Sketch 193: Pink + Glitter
Just a Typical Friday with the Manhattan Scrapbookers

The Apron Tutorial

I've been meaning to do this tutorial for a while.  I am not a seamstress, but I like to do my little DIY projects every now and then.  People really liked the apron I made a few months ago...

Apron I thought I'd share how to go about making your own custom fit apron.  It's very easy and only requires the very basics of sewing machine knowledge.

STEP ONE: Pick your fabric.

Beyond the look of the fabric, there are some practical considerations.

  • The first apron I ever made (and still a favorite of mine) was made from regular quilter's cotton.  (I'm wearing it in the pictures from this post.)  It's colorful and wonderful, but every now and then a really wet spill does get through.  I could solve this problem with a lining, but that seems like a lot of work.
  • The canvas apron (pictured above) has been fantastic about not letting anything through and is really hardy.  I feel no worries about wiping my hands on it or anything!  If you can't find printed canvas, you can paint your canvas yourself.  Or you can use the canvas as a lining under a pretty quilter's cotton.
  • An alternative to canvas is oilcloth.  Oilcloth is, "A fabric or cloth treated on one side with a waterproof covering, especially one made from linseed oil etc.; used for flooring, tablecloths, kitchen shelves and sometimes furniture covering."  It's sort of like raincoat material.
  • Personally I'd stay away from tapestry type fabrics.  Even though they're heavyweight, I've found that they unravel really easily and I'm into the least amount of work for the best results!

STEP TWO: Cut your fabric.

This is a lot easier than it sounds.  I mean cutting into your fabric without a pattern sounds ridiculously hard, doesn't it?  But it's not.  There are two ways to do this (well, there are probably 100 ways to do this, but there are two ways that I can think of):

  1. Take an existing apron that you love and fits you well and use it to base your template on.  (Fold it in half lengthwise and trace it.)
  2. Guesstimate.

We'll be using method #2, which is less scary than it sounds.  Most aprons have this basic pattern:

To adjust it to fit you perfectly there are some things you need to establish:

  1. Length.  How long do you want your apron to be?  This is less of a question about "look" and more of a practical question.  I need something that completely covers my legs when I sit down.  Otherwise, I will drop paint onto my lap and my pants.
  2. Wrap Around.  How far around you do you want the apron to wrap?  Again, I want something that completely covers my clothes, even wrapping around the back so when I'm standing or walking around a classroom I can't ruin my clothes by rubbing against some paint or ink.
  3. Closure.  There are many ways to fasten an apron.  Adjustable neck or non adjustable neck?  If it's adjustable will you be using a D-ring?  Velcro?  Buttons?  And the waist tie -- is it  a long wraparound to the front?  Or does it tie in the back?  Does it tie at the waist or under the bust?  (Under the bust is more flattering if you're a little bit on the round side.)

Speaking practically, all I do now is hold my fabric up to my body and establish the length and wrap around (numbers 1&2).  I cut out a big rectangle.

This fabric is folded in half along the left side.

STEP THREE: Shaping Your Apron.

Holding the folded fabric up to yourself, determine how high or low you want the armhole to be.  I wanted a very high armhole.  Using a pencil I simply sketched the height of the armhole on myself while I looked in a full-length mirror.  While the fabric is still folded, I cut out the armhole.

The fold is still on the left side of the fabric.

Now you have the basic shape of your apron.  Hold it up to yourself and you'll see that the bust doesn't quite fit.  Pinch the fabric along the top of the apron's bib to create two pleats.

Pinch (I apologize for the blurry photo.  I took all the photos with my camera's self-timer and didn't really get to see them along the way.)

When you're satisfied with the pleats, pin them in place and head to the sewing machine.  If you're fastidious, you can turn the edges under at this point.  However I simply stitched around the entire edge of the apron to keep the fabric from unraveling and keep the pleats in place.

Okay!  You've got the basic shape of your apron done!  Yay!


For this apron I decided to go with a very classic criss-cross strap.  I cut two strips that were about 2 1/4" wide...

...and then folded them in half and ironed the crease in place.

Over at the sewing machine I stitched the straps on the three sides with exposed edges.

Then I attached the straps to the inside of the apron along top edge of the apron's bib.

For security, I stitched a square...

...and then an "x" inside the square.

It should look something like this:

At the waist, I created two buttonholes.  (Now let me reiterate that I am not a seamstress and my buttonholes are totally the ghetto version of buttonholes that I made up.  If you'd like to learn how to really make buttonholes, there are lots of great tutorials online.)  I cut snips in the fabric that would fit the straps...

...and then used a zig zag stitch to make it a sturdy opening.

Buttonhole-sewn (Notice that I left the selvedge edge on my fabric.  I like the look, but you certainly don't have to.)

I think a grommet would also be a lovely choice here.  Once the straps are threaded through the buttonholes, here's what it looks like:


STEP FIVE: Pocket Time.

Personally I don't think an apron is that useful without pockets.  So we're putting in four huge pockets.  Cut a long rectangle and iron the edges down.

Head to the sewing machine and stitch the edges in place.

Then pin the pocket to the front of your apron.  Pin all four sides even though you'll only stitch 3 of the sides.

Stitch in a "u" shape, the two sides and the bottom of the pocket.

Don't forget to stitch some pocket divisions too!

I've marked the photo in red where I stitched to create four pockets from that one long strip.

STEP SIX: Decorate if you want to!

I finished my apron off with some rolled canvas roses.

You could also use some fabulous Prima flowers, some rhinestones, Sparkle 21 (glitter glue meant for fabric), ribbon, or anything else that expresses you!

I had a little too much fun taking self-timer photos.  Check out the finished apron:

Let me know if you have any questions!