One of my favorite things to sew are aprons. I especially love a homemade long apron with big pockets. Plus, it’s super simple to sew an apron.
My preferred fabric for sewing is vintage bed sheets from a yardsale or thrift store. You can get funky or pretty patterns and yards of fabric, usually at pennies on the yard. This is unheard of.
Another perk is vintage fabric was made better than what you get at chain fabric store. It lasts longer in my experience and washes like a dream.
Even as a child, I loved a good apron. Further, I love a good full length, bibbed apron. Not only do they protect clothing during messy jobs, they have many practical uses.
When you kneel to weed a garden, when you carry a small harvest in the house, when you need to grab a hot dish from the oven. They can be an extra layer in a cool house on a fall morning. I’ve always joked that a full apron is like wearing a blanket!
Needless to say, I’m a big fan. There are several varieties, some rather fancy. I prefer to keep mine functional with inexpensive fabric as it will really get some use and be washed a lot.
This led me to create what my husband called The Ridiculous Apron. It has a big full skirt for plenty of fabric for hot pans, wet hands and to kneel on in the yard. A big pocket or two makes it practical.
So let’s make this thing!
- Twin size or larger bed sheet (you can use a favorite woven fabric as well- you will need about 3 yards)
- Coordinating fabric, at least 2 yards long and 10 inches tall (you can piece these together to make the length if need be)
- Any coordinating scraps you may want for pockets if you want a third pattern
- Straight pins and wonder clips if you have some
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary mat and cutter
- Iron on interfacing (optional)
The measurements I am using work well for my height- around 5′ 3″. If you are over 5′ 6″, you can add a couple inches to the skirt length if you like a long apron like I do.
Pro Tip Wash your fabric before doing anything with it at all. A lot of fabric is not preshrunk. It’s a huge bummer to work hard on a project to have it shift of shrink in the wash. If your fabric is very wrinkly, iron it to make it easier to stitch and cut.
- Cut your fabric.You will need a rectangle that is 64 inches by 28 inches. To make this easier, I carefully fold my fabric in half and measure 32 inches from the fold, still 28 inches up and down.You will cut a rectangle that is 13.5 inches by 27 inches.You will also need a few strips of your complimentary fabric in the following lengths:
70 inches by 5 inches – to make it easier, fold this into quarters and measure 17.5 inches. I did this alone the long side of a flat sheet and then trimmed it down.
24 inches by 5 inches
- Iron your 27″ by 13.5″ rectangle. Next, fold it in half into a square, right sides facing each other. You can lightly iron the fold to make it easier to work with. Pin the two parallel sides or use wonder clips.With the fold at the bottom, stitch a few stitches down one side, backstitch a few stitches and then forward stitch down the whole side. Turn your work and stitch across the fold at the bottom, and up the other side.
I like to use contrasting thread when I do stitching that will be visible. For piecing, like in step 3, I use plain white thread as to not use up my colored thread when people will not see it. If I am piecing a dark fabric, I use plain black thread
- Turn the square right side out, press it flat then fold the open edges down into the square about 1/2 inch and pin or clip. Set this piece aside for now.
- Hem the short sides of your skirt piece by folding 1/4″ and then again and pressing.
- Using the longest stitch setting on your sewing machine and without back stitching, stitch along the top of what will be the skirt, leaving long tails of thread when done.
Holding the bottom thread between your thumb and forefinger and begin bunching the fabric on the thread.Spread out the ruffles as even as possible. Do this until the ruffled edge is around 22″ wide
.An alternative to this is to cut a 22″ piece of yarn. Fold over the top edge of your skirt, wrong sides together in a small hem. Stitch the down then thread the skirt onto the yarn, stitching down both ends when done.
Pin biased tape or matching ribbon of the same length along the wrong side of the top, over your gathers, pinning every inch or so. Stitch over the ribbon.The ribbon helps keep your ruffles from shifting or bunching too much under the pressure of the presser foot.
- Take your longest strip of fabric. Fold 1/4″ in on each short end, wrong sides together and press. Then again with wrong sides together, fold it in half longways and press, then open flat. Fold each long end in again, wrong sides together, this time to the center fold you just made.
If you’re adding interfacing, do so now. Repeat the same steps for your shorter strip of fabric and top stitch around the perimeter of your short strip only. Be sure you start and end with a few forward, back then forward stitches. Leave the long piece not stitched.
- Sandwich the ends of your short strip 1.5″ into the top corners of the open end of your smaller square. Pin in place and top stitch straight across.
- Fold your long strip in half and your skirt piece in half. Place a pin or line up the center and sandwich the skirt in the fold of the long strip and pin.
- Flip the skirt over and center the top bib piece with the skirt, lining up the bottom of the bib with the bottom of the long strip that will be the tie. Pin in place.
- Top stitch the entire perimeter of the long strip of fabric. This will secure the bib and the tie strip to the skirt in one shot.
- If your skirt is not already hemmed (as it would be with a bed sheet), hem it now by pressing 1/4″ up under the skirt, then folding that on itself one more time and stitching. You can attach lace if desired.
- Add any pockets you would like. This is one of my favorite tutorials for a cute patch pocket.
This is a bigger project for a novice sewer but the skills used are simple and easy. It took me about 2.5 hours to get this all together. Making an apron can be a lot more simple than we think and using a bed sheet saves money and waste!