Sewing a Basic Smock Apron

Construct this classic smock apron and embellish to dress up or stick with a basic design for an everyday apron. 

February 2018
By EllynAnne Geisel


The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017), by EllynAnne Geisel showcases new and vintage aprons, four basic apron patterns and a full-size bib apron pattern, recipes, tips on collecting vintage aprons, heart-tugging stories, and the fascinating and enduring history of aprons. Geisel, who lives in Pueblo, Colorado, is the creator of Apron Chronicles, the traveling exhibit and her designs have appeared in Vogue and been worn by Bree in Desperate Housewives. The following is from Chapter 2, “The Anatomy of an Apron.”

You will Need

2-1/2 yards of fabric, 42–45 inches wide; matching thread, scissors, a ruler, a pencil, and straight pins.

Cutting the Pattern

Note: The front and back of the basic smock apron are identical, so the pattern pieces must be laid out in the same direction.

Step 1: Place your fabric so the wrong side is facing up and the longest edge is horizontal.

Step 2: Fold the bottom half of the fabric up and match the edges at the top. Now the right side is facing up.

Step 3: From the left, fold the fabric in half over to the right, matching the edges.

Step 4: Measure 7 inches in from the left side and draw a line from top to bottom. Cut along the measured line and set this fabric aside. This portion is for the pocket and waistband.

Step 5: Cut out these pieces as illustrated in Figure 4.1

• Two apron bodies
• Four 2-1/2 x 9-inch shoulder ties
• Four 2-1/2 x 30-inch waist ties



Step 6: With the fabric you set aside, fold and cut out these pieces as illustrated above.

• Two 7 x 7-inch pockets

• Two 2-1/2 x 16-inch waistbands


Sewing the Apron


For the waistband and waist ties

Step 1: With the right sides together, pin one waist tie to the waistband at a 2-1/2-inch edge and sew a 1/2-inch seam. Pin a second waist tie to the waistband’s remaining raw 2-1/2-inch edge and sew a 1/2-inch seam.

Step 2: Turn the entire length of the top and bottom raw edges of waistband/ties 1/4 inch and press. (See Figure 4.3.) Turn the folded edges 1/4 inch once more and press.

Step 3: Turn and press the two short raw edges as above.

Step 4: Topstitch a narrow hem around the four folded and pressed edges.

Step 5: Repeat Steps 1–4 with the remaining waistband and ties. Set aside.


For the Shoulder Ties

Step 1: Fold in the long raw edges 1/4 inch and press. Turn the folded edge 1/4 inch once more and press.

Step 2: Turn and press the short raw edges as above.

Step 3: Topstitch a narrow hem around the four folded and pressed edges.

Set Aside


For the Apron Body

Step 1: Lay the fabric so that the wrong side is up. Turn the raw edges in 1/4 inch and press (See Figure 4.4.)  Turn the folded edges in 1/4 inch once more and press.

Step 2: Stitch a narrow hem around the apron’s folded and pressed edges.

Variation: A coordinating seam binding can be sewn around the apron’s edges.


To gather at the waist

Step 1: Find the center point at the neckline and mark. (See above)

Step 2: Measure 10-1/2 inches down and mark.

Step 3: Measure over 3 inches on both sides and mark.

Step 4: From these marks, measure over an additional 4 inches on both sides and mark (remove the markers on the center line). These are the gathering areas for the top row of gathers.

Step 5: Measure 1-3/4 inches down from each of your four remaining marks and mark again. These are the gathering areas for the bottom row of gathers.

Step 6: Set your machine to a loose basting stitch (4–5) and baste between the two marks on both sides for the top and bottom rows of gathers.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 1−6 for the back side of the apron body. Reset your machine to a regular stitch (2–3).

For the Pocket

Step 1: Pin together the two pocket squares so the right sides are facing each other. (See Figure 4.6.) Starting at the bottom, stitch around the entire square 1/2 inch from the edge, leaving a 1/2-inch opening at the bottom in order to turn the pocket.

Step 2: Trim the corners as shown.

Step 3: Turn the pocket right side out, pushing it through the opening. Turn the raw edges back into the opening and press the entire pocket.


Step 4: On the right side of the front apron body, measure 4 inches down from the bottom row of basting stitches and 3-1/2 inches from the left or right outside edge (your preference as to which side). Pin your pocket here.

Step 5: Topstitch around the two sides and the bottom of the pocket. Backstitch at the beginning and end points to reinforce them.


To complete the gathers

Step 1: Gently pull the basting threads on both sides of the apron to create even gathers. (See Figure 4.5.) Repeat with the bottom row of bast-ing threads. Pin the gathers in place.

Step 2: Sew the gathers in place, backstitching at the beginning and end to reinforce them. Remove the pins.

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1–2 for the back apron body.


To attach the Shoulder ties

Step 1: Pin the ties at the shoulders with the right side of the ties facing the right side of the apron body. (See Figure 4.7.)

Step 2: Sew the straps to the shoulders with a 1/2-inch seam. Remove the pins and flip the ties up. Press them flat at the seams.

Step 3: Measure 1/4 inch up from the seams and topstitch across each tie. Add a second row of topstitching 1/4 inch above the first to reinforce them.

Step 4: Repeat Steps 1–3 to attach the ties to the back apron body.

To attach the waistband

Step 1: Find the center point of the waistband/ties and mark with a pin.

Step 2: Find the center point between the rows of gathering and mark with a pin.

Step 3: Match the pin points and the side edges, placing the wrong side of the waistband to the right side of the apron body and covering the gathering stitches. (See Figure 4.7.) Pin the waistband on all four sides to the apron body.

Step 4: Topstitch around all four sides close to the edge.

Step 5: Topstitch 1/4 inch in from the edge around all four sides to reinforce them.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 1–5 for the back apron body.


To assemble

Tie the shoulder ties into bows or knots. Slip the apron over your head and tie at the sides in looping bows or knots. Adjust the fit by fiddling with the shoul-der ties. In the future, put on and remove over your head, so not to disturb your shoulder tie fit.

Reprinted with permission fromThe Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort, by EllynAnne Geisel and published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017.

Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds