Valentine’s Day French Baker’s Apron
Skill Level: Beginner (basic sewing skills required)
Approximate Cost: Under $30 depending on fabric selection
My family will concur that I am a messy cook, and a messy eater. When I sit down to enjoy a meal at the table, al fresco, dashboard diner, TV Takeout, or on the run, I know better than to go sans napkin. I’ve also been known to don a cooking apron or an old shirt replete with stains.
Most times it’s just a tea towel. I even keep one on hand across the arm of my easy chair in the family room. I think of it as an adult bib.
And yes, they make those. I’ve been tempted to buy one. Perhaps a blog for another day…
But to be honest, when I cook, I don’t wear an apron. I keep a tea towel over my shoulder as my dad did, but I don’t protect my clothes. I just know better than to cook in my nice shirt!
My kitchen aprons are old, dated, and in need of a purge. I’m always making stuff for others. So with Valentine’s Day approaching, I decided to create a new one just for me (I doubt my husband will wear this one…or maybe he will), something colorful, slightly whimsical but with an elegant twist. That way, when company comes over, I can look adorable in my outfit and still cook safely behind the shelter of my apron!
This apron project was a surprise to me when I finished it. I chose a longer, French baker’s style. I really love the complementary pattern and color contrast; and the idea of making something not just functional, but fashionable appealed to my practical side. While it’s not a low-sew project, it’s well within reach if you have some basic sewing skills and maybe an eye for design!
A Note About the Design Wall…
This is my absolute FAVORITE feature of the BFS website! As you shop for fabric ideas, click on the pink ⊕ sign next to the image. When you’ve made your selections, click on the Design Wall located next to the cart icon at the top right. Your selections will appear. From here, you click/hold and drag them anywhere on your screen. You can layer images on top to compare your choices or decide what goes together. It’s brilliant and a huge time saver for me!
1 1/2 yds lightweight fabric for skirt and reverse of apron top
1/2 yd contrasting lightweight fabric for apron top and pocket
6 yds 1 1/2 or 2 inch grosgrain ribbon to complement your fabric selections
1/2 yd lace to trim around apron top (totally optional)
Note: You can use heavier fabric such as duck or twill. But choose fabric that is washable, and pre-wash first!. You’ll thank me later for that.
Placing the width of the fabric at the top, cut 1 yard for the skirt. Set the remainder off to the side. I like to hem the skirt first. Saves time and it’s easier to work with.
Using your iron, turn in 1/4″ along the sides. Press, then turn again along the edge to create a neat rolled side hem. For the bottom, decide on a length you prefer. I kept mine long turning in 1/2″ twice with my iron. Press well.
Stitch along your folded hems on the bottom and sides using either a straight or a decorative stitch. I chose a decorative stitch and contrasting thread for a little serendipity (a little sumpin-sumpin!). Press.
With the contrasting fabric and the remaining skirt fabric, cut a piece from each measuring 17″ x 17″. Cut another piece from the contrasting top fabric that measures 19″ x 10″. This piece you will fold in half from top to bottom to form the pocket. Set the pocket piece aside for last.
Next, cut a 4 yard piece of ribbon and using pinking shears, cut a v-notch on each end. This will become the waist tie for your apron. We’re making it long because it will go across the front and still be long enough to wrap back around to the front to tie. If you’re generous across the middle like me, feel free to cut it longer to accommodate your size or just tie it in the back. My shoulders don’t work like that anymore, so I appreciate anything that snaps, buckles, Velcros or otherwise ties and connects in the front.
Cut the remaining yard in half and v-notch one end of each piece for the straps.**
Take the two 17 x 17 inch top pieces and place them RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. Check your pattern direction!! Next, sandwich the straps for the top 4 inches from the outside edge with about 1/4 inch hanging over and the remainder through the middle, but not hanging out the bottom. You’ll want to fold the straps into the inside and pin them down so you don’t accidentally sew through them. Been there, done that. Pin the sides in place and leave the bottom open to turn.
Stitch along the edge using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Clip the corners and trim away, leaving 3/8″. Turn right side out and pick the corners out so they are nice and sharp. I use a seam ripper to gently encourage those corners without tearing them. Press. Now for a little extra fun if you want to. This is optional, but I think it looks better. We could have cut the top and bottom to create the same effect, but that requires a pattern! I like to keep things square and simple.
Take your top and measure 11 inches from the bottom and mark on both sides.
From the edge where the ribbon meets the top, pull the top and bottom apart and push your fingers in between to create a little pocket from the ribbon edge to the mark you made.
This will form a diagonal in your top piece as shown. Press. Top stitch around the edges closing the opening you left for turning. Again, you can a decorative stitch or just a straight stitch. Press again. Mark the middle on the bottom edge for placement later.
Now we’re ready to work on the skirt. Begin by taking a measurement of your front from side to side at your natural waist where the apron will tie.
First find the middle and mark it. At your machine, stitch across the top with a wide a stitch as possible using a 3/8 inch seam. Do this again about 1/8 inch below. Take the bottom threads on one side and gently pull to gather the fabric. Don’t pull to hard or you’ll break the threads. Gather a bit, then go to the other side and gather the other side.
Lay your measuring tape on the table. I tape mine down and tape one or both ends at the measurement I took.Pushing your gathers to the middle, adjust as needed so you have gathers only in the middle with the sides at the length you measured for your front.
Go back to your machine and using a normal stitch, stitch through your gathers backstitching at the beginning and the end. You may want to stitch this twice for security. Now pull out the gathering threads. Press. Turn down a hem using your iron as we did with the hem so the top is neat and tidy. Press and stitch using a straight stitch. No need for decoration, it’s going to be covered by ribbon.
Take the apron top and the skirt and match the middle markings you made.
Place the right sides together with the top of the apron and bottom of the top together. Take the top and let it extend about 1 1/2- 2 inches (more if you’re short on top) above the skirt. Pin in place and stitch across the top of the skirt using a 5/8 inch seam.
Turn and press. Stitch again close to the edge along the hem stitch you previously made.
Fold your ribbon in half to find the middle. Matching the middles, pin the ribbon across the front even with the top of the apron skirt. Using a straight stitch, stitch along the top and bottom edge of the ribbon and along the sides of the apron.
Take the piece we set aside for the pocket and with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER AND THE PATTERN IN THE CORRECT DIRECTION, fold in half lengthwise. Stitch as marked leaving a small opening for turning. Turn as for the top of the apron, pricking the corners out and press, making sure to press the open edge in.
Try your apron on to decide where you want to place your pocket. Pin in place and stitch across the sides and bottom. You can use a decorative stitch if you prefer. I also like to sew a little triangle in each top corner so the pocket doesn’t rip.
Note: If you want to add a pocket to the top, make the pocket just like we did this one, but you’ll have to attach it before you make the top.
And that’s it! Have fun with fabrics. You can make this for any occasion, any holiday. If you want a sturdier apron, use duck or twill. I recommend using washable fabrics though, because it will get messy!
Enjoy and sew in peace my friends!