Saturday, 5 December 2009

Tea Towel Apron Tutorial

A few people requested a tutorial for the tea towel aprons I made, so I'm going to give it a try.  Note: I made the girls' aprons shorter than the boy's apron because the boy is older/bigger.  He is 4 years old, and the girls are 2 years old.  The aprons will probably fit them for a couple of years.

Step 1:
Buy a tea towel.  I got mine at Walmart, I think, for about $6. Wash your tea towel to get out the sizing or whatever else the factory puts on it.  I recommend washing it in hot water to shrink it as much as possible too.  If you're worried about colour-fastness, you can add salt to the load instead of soap.  That will help the colour not to bleed in the future, according to my seamstress-mother.

Step 2:
Cut up the tea towel.  I first cut about an inch-and-a-half off each long side of the towel for the waist ties, then I cut out the main body of the apron.  I decided on the angle I wanted, and guessed for the length.  Next I cut the neck strap from the remaining material, just straight across the hemmed bit so that I would only have to hem one side.  To help you visualise, here are my cutting diagrams (pieces are to scale.  Sorry for the wonky pocket.  I couldn`t get it to look right).

Step 3:
Press and hem. I turned the fabric about 1/4 inch, ironed it, then folded another 1/4 inch and ironed again. Then I sewed the hems with my machine. I recommend pressing and sewing one hem at a time. For the apron I did the straight sides first, then the angled sides, then the top. The bottom is already hemmed, of course. Then hem the raw sides of the waist ties and the straps, and somehow finish the ends so they don`t fray. For the neck strap, I did a zigzag stitch across the end a few times. For the waist ties, I zigzaged only the end that would be sewed to the apron, and hemmed the other end.

Step 4:
Sew on the waist ties where the angled side meets the straight side. I just stitched back and forth several times in two spots (Once where the hem stitching was so it doesn`t show as much, and once very close to the edge). Trim all your threads.

Step 5:
Attach fastener for the neck strap.  I used a fastener instead of just making it to pull over the child`s head, because kids have big heads and if the strap was big enough to pull over, the apron wouldn`t keep them as clean because the front would hang too low.  I really like how it looks having the fastener on only one side, though if you wanted you could add one to the other side to make it symmetrical.  For the boy`s apron, I used snaps.  Just follow the directions on the package.  For the girls` aprons, I used buttons.  I won`t go into how to use a buttonhole foot on the sewing machine, because I don`t really know how to myself.  It was just trial and error to get the right size.  So practice on scrap first!

So that`s the basic apron.  Pockets, monogramming, and ruffles are all optional.

For the pocket on the boy's apron:
Cut out the desired shape (you can use matching fabric or contrasting).  Hem the top of the pocket.  Monogram if you wish.  I used black embroidery floss (the whole thickness).  For the boy's apron I didn't use a pattern or template.  After the monogramming is done, fold the unfinished sides under 1/4 inch, and pin onto the apron.  Then topstitch around the bottom and sides of the pocket.  I did two lines of stitching.  One at about 1/4 inch, and the other right next to the edge of the pocket.

For the larger ruffle on the girl's apron:
Cut the pieces as indicated on the diagram, and sew the two strips together at one end.  Press the seam flat and top stitch each side of the seam so that there is very little bulk at the seam.  If you have a serger, you could probably just serge the seam, but that would end up a little bulkier.  In any case, the edges need to be taken care of somehow so they don't fray.  This needs to be a sturdy apron!  I didn't know how best to do the pleated ruffle, but I'll tell you how I did it.  If you know of an easier or faster way, go for it!
First I sewed the long strip of ruffle to the apron at each end, using a vertical stitch.  Then I sewed the centre of the ruffle to the centre of the apron.  Next I matched the centre of each hanging half of the ruffle with the centre of that half of the apron, which left me with four loops.  Then I did it again with the centre of each of those loops.  Eventually, when I got the ruffles to be the size I wanted them to be, I had a strip of fabric attached to the apron at 17 points.  Then I just started at one end of the apron and sewed over all 16 loops to make pleats.  I didn't even iron them.

For the small red ruffles:
Cut strips of fabric about 1.5 inches wide.  Fold them in half lengthwise (wrong side out) and sew with about 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Turn right side out to make long skinny tubes, and press flat with the seam at one edge.  Fold the end under, place on the apron where you want the ruffle to start, and get it started by sewing 2-3 stitches in from the end.  Now here comes the tedious part: With the sewing needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and shove a pleat of fabric under it.  Lower the presser foot and stitch 3-4 stitches (my stitch length was set to medium-long).  Lift the presser foot again, shove another pleat of fabric under, lower the foot and stitch.  Repeat until you get to either the end of your pleating fabric or the end of your apron.  If you need to start another strip before you're done, fold the end over and place it on top of the end of the old strip, then continue as usual.  Did that make sense at all?  I wasn't trying to make perfectly even pleats.

For the girls' monograms:
I tried to do the G freehand like I did the boy's J, but it wasn't working out.  So I found a font I liked in Microsoft word (Curlz), made it the right size (300pt), and printed out the letters I needed, and cut them apart.  Then I taped the paper to the apron, put the apron in an embroidery hoop, and backstitched the outline of the letters through both fabric and paper.  When I was done, I used my needle to perforate between the stitches, and ripped the paper out.

And that's about it.  If you have any questions please let me know.  If I left something out and you're confused, feel free to ask.  So there is my first tutorial.  I think I'm too wordy and too apt to just wing it with my projects to do many tutorials.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My $2 Dollar Store Wreath

This is the wreath on my front door.  Even though I got it 50% off at Michaels, I was still miffed to have to pay for something that I could have made for almost free if I still lived in my last house.  There are no pinecones in our new neighbourhood.  But I still really like it.  I think it could be a bit larger for this door though.  (sorry for the poor quality, sideways picture.  I'm too lazy to rotate the picture...that would mean saving it on my computer instead of taking it straight from the memory card of my camera.  If I had to do that, I'd never post!)

I wanted a wreath for my back door too, but I didn't want to buy one.  I recently came across the site, and then today I happened to be walking past Dollarama, so I stopped in.  Despite some drama with cranky/hungry/tired kids, I found a few things.  I bought two garlands, and I knew I could do something with them for the back door.

I wrapped each garland around a grapevine wreath that I've used for several things before.  Here it is with only one garland (please excuse the pine needles on the rug...Christmas trees are messier than two-year-olds!):

One garland looks nice, but I added the second:

Much better.

I added a strip of my favourite red fabric, tied in a bow, and hung it on the inside of the window in the back door.  (again, poor quality sideways pictures.  the window was fogging up too.  sorry!)

I love how it looks against my red and white curtain.  I really like the fact that this wreath looks nice from both sides because the garland is wrapped around it.  It's ideal for windows.  If I had more grapevine wreaths, I'd make one for all four of my living room windows too.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tea Towel Aprons for Kids

Update: I have posted a tutorial for these aprons.

I was sorting my fabric a few weeks ago when I came across some pieces that I thought would look great in my friend's kitchen.  She likes to bake, so I decided to make some aprons for her kids.

This is what I started with:

And these are the results:

I did embroidered the kids' initials on each.  Juliana is modeling her own, and the one for my friend's son.  The one for her daughter is the same as Juli's.  I didn't want to leave the babies out either, so I made bibs for Nico and J's youngest.  Nico's bib isn't actually finished yet.

I was going to do a tutorial for the aprons, but I always feel kind of silly explaining stuff that is intuitive to me, but I don't want to go the other way and not explain important steps.  Basically, I just cut the long edges off to form the waist ties and hemmed the cut side, then cut the big section to the size and shape I wanted and hemmed it too.  I used the cut-off fabric to make the pocket on the boy's apron, the neck straps, and the ruffle on the bottom of the girls' aprons.  I have a great dark red fabric that I used for the little ruffles.  I wish I had more of that fabric, it's my favourite right now.  I have about a metre left.

And of course I had to have fun wrapping this just-because-gift.

They all came over today and we had fun baking with the kids.  Some of the resulting gingerbread cookies may not be completely edible, but all three of the kids had fun and I think the moms did too.  Unfortunately, the babies were a little fussy.

PS: I apologise for the sideways pictures.  Blogger really needs to add the option to rotate pictures to their so-called new and improved posting thingy.