When I’m harvesting wild plants, I usually carry a couple of baskets with me. But sometimes it’s a lot easier with a big ol’ pouch to put things in, especially if I have to, say, climb a tree to get what I need. This is where the foraging apron comes in. It also has pockets for keeping your shears, notebook, or phone handy. This is a great project to work on during the winter months, so you can be prepared come spring equinox.
I used linen for my apron, but you can, of course, substitute a denim, canvas, or cotton fabric. Linen is one of my favorite natural fabrics; I love the way it crinkles and wears with washing. However, if you like to harvest woody plants, such as cedar or pine, which might get too heavy for linen, then I would suggest using a thicker material, such as canvas. Whatever material you choose, you’ll love wearing the apron on your next adventure!
Materials & Supplies
- Linen fabric, or fabric of your choosing (2 yards)
- Spool of thread in matching color
- 1-inch-diameter buttons (2)
- Metal sew-on snap button
- Cotton cording (1 yard)
- Plastic cord locks with toggle closure (2)
- Measuring tape
- Sewing chalk
- Sewing machine
- Buttonhole foot for your machine
- Sewing needles
Cut and Sew the Body of the Apron
Measure around the widest part of your chest, and again from your shoulders down to your knees. Note the measurements on a pad of paper. We’ll call the shoulders-to-knees measurement “A.” This will make your apron about knee length when it’s complete. Because this apron is designed to be loose-fitting and is completely open in the back, you'll need to add 6 inches to the chest measurement. We’ll call this measurement “B.”
Using the measuring tape or ruler, mark your measurements on the fabric with chalk, and cut a rectangle “A” inches long by “B” inches wide. Fold the right and left sides in 1/2 inch, and press with the iron. Fold over another 1-1/2 inches to enclose the raw edges, and sew.
Fold the top and bottom edges in 1/2 inch, and press with the iron. Fold over another 2 inches, and sew twice, spacing the seams about 1/4 inch apart. This gives the top and bottom edges a more distinctive hem.
Make the Straps
Measure and cut two 6-by-28-inch strips of fabric.
Fold each of the fabric strips in half vertically, and sew with a 1/4-inch seam allowance along the entire length. Sew one of the open ends closed, also with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Using your finger or a pencil, turn the strap inside out by pushing into the sewn end and working it through the remaining open end. Flatten the straps with your fingers, and press with the iron. Set the straps aside.
Attach the Chest Pocket
To make the chest pocket, cut an 8-by-13-inch rectangle from the fabric. Fold in all the edges 1/2 inch, and press with the iron. Fold the top edge another 3/4 inch, and sew twice, spacing the seams about 1/4 inch apart. Place the pocket 3 inches from the top of the apron, centered. Pin the pocket in place, and sew along the two sides and the bottom edge. Keep the top open.
If you want to reinforce the pocket, as well as add some smaller compartments for pens and a notebook, measure out the sizes you want, and sew down the pocket vertically. When you reach the open edge of the chest pocket, sew back and forth a few times to really secure the thread, so it doesn’t come loose over time with use.
Attach the Small Hip Pocket
Cut an 8-1/2-by-6-1/2-inch rectangle from the fabric. Fold over what will be the top edge of the pocket (one of the shorter edges) 1/2 inch, and press with the iron. Fold over another 1 inch, and sew twice, spacing the seams about 1/4 inch apart. Fold over all the remaining edges 1/2 inch, and press. To place the pocket, measure 3 inches down from the bottom of the upper pocket, and mark with chalk. Fold the apron in half vertically, right side out, measure 3 inches from the fold, and mark again. Unfold the apron and place the pocket with the horizontal mark along its top edge and the vertical mark for its right side (as you’re facing the apron). Pin the pocket in place. Sew around the edges, leaving the top open.
Pressing the edges of the small pocket.
Attach the Large, Gathered Pocket
Cut a 19-by-36-inch rectangle from the fabric. Fold it in half vertically. Round off the bottom, unfolded corner, cutting only about 2 inches off, and then unfold. On the top edge (one of the 36-inch sides) you’ll need to create a casing for the drawstring to pull through. For this casing, fold the top edge over 1/4 inch, and press. Then fold over another 1/2 inch, and sew right on the folded edge. Leave enough space for the cord to move through easily.
On the bottom edge, you’ll sew two rows, about 1/4 inch apart. Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to the longest setting, which is a basting stitch. This is a loose stitch to keep fabric in place, not a permanent stitch. This will allow you to gather the edge. Sew from the top of the curve you cut on one corner to the top of the opposite curve, 1/2 inch from the fabric edge. Repeat this step 1/4 inch above the previous row of stitches. When you’re done, hold the thread ends in one hand, and with the other, pull on the fabric, beginning to gather it together. Do this on each end and scrunch toward the middle. Make sure the gathering is even and doesn’t bunch up in one area. Gather until the pocket measures approximately 20 inches wide.
Scrunching together the basted edges of the large pocket.
On your work table, fold the apron in half vertically, right side out. Measure 7 inches from the bottom hem and mark with chalk. Fold the gathered pocket in half to determine its center, and make a mark at the center on the bottom and top edges. Line up the bottom of the folded pocket with the mark you just made on the folded apron, and mark where the top of the pocket will lie. Open up the apron, and lay it flat on your workspace. Unfold the pocket, line it up with the chalk marks on the apron, and pin it down.
Fold the gathered bottom edge of the pocket under by about 1/2 inch with the wrong sides facing. Pin down, beginning in the center and moving outward, gently pressing down the gathering, taking care not to pull so hard as to undo any of it. When you reach the straight part of the edges, continue pinning, making sure they run straight up and down the apron. Remember that they'll form the sides of the pocket and should be parallel to the edges of the apron. Sew the pocket to the apron using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Stop sewing when you get to the casing at the top of the pocket. Sew back and forth a few times at this point to secure the pocket.
Sewing the large pocket onto the body.
Secure the Snap Button
Cut two 2-by-4-inch rectangles from the fabric. Fold each rectangle in half one way, then fold it in half again. You should now have two smaller rectangles, each about 1 by 2 inches. Find the marks you made in the center of the top of the gathered pocket and in the center of the apron in the last step. Pin one fabric rectangle down on the center mark of the apron. Pin the other one down on the inside center of the gathered pocket, directly below the casing. You don’t want to sew over the casing because your stitches would prevent the drawstring from operating. Sew around the entire rectangle. This is what will give strength to the snap so it doesn’t rip through the single layer of fabric. Sew each half of the snap to the centers of these rectangles.
Add the Drawstring
Tie a knot on one end of the cording. Push the knot through one end of the casing, and pull the cording all the way through the pocket. Leave a tail of about 4 inches on each side. Untie the knot in the cording, place a cord lock on each end, and tie a knot at each end.
Attach the Straps and Buttons
To place the buttons, find the center of the apron again, and at the top of the apron, mark 4-1/2 inches from the center on each side and 1 inch from the top edge. Place your buttons at these marks and sew them on by hand.
Sewing on snaps by hand.
To make a buttonhole at the end of each strap, install the buttonhole foot on your machine, and follow your machine’s directions for its use. Each buttonhole should be centered approximately 1 inch from the end of its strap.
To position the straps, lay the apron open flat on your work table. Place the open ends (without buttonholes) on the inside back of the apron at the top. The ends of the straps should line up with the seam on the top of the apron. Sew a rectangle around the three edges and across the top of each strap, securing them to the apron.
Wearing Your Apron
To wear the apron, cross the straps so the right side goes across your back and over your left shoulder, and the left strap goes up and over your right shoulder. Button closed, and you’re ready to forage!
Reprinted with permission from Herbs and Crystals DIY by Ally Sands, published by Page Street Publishing Co., © 2018.