Who hasn’t heard of an apron? It takes on so many forms and yet is always recognizable. Today, we use the apron not as a piece of clothing, but usually to protect our clothing. In times when people had only a couple of dresses (an every-day dress, and a Sunday-best dress), the apron was an essential part of the wardrobe. I live in an old house (c 1850’s) that still has that one tiny shared closet with 4 hooks (I kid you not) to hold only 4 articles of clothing. Laundry day only came once a week. Since it usually involved a washboard (I’m so thankful for my washing machine, aren’t you?), I can imagine that less was better.
I still use an apron when I’m baking, but that is about it. I guess it is because I have outfits that are “scrubby” or sacrificial (enter, painting clothes) that I wear instead for messy tasks. Compared to paint-smeared T-shirts, I do wonder sometimes if a pretty apron would be an improvement.
Recently, we replenished our kids paint supply during a trip to Staples. Since then, my youngest two Picasso’s were having a wonderful time splashing paint on paper and the kitchen table. Watching them brought back an image in my mind from my own kindergarten days….an image of a smaller me wearing one of my dad’s extra-large dress shirts on backwards, painting a masterpiece on a large piece of school paper propped up by a large easel.
I realized, after digging through my linen drawer (looking back through those blue lenses again), that I didn’t have aprons for my own young artists. So off to Pinterest I went to get some inspiration! I remembered how frustrating it was to deal with apron ties with little people. Frustrating for them and for me, because little people love to be independent!
Soon, I was inspired to make a cross-over apron, one from cotton, the other, from PUL (for all that paint). Alas, I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked in my stash. Then, I realized that the cross-over is really a pinafore front with a curved, split back. So I decided to draft my own pattern with some help from Carla Crim’s wonderful little book “Pattern Making for kids’ Clothes”. I think I bought my copy through Amazon.ca.
Carla Crim is the genius behind the blog “Scientific Seamstress” and can be found here. I used the excuse of making the apron so that I could use the book again because I enjoy drafting patterns. If you enjoy the freedom that drafting gives, this little book is a wonderful reference. However, if you don’t want to draft from scratch, simply find a simple A-line shift dress in the right size, and the modifications are very simple. I’ll walk you through each step that I took. Eventually I will get to the point where I have drafted the A-line pinafore dress. If you are starting with a pinafore dress, you can skip to that step.
Here we go… Here are my pattern pieces for the basic block pattern (the basic building block for a certain style) for the Bodice. Carla Crim provides all these basic patterns from sizes 3-12 by download via QR codes provided in her book, Pattern Making for Kids Clothes. You have to cut and past the patterns together, but it is a very easy process and is an efficient way to store the many pattern pieces provided.
To make a dress (or, in this case, apron) from this basic pattern piece (or building block), I will first need to lengthen the piece to the desired length of the dress (i.e apron). To do that, I cut the piece horizontally at a point between the armscye (armhole) and the bottom of the bodice piece. Next, I determined how long I wanted the dress (i.e. apron) to be. I placed a scrap piece of paper behind and pulled the pieces apart the desired distance, aligning the centre back in a straight line. Next the insert was taped to the original block pieces.
These same steps where repeated for the back bodice piece as well.
And here are the two new pattern piece, front and back. This is a very straight design, with little flare. To add a more A-line shape to the pieces, you will want to make 3 parallel lines along the length of the pieces. I measured out three lines, running parallel to the centre seam line, 2 inches apart. You don’t want the lines to intersect the armhole, as it will cause the armhole shape to be distorted. As you can see, I made that mistake here, but you would be best learn from my error, and not do that.
The next step was to cut along those lines, up to, but not through the seam line. Then, to create a pivot point, you can cut from the top of the piece along the line, down to the seam line, but not through. Now there is a small section where the line is not cut, right at the seam line. Cool, huh? Now comes the fun part. To create flare, simply calculated how much flare you want at the bottom hem. Here, I added 3 inches total, 1 inch per cutting line, and measure the distance from the bottom.
Insert a pieces of scrap paper under your pattern piece and pull the cut pieces apart until you have the desired distance at the hem.
Repeat the process for the other pattern piece, so you have both front and back with the same amount of flare. Cut out the new pattern pieces.
If you are working from a A-line dress pattern you already have, this is where you can jump in.
To complete the back piece, you will need to trace both the right and left, mirror images of each other, as one complete piece on a new piece of paper. To do this, cut on the fold of a new piece of paper, as you would when cutting out fabric. Here is the new back.
To make the new, cross-over style on the back, I followed the books instructions (below) and sketched a nice curve from the shoulder point to the bottom of the armhole, and another line from the shoulder tip to the opposite bottom corner.
I then cut out my new pattern piece (designated “b” in the book diagram above). Here is the completed pattern piece.
The next step is exciting. You get to cut into your delightful fabric! Here are the pieces, front and back, pinned at the side seams and at the shoulders.
Now you can simple sew the side seams and shoulder seams together. The edges are unfinished here and can be finished in a variety of ways. Because this is PUL and a bit rubbery, I finished my edge with a ruffled elastic that I had in my stash, but you could also use FOE (fold-over-elastic).
Here I am sewing the edge on with a zig-zag stitch.
I turned my hem to the inside, pressed and top-stitched the edges again with a zig-zag stitch.
Here is the final product. I likely would add a bit more length, and a little less gather in the elastic edge, but that is how one learns.
From the Back:
From the Front:
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!