Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mini Aprons Tutorial

If you're like me, you see something and think to yourself, "I could make that SO easily!" Well, here are instructions for the rectangular Mini Apron. It's fairly simple, doesn't take too much time, and looks adorable. So...make it!

Fabric and notions you'll need:
1/2 yard 45" wide woven fabric for body (black with white polka dots in the photo)
1/2 yard 45" wide woven for straps and ruffle (yellow in photo)
1/4 yard 45" wide woven for pocket and waistband (red gingham in photo)
thread (I use one color on the whole apron because I like contrast stitching, but if you don't, use a thread that matches each of your fabrics)
Fray Check (gel that prevents fraying), optional

Tools you'll need:
rotary cutter
fabric ruler
cutting mat
ironing board
sewing machine

First, pre wash and iron your fabrics. To be truthful, I never do this, and once in a while I regret it. If you're short on time, don't pre wash. If you want to be a real old-school seamstress and be sure your fabric won't shrink in a strange way once it's sewn, pre wash, tumble dry, and press.

Lay out your body fabric. Fold it in half with right sides facing in. Using your trusty ruler and cutting mat, cut a rectangle that is 10 inches wide (from the fold to the edge) and 9 inches tall. When finished, you'll actually have a 20" x 9" rectangle.

Cut another rectangle from the body fabric the same way, but make it 5.5 inches from the fold to the edge and 8 inches tall. The resulting rectangle should be 11" x 8".

Next, lay out your ruffle and strap fabric. Fold it in half width-wise, so the two bias edges are together. Use your ruler to cut a strip that is 8 inches wide (it should be around 43-45 inches long when unfolded). Then, square up the remainder, and cut it in half across the middle. You should end up with two pieces of fabric that are roughly 21 inches long by 3 inches wide. These measurements don't need to be exact.

For the pocket and waistband, fold the fabric together with bias edges touching. Cut one 3-inch wide strip. Then, cut the strip in half so you have two pieces that are approximately 21" x 3" (just like the straps above). From the remainder of your pocket fabric, cut a rectangle that is 10 inches long and as wide as your fabric. Make sure it's square. Cutting is complete!

Break out the least favorite part of the sewing process. As much as I hate ironing, though, I love how easy it is to match and sew a crisply-ironed edge. So, roll up your sleeves, prepare to get warm, and do the following:

On all pieces except the ruffle (the 8" x 45" piece), lay the fabric face-down on the ironing board. Fold one edge over 1/4 inch and iron flat. Continue around all 4 edges until you have a nice, even margin. On the straps, waistband pieces, and pocket, fold in half with right sides facing out. Then, iron down flat. You should end up with 4 pieces of fabric that are about 1.25 inches wide and 21 inches long, and a pocket that's about 5 inches long and 5.5 wide.

The ruffle is the easiest part to iron. Just fold in in half lengthwise and iron flat. You'll end up with a piece that is 4 inches wide and 45 inches long. Easy!

Now, for the sewing. If you have a serger, use it! If not, don't fret. Select a zig zag seam and stitch around each of the body pieces, securing the folded and ironed edges. If you're using a zig zag stitch, make sure that one edge of the zig zag meets the raw edge of the fabric. This will prevent fraying. Go all the way around the small body rectangle and the large rectangle. Clip threads.

Find the center of each rectangle by folding in half and marking with a pin. Line up the centers with the bottom edge of the small rectangle touching the top edge of the large rectangle. Use a wide zig zag stitch to connect the two pieces. Make sure that half of the zig zag is on each of the pieces and that there's no space between them.

Next, attach the pocket. Make sure the folded edge is up, because you won't be sewing this edge. Center it on the front of the apron and pin down. Use a straight stitch to sew around the three edges (side, bottom, side). You'll be sewing through four layers of fabric on each side (because of the folded-under edges), so be careful and you may need to go slowly.

On the straps and waistband pieces, you'll follow the same step. Sew down the long edge where the folded-over edges meet. Then, turn the corner and sew the end shut. Clip threads.

Attach the straps to the edges of the top rectangle of the body by pinning the unsewn edges to the back (let them overlap by 1/4 inch on the back). Sew them to the body with a straight stitch. Use the same process to attach the waistbands to the edges of the large rectangle.

Change your machine to a long, straight stitch. Sew along the raw edge of the ruffle piece, but don't back stitch. Gather the ruffle until it's 19 inches long, or the same length as the bottom rectangle of the body. Don't worry about sewing down the short edges of the ruffle; they should be bias edges and won't fray. Pin the ruffle to the back of the bottom edge of the large rectangle, being sure to overlap the ruffle far enough to hide the gathering stitch on the front of the apron. Now, use a regular stitch to attach the ruffle to the body. Clip threads.

Ta da! Your apron is complete. Try it on your little chef, and cook up some ideas of how to make your next apron even more fabulous. You can add multiple ruffles to the bottom, appliques to the pocket (before you sew it to the apron), cute accent buttons...the possibilities are endless. Good luck and don't hesitate to ask me any questions you may have. Bon apetit!

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