Sweet Tri-Panel Half Apron
As sweet as…? You fill in the blank! For our part, we’re going with: as sweet as a fresh batch of birthday cupcakes with extra sprinkles. This pretty half apron is as sweet as that and more! In fact, it was so sugar and spice pretty, we couldn’t stop with just one, making two matching samples so there’s sweetness to share.
There are lots of special details packed into this little half apron, but even with all the extras, it’s still a beginner-level project that’s easy to complete in just a few hours.
The apron’s skirt is made up of three horizontal panels with piping highlights along the seams. A solid lining panel hides the seam allowances and gives the apron a lovely finish.
Check out that pocket! A jaunty diagonal fold reveals the lining, which is the same fabric as the waistband and ties as well as the piping, pulling all the little accents together. A tiny hand-sewn button is a cute way to secure the folded flap.
Learn how to create the look of a continuous waistband and ties from three individual pieces. A clever pleat at each side allows the ties to flair from narrow at the waistband to wide at the tails.
We took the extra time to fussy cut all our pieces, even matching the front pocket panels to the center panel. If you’re new to this technique, we have a full, step-by-step tutorial you can refer to prior to starting.
An apron is always a great gift, especially when bundled with a delicious homemade treat. Here’s your opportunity to make that fresh batch of birthday cupcakes with extra sprinkles! The most excellent thing about cupcakes is no one ever knows how many you made to start with versus how many got to the gift recipient. If one gets eaten… no one’s the wiser. Can’t do that with a cake!
We originally used the Handmade collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabric, which is no longer readily available. However, the options for gorgeous designer quilting cottons grows larger each year. Choose your favorites!
Our apron finishes at 16” high x 30” wide with 30” waist ties – long enough for a generous back bow.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Our yardage recommendations are for ONE apron and allow some extra for fussy cutting with a large motif.
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide cotton fabric for the main center panel and pocket front
- ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide cotton fabric for the upper and lower panels
- ⅝ yard of 44″+ wide cotton fabric for the waistband, ties, pocket back, and piping
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide solid cotton fabric for the lining
- ⅝ yard of 15”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- 2 yards of ¼” piping cord (also known as size 2)
- ONE ⅜” – ½” button for the pocket; we used a ⅜” button in pale red
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the main center panel and pocket front, fussy cut the following:
ONE 10” high x 31” wide rectangle for the main center panel
ONE 7“ high x 6½“ wide rectangle for the pocket
NOTE: As mentioned above, we took the time to fussy cut all the pieces, including matching the pocket front to the main center panel.
- From the fabric for the upper and lower panels, fussy cut the following:
ONE 5” high x 31” wide rectangle for the upper panel
ONE 4“ high x 31“ wide rectangle for the lower panel
- From the fabric for the waistband, ties, pocket back, and piping, fussy cut the following:
TWO 7” high x 31” wide strips for the waist ties
ONE 5” high x 19” wide rectangle for the waistband
ONE 7“ high x 6½“ wide rectangle for the pocket lining
TWO 1¾” x 31” strips for the piping
- From the fabric for the lining, cut ONE 17” x 31” rectangle.
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 5” x 19” rectangle for the waistband
ONE 7“ x 6½“ rectangle for the pocket
- From the piping cord, cut TWO 31” lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Make the piping and assemble the main panels
- Find the two strips of piping fabric and the two lengths of piping cord.
- Place the piping down the center of the wrong side of the strip.
- Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place.
- At each end, cut back the piping cord ¾”. This allows for smooth side seams along the edge of the apron.
- Lengthen the stitch for basting.
- Attach a Zipper foot and stitch close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping.
- Find the main center panel.
- Pin one length of piping to the top 31” edge of the center panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel.
- Place the upper panel right sides together along this same edge, sandwiching the piping between the layers. If working with a directional print, make sure you are aligning the bottom of the upper panel with the top of the center panel.
- Repeat to attach the piping along the bottom of the center panel and pin the lower panel in place.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Still using the Zipper foot and a ½” seam allowance, stitch both horizontal seams through all the layers. Your seam should run right along, but not on, the piping cord.
- Press the seam allowances toward the center panel.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the center panel fabric in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly. We continued to use our Zipper foot in order to stay nice and close to the piping.
- Topstitch along the top and bottom piping within the center panel.
Create and place the pocket
- Find the two pocket panels and the matching piece of lightweight interfacing.
- Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the front pocket panel. The edges of both layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the fused front panel right sides together with the lining panel. Pin together, leaving a 3” opening along the bottom.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the pocket fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal and attach the standard presser foot.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out through the 3” opening. Gently push out all four corners so they are sharp, 90˚ angles. A long, blunt tool, like a chopstick, point turner or knitting needle works well for this.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Fold down the left corner of the pocket to create the flap. You are folding at a diagonal. The base of the diagonal is approximately 3½” up from the bottom left corner of the pocket. Lightly press the flap fold.
- Find the front panel. Place it right side up on your work surface.
- Place the pocket on the left side of the main panel. We positioned our pocket to fall between the large medallion motifs on our chosen fabric, but in general, the left edge of the pocket should sit approximately 6” from the left raw edge of the main panel and be centered within the panel top of bottom.
- Pin the pocket to the main panel along the right side of the pocket, across the bottom, and up to the 3½” fold point of the flap on the left side of the pocket.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly (matching the topstitching you did along the piping seams).
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along the right side, across the bottom, and up the left side to the 3½” mark. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- Find the button. Place it at the point of the flap.
- Hand stitch the button in place. We hid the knot under that flap at the start of our stitching, then continued stitching the button in place through the flap and the front of the pocket to secure it in place.
Attach the lining and gather the top
- Place the front panel right side up on your work surface. Place the lining panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. The edges of the front panel and the lining should be flush on all four sides. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Clip the corners and press the seam allowance open.
- Turn the skirt right side out through the top opening and press flat, pushing out the corners so they are nice and sharp as you did above with the pocket.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior panels in the top and the to match the lining in the bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom of the panel through both layers. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- Lengthen the stitch all the way. Along the top raw edges of the apron panel, stitch two rows of gathering stitches.
- NOTE: These are simply two lines of machine basting within the ½” seam allowance. Do not lock either seam at the beginning or the end, and leave the thread tails long. If you are brand new to gathering, we have a Machine Gathering Tutorial you can review.
- Pull the stitches to gather the top of the apron from 31″ down to 18″.
Waistband, ties and finishing
- Find the waistband strip, its matching interfacing panel, and the two tie strips.
- Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the waistband panel. The edges of both layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the waistband in half and lightly press to set a horizontal center crease. Open back up, right side up, so the crease line is visible.
- The “bottom half” of the waistband panel will become the front of the waistband, the “top half” will become the back of the waistband.
- On both sides of the bottom half of the waistband place two pins. One pin should be ½” up from the bottom raw edge; this represents the seam allowance. The second pin is 1½” up from the bottom raw edge; this represents the center front of the finished waistband.
- Find one of the tie strips.
- Place it right sides together with the waistband.
- Align the top of the tie strip with the top of the waistband. Make sure these two layers are laying flat together from the top raw edges to the center crease line of the waistband.
- Align the bottom of the tie strip with the bottom of the waistband. This will cause the excess 2” of height on the tie strip to “bubble up” into a fold. This is correct and will come the tie’s pleated end.
- Place a pin just below the center crease line at the base of the fold. The tie strip and the waistband should now be laying flat together from the bottom raw edges up to this pin.
- Bring the fold down so it too is now flat and pin in place. The fold should be now be in between your two original pin points.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the tie to the waistband.
- Press the seam allowance open.
- Repeat to attach the remaining tie strip to the opposite site of the waistband. You now have one continuous strip made up of the waistband and both ties that is 5” x 79”.
- Fold this strip in half, right sides together (so it is now 2½“ x 79″). Pin in place from each vertical waistband seam out to the end of each tie. The middle 18″ waistband section should be left un-pinned.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each tie. To do this, you will start at the waistband/tie seam, stitch towards the end of the tie, pivot at corner, and stitch across the end to finish. Remember, this leaves the center 18″ waistband section open. Clip the corners.
- Turn the ties right side out through the open waistband section. Gently push out the corners with a long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle or chopstick.
- Press both ties flat. Then, along the top raw edge of the waistband, press back the raw edge ½”, which will be in line with the seamed edge of the tie.
- Match the gathered top edge of the apron panel right sides together with the bottom 18″ raw edge of the waistband opening (the non-folded edge). Pin the layers together across the 18″ opening.
- The gathered edge should be a perfect fit within the 18″ opening of the waistband. If it isn’t, loosen or tighten the gathers until it fits exactly.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch the gathered apron panel to just that one layer of the waistband. It’s easiest to work with the gathers on top so you can make sure they stay in position.
- Press the seam allowance up toward the inside of the waistband.
- Bring the folded waistband edge down into place to cover the gathered seam at the back of the apron. Make sure the folded edge at the back is below the original seam line; your final stitching will be done from the right side and you want to be sure you catch the back edge all the way across.
- Edgestitch the waistband in place, stitching on the right side so your seam line is nice and straight.
NOTE: If you are brand new to edgestitching and worried about your accuracy, you could eliminate the front topstitching and instead hand stitch the folded edge in place across the back.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild
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i just had to tell you that
i just had to tell you that that is one of the best tutorials that I have ever seen! Very clear instruction and pictures to go along with it-including when you might want to change your thread color. My 2 friends and I get together to sew and always say that we should be writing patterns because most out there are not good. Either wrong or too vague-not enough pics, etc. thank you for your excellent tutoria! ❤️❤️❤️
@Sally – Thank you for taking
@Sally – Thank you for taking the time to post such a nice comment. We do work very hard on our instructions to make sure they are clear, We hope you and your friends will come back often for more projects… and will bring even more friends
I love your posts and
I love your posts and projects to encourage sewest new and old. This is another great project that will make so many fun gifts for all of us to share with others and make for ourselves. Thank you!
These are sooooooo cute…..
These are sooooooo cute……I better get busy!!!!!!! Thank you!
@Countryflower – ha! Yes…
@Countryflower – ha! Yes… you better get busy. So glad to hear you love the pattern.
Very cute!!! Thanks!
Very cute!!! Thanks!
@Linda – Thanks! Let us know
@Linda – Thanks! Let us know if you give the pattern a try.
How sweet is this!! I’ll be
How sweet is this!! I’ll be making this in triplicate for my daughter-in-law and two great grandaughters who love to help her “cook”…Christmas presents, here we come. Thank you for beginning my week so pretty!!!
@ Rural Granny — Thanks so
@ Rural Granny — Thanks so much! A set of aprons sounds like a wonderful gift. If you want, take a picture of all three of them wearing their aprons to share with us on Facebook (sew4home) or Instagram (sew4home_diy)