Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Tutorial Frilled Apron

My lovely friend Julie gave me a sack of material - that is the Ikea Garden fabirc. Just so cute with the little boy gardening. I wanted to make something that would show the pattern of properly. Then I bought a large amount of fabric on ebay -  where else. That is the green dotty fabric, a 1970's sheeting fabric.

Now you know the fabrics story - so important to me with recycled materials. We can get on with making. This is my own pattern and the first one of this design I've made so please read right through as there are always adjustments.

You will need about 1/2 yard or metre of 36 inch or 1 metre wide fabric of each fabric. You may have to join pieces to get the length of the frill. The frill I estimated a 2x length round bottom hem - wrong! I had to do 3x to get a good gather going. In the picture it says 60 inches, you will need 90 inches for the frill. So you need to cut 3x 30 inches that way joins fall evenly.

Cutting list as above in the picture. To trim the corner into a neat curve, fold 30 x 18 main apron piece of fabric in half, measure down from top side edge 8 inches, put a pin in. Measure 4 inches from the centre front on the bottom put a pin in. Now still with the fabric folded in half, draw a curved line between the two pins. You can practice on a piece of newspaper first, then keep that and use as your apron pattern. 

Note on the pocket. I have small hands, so to get a good pocket fit for you make sure you measure the width of your hand. You will need width of your hand + 1 inch for ease + 1/2 for seams. My fabric had a hem on already so I used that as the pocket edge. You will need to add a hem onto your pocket as well. The hem should be about 1 inch + a 1/4 turn under so its neat inside. So an 8 x 7 square will give a 6 x 6 pocket.

Note on interlining I use iron on, medium weight was quite stiff enough for me. This waist band does not need to be as stiff as a skirt one.

We are starting with the frill. If you have joins make neat seams and use zig zag or a serger/overlocker to neaten. Press seams.

Turn a 1/4 inch hem and stitch. Then turn another 1/4 inch and stitch. Picture above shows the frill hem being stitched. This encloses all the raw edges.

Even closer view so you can see that to get a narrow hem, sewn straight you line up with the inside edge of the foot. I am using a clear satin stitch foot. I prefer this foot as it is clear and you can see all your fabric. It also has a handy little arrow to show where the needle is on normal straight stitch.

Next step is to gather the frill. Mark the centre of the frill. You will need to loosen your top tension and make your stitch length as long as possible. This is a very long length to gather, so stop 1/3 way round when stitching, lift presser foot and pull out long length of thread. Then start stitching again, look at the picture above to see. You always need two sets of gathering stitches one 3/8ths inch away from edge and the other 6/8ths inch.

Now match the centre mark on the frill to the centre of the main apron piece. Pull up your gathering stitches. STOP - be patient and gentle here. Or you will break threads and be unpicking and restitching :-) I like less gathers on the sides, more gathers round the corners. Anyway shuffle your gathers around until you are happy that the two pieces fit and the gathers look OK. Tie the ends of the excess gather thread together so they do not pull out as you stitch. Pin evenly.

Remember to put your machine tension back to normal and set your stitch length back to a short length too.

Now you are ready to stitch. Set your machine up so that the stitching will come right in the middle of the two sets of gathering stitches. Take care when sewing gathered cloth to straight especially when you are going round the curves. Check that the bottom fabric is laying flat OR.....

This is what happens if you do not check the main apron fabric - a whoopsie, fabric has bunched up and I now get to sit and unpick - oh bother.

Now we need to neaten the seam edge. You checked its laying nice and flat and that there are no whoopsies first? OK so now set your machine to a narrow zig zag, I find 1/2 the max width is right. Or use your serger/overlocker. Keep the zigzag close to the main line of stitches. Trim the excess seam allowance off. Take care when cutting not to catch any other fabric or snip your stitches.

Lay your apron out and check your work. Looking good? OK now take out the bottom set of gathering thread/stitches. Then give your apron a press.

Apron pressed and stitching removed - take a break. That was a lot of work and it is important when sewing to have a break. I find after about 2 hours work I start making mistakes.

Iron your interfacing to the wrong side of the waistband fabric. Make sure you get the sticky side to the fabric! It makes a real beast of a mess on your iron if you get it wrong.

Whilst you have your iron on press a 1/4 inch under on the long sides and one end of the ties. Set them aside for later.

You will notice the top edge of the apron is bigger than the waistband - yup more gathers. Loosen your top tension and lengthen your stitch, same as you did for the frill.

Pin the right sides of your apron to the right side of the band. Leave 1/4 inch of the band sticking out. This will be turned in when you sew the ties on.

Now pull up the gathers. I like less gathers on the frill and more on the main apron piece. Look at the picture to see what I mean. The frill just hangs better this way.

Again remember to put your stitch tension and length back to normal. Sew down the middle of the gathers as you did on the frill.

Press the seam as shown above. Make sure your seam allowance is facing up under the waistband.
Also turn in the edge on the sides and top and press.

 Fold your band in half and pin in place. Put to one side and work on the ties.

Now I have a camera, computer or me error. Some pictures got erased. Deep breath big contribution to the swear box.

OK you now have your apron ties, the ones your pressed earlier.

Fold in half and sew as close to the edge as you can. You can tack or pin first. Sew a Top stitch - make the stitch a bit longer than normal, along the long edge, turn in the hem on one end and Top stitch  that too. 

Then top stitch on the fold side.

Insert the raw end of the tie into the waistband. You are now ready to top stitch round the band. If you want you can hand sew neatly around the edge or tack, and top stitch from the right side. I am making to sell so don't have time to do that! So I stitch with the wrong side up. 

OK I only lost one picture. So have taken another but it is of the finished band not whilst it is being sewn.

Where the ties join the waistband make a square of stitching. Then sew across the diagonals of the square too. This will hold your ties firmly in place. Now I see an unattractive loop of thread, where are my scissors?

That is the main apron finished. 

Placing the pocket - I did this after the gathers were done. It makes it harder to get the fabric of the apron to lay flat, but easier to get the pocket in the right place. Commercial patterns will have the pocket placement marked. 


On the pocket press under the top hem and sew. Add any decoration, I only used the white vintage lace. There was enough pattern on the garment already so the embroidery will be used on something else.
For me the correct placing was 4 inches below the waistband. Put your apron on and try before sewing to see if the pocket is in the right place for you.

Top stitch the pocket in place.

As the pocket top corner gets a lot of wear, so I make a triangle of stitches at the top. It is a very strong seam.

Now I know you are very talented but blogger expects too much this is a sewing tutorial not gymnastics one. Sorry blogger turned the picture again. Its the finished pocket.

Give your apron a final press. Back view.

Front view. This is a child size mannequin! On you this will be at about knee level.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial and can use some of the tips on other projects.


  1. Sweet! Love it. I've been making totes from vintage embroidered linens; I may have to try an apron, too. :-)

  2. I love this and have just the right material to have a go at one-well it will all be the same material as I don't have a contrast.

    Thank you for all the instructions

    Love Chrissie xx

  3. This is a lovely apron. And, such a a wonderful tutorial on how to make it. Wishing you the best!


Your comments are all read and appreciated. Hope you will forgive me if I miss commenting on your comment, I will be busy doing art :-) x Joan