Sunday Arts and Crafts #1

Happy Sunday!  Don’t Sundays make you feel just a little dreamy and creative and like you do actually have that little extra time to make something fun? No? Just me?  Well, Sunday is my favorite day for arts and crafts, so…

It’s time for the first installment of the Sunday Arts and Crafts series!

I apologize for the late night post, and therefore poorly lit photos, but today was the first day that San Francisco was graced by the sun in months and I just could not bring myself to spend my free hours indoors.  Plus I had a dinner date with my mom.  So I was sewing away into the night looking over the beautiful lights of this city by the bay to bring you the first Sunday project.  At least I had some company.

This first project is going to be sewing an apron.  Woo!  While it is simple, you’re going to need access to a sewing machine, and you should know how to use it (or ask your mom, trust me that she’ll be stoked if you ask her to help you sew something).  An apron is an awesome beginning sewing project because it doesn’t have to fit your body perfectly, and you have so much flexibility in what fabric to use and how to adorn it.  Aprons also make great gifts, just look how happy these guys were!

Today I’m making a hot pink zebra print apron with black trim and big black buttons.  You can use whatever fabric and trim that speak to you, but here’s what you’ll need from the fabric store:

1.5 yards of a cotton print that’s at least 52″ wide.  If you don’t know what this means, ask someone at the store… they’ll help you out.  And, hey, get creative in your fabric choice! I don’t want to see any boring aprons out there!

4 yards of any color/material 3 inch wide ribbon (stay away from anything that has wire edges, though)

2 GIANT buttons or other accessories (decorative flowers, bows, or whatever… as long as they’re about 2 to 3 inches wide… any shape is fine)

A spool of thread that matches your fabric

And these things that you should have at your place (or again, take a trip home and ask your mom for help):  pins, a needle, sewing scissors (you can totally cheat and use regular scissors, but I’m a huge advocate for having a nice, sharp pair of fabric-only shears), and a measuring tape

Once you’ve gotten all your loot from the fabric store, you’re going to have to do the worst part of this, or any, sewing project.  You have to wash and dry your fabric so that it shrinks.  Generally, I just throw mine in the tub with some hot water and a little detergent, just to get the cooties off from sitting in the fabric store, then rinse it out, give it a good squeeze, and throw it in the dryer.  I seriously hate doing this… it seems to take forever and I just want to get sewing already!  But, patience is a virtue, and if you skip this step your apron (or dress, or shirt, or whatever you sew) will come out all wonky the first time you wash and dry it.

While you are waiting for your fabric to dry (TIP: Throw a few dry bath towels in the dryer with the fabric to help dry quicker) there are some measurements you need to take.  So grab your tape measure, grab a pen, and let’s go.

First measurement:  Across the chest.  Measure from about an inch in from your armpit to about an inch in from your other armpit, this is how wide the top of the apron will be.  My measurement was 12″ and yours should be right around there too. Note that this measurement is above the ta-tas, so it’s pretty standard (unless you want a super sexy low cut apron, in which case you can lower the measurement).

So it happens to be that unless you are wildly unproportionate (not just a little long or short in the torso) then the the measurement you took across the chest is going to be slightly longer than the measurement for about how long you want the top part of the apron.  Seriously, start where you want the top edge of the apron to lie on your chest, and then measure down to your belly button, it should be about an inch or two shorter.  Cool, right? Now, whatever your magic across-the-chest number is, it should be somewhere between 10 and 14 inches, write it down.

The next measurement is how long your apron is going to be.  So measure vertically from your belly button to a few inches above your knees.  My measurement is 22 inches.  If you want yours longer or shorter, no worries.  This part is totally personal preference.  Write this number down.

Now it’s time for a little math.  Your first number (12 inches for me) is going to be how wide your apron is at the top edge and at the waist.  However, every apron needs a little A-line shape from the waist to the bottom edge.  So here is your math:  to determine how wide the bottom edge of your apron should be, add 8 inches to your original 12 inches (or whatever your measurement was).  This means that the bottom edge of my apron will be 20 inches wide, the waist will be 12 inches wide, and the top edge will also be 12 inches wide.

Got it?  Ok, now go check and see if you’re fabric is dry, because it’s time to start drawing your pattern.

Since cotton print fabrics are generally very light weight, I always double up the fabric instead of just doing one layer. This also makes it a lot prettier and isn’t any harder than doing a single layer.  Lay your fabric out with the “right side” (the part you want on the outside of your finished product) facing up.  Now take one side and fold it to the other side hot dog style, and smooth it out.  You will have the inside of the fabric showing and have what is called “right sides together.”

We’re going to start by drawing the top section of the apron.  To draw on your fabric, use something really light or something that you can rub off the fabric when you’re done.  I used a sharpie so that I could show you, but the best thing you can use is chalk. Don’t use anything inky or it will bleed, but pencil works ok if you’re in a pinch.  Now, when you eventually sew the bottom section to the top, you’re going to need to accommodate the seam allowance.  That just means that the top part needs to be slightly longer than the measurement you took.  This works out perfectly, because the width measurement is slightly bigger than the length measurement.  Therefore, just make a square with all sides the same size as the first across-the-chest measurement that you took.  In my case, 12 inches.  The line you’re drawing is the line you’re going to sew on, so leave about a half inch around the square so you can cut it out.

Ignore that little "12+1" I wrote on the side, all sides should be just 12

Now for the bottom section.  This shape is going to be, in my case, 12 inches wide at the top, 20 inches wide at the bottom, and 22 inches long.  Start by drawing the bottom edge, 20 inches wide, at the bottom of your fabric.  Your 12 inch measurement must be directly in the middle of the 20 inch measurement or your skirt will be lopsided and not A-line. The best way to ensure this is to find the middle of your bottom edge (10 inches in my case), make a little mark, then measure straight up however many inches you decided your length should be (22 inches in my case) and then make another little mark.  Now draw half of your top edge measurement on either side of your top mark (6 inches in my case).  You should have a wide line on the bottom and a shorter line centered above it.  Now connect the corners of the top edges to the corners of the bottom edges with a long straight line.  This is what your fabric should look like.

In this case, I’m going to wait to pin my fabric together until after I cut it out.  I don’t really have a reason for this, because generally you pin before you cut. But cotton prints are really good at staying where you put them, and even stick to themselves a little.  And I find it’s easier to pin once it’s cut out.  If we were using a more slippery fabric I’d definitely have you pin first.

Grab your shears.  Now, if you’re working quickly it is almost guaranteed that you will forget that the line you drew is the line you are supposed to sew on… not cut on.  So take a minute and remind yourself that you are to cut about a half inch OUTSIDE the line that you drew.  Alright. Cut your top square out and then cut your bottom shape out.

Time to pin.  Pin all around the edges of the two shapes along the inside of the lines that you drew.  Don’t worry about pinning the bottom edge of either shape, as those edges are not going to be sewn shut yet.

Ok.  Bust out your sewing machine.  Start with the top section of your apron. Sew along the line that you drew, but leave the bottom edge open. Now do the exact same thing with the bottom section, leaving the bottom edge open.

Ok!  Turn those suckers right side out and if you’re feeling good, iron them so that the edges are nice and crispy.

Now lay your bottom piece out flat.  Take the top piece and put it upside down and backwards (right sides together again) on top of it.  Since the bottom edge of the top piece is raw, move it down a little so it’s not matched up exactly with the nice top edge of the bottom piece.  This will make it so that the raw edge isn’t visible on the inside of your apron.

See how the raw edge of the top is a little below the nice edge on the bottom?

Pin this together, the width should match up exactly if your measurements were good, but it’s alright if one is a little wider like mine turned out, because you’re going to cover it with the waist band in a minute.

Sew along the edge, then flip the top up.  Wow! It looks like an apron!

Now take your ribbon, wrap it around your waist, and tie it in a bow to measure how long it needs to be.  Mine is just over one yard.  Cut the ribbon at however long it needs to be.  Turn under the cut edges about half an inch twice, so that no raw edges are showing.  Sew.

Lay your apron out flat and center the ribbon across the waist line.  Pin the top edge and bottom edge, then sew.  You can use a contrasting color thread if you want to be fancy.

Ok! Next step! Hold your apron up to your body with the top edge where you want it.  Measure from about an inch down from the top left corner, around your neck, to the same spot on the top right corner.  Take this measurement and add inch to it.  Cut that length of ribbon.  You don’t want your neck strap to be that wide, so we’re going to sew it into a tube before sewing it on the apron.  If your ribbon has a right and wrong side, fold it hot dog style right sides together.  If your ribbon is the same on both sides, it doesn’t matter which side is facing out.  Throw some pins along that long edge, and sew right against the edge all the way down.  Now your ribbon is an inside out tube.  Turn it right side out again and iron it so that it’s flat and less tube-like.

Fold each end under half an inch so the raw part isn’t showing, and pin it to the corners of the apron.  Now sew back and forth a few times over it.  Sew along the bottom edge of the ribbon and also along where the top of the fabric is.  Next take your big buttons (or whatever decoration you’re using) and sew them on top of where you just sewed the straps on either side.

One more step!  You’ll notice that you have a lot of leftover ribbon.  That’s because we’re going to put a ruffle on the bottom.  First, though, we have to hem this bad boy.  Normally when you hem something, you turn the raw edge towards the inside so you can’t see it from the outside. Duh.  Well, in this case it is actually prettier if you turn the raw edge to the outside, since we’ll be covering it with the ruffle. That way the inside is just as pretty as the outside.  So turn the bottom edge up about an inch and tuck under the corners so they don’t poke out. Make sure it’s straight, then pin it and sew it.

Take your remaining ribbon, and with a needle and thread do a simple running stitch directly down the middle. You can scrunch the ribbon up on the thread as you go.  Once you get from one side to the other, scrunch (the correct term is gather) the ribbon until it is the same width as the bottom edge of your apron.  At that width, tie off the thread you were sewing with.  Arrange and pin the ruffle about half and inch up from the bottom edge, and then sew it with the machine directly down the middle, right on top of the hand sewing that you did.

Now… take a picture of yourself in your finished product and post it in the comments section of this post! Next, invite some peeps over for dinner and make sure everyone sees you rocking your hot new apron!

And since I’m stoked that people are actually reading this… even though I don’t know who you all are, I LOVE YOU and a week from today I’ll be randomly choosing one commenter to give this rock n roll bad ass apron that I just made.  So leave a comment (1 per person per day please) and maybe get a free apron courtesy of the Naked Baker! (I’ll be bummed if no one comments, so if you’ve read this far just write something and you might get a rad apron out of it, ok?)

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Holy Mackeral Naked Baker!! What a beautiful apron!! I can’t believe you didn’t use a pattern-awesome. You may have just inspired me to make my own!! Very cool.

  2. this is totally inspiring me to sew… cute fabric choice, too!

  3. Awww this is sooo super cute! My friend referred me to your blog b/c I just did an apron tutorial post on my blog too! I found my pattern on Burdastyle, did you just make yours up? You are one talented lady!!

    • Hi Sandy! Thanks for stopping by, your apron turned out super cute too, but I’m usually one for making my own patterns up rather than trying to deal with the complicated instructions included with sewing patterns. Glad you found the blog, hope to see you here again!

      The NB

  4. This is so cute but it is too advanced for me. My wish is whipping up the nectarine-plum breakfast cookies while wearing this hand made apron!

    Thank you for sharing and you’ve inspired me!


    • Hi Sophy! Thanks for stopping by! This project is sooo easy, as long as you have a sewing machine I’m sure you can tackle it. Maybe ask someone who knows how to sew to help you.

      The NB

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