We’d like to invite you to a tea party, but of course, you’ll need an appropriate apron to attend. Our new Wonderland Apron takes full advantage of the amazing Curiouser and Curiouser collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics, based on Alice, her Adventures, and all her Wonderland tea party companions. The detailed fussy cutting and precise stitching create an apron that is truly one of a kind.
There are precise steps below showing how to center and cut the signature Alice image on the apron’s bib. We also provide lots of detail about how to cut all the striped pieces to make sure everything can line up perfectly both horizontally and vertically. Our stripe is one of Tula’s Tent Stripe fabrics, and the colors are a perfect match to the Curiouser and Curiouser palette.
Whenever you take the time to fussy cut, it’s important to take just as much time to ensure your stitching is precise. As a Janome Exclusive Studio, S4H is lucky to be able to sew with Janome machines all the time, and so we do pull out our soap box now then to go on a bit about how important it is to have a machine that works with you and for you. Janome machines are some of the most innovative in the industry, but if we could only have one feature, it would be reliability. You want and need a machine that performs day in and day out, forming one perfect stitch after another without you even thinking about it. That’s what we get with Janome: frustration free sewing.
For this apron project, we used the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9450. The ample work area on this model made it so much easier to work with the larger panels throughout the project – no need to scrunch up fabric, we could keep our layers flat. The MC9450 provides 11” to the right of the needle and 15½” of total work area. And the needle area is sleek and trim so you can easily see as you work.
The apron’s double skirt design is a great way to give you two layers of fabric wonderfulness! The underskirt is a single hemmed layer but the overskirt is lined to give it the heft to handle the pretty pockets.
The waist ties blend beautifully into the waistband and are long enough to tie a generous bow at the back or wrap around to the front for a smaller bow or knot. The neck ties are also nice and long and are angled inward so they fit more naturally around your neck and shoulders.
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, the waistband of this apron is approximately 22″ wide, the waist ties are each approximately 33½″ long, the underskirt length is 16½″, the bottom of the underskirt flares out to approximately 35”, the overskirt length is 13”, the neck ties are each approximately 25” long, and the bib is about 12″ at its widest point (along the top), 10½” at its narrowest point (across the bottom), and 11″ high.
For more information about the the Horizon Memory Craft 9450 or any of the other amazing Janome models, visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer to see it and sew with it yourself!
To see more about the Curiouser and Curiouser fabric collection as well as the gorgeous matching Renaissance Ribbons, check our our full Debut Review.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Edge Guide foot; optional but excellent for the precise topstitching
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: As mentioned above, we did quite a bit of very specific fussy cutting from the Curiouser and Curiouser fabric and so have indicated a bit of extra yardage for each fabric selection in order to insure you can make the same pretty cuts. Should you work with more random motifs, check the Getting Started section and print out all the pattern pieces to determine if you might be able to get away with less yardage. But… as we all know, you really can’t have too much fabric, can you?!?
- 1½ yards of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the stripe fabric used for the waistband, waist ties, neck ties, bib lining, overskirt lining, bib top accent and side panels, and pocket top accents; we used Tent Stripe in Petunia from the Pom Poms and Stripes collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 1⅛ yards of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the underskirt; we used Tea Time in Daydream from the Curiouser and Curiouser collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabric
- 1 yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the front of the overskirt and the pockets; we used Cheshire in Daydream from the Curiouser and Curiouser collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabric
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the front of the bib; we used Alice in Daydream from the Curiouser and Curiouser collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabric
NOTE: You need one full row of “Alice faces” – you might be able to get away with ⅓ yard depending on how the retailer cuts the fabric. Be specific when ordering that you need a full row of faces within your cut.
- 1½ yards of 20”+ lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 20” Pellon Shape-Flex
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Tracing or tissue paper to fussy cut bib
Getting Started and Pattern Downloads
- Download and print out the FOUR pattern pieces (Bib Side Panel Part A, Bib Side Panel Part B, Pocket, and Pocket Top), which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each of the three pages within this PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE OR SHRINK to fit the page. Also be sure to check your printing direction; many of our patterns print landscape not portrait. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out all the pattern pieces along their solid outer lines.
- Find the two pieces that make up the Bib Side Panel. Using the arrows printed on the pattern pieces, butt them together (do not overlap) and tape together to create the full-size pattern.
Special Bib Fussy Cutting Instructions
- From your tracing or tissue paper, cut ONE 7½” x 10” rectangle.
- On the paper, draw two intersecting grid lines: one at the exact center running vertically and one at the exact center running horizontally.
- Place the Alice fabric right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place your grid paper over one of the Alice faces, centering the grid as shown in the photo below. The vertical line goes through the center of Alice’s hair bow and the center of the daisy at the bottom. The horizontal line passes just under the kitty’s chin as well as just under the center of each daisy to the left and right.
- Once correctly centered, pin or tape the paper in place.
- Using your fabric pen or pencil, draw in the actual cut line ½” beyond the paper template on all four sides.
- Cut along the drawn line. We recommend a rotary cutter for the smoothest slice.
- Using the fussy cut bib front, cut a matching piece from the stripe for the bib lining. Our stripes run vertically.
- Using the original paper template, cut ONE from the lightweight interfering.
- You now have all three main pieces needed for the main bib.
Other yardage cuts
- From the fabric for the waistband, waist ties, neck ties, bib lining, overskirt lining, bib top accent and side panels, and pocket top accents (Tent Stripe in Petunia in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 35” wide x 14” high rectangle for the lining of the overskirt – we cut with the stripes running vertically
TWO 2” x 8½” strips for the bib top trim accent – we cut with the stripes running vertically
FOUR 2½” x 34½” strips for the waist ties
TWO 2½” x 23” strips for the waistband
FOUR 2½” x 26” strips for the neck ties
NOTE: The waistband, waist ties and neck ties were all cut with the stripe running vertically. On the waist pieces, they remain vertical on the finished apron. On the neck ties, once in their final position, they run horizontally, matching the bib side panels.
Using the assembled Bib Side Pattern, fold the fabric – making sure the stripes are aligned – and cut TWO fronts. Repeat to cut a second set of TWO backs. The stripes are cut running vertically so when sewn in place, they will appear horizontal.
NOTE: It is important to cut with the fabric folded and the stripes perfectly aligned so the two side panels will be exact mirror images of one another when in their final positions.
Using the Pocket Top pattern, cut FOUR. As above, cut with the fabric folded and the stripes aligned so your finished pocket tops are mirror images: two fronts and two backs. As indicated on the paper pattern, the blue lines are the grain lines to use to properly align the stripes.
- From the fabric for the underskirt (Tea Time in Daydream in our sample), cut ONE 37” wide x 18” high rectangle. We cut with the teacups running horizontally.
- From the fabric for the front of the overskirt and the pockets (Cheshire in Daydream in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 35” wide x 14” high rectangle for the front of the overskirt
Using the pocket pattern, and working with the fabric folded, cut two and then cut an additional pair for a total of FOUR.
NOTE: Because of the diagonal top, these pockets are distinct left and right pieces; your fabric must be folded when you cut your pairs or you’ll end up with too many rights or too many lefts… and that would be sad.
- From the remaining interfacing, cut the following (you already cut the interfacing for the main bib panel above):
TWO 1” x 7½” strips for the bib top accent
TWO 1½” x 22” strips for the waistband
Using the assemble Bib Side Panel pattern, but cutting on the dotted inner seam line, cut TWO
Find the pocket and pocket trim paper pattern pieces. Cut each along the dotted seam line. Butt together and tape along the top edge, as shown in the photo below. Use this pattern to cut TWO interfacing panels for the pockets.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the bib
- Find all the elements for the bib: bib front, bib lining, bib interfacing, the four side panel pieces and their two interfacing pieces, and the two top accent strips and their two interfacing strips.
- Place the main bib interfacing on the wrong side of the bib front (the Alice panel), centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the side panel interfacing on the wrong side of the FRONT side panels, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
NOTE: The two side panel pairs (the fronts and the backs) are essentially the same, but you want to be sure that you are using just one pair at a time. Do not intermix your two pairs. As mentioned above, you folded and aligned the stripes when cutting these pieces to insure they would be mirror images of one another when sewn in place to either side of the bib. So, make sure you are working with one pair. Once interfaced, it becomes your FRONT pair. The remaining non-interfaced pair is the BACK pair.
- Place a top trim strip, right sides together, along the top raw edge of both the bib front and the bib lining. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each trim strip in place. Front…
- … and lining.
- Press each trim strip up and away from the main bib panel. You are pressing up the seam allowance as well.
- Find the two interfacing strips. Place one against each sewn-in-place trim strips. The bottom edge of the interfacing should butt against the sewn seam and there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on the other three sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse each strip in place.
- With both trim strips stitched in position and the interfacing fused, place the bib front and bib lining right sides together. All raw edges should be flush. Pin along the top edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top edge only.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Fold the bib front and bib lining wrong sides together. All raw edges should be flush and the accent trim seam should run straight across the top. Press flat.
- Find the two pairs of side panel pieces. Place each interfaced piece right sides together with a non-interfaced piece.
- Using a ½” seam allowance (which means you are stitching along but not on the edge of the interfacing) stitch the outer edge only. This is the side with the diagonal lines not the side that is completely straight.
- Press open the seam allowances and trim the point where the diagonal lines come together.
- Turn each sewn side panel right side out. Gently push out the point where the diagonal lines come together and press flat .
- Open us each front side panel. Align the raw straight edge of each front side panel (remember, that’s the interfaced piece) with the raw side edges of the front of the main bib, right sides together. Pin in place. Remember, the main bib is TWO layers at this point; the front and the lining are wrong sides together. The bottom raw edge of each side panel will be flush with the bottom raw edge of the main bib panel. The top of each side panel will extend above the main bib panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side panel in place through both layers of the main bib panel. Your seam should run from the bottom of the bib to the top of the bib but not to the very top of the side panel; leave that unsewn.
- Press each seam allowance toward the side panel. If necessary, you can grade this seam allowance for an even flatter finish.
- Bring the non-interfaced side of each sewn side panel around to the lining side of the bib. Press back the remaining straight raw edge ½” and pin in place against the lining. This pinned edge should be just to the inside of the sewn side panel seam so when the final edgestitching is completed, it will catch this back folded edge to secure it. Adjust the ½” fold slightly wider or narrower to insure it sits correctly. We’ll remind you again further on in the instructions to double check the positioning of this fold prior to edgestitching.
- At the top of the side panel, where it extends above the top of the bib, fold in the inner raw edges ½” so they are flush with the sewn seam, then tuck in the top raw edges ½”.
- Keep everything pinned and press flat once more. Set aside the bib.
Create and place the neck ties and finish the bib
- Find the two sets of neck tie strips.
- Place each set right sides together.
- Cut one end of each set at a diagonal.
- For each set, pin along both sides and across the diagonally-cut end.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch along both sides and across the diagonal end of each layered pair. Remember to sharply pivot at the corner and that diagonal point.
- Clip the corner and point and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Using a long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently push out the corner and point so they are nice and sharp. Press the ties flat.
- Slip the raw end of each tie into the open end of each upper side panel. The width of the opening and the width of the tie should be a perfect fit. If they are not, because the top opening of the side panel is unsewn, you can slightly adjust your folds until the tie sits snug and straight.
- The tie should sit at a slight angle as shown in the photo below. This allows the ties to more naturally fit around your neck.
- We attached one of our favorite Janome specialty feet: the Janome Edge Guide foot for the most precise edgestitching. Also choose a thread color that is the best match for your tie fabric for the top and bobbin. We matched the pale green of our stripe. As promised, we are reminding you to again check that your edgestitching is set correctly to catch that back folded edge of the side panels. Adjust the back fold if necessary.
- Edgestitch along the inner edge of each side panel/tie from the top corner of the tie’s diagonal end (there’s no need to stitch across the diagonal point – just start in the corner) all the way down the inner edge of the tie…
- … and continuing along the inner edge of the bib to its bottom raw edge.
- Finally, stitch across the horizontal joint where the tie is inserted into the side panel. If necessary, re-thread to make sure your thread is the best match to the stripe you are stitching against. We switched from the pale green to lavender for our thread.
Make the pockets
- Find all the pocket elements: the two pocket fronts, two pocket linings, four pocket trim pieces, and two interfacing panels.
- Place a pocket trim piece right sides together across the top edge of each of the four pocket panels (two fronts and two backs). Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the pocket top to attach the trim strip to each of the main pocket panels.
NOTE: Remember, just like the side panels above, you cut these pieces to be mirror images of one another. Make sure you are keeping the “sets” intact so you will end up with matching trim strips on your pocket fronts.
- Press the seam allowance, and the trim strip, up and into position.
- Choose two of the sewn pocket panels as the left and right front panels. Their top trim strips should be mirror images of one another.
- Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each front pocket, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place an interfaced pocket right sides together with its corresponding non-interfaced pocket. Pin along all sides, leaving an approximate 3” opening at the center of the bottom side for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the layers together. Remember to sharply pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the 3” opening. Gently push out all four corners so they are nice and sharp. As above, a long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find the front overskirt panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place each pocket into position, also right side up, on the overskirt panel. The inside corner of each pocket should sit 10” down from the upper raw edge of the skirt panel and 12½” in from the raw side edge. When each is positioned, there should be 10” between the two pockets. Lightly pin each pocket in place along the sides and across the bottom.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly. Re-thread if necessary to make sure the thread is the best match to the pocket fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Edgestitch each pocket in place, starting at the upper inside corner of the pocket. Pivot at the corner, stitch across the bottom (this closes the opening used for turning), then stitch back up the opposite side, stopping and locking the seam at the opposite pocket corner.
Stitch together the overskirt layers
- Place the overskirt lining panel, right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the front overskirt panel, with its pockets in place, right side down on top of the lining panel, sandwiching the pockets between the layers. The edges of the front panel and the lining panel should be flush on all four sides. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The top remains open.
- 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 open the seam allowances.
- Turn the overskirt right side out through the open top and press flat, pushing out the corners so they are nice and sharp as you did above with a long, blunt tool.
Hem the underskirt panel
- Find the underskirt panel.
- Finish both sides and bottom edge of the panel with a simple ½” double-turn hem with neat corners. To do this, fold in the raw edge ½” and press, then turn under an additional ½” and press again.
- Create a crisp point at each corner.
NOTE: For all the steps to create a pretty corner like this, see our tutorial: Narrow Hem with a Neat Corner.
- Re-set for a the slightly lengthened stitch. Re-thread if necessary with thread to best match the underskirt fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at both corners. The top remains un-hemmed.
Layer the skirt panels
- Fold each skirt panel in half to find the exact center across its top edge. Place a pin at each center point.
- Place the hemmed underskirt panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Center the finished overskirt panel right side up on the underskirt, aligning the two center point pins. There should be approximately ½” of the underskirt showing to either side of the overskirt.
- Pin the layers together across the top.
- Re-set the machine for a gathering stitch (your longest possible straight stitch). Run one or two lines of gathering stitches across the top of the layered skirt panels. This is a gathering stitch so do not lock the seam at the start or end and leave the thread tails long.
- Gently pull the gathering stitches to reduce the top edge to 22”.
NOTE: Check out our full tutorial on machine gathering if you are new to this technique.
Create waistband and ties, inserting bib and skirt to finish
- Find the front and back waistband panels, the waistband interfacing strips, and the two sets of waist ties.
- Place an interfacing strip on the wrong side of each of the waistband panels, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- You now have two sets of three pieces for the front and back of the waistband and ties.
- Pin ties to either end of each waistband piece.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch these two short seams in both assembled sets of three.
- Press the seam allowances open and flat. You now have two long waistband/tie strips, one front and one back.
- Place these two long strips right sides together, lining up all raw edges and the waistband/tie seams.
- Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, measure and mark the openings needed in the waistband to insert the apron bib and the apron skirt. Measure and mark carefully to insure the openings are centered. The center pin points on the waistband pieces are your guides; measure out in either direction from these. You need a 10½“ opening along the top of the waistband and a 22″ opening along the bottom of the waistband.
- Stitch the two waistband/tie pieces together, using a ½” seam allowance. Start at the right side of the marked bottom opening, stitch along one side all the way out to the end of the tie, pivot at the corner, stitch across the end, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the remaining long side to the right side of the top opening.
- Remove from machine. Move to the opposite side of the top opening. Start stitching again, down one side, pivot at the corner, stitch across the end, pivot at the corner, then stitch along the bottom of tie, ending at the opposite side of the marked bottom opening in the waistband.
- Clip all the corners and press these long seam allowances open and flat.
- Continue pressing along the raw edges of the top and bottom openings so these edges (top and bottom) are flush with the sewn seams.
- With everything pressed, but still wrong side out, once again find the exact center of the waistband. If you’ve lost those original marking pins, re-pin the center point along both the top and bottom.
- Turn right side out through the middle openings. Press flat, making sure those raw edges across the top and bottom of the openings are still pressed back evenly at ½”. If need be, reach into the the ties with your long, blunt tool to help smooth out the long seam and make a nice point at all the corners.
- Find the gathered skirt panel. Find its center point.
- Insert the skirt into the bottom opening (the 22″ opening) of the waistband, aligning the two center point pins (the skirt’s center point and the 22” opening’s center point). Pin in place. As you can see by the photos below, we are working with the wrong side of the apron skirt facing up, which means the right side of the skirt is against the front waistband. The top raw edge of the gathered skirt panel should be flush with the folded back bottom edge of the waistband.
- Insert the bib into the top opening (the 10½“ opening) of the waistband, aligning the center points. The lining side of the bib is facing up as you slide it into position so its bottom raw edge is flush with the folded back top edge of the waistband. As with the skirt, this means the right side of the bib is against the front waistband. Pin in place.
- Bring the back waistband panel down into position, sandwiching the raw edges of the bib and skirt between the layers. Pin across top and bottom of the waistband openings through all the layers.
- Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch. If necessary, re-thread with thread to best match the waistband/tie fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch ALL the way around. We started at the end of one tie, stitched along its top edge, continuing across the bib.
- Keep stitching along the tie to its opposite end. Then pivot and to stitch across the end of the tie, pivot again and head back along the bottom edge.
- Continue the topstitching across the gathered skirt panel and along the bottom of the opposite tie. Pivot at the corner, and stitch across the end to come back to the corner at which you started.
NOTE: We used a standard Satin Stitch foot for this process. Thanks to the amazing feed system on all our Janome studio machines, the layers moved easily across the plate. If you feel you might need additional help, consider switching to a Walking or Even Feed foot or, if applicable, engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we often use on many of our Janome models.
- Press well.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild