Aprons with pockets make so much sense, but I never see anyone wearing them. What’s the problem? They are super easy to make, so you can have one that you love in a couple of hours, and you can make them to fit YOU! Here’s how.
- 1 ¼ yards of your favorite washable fabric
- Optional: rick rack, ribbon, appliqués
- Fabric tape measure
- Cutting mat
- Rotary cutter
- Straight edge/cutting guide
- Sewing machine
1. Begin by gathering all of the materials needed and start your calculations. This is your opportunity to make an apron cover as much of you as you like! Take your fabric tape measure and put it around your waist where you want the apron to sit, and bring it as far to the back as you like.
I put mine right at my side seams and came up with 24”. I added 2” to that figure for side seams and then double it for gathering. This number was 52” for my cut width. However, my fabric was only 45” wide. I decided I’d forgo piecing it together and live with a little less gathering, so my width became the width of my fabric.
For length, measure from your waist down to wherever is comfortable on your legs. For me it was just above my knees at 18”. So I subtracted 2” from that length for the waist band, and then added 5/8” for seam allowance at the top and 2 ½” twice for the hem for a total of 21 5/8” to cut for the length.
2. Next, straighten the fabric by folding it in half and finding the corner at the top of the fabric that is lower than the other side. (No one at the fabric store ever cuts the fabric straight!) At the shorter side, clip into the fabric about ½” and fray the opening with your finger until you can find a loose thread. The point is to follow this thread all the way across the fabric to get it truly straight. To do this you must gently pull on the thread easing the fabric as it gathers.
The goal would be to pull the entire thread out and then cut along the tiny line left where the thread used to be. However, it never comes out all at once; it usually breaks because it isn’t strong enough to be pulled that hard. So, when it breaks, pull it out and cut as far along the line it made and then find another thread – one that is next to it, and pull on it. Continue in this fashion until you have traveled all along the top edge and have a straight top to your fabric!
3. Cut off the selvage edges of your fabric first, then, with your fabric folded over side to side, measure down from the top, the cut length of your apron. Use a cutting mat, cutting guide and rotary cutter to make your cut. If you have to cut down the width of your fabric for your apron, fold the fabric top to bottom, and cut off the excess. I simply used the width of the fabric for my apron, so I didn’t have to cut again. If you need to add to the sides of your apron for more fullness with the gathering, cut another length from your fabric, cut it into two side panels, and sew them to the sides of your main apron using 5/8” seam allowances. You may want to create a flat felled seam here to hide the raw edges and keep them from fraying. Check out our article on a variety of seaming methods to learn about the flat felled seam.
4. Cut out the other pieces to your apron. The waist band will be the width of your apron plus 1 ¼” for side seams, and 5 ¼” top to bottom to fold over and seam. The ties are cut at 5” wide, by a length that is suitable for you. Mine was 36” plus hems and seams, so 37 5/8”. This gave me plenty of fabric to tie a big bow!
If you would like to add pockets to your apron, cut out one or two at 7 ¼” by 8 5/8” to make 6” square pockets.
5. Start with the side hems on the apron. I love to have my iron nearby when I’m sewing because it makes hemming so much easier. I use my fabric measuring tape to make sure I’m ironing the hem over just right. Turn the edge over twice at ½” each time, ironing it in place each pass. When you go to sew the side hem in place, you won’t need as many pins and it will go very smoothly! I used a blind stitch on my sewing machine for the side hems, but a straight stitch is fine as well. After both side hems are in place, iron them flat.
6. Now, use the same procedure for the hem of the apron. Turn it up 2 ½” twice, using the iron to keep the folds in place. Pin it and stitch it in place.
If you are adding pockets, it is easier to add them before you gather the top of the apron. So, fold the side seams and bottom seam over 5/8” and iron in place. Then, fold over the top 1” twice and iron.
Note: If you are going to add rick rack or ribbons along the hem seam, now is the time while the apron and pocket fabric is flat and easy to work with. In the past I’ve added either rick rack or several bands of ribbon along the seam of the hem and also on the pockets. Appliqués would be fun too if your fabric has a small print or is a solid color.
Position the pockets approximately 6” from the left and the right of the center line of the apron and 4” up from the bottom. (This worked for me but test this for yourself.) Pin the pockets in place and stitch.
7. To gather the top edge of the apron, set your sewing machine to long basting stitches and sew a line of basting stitches 3/8” from the top edge and another at 7/8” from the top edge.
Then, separate the top threads from the bobbin threads and pull on the bobbin threads while sliding the fabric gently into gathers. Do not pull so hard that you break one of the bobbin threads or you’ll be starting the entire gathering process over from the beginning! Keep gathering until the apron is the width you wanted, and the gathers are even across that width.
Hold the gathers in place by wrapping the bobbin threads around a pin at the edge of the fabric.
8. Next we’ll add the waist band. First, iron in the 5/8” seams along the long ends. Then iron the side seams with a 5/8” fold over. Then, fold over the waistband, lining up the edges, and iron in the waistband fold.
Undo all the folds, and pin the waistband with right sides together along the gathered edge of the apron, with the 5/8” side folds hanging over the edge. Once the waistband is pinned to the gathered edge, remove the pin holding the bobbin threads. You’ll want the bobbin thread at the 7/8” position available for the next step. Sew the waistband to the apron at 5/8”, which will be right between your basting stitches.
9. Now, pull on the bobbin thread at 7/8” to remove this line of basting from your apron. You may need to brush over this stitch line with your fingers to make the needle punch holes disappear. I usually leave the 3/8” line of basting stitches in, but you may remove them if you wish. Sometimes they tend to fray the edge of the fabric when pulled.
10. Fold over the waistband side seams, (one side of them will fold over the raw gathered ends) then fold over the entire waistband to cover the 5/8” seam and pin in place. I hand stitched this seam, but you can sew this on the sewing machine if you like.
11. You may want to cut an angled end on your ties like I did for a little added style. Then, fold over the raw edges ½” twice, ironing in place after each fold. Leave the end that will attach to the apron with a raw edge. Pin the hems in place and sew them down on the sewing machine.
12. Tuck the raw edge of the ties into the openings at each end of the waistband. To make them fit, fold them slightly in the middle. Pin in place a stitch the opening closed.
This was the first project I ever made in my first Home Economics class in junior high. It’s a great one for learning just about everything you need to know about sewing! Hmm, except buttons and zippers….next time!!
I don’t understand why women quit wearing these. I am a very messy cook, so I need one of these that goes around the neck & covers my chest also. Remember those? My Grandma used to wear that kind.
Shari Hiller says
I DO remember those, my mom had a couple too. Hmm, maybe I can come up with a nice pattern for one of those. Thanks so much for your comment!
Trudy Cranford says
I loved watching matt and Shari program so much that I would record them to view over and over. I learned A GREAT MANY THINGS from the program.
If it is possible, please come back to television.