Shall we sit and have a sip, and chat about our chums? The third in our series of retro hostess apron tutorials is the sheer magic of Let’s Do Brunch. Like the perfect brunch blend of steaming coffee and sticky cinnamon buns, this lovely hostess apron mixes wispy organza and crisp cotton into a delicious design. Its beautifully transparent skirt features four French seams plus accents at the waistband, bottom border and pockets in the fresh, floral Pick A Bunch print from Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
Today’s project is sponsored in part by our friends and Shopping Directory featured member, Contemporary Cloth. Founder, Sondra Borrie draws on her esthetic as a working artist to bring together a wholly unique selection of fabrics, including original hand dyed and batiked fabrics from fiber artists, colorful and bold home décor options, and organic choices. The majority of Contemporary Cloth’s fabrics are 100% cotton, like our apron’s Pick A Bunch Aqua Floral Rows from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. But there are also little hidden treasures in other textures, like the recently added Van Gogh Collage collection from Free Spirit Fabrics, a 100% rayon poplin with eye-popping color. Love it!
We purchased the organza and ribbon for this project locally at Joann Fabrics. We also found good selections of organza online at Fabric.com. And, our friends at Ribbon Retreat have some wonderful ribbon options for the teeny pocket bows.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6300)
- Serger (optional) (we recommend the Janome 1110DX)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the apron waistband, bottom border and pockets; we used Pick A Bunch in Aqua Floral Rows from Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- 1 yard of 44-45″ wide organza for the apron skirt and ties: we used white
- ½ – ¾ yard of ¼” satin or organza ribbon to coordinate with the cotton fabric; we used an aqua organza ribbon
- Fray Check or similar seam sealant
- All purpose thread to match fabrics and ribbon
- See-through ruler
- Seam gauge
- Fabric marker, pen, or tailor’s chalk for marking fabric
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter
- Cutting mat with grid lines
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Download and print our ONE 8½” x 11″ pattern sheet: Apron Pocket.
IMPORTANT: You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the pattern piece along the solid lines.
- From the accent fabric (Pick A Bunch in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 37″ x 9″ strip for the bottom border
ONE 21″ x 4″ strip for the waistband
Using the pattern you downloaded, cut FOUR pocket pieces
- From the organza, cut the following:
ONE 15″ x 41″ rectangle for the skirt
FOUR 31″ x 5″ strips for the ties, then layer all four pieces and cut one end of all four ties at a slight angle. I call this the “sash slash”.
NOTE: If you are new to working with sheer fabric, like organza, check out our tutorial for some tips and tricks. For example, when cutting the organza, it’s best cut as a single layer; once you get it straight on your mat, tape it in place so it doesn’t shift. You could also use push pins or fabric weights, depending on your cutting surface.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the four pocket pieces. Pair them up and place the pieces right sides together. Pin in place along the top and bottom. The sides remain open for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the bottom and along the angled top. At the top, make sure you pivot at the point of the “V.” Then, make a clip into the point of the “V”, being careful not to clip through the seam. This clip will help the angle lay flat when you turn the pockets right side out.
- Press both seams open.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the open sides. Press flat.
NOTE: After pressing, we serged the sides of the pocket. This is optional, but does keep the edges crisp and clean, which is helpful during the French seam steps below. If you don’t have a serger, you can use a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine to finish the edge.
- Repeat to create the second pocket.
- Make a narrow double-turn hem on both 15″ sides of the 15″ x 41″ organza skirt.
- It’s much easier to create a ½” fold in the tricky organza than two tiny ¼” folds. So in order to get your narrow double fold, turn and press the raw edge ½”, then tuck the raw edge back under itself so it rests against the original ½” crease. In other works, you are kind of rolling the raw edge back and under. Pin in place and edgestitch close to the fold.
- Lay the hemmed skirt flat and right side up on a cutting mat with grid lines.
- Find the center point of the skirt at both the top and bottom edges. Line up these center points with a center grid line on the cutting mat. When everything is aligned, tape the organza in place to keep it from shifting.
- Next you need to measure and mark for the skirt’s four French seams. The first row of marks should be exactly 4½” down from the top raw edge of the skirt. Starting from the left (your left looking down at the skirt):
Measure 8″ in from the left hemmed edge and mark with a pin.
Measure 1″ to the left of this first pin and mark with a second pin.
Measure 6″ to the left of the second pin and mark with a third pin.
Measure 1″ to the left of the third pin and mark with a fourth pin.
Measure 8″ to the left of the fourth pin and mark with a fifth pin.
Measure 1″ to the left of the fifth pin and mark with a sixth pin.
Measure 6″ to the left of the sixth pin and mark with a seventh pin.
Measure 1″ to the left of the seventh pin and mark with an eighth pin.
- Finally, to make sure your measuring has stayed consistent, check the final distance between the eighth pin the right hemmed side. It should be 8″.
- Repeat these measurements along a row exactly 4½” up from the bottom raw edge of the skirt.
- As additional guide lines to insure my folds would be super straight, I measured two more times across the skirt at the very top and at the very bottom
- Once you have all your marking pins in place, go back through with a hand sewing needle threaded with brightly colored thread and make a tiny knot at each pin. Then remove all the pins.
- Pinch and fold the organza at each of the four pairs of close-set markings. Each of these marks are 1″ apart, so when you bring them together you are creating a ½” fold. Pin these four folds in place.
- Carefully bring the skirt to your ironing board and press the folds in place. Be careful and precise with this step, double-checking your work with a seam gauge if need be.
- When all four folds are even and securely pressed, carefully carry the skirt back to your work surface.
- Find the two pockets and slip the sides of the pockets into the pressed folds.
- The pockets should sit exactly between the top and bottom rows of marking. Pin the pockets in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, and being very careful to keep that seam consistent, topstitch from the top of the skirt to the bottom, passing through all layers.
- Fold the seams back towards the inside of the pocket.
- The tip of the pocket showed through so we took a long, sharp pencil and very gently eased it into the seam from the top, pushing the pocket point toward the bottom of the pocket.
- Pin the folded-back seams in place, and topstitch a second ½” seam from the top of the skirt to the bottom, crossing the pockets. Again, be very careful to keep your seams straight… they are a prominent part of the apron’s design.
NOTE: Some Janome machines have an automatic cloth guide, which is a very cool way to create a guide to keep your seams straight. You can also run a piece of bright blue painter’s tape across your stitch plate at the ½” line to give yourself a bolder edge to follow.
- Finally, edgestitch along the bottom of each pocket.
- Find the 9″ x 37″ border strip. Press in half lengthwise (4½” x 37″). Unfold so the middle crease line is visible.
- Finish one 37″ side and both 9″ sides. We used a serger; you could use a zig zag or overcast stitch on your sewing machine.
- Turn up the finished 37″ side ½” and press well.
- Pin the 37″ raw edge of the border strip, right sides together to the bottom raw edge of the organza skirt.
- Center the border strip so there is an extra ½” at each end.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew across the width of the skirt. Start and stop at the exact hemmed edges of skirt.
- Finish the edges of this seam. Again, we used our serger
- Press the finished seam away from the organza.
- Flip the skirt over to the right side and edgestitch very close to the cotton/organza seam. This will secure the seam allowance in its up position. As before, start and stop the the exact hemmed edges of the skirt.
- Re-fold the border strip along its original crease but now RIGHT sides together.
- Align the raw ends at both sides and pin in place.
- Stitch together with a ½” seam allowance, which should be exactly in-line with the side of the skirt. Clip the corners and press the seam open.
- Turn the border right side out and press well. The finished and folded edge should perfectly cover the organza/cotton seam from the back.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with matching thread and
- If you have been following our Hostess Apron series, you know each has a pair of beautiful organza sash ties. The method to create the ties is the same for each apron: stitch the tie strips right sides together along both sides and across the angled ends, turn right side out, topstitch, turn wrong side out, trim back the seam and apply seam sealant, turn right side out again and press flat.
- If that went by too fast, check our It’s A Graveyard Smash apron tutorial for more detailed step-by-step instructions and photos.
- The final step of the ties is to make two pleats in the raw ends of each organza tie, bringing the sides of the tie in to the center so the organza tie is now the same width as the finished waistband or 1½”.
- The waistband is attached in a very similar method to the bottom border.
- Find the 4″ x 21″ waistband strip. Press in half lengthwise (2″ x 21″). Unfold so the middle crease line is visible.
- Finish one 21″ side and both 4″ sides. We used a serger; you could use a zig zag or overcast stitch on your sewing machine.
- Turn up the finished 41″ side ½” up and press well.
- Run a gathering stitch along the top of the organza skirt. To do this, stitch one line of machine basting approximately 3/8″ from the top raw edge.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy .
- Pull the row of machine basting to gather the skirt to approximately 20″. Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
- Pin the 21″ raw edge of the waistband, right sides together, to the gathered top raw edge of the organza skirt.
- Center the waistband so there is an extra ½” at each end.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew across the width of the skirt through both layers. Start and stop at the exact hemmed edges of skirt. Sew with the gathered organza on top so you can see the gathers and make sure they stay even and don’t fold over on themselves.
- Finish the edges of this seam. Again, we used our serger.
- Press the finished seam up towards the waistband.
- Flip the apron over to the back. With the waistband still open flat (so you can see the center crease) and the wrong side facing up, fold in the ½” extra at each end. When you fold it in, it should be flush with the hemmed side of the skirt.
- Place the pleated raw edge of one tie against this folded-in edge. The pleats should be facing down and the raw edges of both pieces aligned.
- Thread your machine with thread to match the tie (white in our sample) and stitch the tie in place very close to the folded end. We used a double line of stitching to secure.
- Repeat to secure the other tie on the opposite end of the waistband.
- Fold the waistband down, covering the top seam and encasing the ties. Press well.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to match your fabric and
- Hand stitch two tiny purchased bows to the point of each pocket.
- Or, make two tiny bows using the “fork tines method” introduced in our
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 210 and the Singer 5500 fashion Mate.