How to Make a Simple Apron Without a Pattern

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I love aprons. They’re something my grammy wore every day (except to church, of course!). Aprons helped keep her dresses clean. She didn’t have many dresses because she didn’t have a lot of extra money for new ones. She had to keep the ones she had as clean as she could. She usually made her own dresses and that was relatively time consuming. Aprons, on the other hand, are easy to make, use little fabric and are easy to wash.

I’m going to show you how to make a simple apron. You don’t even need a pattern. All you need is a sewing machine, thread, scissors like pinking shears, an iron and ironing board, and something to measure with. The beauty of this apron is that it doesn’t have to fit perfectly so if you make a mistake it will still work.

I think the best fabric to use is 100-percent cotton because it is absorbent. I think patterned fabric is better than solid or white because it shows less dirt. You are going to get it dirty. That’s the point! You need about 1 3/4 yards of fabric that is 44 inches wide. I was lucky to find fabric on sale for $2 a yard.

Wash and dry the fabric before you start. This is so the fabric will be pre-shrunk and you get no nasty sizing surprises later. Iron your washed and dried fabric and lay it out flat WRONG SIDE OUT on your table. Decide what length you want it and add 6 inches for the hem. I marked it on the wrong side with chalk. Cut away the excess. We’re going to use it for the waist band and apron strings later.

Next hem both vertical side edges. Make the hem at least 1/4 inch wide. Iron your seam flat.

Note: When I sew a line of stitches I always do something they taught me in Home Ec class. To keep the ends from raveling, I sew in about a half inch and then I stop my machine, switch the lever to reverse and I sew back over what I just sewed. Then I switch back to forward and continue. I do this at the end of my stitch, too.

My sewing machine is an old Singer table top model. My mom gave it to me when I was 20 years old. It was 35 years old then. Now I’m 64 years old. This machine is the energizer bunny. I’ve only had it serviced once. It doesn’t do anything except sew backwards and forwards and wind a bobbin. But that’s all I need and I love it!

OK, now, let’s hem the bottom. Like you did on the vertical side edges start by turning over the edge about a 1/4 of an inch. Iron it flat.

You can sew your hem or blind stitch it by hand. But because we’re doing it the easy way I just sewed the hem. Before you sew, turn the hem up and pin baste it in place. Pin against the stitch direction. Then you can sew right over the pins. The needle will miss them but if it hits a little it will slide off.

Now take the top and sew the largest stitches you can in three rows closely spaced together. These are called basting stitches.

Note: Make sure your bobbin has a lot of thread before you start. You are going to make one continuous line of stitches all the way across. You can’t have a gap. It makes it really difficult to pull the gathers in the next step if the stitches aren’t all one continuous line. If your bobbin runs out of thread mid-line you’ve made yourself a problem. Now is a good time to check and make sure you’re not almost out of thread.

Once you’ve done that, take the fabric and start pulling the threads to gather them. Grab hold of the three top threads and pull lightly. See how hard you have to pull without breaking the threads. The three lines make it harder for the threads to break when you’re pulling. The three lines also make for a better gather in my humble opinion.

As you gather do a little section at a time and then space the gathers as evenly as you can. Gather until the top of the apron is the width you want it to fit at your waist. Set it aside.

Next we have to make the waist band and apron strings. They’re all one piece. Decide how wide you want your waist band and apron strings. I’m going to make them about 2 inches when finished. Cut strips of fabric 4 inches wide and enough length to make the waistband and apron strings a total of 96 inches long.

You want a generous length so you can tie the strings in a nice big bow. Sew your strips together at each end with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER

Iron your seams flat.

Then lay your strips on the ironing board and fold them in half lengthwise inside out. Turn one of the edges over about 1/4 inch and iron it flat. Next WITH RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER position the edge of the waist band in the middle of the gathers.

Pin baste it in place.

Turn it over and sew along the gathers all the way through.

Then turn the waist band over. Iron a little 1/4-inch hem in the long side.

Fold the waistband/apron strings in half over the top of the apron. Pin baste it in place.

Now sew up the long sides all the way to the end and then across the end. Iron everything again and voila! You have your simple apron!

How many things can you do with an apron? Aprons can be used as a potholder to remove hot things from the oven. The edge of one will dry a child’s tears and sometimes will clean out dirty ears. You can carry almost anything in the folds of an apron: eggs, chicks, apples, peaches, carrots and kittens. Every shy child knows where to go when company comes – the folds of Mother’s apron. They’re good for wiping away perspiration in the heat of summer canning. Wood chips and kindling come to the kitchen in the folds of an apron. When unexpected company drives up the road, it’s surprising how much furniture an apron can dust in a matter of minutes. When dinner is ready, walk out onto the porch, wave your apron, and everybody knows it’s time to come in to dinner.

I didn’t have a picture of Grammy in her apron, so here’s Aunt Sara Loveland.