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.


  1. I wanted to let you know some big news. My blog has moved to
    Please come over and RE-SIGN UP to follow me at the new site. Google does not allow you to take your followers. If you have already found the new site-sorry for the confusion. I am trying to go back and forth between the old blog and the new. I am super close to closing down my old blog.
    I also have a new give-a-way that started yesterday.

  2. hello

    Just saying hello while I read through the posts

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

  3. So very cute!!!

  4. So cute! Thanks for sharing!

  5. thanks for this tutorial, I made a apron as well, but only found your very well explianed tutorial only after, I did mention yours on my blog , you can see here:


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