38" wide rectangle for skirt flounce #1
Using the completed pattern, cut TWO bodice pieces on the fold as shown below
- Use the pattern guidelines to transfer flounce placement lines along the bottom of one bodice piece.
- From the fabric for the apron's bodice flounce and skirt flounce #2, cut the following:
ONE 8" high x 20" wide rectangle for the bodice flounce
ONE 8½" high x 38" wide rectangle for the skirt flounce #2
- From the fabric for skirt flounce #3, waist ties, and neck ties, cut the following:
ONE 8½" high x 38" wide rectangle for the skirt flounce #3
TWO 5" x 31" strips for the waist ties
TWO 3" x 25" strips for the neck ties
- From the interfacing, use the completed pattern to cut ONE bodice piece on the fold.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Prepare the ties
- Find the two 3" x 25" strips for the neck ties. Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, so each strip is now 1½" x 25".
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the long edge of each folded tie. Leave both ends open.
- Turn each neck tie right side out. Leave one end open. On the opposite end, tuck in the raw edges to form a straight or diagonal end. We chose a diagonal. Topstitch across the folded edges to secure. Press flat.
- Find the two 5" x 31" strips for the waist ties. Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, so each strip is now 2½" x 25".
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across one end and the long edge of each folded tie, pivoting at the corner. Leave the opposite end open. Clip the corners.
- Turn each waist tie right side out. Leave the one raw end open. On the opposite end, use a long tool, like a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner to gently poke out the corners so the sewn end is nice and sharp. Press flat.
- Set the ties aside.
Prepare the flounces
- Find the 8" x 20" bodice flounce. Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, so the strip is now 4" x 20".
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the long edge. Leave both ends open.
- Turn the flounce strip right side out. Tuck in the raw edges at each side ½" to form a straight finished edge. Topstitch across the folded edges to secure (as you did above with the ties). Press flat.
- Run two lines of gathering stitches across the top edge of the flounce. One line of stitching should be ½" from the top folded edge; the second line should be approximately ¼" from the first. Leave the thread tails long and do not lock your seam. If you are new to this technique, see our tutorial on Gathering by Machine.
- Set the top flounce aside.
- Return your stitch length to normal.
- Find the three 8½" x 38" strips for the bottom flounces.
- On each flounce, create a 1¼" double fold hem along the bottom and both sides. To do this, fold back the raw edge ¼" and press well. Fold back an additional 1" and press again.
- Re-thread the machine in the top and bobbin as necessary to best match each flounce fabric.
- Topstitch the hems in place, staying close to the inner fold and creating a pretty overlapping square at each bottom corner. Press well.
- Set the bottom flounce aside.
- The top and middle flounces are gathered along the top edges and this gathered edge will show on the right side. To accommodate this, fold down the remaining long raw edge of each flounce ¾" and press well.
- Flip over the flounce so you are working from the back. Measure ½" down from the top folded edge and draw a horizontal guide line (parallel with the top folded edge). This is the stitching line.
- Re-set the machine for a long basting stitch. Run two lines of gathering stitches across each flounce, one just above the guide line and one just below the guide line. Remember, leave the thread tails long and don't lock your seam.
- Pull the bobbin threads of the two lines of gathering stitches to gather each flounce to fit the bottom of the apron bodice, about 24". Set these flounces aside.
- Find the bottom flounce. It is hemmed but not yet gathered. On this flounce, do not fold back the remaining top raw edge. Instead, simply run two lines of gathering stitches across the top, approximately ⅜" and ⅝" down from the top raw edge.
- Draw up the bobbin threads on this bottom flounce to gather it to the 24" width of the bottom of the apron bodice.
- Set this last flounce aside.
Prepare the apron top
- Find the bodice interfacing piece. Trim away its ½" seam allowance all around.
- Place one fabric bodice piece wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Place the bodice interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, centering it so ½" of fabric shows beyond the interfacing all around.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Flip over the interfaced bodice piece so it is right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the upper bodice flounce. Position the flounce 1" down from the top raw edge of the bodice piece and centered on the bodice so the flounce ends sit ½" in from each raw side edge. Adjust the gathers as needed to fit the flounce side to side.
- Re-set the machine to the standard stitch length.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the flounce in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch the flounce in place, running the seam in between the two lines of gathering stitches.
- Remove the gathering stitches.
- Find the two neck ties. Place one at each top outer corner of the bodice as indicated on the pattern, making sure they will not be caught in the side seam. The outside of each tie should be in line with the end of flounce and the raw end of the tie should be flush with the top raw edge of the bodice.
- The position of the tie should follow the line of the top curve of the bodice, which means it will angle in slightly. Again, be sure the edge of the tie will be clear of the ½" seam allowance that will attach bodice front to bodice back. Pin the ties in place.
- Find the two waist ties. Place one at each side of the bodice bottom. The top of the tie should sit just over ½" down from the raw edge of the fabric and the raw end of the tie should be flush with the raw side edge of the fabric. Pin the ties in place.
NOTE: If you are still unsure of tie placement, check the pattern. There are placement crosshairs for both the neck ties and the waist ties.
- Fold up the ties to center of the bodice. Pin the loose ends of the ties and the edges of the bodice flounce away from the edges of the apron top.
- Find the bodice back piece. Place it right side down on the bodice front, sandwiching the ties and the flounce between the layers. Pin along the sides and across the top, but leave the bottom open.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the top. Go slowly around the curves of the armholes and the bodice top to insure your seam allowance stays consistent.
- Make a clean pivot at the corners.
- Clip the corners and along all the curves.
- Turn the bodice right side out through the bottom opening. Unpin the ties and flounce. Gently push out the corners and the curves and press flat.
Finish the flounces
- Find the bottom flounce, which is the one that has the simple gathered raw edge along the top.
- Pin this bottom flounce right sides together with the bottom front edge of the apron bodice. As shown in the photo below, pull apart the front and back of the bodice so you are only pinning the flounce to the front. Adjust the gathers as needed to fit across the front of the bodice and make sure the raw edge of the gathered top of the flounce is flush with the bottom raw edge of the front bodice panel. Pin in place.
- Stitch the flounce to the bodice. Work with the flouch on the top so you can run the seam in between the two lines of gathering stitches, just as you did with the bodice flounce above.
- Press the flounce down and the seam allowance up.
- Flip the apron to the back. Press up the raw bottom edge of the back bodice panel ½". Bring this folded edge down over the seam allowance, concealing it from view and creating a finished edge along the back of the apron. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch the length of the folded edge to secure, re-threading the top and bobbin as needed for the best color match to the fabric.
- Referring back to the pattern if necessary, confirm the horizontal placement lines for the top and middle skirt flounces.
- Pin the middle flounce along the marked line. The marked line is the stitching line, so the top folded edge of the flounce should sit ½" above the marked line. This creates the little stand-up ruffle along the top of the flounce. Adjust the gathers of the flounce so it fits side to side and pin in place.
- Stitch the flounce in place, running the seam line at ½" from the top folded edge, which should be along the drawn guideline you made above, directly between the two gathering stitch lines as with the bodice flounce. Stitch across through all the layers.
- Remove the gathering stitches.
- Repeat to place and attach the top flounce.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever