Since I started sewing, I had a couple of requests for aprons as Christmas presents. I will again be using the Sew Simple Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron Pattern. Since I have made this pattern before, I feel comfortable giving it as a gift. I have managed to successfully sew the neck ties, side ties and pockets, so I have definitely made some progress in sewing. But to my horror, one of these requests was for a black and white checkered apron, which means… GEOMETRIC FABRIC! Thus far, my entire sewing repertoire has revolved around abstract, non-directional fabrics which don’t show errors in cutting and placement. Cutting accuracy is not one of my strong points. I can’t seem to fold selvage to selvage properly, which puts me at a frustrating disadvantage.
Since I am an extremely slow sewer, I had to get started on these aprons right away! For my first apron, I started straightaway with the only checkered fabric I could find. Its a basic quilting cotton. I am a little worried about the stark black and white showing every little bit of cooking mess, but oh well. I tried to stay true to the checkered fabric request on the front side of the reversible apron. I bought plenty of fabric so I had enough fabric to recut the contrast sections to help get a better alignment.
I rotated the fabric 90 degrees for the contrast trim on the pocket and the contrast trim on the apron band. I tried to align the pocket print with the main fabric,and I am pretty pleased with the result. Yes, if you are looking for errors in the fabric alignment you will find plenty. I am hoping that the hypnotic quality of the checkered print will lull viewers into a state of mute compliance, so they won’t criticize the quality of the construction.
My second apron was also intended as a gift… unfortunately I was not happy with how it turned out so I will be keeping it. I accidentally twisted the neck strap, so it does not lie flat. The fabric is a fun bright pink, but I think that other people might prefer a more traditional apron. The size is a bit big for me, but I am happy to keep it and wear it to clean and do dishes.
I was still determined to make one more apron as a gift. After what seemed like hours of wandering the fabric store, I finally found some apron-appropriate fabric that coordinates. If the fabric store stocks mainly quilting cotton, then why does none of it coordinate?
A major benefit to my checkered apron was that it introduced me to geometric fabric. Although that apron didn’t turn out perfect, it wasn’t the huge disaster that I had been expecting. This gave me the confidence to consider buying another linear fabric pattern for the next apron, thus expanding my fabric choices by a lot! I settled on a blue/red/orange fruit pattern with a coordinating blue rectangle pattern. I am happy to say that though going slow and careful measurements, this apron turned out to be acceptable for a gift!
Since we hadn’t decided on a book yet, I figured a book first project would be an apron. I chose an apron because it is utilitarian, so it is OK if it doesn’t look perfect- C’mon, you know you’re just going to get food on it while you are cooking, and personally, I have never opened a bottle of bleach without getting at least a little spot of it on my clothes. So, if the apron doesn’t turn out right, it’s OK, because it was just going to get ruined and ugly eventually anyway. I chose a simple, reversible apron pattern at the craft store (Simplicity Sew Simple 1971 reversible apron).
I was determined to use clearance fabric- there is no reason to spend too much on fabric for your first project. It won’t turn out perfectly, so economy, economy, economy!
One fabric was black with irregular white flower drawing, and the other was mint with liner brown dots. I would have loved to avoid a linear pattern for my first project, but this fabric was the only one I could find that had the right level of on-purpose clashing with my flower fabric, and the fabric makes me think of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
One nice thing about the fabrics I got is that they were somewhat coarse, with the individual strings of the warp and weft grouped together in 3’s before being woven. The fabric is like a light canvas. This coarseness made it much easier to line up the fabric on the grain, which is probably the only thing that kept the linearly dotted fabric from coming out completely tilted.
Armed with next to no knowledge, I charged on ahead. Everything except the neck went well! It took days and days, since I had to go super slow. There is a part that is more-or-less magic, where you put the straps inside, sew an outside seam, then pull the apron right side out, and pow! Apron straps are perfectly attached. It’s amazing what strategies people have come up with to make clothes.
The neck was a disaster- I tried to follow the directions, but completely failed- when I turned the straps out of the apron, all I had was a teeny, tiny neck that was sort of misshapen. To salvage the apron, I had to rip out the seams and sew the straps on on the outside, then stitch (overstitch?) the top together.
Not perfect, but who cares? I’m just going to ruin it eventually anyway. Success!
I am happy to report that my first experience with using a sewing pattern was… eventually… successful. I used Simplicty Sew Simple 1971 Misses Apron to make a straightforward, no-frills apron. And, I definitely learned some new skills along the way!
As I was determined to make the most of this pattern, I actually made three aprons, making adjustments along the way. The first apron was made to the specifications of the pattern. The second apron was adjusted a little for a better fit. The third apron was made using the better fit and also with nicer fabric. Thankfully the third apron looked much more presentable and was better constructed than my first! So here is some proof that I can make progress!
I have two main critiques of this pattern:
- The pattern instructions state to turn the apron right side out at the top of the apron, and to stitch the top closed. Of course for a novice sewer this will look horrible. I turned the apron right side out on the side, where the stitching is not too noticeable.
The apron waist ties hang too low, unless you are seven feet tall. Add height to the apron wrap around area to bring the waist ties up around your waist. I am short, and this adjustment made the apron much more comfortable.
Working with this pattern 3 times also helped me understand some details on the pattern instructions which improved the construction of the apron. As a novice, I did not sew the neck strap correctly on my first try.
I put it on the outside rather than on the inside, leading to a pretty sloppy look. Additionally, the pattern instructions said to turn the apron out at the top, which is not such a great idea when I can’t even sew a straight line. Invisible seams are definitely the way to go for now!
By my last try, I had improved a lot. I placed the neck straps close to the edge of the fabric to sew them on, so the ends would be entirely inside of the apron once it was turned right side out after the two sides of the reversible apron were sewn together. I think that and experience (and common sense, which I apparently lack) helped me understand this.
Additionally, I turned the apron out on one of the sides. I don’t see why a beginning sewing project would purposefully have exposed stitching. They should know I suck at sewing and adjust the instructions accordingly. The adjustment made for a much better looking apron.
Maybe this whole sewing thing isn’t completely hopeless…