In cooking, sometimes it takes just a pinch of this and a dash of that to bring a dish to its full flavor. It’s similar in sewing, where a splash of embellishment can be the finishing touch to make your project shine. For this classic single-layer apron, we used the Janome 3-Way Cording foot to add rows of floss embellishment across the bib and pocket.
Experimenting with presser feet is a great way to unlock new ideas. As a Janome exclusive studio, we love looking through all the feet that come standard with each model. The specific machine you have dictates which and how many feet will be included in the box. “Beyond the box” are even more specialty feet to discover. Some, like the Edge Guide foot or Bi-Level foot increase your options for precision stitching. Others, like the 3-Way Cording foot we used here, are all about unique embellishment.
The 3-Way Cording foot can accommodate one, two or three strands of fine cord, floss or thread, holding them in place and perfectly positioned while a decorative stitch couches them onto the base fabric. We chose three strands of pearl cotton floss, pulling colors from our main print fabric, and stitched them in place with two different decorative stitch selections in a fourth accent color. Three gorgeous rows run across the top of the apron’s bib and the front of the hanging pocket.
A free downloadable patten is included for both sections of the bib. All the other pieces are simple straight cuts, and we provide specific details on how we positioned our rows of embellishment. As always, you can choose to do more rows, fewer, or none at all. As described below, take the time to play with types and colors of floss/cord as well as decorative stitch combinations to hold everything in place. When you practice first on scraps, the finished project is always the better for it.
Our featured fabric is a lightweight canvas in both a beautiful print and a coordinating solid. It’s a substantial enough substrate to use as a simple, single layer yet soft enough so the neck and waist ties wrap well and the fit is comfortable. The print adds flair and fashion; the solid makes a perfect neutral base for the floss + stitch embellishment.
The apron’s handy front pocket hangs free from the waistband. Like the apron itself, the pocket is made from a single layer of fabric. The waist ties are long enough to wrap around either once or twice, and the neck tie is adjustable through a grommet with a knot.
You’ll do a fair amount of hemming on this project. The majority are simple double-fold ½” hems, and although most fold backward as is traditional – some fold forward. It’s all to keep our single layer beautifully finished front to back.
Because you’re making narrower hems with a thicker substrate, we do recommend an Even Feed/Walking foot or engaging your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system, our go-to on many of our Janome studio models. Either option will help everything move smoothly under the needle. If you’d like even more information about the best presser feet and best practices for sewing thick layers, we have a great tutorial that covers it all – including tips for hemming jeans!
We think you’ll love how the skirt, bib, and waistband come together for a clever, smooth finish both front and back! Pay attention to the right side/wrong side of each layer in the detailed steps below. Stack, stitch, wrap, and stitch once more. You’ll also see we used seam grading to keep bulk to a minimum.
This is a working apron, which means it will need to be laundered. But will the embellishment hold up? Yes, it will – it’s just thread and it’s securely stitched in place. If you want to be extra careful, a more gentle tumble dry on cool might be better than high and hot, and ironing from the back or with a pressing cloth is smart with any kind of ribbon or thread accents. Do make sure to pre-wash your main canvas fabric. If you’d like to read more about our favorite tips and techniques for preshrinking, take a look at our full tutorial.
Spice up your sewing with the help of specialty presser feet. Although this timeless apron could be lovely even without the floss + stitch embellishment, it does add such a fun bit of color and texture, and certainly makes it unique.
If you’re a Janome sewer like us, take a look at their Presser Foot Workbook. It covers many of their most popular feet. Each foot is presented with complete, full-color instructions on how to attach it to the machine, recommended machine settings, exercises and lessons for practicing the technique(s) the foot performs, as well as helpful tips and notes that give you the “inside scoop” on special usage options and troubleshooting suggestions.
Thanks, as always, to all our friends at Janome America for their support, which allows us to bring you this project idea, its pattern, and all the step-by step instructions FREE of charge. To find out more about the amazing Janome machines, visit their website, follow them on social media, and – best of all – visit a local dealer for an in-person test stitch.
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. As a reference, this apron is approximately 16″ wide across the bottom of the bodice, the waist ties are each approximately 38″ long, the neck tie is one approximate 32” length that threads through a grommet and is knotted to hold a loop that is most comfortable for the wearer’s, the main skirt length is 22½″, and the bodice is about 10½″ high at its center.
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- 3-Way Cording foot; optional for floss + stitch embellishment
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but makes handling the thicker hems easier – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we love to use on many of our Janome studio machines
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¼ yards of 44”+ wide lightweight print canvas for the main exterior bib and skirt; we used 58” Meadow One from the La Vie En Rose collection from Art Gallery Fabrics, a 7.7oz canvas.
NOTE: This amount includes enough to accommodate fussy cutting.
- ¾ – 1 yard** of 44”+ wide lightweight canvas in a coordinating solid for the upper bib, ties, waistband, and pocket; we used 44” Big Sur Canvas from Robert Kaufman Fabrics in pink, a 9.6oz canvas
NOTE: **The solid canvas is where the floss + stitch embellishment appears. In order to practice, we recommend getting a full yard for ample test stitching. ¾ yard is the minimum for all the actual cuts. You could certainly go with a lighter weight solid canvas as a closer match to the print canvas, but we do not recommend going any heavier.
- ½ yard of 20”+ wide tear away stabilizer for the floss + stitch embellishment
- ONE skein each of Pearl Cotton Floss in THREE coordinating colors for the optional floss embellishment; we matched three colors from the print canvas: lilac, off-white, and rose
NOTE: As above with the solid canvas, you may want to get two of each floss color in order to have plenty to work with for your testing.
- ONE double cap rivet and appropriate rivet setting tools; we used a Dritz double cap rivet in antique brass and Dritz double cap rivet setting tools
- ONE grommet with a ½” center opening and appropriate setting tools; we used a Dritz Extra Large grommet in antique brass and Dritz extra large grommet setting tools
- All-purpose thread in a coordinating accent color for the floss + stitch embellishment; we used bronze
- All-purpose thread to match fabrics for construction
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Small hammer to set rivet and grommet
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface for both the rivet and the grommet – you need a very hard surface; we like to use a small granite block
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out the Bib pattern, which is made up of four sections, and the Bib Trim pattern, which is made up of two sections. These sections are set-up on four pages that have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each page within 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 guideline on each page to confirm your printout is to scale.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines. Following the arrows on the pattern pieces, match up the four sections of the Bib: #1, #2, #3, #4. And match up the two sections of the Bib Trim: #5 and #6. For both the Bib and the Bib Trim, butt together the pieces at the printed arrow markings; do not overlap. Tape together to form the complete patterns for the Bib and the Bib Trim.
- From the printed canvas, cut the following:
ONE 40” wide x 25” high rectangle – fussy cut your printed motif to center it top to bottom and side to side within the rectangle
Using the assembled Bib pattern, cut ONE
- From the solid canvas, cut the following:
ONE 16” wide x 16½” high rectangle for the hanging pocket
ONE 39” x 2” strip for the waistband\
TWO 39” x 2½” strips for the waist ties
ONE 33” x 2½” strip for the neck tie
- Using the assembled Bib Trim pattern, cut ONE
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Floss + Stitch Embellishment
Test and practice
- This particular accent was designed to take advantage of the Janome 3-Way Cording specialty presser foot. If you are a Janome owner, this is a specialty foot you can get for most models. We used the 9mm version with our Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9450. Other brands may have a similar foot. You can choose to forgo this accent altogether or substitute with standard decorative stitching or hand embroidery.
- Thread the machine with your chosen decorative stitch accent color in the top and bobbin.
- Attach the 3-Way Cording foot.
- Select a stitch that is wide enough to span all three floss strands. This is where the all-important PRACTICE stitching comes into play!
- Collect some scraps of the solid canvas. Although even a lightweight canvas is a beefier substrate than quilting cotton, we still recommend using a layer of tear away stabilizer behind your fabric for added support.
- Pull out an approximate 10-12” length from each of your floss colors.
NOTE: This is a good practice length to insure you can maintain a straight row. In the actual construction, you’ll work with longer lengths.
- There is a narrow black “spring” that sits horizontally across the front of the 3-Way Cording foot with a small tab at the end. Slip the floss under the spring, entering just beneath that tab, and settle each strand into one of the grooves. When all three strands are in place, draw them under the foot to the rear.
- Place your fabric under the foot. Drawing in a horizontal guide line will help you keep your stitching straight and will help you confirm the positioning of your embellishment.
- Hold the three strands parallel and begin stitching. Go slowly and carefully, gently guiding the fabric and floss. Run the inside left edge of the Cording foot along the guide line.
- Test your favorite stitches to determine which one(s) you like best. As you test, you’ll notice some stitches have more of a tendency to cause the floss to shift. It’s slight, but this is why you are practicing to find your best options! You can see some of our tests in the photo below. We settled on two favorite stitches from the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9450: Heirloom stitches #7 and #16 – #16 for both outside rows, and #7 for the middle row.
- Once your testing is complete, you can move to your final pieces.
- Find the Bib Trim panel and the Pocket panel.
Bib Trim panel
- Place a layer of tear away stabilizer under your Bib Trim panel.
- We recommend drawing in guide lines to follow with the 3-Way Cording foot. We used three rows of embellishment. To match our positioning. your first row should sit ¾” up from the bottom raw edge of the Bib Trim panel. Draw in a horizontal guide line at this point. The inside left edge of the Cording foot will run along this guide line.
NOTE: Anytime you are working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or vanish will exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- We added two additional guide lines spaced ½” apart. Of course, you can choose to add more/fewer rows and/or space them closer together or farther apart. We are giving you our choices as a good place to start. That all-important testing and practicing you did above will help determine your custom accent plan.
- With your stabilizer in place under the fabric, guide lines drawn, floss strands in place (we started with approximate 15-120″ lengths), decorative stitch set, and the machine threaded with the accent thread in the top and bobbin… you are ready to stitch.
- As you did above during practice, hold the three strands parallel and begin stitching.
- Go slowly and carefully, lightly guiding the fabric and floss.
- As mentioned, the inside left edge of the Cording foot will run along this guide line as shown in the photo below.
- When done, tear away the excess stabilizer.
- The floss + stitch embellishment is added to the Pocket panel in a similar fashion. As above, cut a piece of tear away stabilizer to layer under the section of the pocket where the accent rows will fall.
- The Pocket is a single layer that folds up into its finished position, hiding the back of the floss + stitch embellishment inside the pocket.
- The accent rows should start above the Pocket’s bottom fold line. This bottom fold is 8” down from the top raw edge of the pocket.
- Our first guide line is ¾” above this fold line – or 7¼” down from the top raw edge of the pocket panel. As with the Bib Trim panel, we added two additional guide lines space ½” apart.
- Draw in each guide line.
NOTE: Most solid canvas doesn’t really have a right side or wrong side; both sides look the same. But do keep in mind that a Pocket created with a single layer means any accent needs to be stitched on the “front” – what will be the front of the Pocket when it is folded up into its final position. If you are working with a fabric that has a definite right side and/or a directional motif, make sure the floss + stitch embellishment rows are correctly positioned so they will end up on the front of the folded Pocket. Take a look at the apron drawing above as well as the beauty shots of the apron to help you understand how the stitched flat panel becomes the finished folded Pocket. The construction steps that follow also show the process.
- When done stitching, tear away the excess stabilizer as you did with the Bib Trim embellishment.
Complete the pocket, including the rivet
- With your floss + stitch embellishment complete, you can finish the Pocket construction.
- Make a double-turn ½” hem along the top raw edge (the raw edge above your rows of stitching). To do this, fold back the raw edge ½” and press. Fold back an additional ½” and press again, enclosing the raw edge within the two folds.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the solid canvas in the top and bobbin.
- Re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Attach a standard presser foot.
- Topstitch the hem in place, staying close to the inner fold.
- With the hem complete, flip over the panel so it is right side down, and spin the panel so the top of the Pocket with its newly made hem is now at the bottom.
- Fold up the bottom of the Pocket, hiding the back of the hem and the back of the floss + stitch embellishment inside the Pocket. The raw edges of both layers should be flush and the depth of the Pocket should be 7”, in other words, your Pocket should measure 7” from its bottom fold to its top hem. Press well and lightly pin or clip along the sides.
- The sides of the Pockets are finished with a double-turn ½” hem, just as you did above for the top hem, BUT in this case, you are folding forward instead of backwards.
- From the top hem to the bottom fold, fold both layers forward ½” and press well.
- Fold forward an additional ½” and press again. Pin in place. Your Pocket should now be 14” in width.
- Using the same slightly lengthened straight stitch, topstitch both side hems in place from top to bottom, staying close to the inner fold. With this thicker hem, we chose to engage our machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex,. An Even Feed/Walking foot in another option. Either option will help keep the thicker layers of this narrow hem feeding beautifully through the machine.
- Measure to find the exact center of the Pocket – 7” in from each side hem. Draw in a vertical guide line at this point.
- Staying with the same settings, stitch along the guideline, dividing the Pocket into two equal sections. For the neatest start and finish, use a lock stitch if possible. If your machine doesn’t have a lock stitch, leave your thread tails long, then use a hand needle to pull them through to the back and hand knot to secure. You could also use a classic reverse stitch to start and finish your seam, but keep it very small and neat.
- We added a rivet at the top of the center dividing line as this is a stress point on an hardworking apron.
- Cut a hole with your rivet tool. Make sure you are centering your hole so it can cut cleanly through all the layers. Don’t get to close to the Pocket top or you may not cut a full circle.
- Insert the front cap’s stud into position through the hole from front to back.
- Place the back cap onto the stud.
- Use a setting anvil and post to seal front to back.
- You should use a very hard surface to hammer against for the best seal. We like to use a small block of granite.
NOTE: Riveting is easier than you might think, and we’ve just briefly summarized the steps above. If you’re brand new, check out our Metal Rivets tutorial.
Make the waist ties and neck tie
- Find the TWO 39” x 2½” waist tie strips and the ONE 33” x 2½” neck tie strip. All three ties are made in the same manner.
- Fold in and press ½” along one end and both long sides, leaving the opposite end raw.
- Fold the strip in half so all your folded edges are flush and the width of the strip is now ¾”.
- Pin or clip in place.
- Edgestitch across the folded end and down the long folded side, pivoting at the corner.
- Set aside the three ties.
Assemble the bib
- Find the main Bib and place it right side down and flat on your work surface.
- Find the neck tie.
- Place the raw end of the neck tie into position at the left upper edge of the Bib. You can use the original paper pattern to find this position or measure 1¼” in from the left raw edge.
- As shown in the photo below, the tie is sitting at a slight angle so it runs parallel to the diagonal side edge of the Bib, which means the raw end of the tie extends above the top raw edge of the Bib just a bit.
Pin or machine baste the tie in position.
- Find the Bib Trim panel, which should have its accent rows stitched in place.
- Press back the bottom raw edge of the Bib Trim ½”.
- Place the Bib Trim panel right side down on top of the Bib panel so the right side of the Trim panel is against the wrong side of the Bib panel and the tie is sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place across the top through all the layers.
- Re-set for a standard straight stitch. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers.
- Fold up the Bib Trim and flip over the assembled Bib/Bib Trim panel. This means the Bib section is now right side up, and the Bib Trim section is extending above it – still wrong side up.
- If necessary, grade the seam allowance to reduce bulk. In the photo below, you can see we trimmed off about ¼” of the solid canvas.
- Press the Bib Trim panel and the seam allowance up.
- Folding along the Bib/Bib Trim seam line, fold the Bib Trim panel down into its final position over the front of the Bib.
- The raw side edges of the Bib and the Bib Trim should be flush with one another. The seam should run straight and turn across the top of the Bib. The folded bottom edge of the Bib Trim should be flat and smooth across the front of the Bib. The neck tie is extending up and away from the seam on the right side of the Bib front.
- Pin this folded bottom edge in place.
- Re-set for the same slightly lengthened stitch you’ve used for all the other topstitching and edgestitching.
- Edgestitch all the way across the bottom of the Bib Trim, keeping this seam as close to the fold as possible.
- Similarly to how you did the side hems of the pocket, you’ll now make a ½” double turn hem along each side of the bib. However, for the bib, this will be a standard back-facing hem. Fold back both layers along both sides ½” and press. Fold back an additional ½” and press again.
- Using the same settings, topstitch along both side hems AND pivot at the uppermost corners of the Bib Trim to stitch across the top with the same seam width. The photo below shows up stitching across the top of the Bib.
NOTE: We were able to continue to use the thread that best matched the solid canvas in both the top and bobbin throughout this topstitching as it was a close enough match to our floral canvas. If your print and solid fabrics have a more distinct color difference, you may want to consider taking the time to stop and change out your thread to stitch the different sections. That is a true pro finish.
- Set aside the finished bib.
Hem the skirt panel and position the pocket
- Find the Skirt panel. You will hem both sides and across the bottom. The top edge remains raw.
- The side hems are the same ½” double-turn hems you’ve done above – backward facing as is standard for a hem.
- The bottom hem is 1½” double turn hem, folding back the bottom raw edge ½” and pressing, then folding back an additional 1” and pressing again.
- Pin along both sides first, leaving the bottom edge raw.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the print canvas in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch each side hem in place, stay close to the inner folds.
- Fold up the bottom hem (½”, then 1”), creating a neat corner at either side. Pin in place.
- Topstitch across the bottom hem, also keeping close to the inner fold.
- Place the hemmed Skirt right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Fold the Skirt panel in half to find the center point along the top raw edge. Mark this point with a pin.
- Find the finished Pocket. Its center point is the pocket division and rivet.
- Center the Pocket, also right side up, on top of the Skirt. The top raw edge of the Pocket should be flush with the top raw edge of the Skirt. The center points should be aligned. Pin in place.
- Machine baste the pocket in place.
Layer the skirt/pocket with the bib/waistband
- Find the 39” x 2” waistband strip.
- Fold back each end ½” and press well.
- Fold back ONE 39” raw edge and press well.
- Place the skirt, which should have the pocket basted in place, WRONG side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the center point along the bottom raw edge of the Bib. Mark this point with a pin.
- Layer the completed Bib right side up on the skirt panel, which means the Bib and the Skirt are wrong sides together. Let the neck tie extend down and out of the way. The top raw edge of the Skirt should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the Bib. The center point of the Bib and the center point of the Skirt should be aligned.
- Layer the waistband on top of the Bib right side down. The raw, unfolded edge of the waistband should be flush with the raw-edged layers of the Bib and Skirt. The folded ends of the waistband should align with the hemmed sides of the Skirt.
- Pin across through all the layers.
- Re-set for a standard straight stitch. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers.
- Fold up the Bib and the waistband.
- Flip over the entire apron unit so it is now right side up (except for the waistband).
- Press the seam allowance down.
- Grade the seam allowance. In the photo below, you can see we tucked the Bib out of the way to make trimming easier.
- Fold the waistband down into position so it is covering the seam allowance and the top of the pocket.
- Double check to make sure the folded ends of the waistband are flush with the hemmed sides of the skirt. Adjust those folded ends if not.
- Pin in place across the bottom of the waistband.
Add the waist ties
- Insert each raw end of the already made waist ties into each open/folded end of the waistband. Slide each end into its opening about ¾”. Pin in place. The photos below show the stitching in process, but they are a good visual of how far in the ties go …
- … and how all the folds are flush with the side hems.
- Make sure the machine is threaded with thread to best match the solid canvas in the top and bobbin. Re-set for the same slightly lengthened straight stitch you’ve been using above.
- Edgestitch along all four sides of the waistband.
- The edgestitching along the two top and bottom sides should be nice and close to the edge of the waistband.
- Pivot to stitch across each inserted tie, securing it in place.
- Go slowly and carefully. We used our Janome AcuFeed™ Flex built in fabric feeding system to easily handle all these thicker layers. As above, an Even Feed/Walking foot would be another option.
- When complete, the back of the apron will be smooth and finished with just the topstitching showing along the waistband area. Yay!
Insert the grommet
- Add one grommet in the upper left corner of the Bib opposite the neck tie.
- It should sit right at the corner seam line.
- Cut a small opening. We like to add seam sealant to the cut opening.
- Insert the stud half of the grommet from the right side of the Bib into the cut hole so it pushes through to the back.
- Place the back ring/washer over the grommet stud, like a little hat. Remember, you are working on the back of the Bib.
- Find the grommet setter and anvil. Place the anvil under the front of the grommet and place the setter on top (on top of the back of the grommet).
- With a hammer or mallet, give the setter several strong, smooth whacks to secure the bottom to the top.
NOTE: If you are brand new to working with grommets, check out our full tutorial on the technique.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild