THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 23, 2010

Apron, Vintage Style Customized

cross posted at The Stitchery by Mary Beth

I love strong color and I love to cook. My kitchen is full of primary colors: yellow, orange, red, green and blue. Yellow and orange are the main colors.

The dining area is attached and there the colors are more muted into pastel shades but dark blue, bottle green and red glass makes it’s presence known against a proper unbleached Irish linen table cloth and white china.

Life's Treasures

The yellow orange theme kitchen theme is based upon a wallpaper border I put up a while ago. it’s a variation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with lovely colors and navy background.

sunflowersKitchen Colors

The kitchen is a place of activity and high energy and when I cook I am working as quickly as possible. I cook in batches so dinners can be frozen ahead of time. I make most things from scratch, depending on how much time I have. And, well, things do go flying! The other day, after splattering cherry juice down the front of me, I wished for an apron, one with a bib on top.

I’ve never made one (that I can remember). I have aprons but they are all inherited from Mothers and Grandmothers; you know, the full skirted half apron, that, on me, makes me look “like a potato sack with a string around it” as Ma used to say.

I wanted fullness, like the sense of fullness and abundance that a kitchen should exude. I wanted “feminine, and fun, but serious fun”. I am not a cute cook. I get dirty. It’s more fun that way 🙂

I had yellow/orange cross dyed linen in the stash and some navy so the challenge was to make a full apron with as much covering on top as well as the traditional full skirt in a way that would be more flattering to my short, full body than the outline of a lampshade on two legs. Oh horrors, that is such a bad look on me! So, what did I have on hand????

Ah, the easily disastrous pattern, View D of an old McCall’s 2947:

View D McCall's 2947

Here is the result:

front Back

But I noticed the shoulder “wings” were trying to slip down my arms

Shoulder Straps Slipping Off

and that would drive me nuts. So to make sure I would want to wear this apron I made a shoulder stay Stay

that would make sure I could tolerate wearing my new kitchen “tool”. It’s set across the back of the top of the shoulders so it’s easy to get over my head without having to button and unbutton.

Full Back Front Full
I’m moving quickly when I am cooking so I’ve got to be able to throw this on without hesitation. I think it will work well, now.

The second issue for me in this basic design is the fullness of the skirt. I need no extra fullness in the tummy or at the sides. Taking a cue from the spacing of the gathers in the Anna Sui pattern I made earlier

I made an inverted pleat across the belly of the apron, allowed gathers over the pockets, smoothed the fabric at the side seams and put maximum fullness at the back. Can you see the spacing?

Spacing of Gathers

Here’s the side seam and back

Side and Back Gathers

Here’s the front inverted pleat, top stitched down on each side of the fold. This apron will not be ironed so things must be anchored and stay put. The most I’ll do is to try to smooth out those shoulder ruffles with a quick tug as the apron comes out of the dryer. Maybe.

Inverted Pleat

The peaked front of the waist band was a design detail that insisted on being part of the apron. Seriously, it demanded to be included to counteract all the straight lines of the color blocking. It made me work late.

I drew the curves and stitched them on the waistband, then pulled out the stitches and ironed the shape into the interfaced fabric. Then I could easily applique the shape onto the bib. I like it.

I’m relieved: it cute but not “cute”, decorated but not “decorated”. Hope I remember to put it on before the disasters happen!

Kitchen work

Happy Sewing and Happy Cooking



  1. I never wear an apron but I do think about it sometimes (after I’ve spilled something on myself, of course). This is really pretty on you. Love the inverted pleat and the color combination. You look like Sue Ann Nivens in that last photo!

    Comment by Gigi — July 24, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    • Had to look up Sue Ann Nevins, Gigi. Hope she made folks laugh and think!

      Comment by Mary Beth — July 24, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  2. I love it! So much thought for an apron but well worth it. It is easy, feminine and does the job for which it is meant.

    Now I just need to follow your lead and make one for me. I ruined a new knit top when making dinner for company cause like you I am energetic in my cooking. I can only wear it around the house now.

    Linda T

    Comment by vernonfashionstudio — July 24, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

    • Controlling fullness is very serious business for me these days 🙂 Sorry to hear about your top tho

      Comment by Mary Beth — July 24, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  3. Very cute, nice idea about the back tab holding the straps.

    Comment by Debbie — July 24, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    • I put it high up so that I could grab it easily if adjustments were necessary. I have seen these stays located about mid back area but that’s as handy as a back zipper. So Not Handy!

      Comment by Mary Beth — July 24, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  4. Sue Ann Nivens would have worn a pink trimmed, starched and ironed, white apron with lots of frills and would never spill a drop on it. You’ve got a “power apron” Mary Beth. I’m lazy, I always make a standard cook’s bib apron with a longer bib and extra long ties. When I put it on I make a horizontal tuck at the waist, cross the ties in back and bring them around to the front and tie them off thus creating a waistband. Aprons are wonderful garments.

    Comment by Theresa in Tucson — July 24, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    • I’d love to see one of yours, Theresa! And tkx for the clarification re Sue Ann Nevins. I didn’t much like being told I looked like her even tho I adore Betty White! I guess I’ll have to get used to being in the over 60 crowd (very soon) and even tho most of my favorite people are in their 80’s

      Comment by Mary Beth — July 25, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  5. Found you from a twitter post.
    Now that is a lovely apron! Great modifications for your exact needs.

    I host apron swaps and would love to have you participate, if you are ever interested. Current swap theme is “Back to the Future” … we’re swapping 50’s retro, 80’s pop, futuristic, or BTTF movie-themed aprons.

    @ShawneeH on twitter

    Comment by Shawnee H in OR — July 25, 2010 @ 9:34 am

    • Cute idea, ShawneeH. I apologize and decline although many others would probably love to participate. I’m just too selfish when I sew and NOT into cute aprons!

      Comment by Mary Beth — July 25, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  6. WOW! Love it! I like the idea that it covers a lot because, I admit, I can get a bit messy, haha…

    Comment by Cindy Sue — July 26, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  7. I love all the little things you did to make the apron your own. The kitchen is always a mess. I should make myself an apron as well.

    Comment by jlthom99 — August 4, 2010 @ 7:36 am

  8. Great idea. Straps always want to slip off my shoulders as well.

    Comment by Elizabeth of OnlineFabricStore — August 6, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  9. You look perfectly darling in that apron. The bold colors are great. [ In the olden times (my childhood) the sliding problem was solved by criss-crossing the bands in the back. Of course, that would slow down the donning.]

    Comment by Jane — October 5, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  10. I enjoyed your post about vintage styled aprons. Your choice of colors are fun and the pictures are great. Thanks for the post.

    Comment by One Second Needle — November 15, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: