Friday, October 23, 2015

supremely simple child's fat quarter apron - a tutorial

lately, there were fights going on in my kitchen whenever the littlest one wanted to help me cook. she wanted an apron but didn't have one of her own. naturally, she grabbed the smallest one on the rack - a red and aqua number her just-older sister brought home from a baking birthday party about two years ago. also naturally, just-older sister didn't want her precious apron being worn and dirtied by littlest sister. hence, the fighting.

and hence the reason i spent about an hour yesterday morning putting together a small and simple apron. 

i made a larger apron out of two fat quarters for an older daughter over a year ago and referred to that post as i guessed my way through this one. really, it is so simple.

with a needed apron in mind, a few days ago, littlest sister (d5) and i rummaged through the spare fat quarter basket for a print she liked. serendipitously, later that same day i happened upon two and a half yards of cast off ribbon, that may or may not have been slightly grubby from being played with. the ribbon was a color match to the fabric selected. done and done. it wasn't 2" wide like i would have preferred, but it saved me a trip to the fabric store, where lies too much temptation and waiting in lines.

so this is all you need for a quick and easy child's apron:

  • 1 fat quarter
  • 2 - 2.5 yds of 1" or 2" wide grosgrain ribbon
  • thread, blending or contrasting

photography tip - sometimes it helps to stand directly above what you are trying to shoot, even if it's on the table and you have to balance precariously on the table and can't manage to cut your foot out of the shot. some maybe your foot is in the shot, but it's also a nice, flat aerial view of what's on the table. actually, i just wanted to show off my blue toes.

step one - prewash your fabrics 

(which i forgot to do! darn it. i even did not make the apron a day earlier because i was waiting to wash the fabrics. fail.) 

and press.

step two - cut pieces

a fat quarter is approximately 18" x 21" when squared. mine was actually 19" x 21". just go with whatever you have. measure 10" down the shorter (18") side of your fat quarter and cut it in two, resulting in a skirt piece (top) which measures 10" x 21", and another piece (bottom) which is 8" x  21". (or maybe 9" x 21" like mine.) and if you accidentally cut it the other way, you will have a skirt that is slightly less wide by 3". no big deal. don't start over.

subcut the 8" x 21" piece to get an 8" x 9" bodice piece. i fussy cut my bodice piece so i could have that bird placed on the bodice where i wanted it.

set aside scraps for another project. (or, if you're making two aprons at once, and you didn't fussy cut, you could use this as the bodice piece for the second apron!)

cut the ribbon into three pieces measuring about 56", 19", and 19" long each. i did this by folding my 2.5 yds in half and cutting, then cutting one of the pieces in half again. (you can make do with 2 yds by cutting your waist tie shorter, and making the neck ties shorter and adding velcro for the closure. see options at the end for this.)

step three - hem the bodice and skirt

i created a 1/4" rolled hem on the top and sides of my bodice piece, and on the bottom and sides of my skirt piece. to help me get a crisp and accurate fold for my hem, i used my hera quilt marker to crease/score the fabric at 1/4" and 1/2". you could use a pencil mark or just eyeball this, too.

fold the fabric along the 1/4" mark and press with the iron.

then fold over another 1/4" and press again.

starting with the side seams first, backstitch at the top of the seam, then sew the seam just to the right of the inner side of the fold (a scant 1/4" will do it). i had my 1/4" guide foot on and it worked perfectly to keep me a thread or two away from the edge of the fold where i was sewing.

do both sides and then the top of the bodice. you can select a thread that blends or contrasts. i almost always just sew with whatever neutral thread happens to be on the machine (lazy) so mine is sewn with a contrasting white thread, but that makes it easier for you to see the threads for this tutorial, so my laziness paid off.

if you like, you can attach the neck tie ribbons into the top hem seam of the bodice. see step 5 below.

step four - gather and attach the skirt

leaving yourself a few inches of thread tail at the beginning and end, sew a basting seam at the top of the skirt. do this by setting your seam length as long as your machine will allow (or perhaps you have a "basting seam" setting).

then grip the edge of the fabric and pull one of the thread tails to gather the fabric. i did this until my skirt top was about 6" shorter than it had been (now about 15" wide across the top).

this gives you a skirt that is about 3" wider than the bodice on each side.

step four - attach waistband tie ribbon to skirt and bodice

line up centers and pin with ribbon under the skirt, not on top as shown here
mark the center of your waist tie length of ribbon (mine was 56" long) and the center of the skirt with a pin. (find the center by simply folding in half and marking rather than measuring.) line up the centers, wrong side of skirt facing up and ribbon on top, and pin in place with a generous 1/4" above the ribbon's edge.

backstitching at the beginning and end, attach skirt to ribbon with a generous 1/4" seam.

if you are using a 2" wide ribbon, use a 1/2" seam allowance so there is more skirt above the ribbon. or just do this if you want a bit more room to work with when attaching the bodice to the skirt.

if you want the threads showing on the front of the ribbon to be placed more precisely/accurately, then pin well and sew with the ribbon facing up, not the skirt.

the backside of the skirt with ribbon attached

in preparation for attaching the bodice to the waistband tie and skirt, fold the skirt in half and mark the center with a pin again.

do the same with the bodice to find and mark the center.

now you are going to attach the skirt to the bodice before attaching it to the waistband.

fold the waistband ribbon down out of the way, exposing the seam allowance of the skirt behind the waistband.

line up the centers with each other and pin the bodice to the skirt.

make sure the ribbon is folded back out of the way while you attach the two fabric pieces together.
in retrospect, you could attach the skirt and bodice together first and then place the ribbon on top. but i guess i just liked it the complicated way and enjoyed the challenge of not sewing the ribbon into this seam.

backstitching to secure at the end and beginning of the seam, make a scant 1/4" seam to attach the bodice and skirt together, making sure not to catch the ribbon in your seam. (really, i'm seeing this would be easier to do the ribbon after this step.)

press the seam to the side, and flip the apron open.

working with whatever seam allowance appeals to you aesthetically, attach the top of the ribbon to the bodice. i sewed just below the edge of the ribbon.

step five - attach neck ties

i noticed on the sample apron that the neck ties were sewn into the hem of the the bodice top, but i didn't want to have the neckties in the way when i was doing my other sewing, so i chose to do this last. but it would look neater and maybe be a bit more sturdy if you did this first. to do that, tuck it under the rolled hem before sewing the hem seam, flip the tie up and over, then sew hem seam.

fold under 1/4" of the ribbon's end.

with end side of the fold down and the length of the ribbon extending off the top away from the bodice, pin the ribbon to the hem of the bodice top on the outside corner.

backstitch and sew the tie to the bodice at 1/4". for sturdiness, i actually sewed back and forth over the whole length of the tie a few times. do this for both sides.

if you'd like, you can attach velcro to the ends of the ties so the little one can put it on themselves. or you can just leave it to be tied in a bow by whoever is handy.

cut all four ribbon ends on the diagonal and treat with a fray check product to prevent unraveling during use.

and there's your cute little apron.

now go get your little person and watch her smile and giggle with delight as she puts it on:

 "mama, it's so pretty! i like to tie it like this." see, those ties are generously proportioned to a nearly-four yr old, but that's just room to grow.

 that's some sass, right there.

 with posing ideas all her own. heaven help us!

after it's been properly admired and modeled, go bake something together. maybe our favorite blondie recipe here. (which, by the way, you can use real eggs in for the egg sub. sub for the sub with the real. haha.)

that's three of them with their own apron so now the only fighting should be over who gets more cookies or who gets to stir.


  1. That is a great tutorial again! Lol on the blue before you balanced on table ......ummm how do I say this, ummm did you think maybe you um, could have placed mat and props on the floor? :-O. Don't worry that is exactly the thing I do, go the awkward difficult route first, then husband comes in the room and points out how much easier I could do the same thing. Sigh! I blame it on the creative brain.
    Your apron models are very sweet, and the aprons very stylish, thus your cooking must be spectacular.

  2. What a great tutorial, and I'm so glad you included photos of the intended recipient! I enjoyed seeing her showing off her new apron!

  3. Gorgeous! Just what I needed. Love all your aprons😍😍😍😍😍😍😍


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