December 01, 2021 5 Comments
By Cynthia Anderson
This is Day 1 of the sew along. For Day 2, go here.
Today I am going to start a sew along for Cynthia's Cookie Apron. This sew along will be two days, covering not only how to sew the apron, but all the tricks and tips for working with different fabrics and widths as well as options for finishing. Today we select and cut fabric and sew on the pockets.
Each day, I find myself slipping on this cross-back apron no matter what I intend on doing (not just baking cookies!) simply because I am addicted to so many handy pockets. Besides protecting your clothing with a really nice amount of coverage and adding an extra layer of warmth when it is cold out, this apron is as fun to wear as it is practical. If you are like me, you will make yourself an apron for gardening and dirty jobs, an apron for cooking, an apron for sewing and knitting, and an apron for house cleaning. And you can expect friends and strangers alike to want one too.
I decided to share this pattern through Folkwear, because I was asked "where did you get your apron" every time I wore it to the grocery store, hardware store, or the garden center. Yes, I often forget I am still in my apron when I go out. The practical charm of this apron seems to speak for itself.
This apron comes in a range of three sizes, Extra-Small/Small, Medium/Large, and Extra Large/2XL. Make it for yourself or make as a gift to someone special. Make it to liven up your holiday making or simply to enhance your everyday chores.
Front and Back Views
Fabric Choices: Any light to mid-weight woven fabric such as cotton and linen. Quilting cotton is a good choice as well. Sizes XS/SM will only fit on fabric 54” (127cm) or wider and MD/LG and XL/2XL will only fit on fabric 60” (150cm) or wider. See below for tips on using narrower fabric.
If there was ever a garment just begging to be used as a canvas for creativity, aprons are it. Mix and match fabrics, add trims, ribbon, lace, buttons, snaps, hand and/or machine stitching, embroidery, cross-stitching, appliques, hand painting, and anything else you can think of. Of course, there is a simple beauty in a simple fabric with a touch of top stitching or not. You cannot go wrong with anything you are inspired to create.
Notions: Thread; two ¾” (2cm) buttons for straps (optional).
Interfacing can be used for the facing, but not required depending on the weight of the fabric used. The straps can be interfaced and not the bib portion if you like. If using interfacing, ¼ yard (.23m) is required.
CUTTING YOUR FABRIC: Sizing, Adjustments, and Considerations
There are some adjustments to consider before cutting the pattern from fabric. You will first want to determine the size you want to make. This pattern has a lot of room for each of the sizes. You can go by the grade rule we have for it to get pretty close to the size you want. The bust is probably the most important measurement for this pattern since there is lots more ease everywhere else. But, remember the cross-back straps will also allow for some room as well. If you fall between measurements, you can likely go with the smaller size. If your measurements are larger than the pattern indicates, you can pull the center fold like away from the fold to add width to the pattern without other changes.
Also, before cutting into your fabric, predetermine the strap length required for comfortable wearing. If you would like the straps to be longer/shorter or to make them adjustable, add or subtract the length you desire to the ends of the strap portion of the pattern before cutting the fabric. Remember to add a seam allowance to the adjustment.
Hint: If you want to make your apron a bit wider, pull the center front edge of the apron body pattern piece away from the fold half the measurement needed.
Working with Fabric Width and Wide Pattern Pieces
This apron design provides nice coverage both front and back, but this makes the pattern pieces very wide. Due to this extra bit of roomy coverage, some fabric widths may be a bit too narrow for the pattern to be cut on the fold. This is not an uncommon occurrence when making garments with width and trying to use what you have on hand. Cutting on the straight-grain fold is ideal, but not always possible.
Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you wish to make, you may or may not need to cut on the crossgrain. Don't let less-than-ideal fabric width be a deterrent to making the larger sizes. Working with and around fabric width is an unavoidable aspect of the sewing experience. In this sew along I will share my thought process in working with a fabric I already had and making it work for this apron pattern, despite its narrower width.
Because my stash is a great place to shop for fabric, I decided on a mid-weight cotton seersucker stripe, which has a bit of holiday candy cane flair. Below, you can see how a size small fits on the fold (on grain) of this 52 inch (150cm) wide fabric. The fabric is a tad too narrow. Not to worry, there are options for working around this issue!
Cutting on the Cross-Grain
One Option would have been to cut my apron body on the fold with the fabric folded on the cross-grain. This would have forced the stripes to run horizontally on the body of the apron. Which would work, but was not what I wanted. However, this is a good project for cutting on the cross-grain, especially if using a solid fabric that is the same on both sides and does not have any directional concerns like nap. Luckily, lots of solid fabric fit this description.
Fabric that is stable can handle being cut on the cross-grain and is perfectly fine for this project. However, you do want to avoid cutting on the cross-grain if the cross-grain gives too much when gently pulled.
Cutting Using a Single Layer of Fabric
Another option is to open up the yardage, right side of the fabric facing up, so the fabric is in one layer and cut two sides of the apron making a center front seam. If you use the fabric in this way, it may be helpful to trace a second pattern for the apron body to make sure all the pattern pieces fit and lay out as they should.
Because I really wanted the stripes to run vertically, my only option was to open the fabric out flat for the positioning of the apron body pattern pieces. Because my fabric was the same on both sides and the pucker of the seersucker was not directional, it did not matter if the two apron body pattern pieces were not positioned going in the same direction.
Notice the Patch Pocket is positioned to be cut on the cross-grain and the Triangle Tissue Pocket is positioned to be cut on the straight-grain. Working with stripes is a great way to get creative.
Cutting two halves means you have a seam in the center front of the apron. Because, this method of laying out the pattern creates a center front seam, seam allowances are needed. You can add 1/2-inch (13mm) seam allowances to the center front of the apron when cutting out the pattern or simply pull the pattern away from the selvage edge 1/2-inch (13mm), as I ended up doing in the photo below. The nature of the seersucker fabric and the aligning of the stripes makes the center seam hardly visible.
Note: If the fabric did have directional issues to consider, then I would have needed a bit more yardage, so both apron body pattern pieces could be flipped and positioned going in the same direction while lying flat. Or, be sure the fabric is wide enough to accommodate cutting on the fold.
Learning to factor in "fabric width" is a part of the sewing experience. Simply put, fabrics come in varying widths and every sewist eventually is faced with "how do I make this work?"
Since my fabric was not wide enough to cut the apron body on the fold, I cut two pieces with seam allowances added. In the photo below the two apron pieces are pined and stitched with right sides together, using the 1/2-inch (13mm) seam allowance. The seam is pressed open. The only difference between cutting on the fold verses cutting two pieces is the center seam.
Below is a close-up view of the center seam of the apron body with the right side facing up. The pin indicates the center seam. Because of the seersucker fabric pucker and the aligning of the stripes the seam is hard to see.
Laying Out the Apron Facing. If cutting the apron on the fold, whether on the straight-grain or the cross-grain, then the facing should be cut in the same manner. If cutting the apron flat, you can either cut two facing pieces on grain, just like the apron body pieces, with added seam allowances, or cut the facing on the fold.
Even though, I cut the apron body laying flat with added seam allowances, I went ahead and cut the facing on the fold. Since the center front of the apron is sewn using a 1/2-inch (13mm) seam allowance, the apron is now the same width-wise as it would be if cut on the fold. So, the facing should fit perfectly.
Below the Facing and the Bib Pocket are cut one on the fold.
Cutting the Patch Pockets with Optional Tissue Pocket
Really deep pockets make an apron a great place for keeping things as you go about your daily "making and doing." The patch pockets on this apron design are not only deep, but they sit a bit high on the apron to prevent any objects from falling out when bending over. Another feature is the Tissue Pocket that really requires no explanation and is a nifty pocket for storing little things like rings, buttons, lip stick, as well as items that need their own specialized location like a tissue or hanky. Below are all the pocket pieces needed to get started. Notice how I switched the directions of the stripes to add a bit of whimsy and interest.
SEWING THE APRON
Fold under the long side edges and bottom edge of each of the rectangular Patch Pocket by ½” (13mm) and press.
Turn under the top edge of each patch pocket by ¼” (6mm), then again ¼” (6mm), and press. Stitch close to turned under edge.
Repeat for other Patch Pocket.
Triangle Tissue Pocket
The Tissue Pocket is sewn to the Patch Pocket creating a small triangular pocket to keep small things like rings or a tissue handy.
Turn under and pin the two angled edges of each Tissue Pocket by ½” (13mm) and press.
Turn under and pin the top edge of each triangle by ¼” (6mm), then again ¼” (6mm) and press.
Trim excess corners at each edge of triangle. Stitch close to turned under top edge.
Below is the right side view of the Triangle Tissue Pocket with all the edges stitched and trimmed. Notice the pin holding the bottom point of the triangle neatly in place before being added to the Patch Pocket.
Repeat for other Triangle Tissue Pocket.
Add the Triangle Tissue Pocket to the Patch Pocket
With wrong side of Triangle Tissue Pocket to right side of Patch Pocket, align the top edge of the triangle to the top edge of the patch pocket.
The pins on the top of the Triangle Tissue Pocket are used to provide extra hold when stitching. The top edge is not sewn closed.
Pin and stitch along the angled sides close to the two angled edges. Leave the top of the triangle open creating a triangle-shaped pocket.
Repeat adding other Triangle Tissue Pocket to the other Patch Pocket.
Turn under the two side edges and bottom edge of Bib Pocket by ½” (13mm) and press.
Turn under the top edge of bib pocket ¼” (6mm), then again ¼” (6mm) and press. Top stitch close to turned under edge.
Below is the wrong side of the bib pocket facing up, with the top edge turned under and stitched.
Adding Pockets to Apron
With right sides of apron facing up, place wrong side of Patch Pocket-Triangle Tissue Pocket Combo and Bib Pocket to apron front aligning with dots as indicated on the pattern. Pin and stitch each pocket close to the pocket edge on the side and bottom edges. Be sure to backstitch at open edges of pockets. Top edges are left open.
Note: When adding the Patch Pocket-Triangle Tissue Pocket Combo the pockets are positioned on the apron body at a slight angle when the apron is laying out flat. This is a trick that will allow the pockets to hang straight when worn. The pocket placement on the pattern might seem odd... but it is intentional.
Optional Pencil Pocket
To create a Pencil Pocket, stitch a vertical line slightly wider than a pencil through both layers of the Bib Pocket and Apron. You can make more than one pencil pocket or make additional pockets any way you like using this technique. I made a pocket for my spectacles the same way, by making the vertical stitching line a bit wider than my spectacles. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end if the vertical stitching line for stability.
Masking tape or removable tape makes a great stitching guide. Simply decide the width needed, being sure to leave a tad of room for an easy fit, then add tape as a guide, and stitch.
Below, the spectacle pocket is taped off on the left side of the bib and the pencil pocket is taped off on the right side of the bib pocket.
Using tape as a stitching guide is quick and easy. Just go slowly to avoid stitching into the tape. Notice the needle alignment to the tape guide below.
Stitching the on the left side of the tape, using the tape as a stitching guide to make the pencil pocket.
To make the spectacle pocket, the stitching is made on the right side of the tape.
When stitching is complete, simply remove the tape.
Now, the Patch Pocket-Triangle Tissue Pocket Combo and Bib Pocket are sewn to the apron body and the extra pockets on the bib are done too. Pockets make a great apron even better. Plus, after a busy day of making and doing, if something goes missing... just look in your apron pockets.
Join me on Day Two of the Apron Sew Along, to learn how to add the facing, finish the straps, and hem the apron. This pattern will be featured throughout the month of December and just in time for making yourself or someone special charming gift.