Handy. Dandy. That's our market/craft apron. Ultra-clever folding allows you to create it using just one main chunk o' fabric plus a little bit of trim. I especially like the way the hem shows on the front between the waistband and the pocket pouch. Top stitching holds it all together, and a line of pretty decorative stitching across the pocket binding makes it extra special. This would be one fancy yet functional apron to wear for those of you who make and sell your crafts at local fairs and markets.
We embellished our apron with a Tattered Flower, using the recent tutorial for making these quick and easy embellishments.
Our thanks to our friends at FatQuarterShop for providing the awesome accent fabric.
Although I also mention it below, I want to start off these instructions with one caveat (ohhhhh... big word for warning): the folding that creates this apron is super clever, but it also creates some bulky yet narrow seams. Our Janome machines power right through these, but be warned... not all machines are up to the task. Take a stack of folded scraps and test first to be sure.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44-45" or 54-56" wide fabric in a decorator weight for the main body of the apron: we used heavy cotton duck in a natural white
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the accent binding and ties: we used Color Defined Aqua and Brown Zebra Stripe from Faye Burgos for Marcus Brothers Fabrics
- ¾"-1" key hook: we used a swivel hook in a satin nickel finish
- All purpose thread in a color to coordinate with and highlight your accent fabric: we used Turquoise
- Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat (rotary cutter is best)
- See-through ruler: 36" minimum length suggested
- Fabric pencil or marking pen
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
Squaring the fabric
- We recommend using a cutting board and rotary cutter for the large rectangle that makes up the body of the apron (white cotton duck in our sample). The 1" grid on the cutting board helps with accurate measurements and cuts, and keeps the pieces square.
- Start by folding your fabric lengthwise, matching the selvages. Fold lengthwise again, matching the selvages to the fold of the fabric.
- Line up the fabric by placing the selvage/folded edge along a gridline. Use a ruler and rotary cutter to ‘square off' the end.
- You'll measure and cut the body piece for the apron, using this squared end as your guide.
- From the apron base fabric (white cotton duck in our sample) cut:
One 21" wide x 19" high rectangle for the body of the apron
One 9½" x 3" strip for the key hook fob and scissor loop
- From the accent fabric (Aqua and Brown Zebra Stripe in our sample) cut:
Two 30" x 5" strips for the ties
One 21" x 2½" strip for the binding
At Your Sewing Machine
- Take the two 30" x 5" tie strips to your ironing board. Press each strip in half lengthwise, right sides together.
- Take both pressed strips back to your work surface and trace a half arc onto one end of each. I used my pin tray as a basic guide, but you could simply freehand it as well.
- Trim along your drawn line on each tie. To keep both ends even, I stacked my ties one on top of the other, and cut once with my rotary cutter.
- Lightly pin each tie strip. Stitch, using a ½" seam allowance along the full 30" side, curving down to the corner to follow your drawn line. The opposite end should be left open for turning.
- Trim the seam allowance to ¼", trim the corner point, and clip the corners.
- Turn both ties right side out. Smooth out the curve with your fingers and pull out the corner to make a nice point.
- Press each tie flat, centering the seam so you have a defined front and back to the tie.
- The end of each tie will have a classic 'sash point'; it will curve up to appear almost three-dimensional.
- Working from the right side of each tie, fold the raw-edged end into a pleat.
- The finished width of pleated end should reduce to about ¾".
- Machine or hand baste each end to secure. Set both ties aside.
Scissor loop and key hook fob
- Find the 9½ x 3" strip of apron body fabric. Fold the strip in half lengthwise and stitch along the 9½" side, using a ½" seam allowance. Leave both ends open. Trim the seam allowance to ¼".
- Turn this tube right side out and press flat, centering the seam so you have a defined front and back. Cut into two pieces: 3" and 6½".
- Working from the right side, fold each end of the 6½" piece up and back at a 45˚ angle. Press well. This is your scissor loop. Fold the 3" piece in half and loop it through the key hook. This is your key hook fob.
- Find your 21" x 2½" binding strip. Take it to the ironing board and press under one long side ½".
- Align the raw edge of this pressed binding piece to the bottom raw edge of the back of the apron body piece, right sides together. Pin in place.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press the binding up and away from the apron body. The seam should point up towards the binding.
- Fold the binding over the raw edge, encasing it. Pin in place. Make sure your folded-over width is consistent and even across the apron. Pin in place. Here's what it should look like from the front and back.
- Set up your machine for a wide decorative stitch. You want one that has a generous needle swing from side to side. We chose a herringbone stitch on our Janome MO200 (stitch #59).
- Make sure you have your machine threaded with appropriately coordinated thread in both the top and bobbin. We used a rich turquoise.
- Most Janome machines come standard with a presser foot called a Satin Stitch F foot.This foot is transparent, the opening for the needle is wide, and the front of the foot is open so you can tell where you're going. But, the coolest thing about this foot is the little red arrow in the front.
- I just keep my eye on this arrow as I'm stitching, making sure it's positioned directly over the line where I want my decorative stitching to be. In this case, that's where the folded edge of the binding meets the apron fabric, because I want my decorative stitch to be evenly balanced across this folded edge.
- Here's what the finished decorative stitch looks like from the front:
- And from the back:
Fold and hem
- Take the apron to your ironing board and place it WRONG side up. Turn and press a ¼" double fold hem along each side. To do this turn in ¼" and press, then turn in another ¼" and press again.
- With both sides pressed, return to your work area, lay the apron flat on the work surface WRONG side up and with the bound edge at the bottom. Fold up the bottom 6½" to form the pocket pouch.
- Pin in place, making sure that your outside edges are EXACTLY flush with one another. If need be, return to your ironing board and re-press your hems. It's important the outside edges match or, trust me on this one, you'll be disappointed with the final look.
- With the pocket pouch pinned in place, return to the ironing board. (You're gettin' your exercise with this project.) Place the apron RIGHT side up on the ironing board. Fold the top raw edge down ½" and press well.
- Fold the top edge down an additional 1" and press again. This double fold hem creates the apron's waistband and the casing into which the ties, key fob and scissor hook will go.
Insert ties and loops
- Return to your work surface. Lay the pressed apron flat on the work surface RIGHT side up. Lightly pin the waistband fold in place. Collect your key fob (with key hook) and scissor loop pieces. Insert one on each side of the apron 1½" from the outside edges.
NOTE: We put the key fob on the left and the scissor loop on the right; when worn, that means the key fob will be on the right and the scissor loop will be on the left. Think about what will work best for you based on whether you are left or right handed, and which tools you need best access to.
- Find both your ties and insert them into each end of the the waistband, feed each in about 1". Pin in place. Make SURE you inserted your ties so the right side of the tie is facing front!
- Here's what your apron should look like with everything pinned in place.
Topstitching to finish
- Take your pinned apron to your machine. Attach a ¼" foot.
NOTE: This foot is optional, but so VERY helpful when topstitching small hems like this. Your stitching will show and it's important it's straight. The ¼" foot has a flange guide you can run along the outside edge to maintain an accurate line.
- Increase your stitch length. Why you ask? Not only does a slightly longer stitch look nicer when topstitching, it makes it easier to stitch over multiple layers.
- I increased my stitch length to 3.5. Refer to your machine's manual for your settings.
- Top stitch each side in place with a ¼" seam allowance, working on the RIGHT side of the apron. Go slowly and carefully.
- When both sides are finished, turn the apron and position your presser foot to topstitch straight across the waistband, staying ¼" from the bottom edge.
- Remove the apron from the machine and return, one more time, to your work area. Lay the apron flat on your work surface RIGHT side up. Using a fabric pen or pencil measure in 5" from each outside edge.
- Draw a vertical line up to meet the decorative stitching at each point. Keep the line VERY faint. You just need a light line to follow for your topstitching.
- Return to your machine, and with the stitch length still at the longer setting, stitch from just below the decorative stitching to the very bottom folded edge along each drawn line. This creates your pockets.
- Finally, as you can see in the main photo above, we pinned a Tattered Flower, made out of the same fabric as the binding, along the top edge of the pocket. And we added a snazzy Sew4Home label, which we had made by our friends at AllThingsLabels.com.
Hints and Tips
Make sure you have the power
With Janome as our Signature Sponsor, we are lucky to sew on Janome machines, which are known for their powerful motors and precise needle penetration. I was able to stitch the tiny seams with no problem, even over the bulky points where all the seams and hems came together. This may not be the case, if fact I KNOW it won’t be case, on other models. In fact, I didn't add my usual "other machine" options at the end of this article, because, although I'm sure there are other machines out there that will work just great, I'm not 100% confident to make a recommendation. I would suggest testing your machine with a multiple layer ‘mock-up’ first. Or, better yet, I would recommend getting/using a Janome. Remember: the better your tools, the better the finished project.
Clean starts and stops
Throughout the project, I used a lock stitch to secure my seams rather that back tacking. This creates a clean knot and looks better when topstitching. Use your lock stitch if you have one on your machine. If you don’t, that’s okay, just be very careful when back tacking to keep the stitches exactly in line.
Our apron is an average adult size and finishes at 20" wide x 11" high. To go up or down in size, measure hip-to-hip for width and hip to mid-thigh for height, then adjust the starting measurements accordingly.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Liz Johnson