New and improved sandwich bags

Sand­wich bags are one of those seem­ingly sim­ple prod­ucts that are, in fact, trou­ble­some to make. Well, tech­ni­cally it’s not dif­fi­cult to make of course. It’s just dif­fi­cult to come up with the per­fect design — at least for me it was. In the past I have made a zip­pered ver­sion like this…

Zippered sandwich bag - pink elephant

and a sim­ple vel­cro ver­sion with vel­cro tabs at the top of the bag (the one on the right)…

Velcro-top sandwich bag - Cats

and a flap ver­sion with a sin­gle fab­ric like this.

Flap sandwich bag - hippos

But none of them was truly sat­is­fac­tory to me. Why? Well, here are my “pros and cons” com­par­i­son notes.

Zip­pered Version

Pros: Neat-looking design. Food bits don’t get stuck in the vel­cro. Easy to main­tain and wash. Prob­a­bly lasts longer than vel­cro ones. A ver­sa­tile pouch, because it’s great as snack bags (muffins, crack­ers, etc). Also can be used as a small wet bag, for wipes, makeup, crayons, and so on.

Cons: Fid­dly to get a sand­wich in and out of the bag because the zip­per doesn’t open to the full width of the bag. If the zip­per width is wide enough, then it’s too wide inside the bag, and the sand­wich swims in it. Zip­per can be fid­dly to use for toddlers.

Velcro-Top Ver­sion

Pros: Nice sim­ple design. Easy for chil­dren to use. Sand­wich fits in snugly and securely.

Cons: Food can get stuck in the vel­cro while putting a sand­wich in and out. Fluff sticks to vel­cro in the wash. Stitch lines for sewing the vel­cro shows through — not a very ele­gant finish.

Velcro-on-Flap Ver­sion 1

Pros: Flaps are cute. Food doesn’t get caught in the vel­cro as much, because the sand­wich doesn’t have to touch the vel­cro strips while pack­ing and unpack­ing. Sand­wich fits in snugly and securely. Vel­cro is eas­ier for kids to use.

Cons: The one-fabric design only works with non-directional prints — mean­ing, fab­rics that have no upside and down­side. The flap sec­tion was small, and it took some force to rip the vel­cro open. The stitch marks around the vel­cro strips can be really notice­able. And then there is the issue of wash­ing vel­cro, and a pos­si­bly short lifes­pan of vel­cro products.

New!! Velcro-on-Flap Ver­sion 2

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags

So this is my lat­est sand­wich bag. Is this the “per­fect” sand­wich bag I was seek­ing? I think it’s very close. Here’s the “pros and cons” assessment:

Pros: I love that I can slide a sand­wich in and out of the bag smoothly, with­out wor­ry­ing about food get­ting caught in the zip­per or vel­cro tab. The sand­wich sits in the bag snugly and securely — not as snugly as with a sand­wich wrap, but close.

I also love the two-fabric design. It allows me to use rather spe­cial fab­rics for the small flap sec­tion, while keep­ing the cost down some­what by using plain cot­ton linen can­vas fab­ric. I can also use direc­tional prints this way, because the print is used only for the flap bit.

The flap sec­tion is larger than the first flap ver­sion, which adds to the cute­ness fac­tor. More impor­tantly, the large flap allows an extra-wide space between the edge of the flap and the vel­cro strips. You can grab onto this bit of fab­ric to open the vel­cro eas­ily — very child friendly.

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - view with the flap open

If I use busy prints for the flap sec­tion, the stitch lines for the vel­cro are not notice­able. Pretty ele­gant look­ing overall.

New sandwich bag - closeup of the flap

Cons: The only cons here are the inher­ent prob­lems asso­ci­ated with vel­cro — tricky to keep clean and wash, and the lifes­pan may not be ter­ri­bly long. Of course, if the vel­cro stops stick­ing after a cou­ple of years, it’s easy to replace them — so I hope peo­ple will not throw these pretty bags away!

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - Liberty Hello Kitty bags

How adorable are these Lib­erty Hello Kitty sand­wich bags? They are so pretty, in fact, that you can use them for other things like pens and crayons (the water­proof nylon lin­ing comes in handy here). If I attach a shoul­der strap, it’ll be such a cute lit­tle girl’s bag, too, don’t you think?

These sand­wich bags will be avail­able at my upcom­ing Face­book mar­ket day, and will be listed on Etsy later on.

New sandwich bag lineup

 

Backpack diaper bag

I didn’t think I needed a new nappy bag — I already have two styles of nappy bags on Etsy and madeit, and they are both very pop­u­lar. But this week, while climb­ing this tower in a local play­ground, haul­ing my kids all the way to the top and then back down, I sud­denly real­ized that I needed a new nappy bag.

Playground tower at Newington Armory in Sydney

So when we came back home, I spent the rest of the day and much of the night think­ing about the design. Then the fol­low­ing day, I made this.
New backpack nappy diaper bag - front view
Hmm, isn’t it just another big ele­phant bag, look­ing slightly more sporty than my other bags? Well, maybe, but not really. If you look closer, it’s actu­ally more like my French pas­try bag (or the “birth­day tote bag”) than like my “day­care bag” or “beach tote bag.”
New backpack nappy diaper bag - bottom view
It has a wide rec­tan­gle bottom.

New backpack nappy diaper bag - inside view

I also used heavy-duty cot­ton for the lin­ing, to give the bag a firm struc­ture. You can see it’s firm enough to stand well on its own, with noth­ing in the bag.

There is one large patch pocket inside. I used the same yel­low ele­phant fab­ric here, but in ret­ro­spect it was a bit too much of the ele­phants. Next time I’ll make a plain white pocket.

New backpack nappy diaper bag - front pocket view

The main bag body has two dec­o­ra­tive white ver­ti­cal stripes, to give it a sporty look. There is a “hid­den” pocket in the mid­dle of the stripes, on each side of the bag. These pock­ets are not huge, but are handy for things like sun­glasses, wal­lets, and keys. 

New backpack nappy diaper bag - front pocket detail view

The bag comes with two adjustable, remov­able straps. That means you can carry the bag as a tra­di­tional tote bag with two han­dles, or use just one strap to carry it like a mes­sen­ger bag.

New backpack nappy diaper bag - front strap view

It looks a lit­tle like my “day­care bag” like this. It’s great for hang­ing over stroller handles.

But the best fea­ture of all, is that you can attach the two straps like this.…

 

New backpack nappy diaper bag - backpack straps view

and you can wear it as a back­pack in case of emer­gency — like hav­ing to push two kids up an enor­mous tower, or when cross­ing a busy road hold­ing their hands.

The “back­pack con­ver­sion process” takes just about 5 sec­onds. Well, it might take a few sec­onds longer if you need to adjust the strap lengths. Any­way, I tried to make it as pain­less as possible.

The bag is not quite ready for sale yet, because I need to source bet­ter hard­ware. I mean, the ones I used func­tion fine, but I know there are more elegant-looking clips out there. It should be shop ready in 3 – 4 weeks.

Over­all I’m very pleased with this bag. The hard­est part was to make the bag look good both as a nappy bag and as a back­pack. It gave me quite a headache think­ing about it, but in the end, I fig­ured that most peo­ple would use it mainly as a reg­u­lar nappy bag, and use the back­pack fea­ture only occa­sion­ally. So I pri­or­i­tized the nappy bag part of the design.

New backpack nappy diaper bag - being worn by me

So you see, it may not look very backpack-like when worn like a back­pack… but I think it looks okay, and it’s sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able. And when you really need your hands free to look after your kids, it’ll be price­less to have that option.

By the way, don’t you just love this yel­low ele­phant fab­ric? I’ve been using the ele­phant fab­ric for years, but had never thought to order the yel­low vari­ety before — because I thought it was too sim­i­lar to orange. But the yel­low is so much more beau­ti­ful in per­son — it’s such a gen­tle, sophis­ti­cated color. It’s sim­i­lar to the grey ele­phant one in that sense — both are per­fectly suit­able for grownups to wear.

 

 

Facebook auction market — more fabric boxes — and giveaway coin purses

So one more day to go till the end of my Face­book auc­tion — and I’m sad that it’s end­ing because it’s been so much fun. The orig­i­nal idea was to use fab­ric from my over­flow­ing piles of scraps, and make one-of-a-kind items not nor­mally sold on my Etsy or madeit shops. I thought hav­ing an auc­tion would moti­vate me to use up those scraps, and have a bit of spring clean­ing of my sewing room.

I didn’t antic­i­pate it would be this much fun though. It was fun hav­ing that cre­ative free­dom — to make what­ever I felt like mak­ing every day. You’d think I have that kind of free­dom all the time, doing what I do, but it’s not really true. Nor­mally, I have a set range of items up on my shops, and I’d make those items over and over again as they sell. Or I make bags to order. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it, but it often feels like work, which it is. Devel­op­ing new prod­ucts is the cre­ative fun part of course. But even there, I need to be mind­ful of the cost issue, and set­ting the right pric­ing can be a dif­fi­cult task.

But this auc­tion thing totally freed me up from any of those con­straints. I didn’t even have to set a price (well, just the low min­i­mum bid amounts), and mak­ing irregular-sized items was totally okay. I was craft­ing for the fun of it, and that was pre­cious. I often stayed up late at night to sew, because I just couldn’t help myself.

And the sup­port and encour­age­ment from the Face­book com­mu­nity has been tremen­dous! I was para­noid that nobody was going to bid on any­thing, but I shouldn’t have wor­ried. Bids came in from day one, and it hasn’t stopped. I’m par­tic­u­larly grate­ful that many of the bids are from fel­low crafters and crafty busi­ness own­ers, who can make all these items them­selves. Thank you so very much for your sup­port, everyone!

Another won­der­ful thing about the auc­tion is that I could gauge what items my cus­tomers were inter­ested in. Sand­wich bags and wraps were so pop­u­lar, I might have to add those items to my reg­u­lar shop offerings.

Fab­ric boxes was another sur­prise hit. I began mak­ing them for myself, but because of all the pos­i­tive feed­back, I’ve made a few for the auc­tion — like these ones below. The apple ones are pos­si­bly my favorite. These are hand screen printed fab­rics from Blue­berry Ash Tex­tiles based right here in Syd­ney. Aren’t they lovely?

So check out my auc­tion album if you haven’t already, because there is still 24 hours till the end of the auc­tion. By the way, I’m giv­ing away three Lib­erty of Lon­don coin purses to three randomly-selected auc­tion win­ners. I enjoyed mak­ing these coin purses, too, espe­cially the pretty lit­tle Swarovski crys­tal bead zip­per pulls. 
pink and green flroal fabric boxes

bright colored fabric boxesbright colored fabric boxes - lining viewLarge and small boxes - bright colorsFabric boxes using hand screen printed apple fabric - greyFabric boxes using hand screen printed apple fabric - greyFabric boxes using hand screen printed apple fabric - pink

 

 

Dotty fabric boxes — and a mini tutorial

I started my late-night sewing ses­sion last night, intend­ing to make more items for the Face­book auc­tion. But instead I felt com­pelled to make these fab­ric boxes for myself. 

Two fabric boxes with brown dot print

Aren’t they pretty? I’m par­tic­u­larly happy about the bit of lin­ing fab­rics show­ing from the outside.

I had been want­ing to use these brown and blue / mint green dot fab­rics for some time. They are rather pricey, 55% linen, 45% cot­ton fab­ric. They have a deli­cious tex­ture, and the faded-looking col­ors are just beautiful.

 

large fabric boxes - liningsI love how the blue color of the stripe fab­ric matches the color of the blue dots. I couldn’t find a suit­able stripe fab­ric for the green ver­sion though, so I used solid green cotton.

But why was I sud­denly com­pelled to make these boxes, you ask?

fabric boxes with masking tapes and fabric tapes insideTo put all the fab­ric and mask­ing tapes I acquired yes­ter­day, of course!

It’s a great size for keep­ing any lit­tle things organ­ised around your office or work­room. Would you like to make one for your­self? It’s easy to make. Here’s a sim­ple mini tuto­r­ial for you. This will make a box about 4.25″ wide x 4.5″ high.

DIY fabric box mini tutorial

 

 

I found that the way I made these boxes cre­ated a bit of “waste,” because you are left with 8 pieces of per­fectly good 4″ square bits of fab­ric (four for the main and four for the lin­ing). I was going to put those away in my scrap drawer, when I had a bril­liant (or pretty obvi­ous?) idea. I could make another box using those bits!

small fabric boxes with brown dot fabric

How cute are these lit­tle boxes?

small fabric boxes with brown dot fabric - bottom view

I joined the four 4″ square pieces together like a band, and stitched them onto a square bot­tom (I used heavy-duty cot­ton can­vas in white — another left­over bits from mak­ing larger bags). I did the same for the lin­ing, and then put the main and lin­ing boxes together.

large and small fabric boxes with blue dots

You see the lit­tle ones are def­i­nitely smaller, but still a very use­ful size.

large and small fabric boxes - family portrait

They look a lit­tle like my fam­ily — two par­ents and two kids. Orga­ni­za­tion is not my strength — just ask any­one who has been to my embar­rass­ingly messy sewing room. But I’m hop­ing that these boxes will steer me in the right direction.

 

Pretty, pretty tapes from Japan

You know by now that Japan makes adorable fab­rics… but did you know the coun­try also offers most drool-worthy sta­tion­ary items? Our trusted post­man brought me a small box from Japan this morn­ing. And it was not a box of fab­rics this time.

Japanese fabric tapes and washi tapes

Well, not exactly.Japanese fabric tapes

Japanese fabric tape rolls

These gor­geous rolls are fab­ric tapes. Yes, cot­ton fab­ric strips with an adhe­sive back­ing, so you can stick them onto most every­thing just like sticky tapes. Washi tapes (paper tapes) — in Japan we call them “mask­ing tapes” — have been all the rage in the West for a while, but I have only recently “dis­cov­ered” the fab­ric tapes. And I’m in love. 

Japanese fabric sticker sheet

And you can find fab­ric stick­ers in a larger A4 size as well. What fun! You can use them to make your own wall decals, or dec­o­rate jars and other house­hold items with it. Unlike washi tapes, these fab­ric tapes and stick­ers are not see-through, and more sturdy. They also stick bet­ter than paper ones. And they have much more of a presence.

Japanese washi tapes

Of course I had to buy some washi tapes as well. How pretty are these? The vari­ety of designs avail­able is mind bog­gling, and it was so hard to choose just a few. I wanted to buy everything!

I’ll be using these washi tapes to spruce up my prod­uct pack­ag­ing, which is quite bor­ing right now. Even just a lit­tle bit of these tapes stuck on a manila enve­lope will brighten up the whole thing, or so I’m hoping.

Japanese washi paper stickers

These washi tapes also come in sticker sheets. I love, love, love these. Even though there are only lit­tle bits for each design, the vari­ety is great. And they come pre-cut into pretty lit­tle shapes like tiny rec­tan­gles and circles.

Japanese stickers on jars

I imme­di­ately had to play with these new toys. Aren’t these jars pretty? I’ve been want­ing to make dec­o­ra­tive jars like these ever since I first saw them on home decor blogs. I reuse glass jars all the time, so I can’t wait to stick these pretty tapes onto everything.

 

Birthday tote bag

It’s my mother’s birth­day today. Happy birth­day, Midori! Here’s a spe­cial tote bag I made for her.

black and white tote bag with sheep fabric

Don’t you just love the hint of sheep­ish play­ful­ness, in the oth­er­wise clas­sic monot­one scheme? My mother bought the sheep fab­ric her­self when she was vis­it­ing Japan. She actu­ally gave it to me for my birth­day — along with stacks of other fab­ric. But what goes around comes around, and now I’m giv­ing this fab­ric back to her all dressed up as a bag.

This large tote bag is in the same style as this dia­per bag and this shorter vari­a­tion — all with leather han­dles and a rec­tan­gle bot­tom. This bag is even more ambi­tious than the other two because it has not only an exposed zip­per pocket…

black sheep tote bag - exposed zipper pocket

but also a recessed zip­per top.

black sheep tote bag - recessed zipper top

I’m quite pleased how pro­fes­sional this bag looks! The exposed zip­per pocket was much eas­ier the sec­ond time. There is another patch pocket on the other side — because when it comes to pock­ets, the more the merrier.

Here’s what the bot­tom looks like. I used heavy-duty cot­ton can­vas in grey for the bot­tom, with lots of inter­fac­ing lay­ers glued on for extra stiffness.

black sheep tote bag - bottom view

 

 

My mother is a school teacher, and she lugs around her lap­top to school every day. I’ve made her a lap­top bag before. But this time, she wanted a big­ger bag with a zip­per top, so the lap­top is hid­den from view. This bag is large enough for both a lap­top and an A4 folder (plus other per­sonal things).

black sheep tote bag - inside view

I fin­ished this bag just in time to rush to the post office for an Express next-day deliv­ery. Aus­tralia Post can be unre­li­able though, so I’m cross­ing my fin­gers it’ll arrive on time!

Pattern Preview — Drawstring gift bag and a mini towel with double gauze

I am very excited to share that my next sewing pat­tern is nearly fin­ished! This one is for a lined draw­string bag and a mini towel using a type of fab­ric called dou­ble gauze, and I wrote it with near-total begin­ners in mind. I love that it has two projects in one pat­tern. A begin­ner can learn the basics of sewing by first mak­ing the super-easy (but cute and use­ful) mini towel, and then move on to make the draw­string bag to learn the basics of bag mak­ing. And when you are fin­ished, you can put the mini towel inside the draw­string bag, and what a per­fect hand­made gift that would make a new baby! 

Lined drawstring bag pattern - page one

I chose to fea­ture dou­ble gauze in this pat­tern, because it is such a beau­ti­ful fab­ric for babies and chil­dren. It’s a pop­u­lar fab­ric in Japan, where you can find them in so many adorable prints.  Unfor­tu­nately though, the pop­u­lar­ity has not yet spread to the West­ern world. It’s a mat­ter of time I’m sure, but I wanted to help spread the love of this soft-as-air fab­ric. Of course, you can sub­sti­tute other mate­ri­als for dou­ble gauze if you don’t have access to it, but I really hope you’ll give it a try some day. 

The pat­tern has a sec­tion on how to work with dou­ble gauze, and through­out the instruc­tions there are tips on sewing with dou­ble gauze. So even if you are a more accom­plished sewer, you might find this pat­tern inter­est­ing just for the infor­ma­tion on dou­ble gauze.

This pat­tern, like my pre­vi­ous lunch bag pat­tern, has very detailed instruc­tions with large, clear pho­tos. Here’s a sam­ple page from the mini towel section.

Lined drawstring bag pattern - sample instruction page

The draw­string gift bag is slightly more chal­leng­ing, but is a per­fect sec­ond project for a begin­ner to gain con­fi­dence in sewing. The result­ing bag is beau­ti­ful because it is fully lined, and the ruf­fle top is par­tic­u­larly sweet as a gift bag. Once you make the gift bag, you can use exactly the same tech­nique to make a larger laun­dry bag, or shoe bag, or lots of other kinds of draw­string bags. 

The pat­tern is being tested by six lovely vol­un­teer testers right now. Four of them have already fin­ished them this week, and have kindly sent me pho­tos of their creations.

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 1

This is Deanne’s cre­ation. She had only one sewing les­son prior to mak­ing these items for me, so I’m so pleased what a beau­ti­ful job she did. She was able to fol­low the pat­tern with­out ask­ing me a sin­gle ques­tion about it. So proud of you, Deanne!

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 2 - Koala print

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 3 - pink rabbitThese are the bags Sarah (navy koala) and Kristy (pink rab­bit) made. They are not exactly begin­ners, but am very grate­ful for their help with pat­tern testing. 

drawstring bag by Erika

 

Lastly, I LOVE this bag Erkia made. She chose her own fab­ric (how adorable is the gold­fish fab­ric!), so this is not dou­ble gauze. You can see the pat­tern works per­fectly well with other types of fabric. 

I’m still wait­ing to hear from two more pat­tern testers, but as soon as their feed­back comes through, and I revise the pat­tern, it’ll be up on my Etsy and Craftsy stores. 

 

French pastry bag no. 2

This week. I had another chance to make a tote bag with the beau­ti­ful “French pas­try recipe” fab­ric and leather han­dles. This one was for a spe­cial client, who has now become a crafty friend. She requested that the bag be about 2″ shorter than my pre­vi­ous bag, and to have an exposed zip­per pocket inside. This is what the fin­ished bag looks from the out­side. I love this shape.

French pastry tote bag with leather handles

I had never made an exposed zip­per pocket before. Was it fear­less of me to agree to a design I had no idea how to cre­ate, or was it a lit­tle… reckless? 

French pastry tote bag with leather handles - exposed zipper pocket

I hope it looks all right! Thank­fully it was not too hard. I found a fan­tas­tic (and free!) tuto­r­ial on Craftsy.com by Ms. Elaineous. Her step-by-step instruc­tion with clear dia­grams saved my day.

Had I used a white zip­per instead of dark brown, it would have looked more seam­less. But I think this thin line of brown zip­per looks lovely as a dec­o­ra­tive accent.

The bag has a sim­ple patch pocket on the other side. 

French pastry bag tote with leather handles - inside pocket

Stitch­ing the leather han­dles was very time con­sum­ing, like last time. But instead of being frus­trated about it, I just decided to watch a cou­ple of Grey’s Anatomy episodes while stitch­ing. A very enjoy­able expe­ri­ence. And hard work is clearly worth it, because the fin­ished bag looks very ele­gant and lux­u­ri­ous with that touch of leather. 

French pastry bag tote with leather handles - leather handles

In other news I’m plan­ning a spe­cial Face­book “auc­tion mar­ket day,” in about three weeks time. I’ll focus on mak­ing small things like wet bags and sand­wich bags using left­over fab­rics. So check out my Face­book page for details!

Hello Kitty madness

I need to admit… since my last post I have offi­cially become obsessed with Lib­erty Hello Kitty fab­rics. I can’t stop think­ing about what other lit­tle things I can make with those fab­rics. Why lit­tle things? Well, aside from not need­ing much fab­ric, those Lib­erty fab­rics really shine at a small scale, because the prints are so detailed and crisp. Besides, lit­tle things are inher­ently cute, don’t you think, and I have a ten­dency to be obsessed with tiny cre­ations.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hats

Aren’t these sun hats pretty? Okay, they are not exactly “lit­tle” — they are for 3 year olds. But still, hats don’t require too much fab­ric in the scheme of things. Each hat takes less than 1/4 meter of the main fabric.

Liberty Hello Kitty hats being made

Here’s a shot of the hats before they had lin­ings. The Lib­erty fab­ric is very light­weight, so I fused it first with woven inter­fac­ing to give it the body a hat needs.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hat with pink stripes

This one has pink and white stripe lin­ing, which is very girly and dreamy.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hat with bright pink lining

This vivid-colored hat has solid hot pink lin­ing. The lin­ing is impor­tant because you’ll see it when you wear this hat with its brim rolled up. It’s fun to have a dif­fer­ent fab­ric peek­ing under the brim. These hats are actu­ally reversible, but seri­ously, would you ever wear them to hide the gor­geous Kitty print?

And while at it, I couldn’t resist mak­ing some­thing else to go with these hats.

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags

Mini hand­bags! I had so much fun mak­ing them. These are just lit­tle zip­pered coin purses basi­cally, but with the lit­tle han­dles, don’t they look like handbags?

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags as a phone case

They may be small, but not com­pletely use­less. I could fit an iPhone in it, so a grownup could use it as a phone case. They are lightly padded as well.

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags as a phone caseNow, what else can I make with these fab­rics.…? To be continued.

Tutorial: Mother’s Day apron

My mother loves aprons. She adores them so much that she wears them pretty much all the time at home. I haven’t worn an apron myself since my pas­try chef days, but doesn’t it look cute on my mother? This is the apron I made for Mother’s Day this year (along with a few place­mats using the same fab­ric), using a lovely cot­ton linen blend can­vas from Japan with draw­ings of veg­eta­bles on it.

mothers' day apron

 

Are you an apron fan? Or maybe your mother is? Then it’s really easy to make, even with­out a proper pat­tern. Just use what­ever apron you already have and like, and make a pat­tern from it — I’ll show you how.

Step 1: Copy a pat­tern from your favorite apron.

Press your favorite apron well, and place flat on a large piece of paper. I’m using a thin tis­sue paper for pat­tern trac­ing, which you can buy at a sewing sup­ply shop. You can use any large piece of paper you have, of course, but hav­ing this semi-transparency helps in the step below. 

making an apron pattern from an existing apron

First, make sure there is enough blank space on the paper around the apron, to add seam allowance later. Then trace all the way around the apron with a pen or pencil.

tracing around the apron

Next, you are going to clean up those lines you just traced. Fold the marked pat­tern ver­ti­cally in half (fold along the dot­ted “cen­ter fold line” on the dia­gram below), more or less match­ing the left and right sides together. See, this step is eas­ier to do if you used the semi-tranparent paper.

Chances are the lines for the left side don’t exactly match the lines for the right side, because your apron has been worn and washed many times, and it has lost the orig­i­nal sharp, sym­met­ri­cal lines.

apron pattern making diagram 1

With the draft pat­tern folded, re-draw neat, straight lines over your orig­i­nal trac­ing, using a ruler (except for the arm­hole curves). Make sure (1) the top hem line and the bot­tom hem line are aligned par­al­lel to each other, (2) the two straight sides are par­al­lel to each other, and that (3) the straight sides are at 90 degrees from the bot­tom hem line. Basi­cally, if you extend the side seam and top hem lines till they meet, the apron out­line should be a per­fect rec­tan­gle shape. I hope this dia­gram helps.

Now is a good time to mod­ify the pat­tern to your lik­ing. If you’d like a longer apron, just add some lengths to the side seams. If you’d like a wider apron, so it will wrap over your body for bet­ter cov­er­age, just extend the arm­hole lines a bit on each side, to make the apron wider.

Next, you need to add seam allowances to the pat­tern. Add 1 3/8″ (3.5cm) to the top and bot­tom hems. Add 3/4″ (2cm) to the sides, and to the curved arm­hole hems. The draft­ing part is all fin­ished now!

apron pattern making diagram 2 - adding seam allowance

With the draft pat­tern still folded in half, cut the pat­tern out along the seam allowance lines (but don’t cut along the folded cen­ter!) — so you’ll end up with one big apron pat­tern piece.

Finally, make a paper pat­tern for a rec­tan­gu­lar pocket, too. Any size of your choos­ing is fine, but 13″ wide x 10″ high (33cm x 27cm) is a good size that includes seam allowances.

Step 2: Cut the fab­ric and cot­ton tapes.

Now that you have the pat­tern, the rest is easy! Choose any medium to heavy-weight woven fab­ric for the apron, such as can­vas or home decor / inte­rior fab­ric. Linen or linen blend fab­ric will make a par­tic­u­larly lovely apron. Quilt­ing cot­ton is not rec­om­mended, because it is too light­weight. Pre­wash and press the fab­ric well.

Pin the apron pat­tern over the fab­ric, and cut along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

It’ll be most accu­rate if you first mark the out­line of the pat­tern onto the fab­ric with a pen and a ruler, and then cut along the marked lines. But for things like an apron, there is lit­tle harm done if you choose to just pin the pat­tern onto the fab­ric and cut the fab­ric along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

Cut the pocket piece, too.

Cut two lengths of light­weight cot­ton tape (about 1″ or 2.5cm wide) for the neck tie (one for each side, to be tied together at the desired length by the wearer), and two lengths for the waist ties. Again, any length you like is fine. My sug­gested lengths for a thin-to-average sized woman is 21″ (55cm) each for the neck ties, and 35″ (90cm) each for the waist ties.

You can buy light­weight cot­ton tape in bulk quite cheaply online. Try search­ing on eBay or Etsy, for exam­ple. I use them for a lot of things, from lunch bag han­dles to bunting making.

rolls of white cotton tapes

Step 3: Make the pocket and attach it.

Fold over the top edge of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again to make a double-fold hem. Stitch along this folded edge. Fold the sides and bot­tom edges of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and press well. apron making - making the pocket

Pin the pocket to the mid­dle of the apron.

apron making - pinning the pocket

Stitch around the sides and bot­tom of the pocket onto the apron, stitch­ing close to the edge (about 1/12″ or 2mm from the edge). Then stitch around the sides and bot­tom again, at about 1/2″ (1.3cm) from the edge. This sec­ond round of stitch­ing (1) makes the pocket more securely attached to the apron body, and (2) con­ceal the raw cut edges of the pocket inside the dou­ble stitch­ing. So if you look inside the pocket, it’ll be nice and clean.

Step 4: Sew the curved armholes.

Fold over the raw edge of a curved arm­hole in, at 3/8″ (1cm). Press. Then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm), to make a double-folded hem. Press. 

apron making - folding side armholes

Sitch along the fold. Repeat for the other side.

Step 5: Sew the top hem.

Fold the top hem over at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to cre­ate a double-folded hem. Press well. Insert a piece of cot­ton tape (for the neck tie) into this fold, close to each end of the hem. Pin.

apron making - inserting cotton tape at top hem

apron-making - top hemStitch along this top hem, close to the folded edge. Your stitch­ing will attach the cot­ton tapes to the apron at the same time, with the cut edge nicely con­cealed inside the folded hem.

Now fold each cot­ton tape over towards the top (so the ties will face upwards towards your neck, not droop down­ward toward your feet), and pin. Top­stitch along the very top of the apron, stitch­ing over the cot­ton tapes along the way.

apron making - topstitching the top hem

Step 6: Sew the sides.

Fold over a straight side hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm) to cre­ate a double-folded hem. Press well.

apron making - folding the side hems

Insert a piece of cot­ton tape (for the waist tie) into this fold, at the top of this hem, and pin.

apron making - side hems

Stitch along this side hem close to the folded edge like you just did with the top hem, stitch­ing over the cot­ton tapes at the same time.

Now fold the cot­ton tape over to face out­wards (so it’s ready to wrap around your waist). Stitch over the tape in this posi­tion (just over the tape bit; you don’t have to sew all the way along the side again) — try to stitch right over the pre­vi­ous stitch line, so you won’t see the sec­ond line of stitches from the right side of the apron.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 7: Sew the bot­tom hem.

Fold the bot­tom hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to cre­ate a double-folded hem. Press well. Stitch along this bot­tom hem, close to the folded edge.

Stem 8: Fin­ish up.

Your apron is nearly ready! Try it on, and make sure the neck ties and the waist ties are the lengths you like. If they are too long, cut them shorter. (If they are too short… well there is noth­ing you can do now at this point, other than unpick the tapes and stitch longer ones on in their place.) If every­thing looks good, fold over the raw cut edge of each cot­ton tape piece twice, and stitch over the fold line to keep the tape ends from fraying.

All done now! Enjoy your new apron.  (This is my mother last year, wear­ing last year’s Mother’s Day present!)

apron modelled by my mother