I have been making apron tops since college and have since perfected (I think) the process. They are so fun to wear in the spring and summer with or without an undershirt. The gathered loop straps keep everything in place even if the wind blows your apron up!
I hope you find this easy to follow. Please read through the entire process so you can have an idea what to expect. It usually takes me about an hour to make one, but I have made tons. I would give yourself two hours to assemble if this is your first time. My measurements make a size 2-6 apron top. If you have a larger bust, you might be safer getting 1.5 yards to accommodate for the larger/longer bodice.
Here are the materials you will need:
1. 1-1.5 yards (depending on bust size) of cotton fabric (pre-washed, dried, and ironed)
2. iron and ironing board
4. scissors, rotary cutter/mat (optional)
5. sewing machine
6. pinking shears (optional)
7. seam ripper
9. tape measure
First, cut your straps. I folded my yard of fabric into fourths so I could cut it on my rotary mat. You don't have to do this. Your two strap measurements are 3 x 43 inches. Most yards of cotton fabric are 42-43 inches wide including the selvedge.
My bodice measurements are 12 x 34 inches wide. In this picture, I haven't trimmed the long end of the bodice to 34 inches yet. I just wanted you to see how the yard of fabric breaks down. The bodice is 12 inches long, and I arrived at 34 inches wide by measuring my bust. You can change the 34 inch measurement to your bust size. You can also make it longer. When this top is finished, the bodice is 6 inches tall. If you add inches to this part, remember that your apron part will get shorter.The remaining fabric will make up your apron, which in my case is 18 x 43 inches.
Sew your straps. Fold them in half (right sides together) and sew along one short end and one long end. I'm using a 1/4 inch seam allowance unless otherwise noted.Sew your bodice. Fold it in half (right sides together) and sew down one long side. Your three pieces should look like this when you finish.
Turn your bodice right side out and press with the seam in the middle. If you are going to add trim or rick rack to your bodice, now is the time to attach it.
Turn your straps right side out. I use a chopstick to help me out. Some people use a safety pin.
Once I get the strap turned right side out, I use the chopstick to make sure my corners are squared off.Press/iron your straps flat.
Now that you have sewed and turned your bodice right side out and pressed the seam in the middle, you need to trim it to the right length (for me that's 34 inches). Press a 1/4 inch fold on one of the short ends.
Then press/fold it over one more time creating a 2 inch fold.
Top stitch your fold. This makes one of the two loops you need for the bodice. Repeat on the other side.
When you finish, you should have two pressed straps, and your bodice should have two two inch folds that have been sewn shut, creating a loop or case on each end.
Now take your apron part (the remaining fabric) and press three sides (1/4 inch fold) to prepare to hem. If you have a directional fabric, make sure you are hemming the "bottom" of the fabric so your print isn't upside down when you assemble the top. As I hem, I fold it over one more time to hide the raw edge. If you want you can press it over one more time and hem that way. Whatever is most comfortable for you is fine. If you want to pin it all in place, that is fine, too.
Once you've pressed, it should look like the picture above.
Hem all three sides, folding over as you go (unless you already folded a second time and pinned/pressed).
Take the fourth side (the raw edge) and (if you have them), trim off 1/8 inch using pinking shears. This is the only raw edge on the finished garment. The pinking shears help with stringing up after the wash. I have made many tops without pinking and they are fine.
Now turn your stitch length dial to the longest stitch possible. You need to do this so we can do a gathering stitch!
Sew a gathering stitch along the top (not hemmed). Use a 1 inch seam allowance.
When you finish, pull one side of the thread and the fabric will gather up.
Place your bodice (wrong side up, where you can see the seam) and place your gathered apron on top of it, wrong side up.
Carefully spread out the apron fabric so the ends reach the edges of the bodice. The longer/wider your bodice, the fewer the gathers.
Take some straight pins and pin your apron to your bodice. Place the pins vertical or perpendicular to your seam. Pin the apron 1 inch from the bottom of the bodice. This allows for wiggle room when you sew it together.
Here are two more shots of the apron pinned to the bodice. See how it's pinned 1 inch from the bottom of the bodice?
Okay, it's go time! Don't forget to put your stitch length back to normal. Otherwise you will have a wide stitch and it won't hold together as well. Flip your apron top over and put it under your machine. You are going to top stitch your apron to your bodice. Use the edge of the bodice as your guide. Line the edge of the presser foot to the edge of your bodice. Remember, since you pinned it an inch into your bodice, you are guaranteed to not miss sewing any gathers. Stitch from end to end (don't forget to back stitch!)
When you finish, it should look like this! Now you can remove your gathering stitch. Sometimes this is easy and fast, and sometimes you spend ten minutes with your seam ripper. I usually take the long string left from gathering and pull it through all the way, then you can just take the other string off. It sometimes breaks, that's where the seam ripper comes in. Make sure you get any stray gather stitches out, at least on the front of the top where they don't show. If they don't show on the front, no need to waste time taking them all out.
Attach your straps. For me, the gap between them is 7.5 inches. If you want to make sure, wrap the apron top around you in the mirror and play with pins and strap placement. The bigger your bust, the farther apart you'll want the straps to be. If they are too close together, it can end up looking too little girlie. Once you find the right spot, pin them in place. Make sure you are pinning the open/raw end to the back of the bodice.
Straps are pinned, time to attach and top stitch. I must have skipped this next shot, so hopefully you'll get it! Starting at end, top stitch a 1/4 inch topstitch along the top of the bodice, as you pass over the straps, back stitch over the beginning and end of each strap, reinforcing their attachment. After several washes, some of mine have come apart, requiring a new stitch. The backstitch should help.
When you've attached the straps, this is what it will look like! Sorry for the blurry shot.
Turn your top over and feed the straps through the casings (criss-crossed) and tie a bow. All done!
Care instructions: Machine wash and dry. Straps will need to be ironed afterward.Please leave a comment if you have questions. I will respond in the comment section, and update the tutorial. Please feel free to link up in the comment section so I can see your version!
1. Use 1/5 yards of fabric so your apron top is long like a dress.
2. Add pockets to the apron.
3. add a secret id/cash pocket to the inside of your bodice.
4. Use different fabric for the bodice and straps or add trim/rick rack.
5. Shrink the measurement and make a little girl's version.