Saturday, August 6, 2011

pillowcase apron tutorial

A little while back, I ventured into the thrift store and found two pretty vintage pillowcases. I bought them to use the fabric in projects, but wasn't sure what I wanted to make out of them. I forged ahead with a pieced pillow cover out of a baby dress, and folded the pretty pillowcases for another day. Today, inspiration struck.

An apron!
Here's what you need:

  • One pillow case
  • Matching thread
  • an iron, set to the correct heat level for your pillow fabric
  • Basic sewing stuff (machine, scissors, pins)
*If you use my tutorial, please link back to me. I would love to see what you make! Feel free to make these for yourself or for gifts, but please don't sell aprons made from my tutorial. Thanks!

Begin by washing and ironing the pillow case. Fold it in half - bottom open edge meeting the top, sewn-shut edge. Iron a firm crease. Cut it apart on that line.

Take the bottom, open-edged half of the pillowcase (with the pretty, decorative edge) and cut open along the side seam.

Sew 1/4" from the top, cut edge with a large basting stitch - my stitch length was set to 4, the largest my machine allows. Sew another line of stitching below that one - this time 1/2" from the cut edge. You should now have two parallel lines of big stitches.

Grab just the top two (or bottom two) threads and pull gently. See it gathering?

Continue to gather along the length of the apron skirt, making sure that your gathers are evenly distributed across the skirt. Gather until the skirt width is about the same width as the un-cut pillowcase - about 20". Pretty!

One more thing - let's add some rolled hems to finish the sides. Press each side in 1/4", and then fold over a second time. Press. Sew close to the folded edge of the seam, all the way from top to bottom.

Set the skirt aside for a bit.

Making the waistband:

Using the upper half of what was once a pillowcase, measure in 4.5" across the length of the pillowcase. Cut it off - this is the middle of the waistband. Cut open along the side seam.

Measure again - another 4.5" across the width of the pillowcase, and cut it off. Cut it open on the side seam and on the opposite side - you have two equal pieces.

Pinning right sides together, join one short waistband piece to the middle waistband, and repeat on the other side.

Sew together with a 5/8" seam, and then press open.

Sew 1/4" from the edge, all the way around the waistband (all four sides!). Press in toward the wrong side of the fabric.
If you want to add extra stiffness, now is a good time. Cut a 1.5" wide, 20" long piece of lightweight fusible interfacing and attach it to the wrong side of the middle waistband only, following package directions. The interfacing should be placed close to the bottom or top of the waistband strip - not right in the middle. Otherwise, you'll have trouble folding it over. Make sense? I hope so! Set this aside for a bit.

Making pockets:

Using what little fabric is left of your pillowcase, cut a 5" x 7" piece from the corner. Cut this apart on the seam - two pockets.
Sew 1/4" from the edge, all the way around the pockets. Press in all the seams toward the wrong side of the fabric.
Now is the time to decide if you want to add trim to the pockets - a little ribbon or rick rack, perhaps? maybe some cute pom-poms? Find the trim and iron it on the correct setting.

Fold the top of the pocket over about 2" and press, creating a pocket that's about 5" deep.
Pin trim to the front of the pocket (if you're using trim) and sew on. Otherwise, sew close to the bottom of the folded over part (the 2" fold you made).
Repeat for the other pocket.

Add pockets to the skirt:

Measure in 9" from each side and mark the spot with a pencil or chalk line. Measure up 1" from the pretty pre-existing hem of your apron skirt and mark. Line up each pocket with the marks, and pin on.
Make sure that all the raw edges are pressed under, and then sew around the three closed sides of the pocket, staying close to the edge.

You'll have some long threads hanging - here's how to hide those.
Turn the skirt over to the wrong side, and pull gently on the thread that's showing at the top pocket corner. This will pull up a loop of thread from the other side. Tug on the loop until the other thread is on the wrong side. Tie a double knot, and cut off the ends of the thread. Repeat on each pocket corner.

Putting it all together:

Find the middle of the waistband and add a pin or a pencil mark to that spot. With the wrong side showing, find the middle of the top of the skirt, and do the same.
Place the waist band wrong-side-up on top of the skirt. To clarify, the wrong side of the skirt is touching the right side of the waist band right now. Line up the waistband stitches with the bottom set of gathering stitches on the skirt, matching the middles, and pin.
Now, "stitch in the ditch!" Translation: stitch directly on top of the already-existing stitches on the waistband, being sure to match those stitches with the bottom row of gathering stitches.
Fold this up and press. Turn over so that the right side of the skirt is showing.
Fold the waistband down over the gathering stitches, just hiding the bottom row of stitching. Pin on - I used a lot of pins! Take a trip to the ironing board, and iron the waistband in half along the entire length. Make sure that your edges line up!

If you'd like a little extra bit of pretty, do this to each end of the waistband/ties. Iron in half, and then open up again, wrong side showing. Fold down one side, making the top edge meet the middle - there's a triangle, just like the beginning of a paper airplane. Press, and repeat with the opposite side. Fold wrong sides together, and press again. Repeat on the other end. Pretty, yes?

Sew close to the bottom (currently open) edge of the waistband, right side up, all the way across the apron. Make sure that those bottom gathering stitches have been hidden! Sew one final line of stitching along the top of the waistband, tie off loose threads, clip, and try it on!
Yay! You made an apron! From a pillowcase!
Please let me know if anything was unclear. I'm happy to help!

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