Sew fun AND functional: Sassy Apron

When possible, I like to try to make gifts for people.   Work and life don’t always allow time for it, and sometimes my ideas just don’t turn out….but when the stars align and it all works out, it always makes me feel good to give something that I’ve made with my own two hands.  

One of my friends is getting married this June and she loves to cook so I was determined to make an apron for her. 

A few years back I took an Apron class from our local fabric store and learned how to make a basic apron.  During the class I whipped up this one for myself:

There are things I love about this apron (the fabric pattern, the ribbon detail on the trim and the ruffled top) and things I don’t like (the lack of liner on the back and the material I chose for the tie).  So I decided to try to fix some of these “negatives” in my next apron attempt.   In fact, I had a different style in mind all-together.   I know, I know…it’s never a good idea (especially for me) to stray from what I know works.  Especially when it comes to sewing.    But I was feeling semi-confident for no reason. 

Here’s where my inspiration came from:

This darling apron came from I'm a regular reader of Erin's blog and just love these!

To get this look, I decided I needed to do a few things differently this time:

  • Make two pleated pockets instead of one side pocket
  • Sew a thick band for the top (that matched the trim on the bottom) instead of ruffling the top edge
  • Use fabric for the ties instead of the thin ribbon
  • Add a nice liner to the back (I’m not sure if Erin’s aprons are lined, I just knew I wanted to add it)

With these ideas in mind and a picture of the inspiration apron printed out…I got to work  (I had already purchased and pre-washed my fabric a few weeks ago).  I tried to stick to oranges, greens and yellows with my fabric selection this time because I don’t think my girlfriend is really a pink-person (not that there’s anything wrong with that…I probably like pink enough for the both of us).    Here’s the fabric I picked out:

First step was to measure and cut out the fabric for the apron itself.  I started with the liner, cutting it to the exact size I wanted the apron to be when I was done (I just used my own apron as a guide).  Then, I cut the outside (pretty) fabric about and inch bigger than that so I could hem it.  See here:

Next I folded the pretty fabric over once (all the way around the perimeter) and ironed it down.  I did put a few pins in to keep it in place before stitching around the edges to form the hem. 


At this point I left the main apron piece alone.  I didn’t want to sew my liner on yet otherwise you’d see the stitching when I put the pockets on.   Instead, if I attached the pockets to the green fabric first, then put my liner on, the back of the apron would be nice and clean (free of stitching).

So I turned my attention to the pockets.   For their shape I just cut out squares, then cut a diagonal on the corners for where your hand would go.  I just kind of played around with shape and size until I found something I liked.  I sewed a liner on the pockets too because I wanted them to be thicker.   After the liner was on, I just sewed a line across the top of the pocket while pleating the fabric a couple of times.  Since this was the first time I’d done this, there was no picture-taking.  Sorry.  Here’s the final product:

Now I was ready to sew the pockets onto the apron.

The hardest part was figuring out placement.  To do this I simply found the center of the green fabric piece and marked it with a pin.  Then placed each pocket the same distance away from the center in opposite directions (and pinned them down).  There were several instances of me holding the green apron fabric up against my hips and staring in the mirror to decide if it looked good.  ha ha.  I practiced putting my hands in the pockets to make sure it wouldn’t be awkward or uncomfortable (obviously I rely on really technical testing methods).  

After a few adjustments I decided on (what I thought was) the appropriate location.  Next time, I’d place them differently than where they ended up, but hindsight is always 20/20  (a titch lower for those of you wondering).

The reason I would place them lower next time, would be so I can align the thick top band with the top of the green fabric. With my current placement, the band covers too much of the pocket to do that.

But alas, what’s done is done.  

Moving on to the bottom trim.  All I did here was cut a 3″ piece of coordinating fabric to the same length of the green fabric and added a bit of ribbon accent to it (super simple….just sew the ribbon on).   I placed it directly on top of the green fabric to decide on placement.  If you look at the picture, I remembered (yay!) to leave some hem allowance at the bottom (underneath the trim for when I put the liner on the back).  Then I flipped the trim up, and with the two “pretty sides” facing together, I sewed the trim on. 

Once they’re sewed together, you can turn the trim back over (seen here) and iron.    And voila’:

Not going to lie.  I was about 2.5 hours in at this point.  And a 98% excited that “it was working” and 2% cranky.   But I was so excited to see the final product that I kept going! 

Finally I was able to sew that darn liner on the back.  So once again I layed my green fabric down and placed the liner on top.  All there was to do now was to fold and sew another hem right on top of the liner.  Easy Peasy.

Confused yet?  Try writing this.

The last step (and what surprisingly turned out to be the hardest) was the top band and ties.   To match the bottom trim, I cut another 3″ piece of coordinating fabric to the same length as the apron.  Since I couldn’t attach it directly to the apron (darn pocket placement), I had to sew its own liner on the back.   Not a big deal, it’s just more of a personal preference to keep that hidden.  Next time….

After sewing the top band on, I used what I had left of the orange fabric to make ties (again with a liner on the back).   I was running low on fabric so the ties are shorter than I would like, but they still work.  

See how in my inspiration photo the ties come around to the front and drape down?  Well, mine make it to the front but aren’t very drapey.  Again, next time…

Here’s what it looks like from the front:

And the back (no pocket stitches….holla!)

If ANY of you followed me through this post, you can see what I'm talking about with the top band here. See how it sticks above the main apron piece? Next time I wouldn't want that to happen, instead I'd want the top of the band to align with the top of the apron. Curse you pockets!

And now for what I’m SURE you’ve all been waiting for.  The apron modeled by yours truly:

Oh pockets.  How I love/hate you.

Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I’m semi-impressed with myself that I just went for it and all of my modifications worked.  That’s new to me.  But I like it.  

Things to change for next time:

  • I think the pockets could be a little closer together and obviously lower because the back is really bothering me by not being aligned right
  • I’d also double the amount of fabric I use for my ties so they drape nicely
  • The apron is kind of heavy…next time I’d try to find a lighter weight liner.
  • Consider buying an apron straight from Erin.  At $28 a pop, you can hardly argue with the time saving (I think it took me five hours total) and getting the real deal to boot! 

In the end, I’ve decided that I like this apron better than my original; it’s a more flattering style in my opinion. 

So there you go.  Sweet and sassy – a dangerous combination.   And yes people, I’ve already given the apron to my friend so I’m not spoiling any surprises (she loves it by the way!).

Sew tell me (har har)….what sewing projects have you guys been up to lately?



  1. Janna –

    Goodness, can you get anymore Martha Stewart?! You’re so stinkin’ talented at ALL of this stuff. Goodness, you’re making me feel bad! I have no gardening, no window treatment making, no bathroom or office redesigning, and no blogging skills!

    Miss you, and your amazing can-do-about-anything self! ;)

    Much love,
    – L

  2. Darling!!! I am very impressed that you retrofitted your own pattern for the apron, complete with pleated pockets and liners! I know it took a while, but just think, next time you make it you’ll have all the kinks worked out. :) Love the fabric you chose, I’ve got to get down there and take a peek for myself. I’m working on a new ‘market tote’ bag and I would love some new inspriation. Great work, you are quite the seamstress these days!

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