My 7-year-old nephew can be a little hard to shop for: my sister and her partner are very consciously trying to keep the “stuff” quotient in his life as low as they can as well as wanting to avoid a lot of the more commercialized products. So we give him handmade toys, clothing, books, the occasional DVD – that sort of thing. In 2010 for Christmas I gave him some tickets to a professional soccer (aka football) game, which he loved. I went a little less Wow! factor this past Christmas and made him a custom apron because he loves to help in the kitchen.
I took some measurements in November and quizzed my sister-in-law about his current favorite color. The answer was “plaid” – hah! And the hunt was on for blue plaid fabric of an appropriate weight and fiber. I wound up getting something at Fashion Fabric Club that wasn’t perfect but worked: all I could find was a cotton/Lycra stretch poplin, but the plaid was perfect. Since I had to counteract the stretch, I made sure to use a stable cotton (a very nice sateen) in a coordinating blue to line the apron.
I sorted through my collection of patterns and didn’t find anything that was exactly what I wanted, but they were useful for deciding on some of the dimensions and proportions while drafting my own design. I went with a basic chef’s style with a big pocket in the same solid blue as the lining. Since the plaid was pretty busy by itself, I kept trims to a minimum – just a bias strip of the plaid across the pocket.
The neck strap and waist ties were also from the solid blue fabric. The kid is growing like a weed but is very skinny, so I was more worried about it becoming too short long before he outgrew it otherwise. My solution was to make the neck loop adjustable with a pair of D rings rather than having neck straps to tie: I think the end result is neater looking, and the small spark of silver hardware adds a little visual interest.
So in drafting the pattern, I used a combination of my nephew’s actual measurements, the proportions of the apron from McCall’s 2233, and sizing of the child’s apron from the 2 Hour Apron from Sew Simple Patterns. My main concern was getting the proper curve around the arm and right proportions between the bib area and the overall length. I used a combination of my ruler, the grid on my layout board, and freehand drafting.
I only drafted the top third or so: I simply extended the pattern down to the appropriate length while cutting out the pattern. The woven plaid pattern made it particularly easy to take this approach, particularly combined with my trusty rotary cutter and quilting ruler. I based the lining on the main piece, the pocket was a simple rectangle, and the straps/ties were long strips.
The waist tie straps were made to a finished width of about 1/2″, so I started with a strip of the blue fabric 2″ wide cut on the straight-of-grain. One short end was turned under about 1/4″ and pressed. I then folded them in half and pressed, then folded the long edges in toward the center and pressed again. I finished by top stitching around the long edges and the finished short edge. I pinned the unfinished short edge on the raw edge and basted with final stitching done when the lining was added.
The neck strap was made the same way but to a 1″ finished width (fabric strip cut to 4″ wide). The D loops were attached with a short loop. I placed the loop and neck strap so they would be right at the edge when lined. I’ve seen a lot of aprons where the neck strap is inset an inch or two from the side seam, and I just don’t like the look.
The next step was adding the lining. I used the basic method of stitching the main piece and the lining right sides together, leaving an opening along the bottom edge. After trimming, clipping, and turning – making good use of my bamboo point presser – I pressed everything carefully, pulling the straps to help square up everything. Edge stitching – with white thread up top and blue in the bobbin – closed the opening and gave a neat finish.
The pocket was the last item. I decided to stitch it on through both layers to improve stability. I hemmed the top edge, folded under the remaining three, and stitched on the contrasting bias strip (finished width about 1″). I intended to add a loop on one side for holding a wooden spoon, but forget to insert it! I attached the pocket with edge stitching and a second row of top stitching, then divided it with a vertical line of stitching into a two sections (1/3 and 2/3 of total width).
A final press, and I was done!