Friday, 13 November 2009

Make a Pillowcase Apron

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
Once you start getting into the simple lifestyle, sooner or later you're going to want an apron. So make one - they're a perfect project for beginning sewers. I have a favorite granny bib-style, H-back, one that I usually wear. But I like having a couple extra aprons around too - guest aprons, you might say. My sister and her family usually visit for Thanksgiving. She loves it when I offer her an apron to wear too. It just makes her feel more "in the spirit", she says.

As well as for yourself, and maybe your guests, consider making an extra apron or two for Tie One On Day. Started by EllynAnne Geisel, it's a way to put the "give" back in Thanksgiving: "Participation is simple. On the day before Thanksgiving, November 25th this year, pause in the preparation of your own meal, wrap a loaf of bread or other baked good in an apron, tuck a prayer or note of encouragement in the pocket, and deliver the wrapped bundle to someone without your bounty - a neighbor, friend or family member in need of physical or spiritual sustenance, a bit of recognition, or just a kind word."

A quick and easy way to make a cute half-apron is to start with a pillowcase. Nice ones can usually be found at your local thrift store for $1 or less. I look for ones with some kind of different print or decoration around the opening end. That end makes the skirt of your apron - cut it between 16 and 20 inches long for a nice length. I measure where I want to make my cuts, making little snips in the edge. Then I fold and smooth the pillowcase over at a snipped place, slipping my scissors inside the fold and cutting across to make straight cuts. The middle cross-cuts make the waistband and ties. Cut two equally sized strips 3-4 inches wide (I'm using a King case here, so I had enough material to cut three. I used one as a center piece and then trimmed half off the other two. Using all three would make ties long enough to wrap around and tie in front - would be cute too). Cut the sewn side seam off the skirt and waistband/tie pieces, and open them up at the fold. The closed end will make the two pockets, so don't cut the pillowcase seams on that piece.

Fold the raw side edges of the skirt over twice to the wrong side, press, and sew down.

Make the pockets by cutting the top corner parts of the case into two equal squares or rectangles (discard the center piece). Turn the corner inside-out, flatten, and stitch down the remaining two open sides, leaving a couple of inches left unstitched to be able to turn right-side out. Clip off the tip of your corner, just beyond your stitches, turn right-side out, (then use a crochet hook or unclicked click pen to push the corners out to a nice point) and press flat, tucking the unsewn part evenly to the inside. Repeat for the other pocket.

Lay the skirt out flat and position the pockets an inch or two on either side of the center, 4-6 inches down from the top. Try different positions until you have something you like best - maybe with the pattern running perpendicular to the skirt's or putting the pockets on an angle. Just make sure that the unstitched part of the pocket edge isn't part of the top edge (top-stitch it to close it up if you just have to have it on the top part). Pin in place, then sew down three sides close to the edge of the pocket, leaving the top open. I like to spin the pocket around and run a second line of stitching just inside the first (reinforcement - don't want to be losing anything through a hole in your pocket). You might like the look of using a contrasting color of thread too.

Join the ends of the waistband/ties, sewing with right sides together. Press the seam edges open, and then fold one long side over towards the wrong side, and press. Find the center of the long piece, then lay the long piece right-side UP on your work surface with the folded side farther away from you.

Lay the skirt, also right-side UP, on top of the long piece, matching centers of both pieces and the raw edges closest to you, and put a pin in the center through both pieces. You can just pin the pieces together flat, but I like to gather or pleat the skirt a bit. If you want to gather yours, measure out equal distances either side of your center pin on the long narrow piece, and pin the outside edges of the skirt there (4-8 inches closer to center is usually good). Keeping the narrow piece laid down straight and flat, then make the skirt part lay flat by making up the slack pinning down pleats or gathers, keeping the raw edge of both pieces even. Mirror what you do to one side of center on the other side too. Sew skirt to band (I find it easiest to have the skirt part up when sewing too, so that I can do any final adjustments to my pleats or gathers - just keep the band part underneath lying flat).

Fold the bottom edge of the waist ties up and press. Fold the top edge down, matching the folded edges together on the ties, and covering the line of stitching on the front of the skirt, and pin. Tuck the raw ends of the ties to the inside and pin them too, making a nice corner.

Top stitch the end of a tie, along the folded edges, across the top front of the skirt, along the folded edge of the other tie and across the end. A final quick pressing and you're done!