This year for Christmas we definitely tried to focus on simplifying and not giving an overabundance of gifts. Also being home so much, I had a little extra sewing time around the holidays and wanted to focus on a few handmade gifts. My nephew has recently become interested in playing kitchen and pretends to be a chef. This created a great opportunity to make him a custom apron for his pretend play.
I started with an apron my daughter already had on hand as a size reference. I measured that apron to get the approximate length and width of the upper bib portion as well as the size of the skirt and overall proportions. I selected some fun boyish canvas scrap I had from my stash in a green and purple robot print to be the color inspiration and focal point of the apron. Next, I pulled in some green and white coordinating dot print for the accent bands and a piece of green binding tape to make the length of the apron tie. Using a muslin scrap, I machine embroidered my newphew’s name on a simple tag to adhere toward the end of the make.
To create the bib top, I used the rough measurements from my inspiration apron to determine the dimensions. I wanted the apron to be very simple for a little one to use, so I decided to make the tie cord run through the bib and thread into the apron and only tie in one spot behind the back. To allow for the cord to run over the top of the head and down the bib, I added roughly three inches to the width to make side channels to run the cord tie.
Since I was only using this one scrap of robot canvas, some of the pieces I had to work with were not the ideal size. I used what I had and several of the pieces were simply determined by how much I had to work with. Personally, I like the challenge of this approach and always find it satisfying to use what I have and make it work. You can see here the large pocket for the front of the apron has a little notch out of the corner. I decided this didn’t matter, however, since I was turning the whole thing under and cropping the corners. To prepare the edges, I folded the top down generously and put two rows of stitching at the top. I then folded each side in and miter folded each corner for a clean finish. The patch pocket is simply top stitched on to the skirt at the end of assembly.
On the skirt portion of the apron I finished each side edge with handmade binding tape made from the green and white cotton print. Then to create the channel for the cord tie, I made a 1.5in pocket of the green and white dot print by cutting the strip at 3.5in, folding it in half and then folding each raw edge over by 1/4in. I stitched the underside of the green dot channel fabric to the back of the canvas piece to secure it in place and enclose the top raw edge of the skirt.
Before folding the channel, I lined up the apron bib center with the skirt center and made a mark where the bib channel lined up with the skirt channel. To run the tie through the skirt I planned to make a button hole and thread the tie down through the channel and out the back. This allows the connection and adjustment of both the tie around the neck and also the adjustment around the waist. I used a large button to get a big button hole size from my button hole foot.
Once I made the button holes, I folded the green dot channel piece over and top stitched it in place along the top edge of the skirt. Then I took a little hot chocolate break. (An essential step in sewing, do not forget!) To finish attaching the bib top to the skirt bottom, I sewed the top across the green dot channel being sure to align both pieces at the center and the cord pocket and button holes.
The final step was to create the tie. To keep life simple I used a piece of wide binding tape in a coordinating green and just folded it in half and stitched it closed. I then used a pin to thread the cord through the top of the apron, down each channel, through the button holes, and through the skirt channel pocket. To finish the apron I adhered the patch pocket to the center of the skirt with a simple top stitch and the “Chef” name tag on the bib top with decorative machine stitches. Et voilà! A simple and very adjustable toddler apron!
Then, since I had a little bit of fabrics left, I decided to make a small oven mitt to match the apron and complete the set. Again, I didn’t use a specific pattern here. I simply traced an adult size oven mitt from my stash and sized it down by and inch all the way around. I added batting and muslin lining to each cut out mitten shape (remember to create mirror images so they piece together correctly…)and quilted in place and around the entire perimeter of the mitten.
After cutting each mitten half out, I used the left over green dot fabric from the apron to create thin binding for each end. To complete the mitt, I simply place both pieces of mitten right sides together and stitched around all but the bound edges with a zigzag stitch to give the mitt a little extra durability for sliding on and off a little hand. I also notched around the curves to allow the fabric to fold easier before turning the whole thing right side out.
I think the whole set turned out really cute! I worked on the apron and mitt over the course of a few days because those were the time slots I had to work in, but I think the whole project total took be about three or so hours. To be honest, a lot of that was probably just planning time since I didn’t use a pattern, The sewing itself was very simple and quick once I decided how to create what I wanted. Hopefully my nephew will love this special addition to his pretend kitchen.
I encourage you to try your hand at making your own toddler apron from what you may have on hand. Hopefully my experience helps guide you on your own path to some free form, pattern less simple sewing, but if not, here are a few other diy tutorials and patterns to try.
- Smashed Peas and Carrots Blog, Cross Over Pinafore Pattern. I used this one to create a toddler dress last year, but it would also be good as a more full coverage apron.
- Sew In Love Blog, Cross Back Apron Pattern for Kids and Adults. This one is cute and functional and think of all of the min-me possibilities!
- Lily Quilt Blog, Easy Child’s Apron. If you don’t want one continuous tie, this pattern shows you how to use a simple Velcro closure at the neck.
- Peek-a-Boo Pages Blog, Toddler Apron Pattern with Oven Mitt. Similar to what I described here, but with a slightly different tie and with complete measurements if you don’t have a little apron to pattern off of.
Thanks for reading and stay creative friends! Janice
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