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