Halloween 2015 – Me and My Cowboy

Halloween is a bigger deal than it used to be in my life now that our little one is actually old enough to realize what it is about and enjoy it.  I’ve also realized it does give me a very good reason to sew something for my half-pint and not just myself.  In 2015, I didn’t do that much sewing for Halloween, but enough to be proud of and count as projects to share.

My outfit wasn’t much, just something I put together at the last minute.  I dressed as some sort of punk, dark, vintage-style housewife, in an original 50’s blouse, a pencil skirt, platform heels, and a handmade apron with dachshund featured print.  Yes, that is purple hair I sported for the night.  However, my son’s outfit received most of my attention.  He went as a 1940’s cowboy, with part vintage, part handmade, and the rest being items from my childhood for a special kind of outfit.

THE FACTS:butterick-2744-year-1943-envelope-front-comp-w

FABRIC:  For the cowboy: ½ yard of super clearance polyester suede with a metallic printed wrong side; For my apron: a 100% cotton M’Liss print, exclusive to the now-defunct Hancock Fabrics store.

NOTIONS:  I had all I needed for the cowboy vest and chaps, and for my apron I bought skinny bright orange single fold bias tape.

PATTERN:  A vintage original Butterick 2744, year 1943, was used as the basis for the cowboy chaps, and the apron used the “Cosmopolitan” pattern from the book “A is for Apron” by Nathalie Mornu, published 2008.  (See this post to see my last apron from this book – I’m a big fan of it!)

apron-info-comboa-comp

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The cowboy outfit parts only took me about 3 hours hours in one evening on October 29, 2015.  My apron was finished on Halloween, October 31, 2015, made in 3 hours, too.

100_6573aw-compTHE INSIDES:  The cowboy outfit is a costume so I didn’t do anything fancy inside, my apron is all clean finished bias bound.

TOTAL COST:  $2.00 for the suede fabric, and maybe $10.00 for my apron

His hat and six shooter set is mine from when I was his age, the sheriff’s badge on the vest is also mine from a visit to Silver Dollar City.  The shirt was given to us by a dear acquaintance – it a true 1940’s original with embroidery of swirls and hobby horses, fancy pockets, and special buttons.100_6460aw-comp

For the sewn part, I basically took a simple button front vest from my tykes’ wardrobe and traced it out and remade it into the faux suede.  This was easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as some sewing) – just two small side seams and even smaller shoulder seams.  Next the vest was cut and re-shaped slightly to be more open and curved so the front so his shirt can be seen.

My original plans were to only make him a vest, but my hubby said some passing comment sounding surprised as to the lack matching chaps.  I took this as a sort of challenge even though this was not at all what he meant – he just didn’t know what I had in mind.  There wasn’t much fabric to start with and even less after the vest was made…but chaps aren’t a full pants leg, anyway.  So I pulled out a vintage 1940’s children’s pattern from my stash as the basis to cut by – this way I also was testing out the fit of a pattern I wanted to make anyway.  I didn’t have a length of fabric long enough to go all the way up his leg so I merely made a large loop to add on for the top of the chaps’ legs.  The loop is perfect for the chaps100_6476w-comp to hang, or float, over his jeans.  A length of elastic is tied around his waist with the chaps’ top loops going through, and the rest hanging from that.

A rectangular strip of fabric was sewn all the way up into the side seams, then it was cut into little strips to turn it into fringe.  I love how the metallic “wrong side” makes the fringe look quite neat, bestowing just enough ‘bling’ for a little boy’s Halloween outfit.

Our little “cowboy” was so tickled by his outfit and so proud of himself.  “Mommy made it!” he would tell others on me, but that’s o.k.  Being a cowboy must run in the family.  My Grandma has a picture of her husband, my Grandpa, in a handmade cowboy outfit when he was little, so I’ve been told.  My dad loved playing cowboy himself – his room (when he was my son’s age) had a western theme to it, as I can still see in the cute printed paper lining of his old dresser set.  One of my dad’s favorite Christmases growing up was the one when he was given a western set, and he still remembers the bright red velvet hat that came with the set.  In the old pictures from then my 5 or 6 year old “cowboy” dad looks so much like my son did for Halloween – very cute to see.

100_6470aw-compMy apron is something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  The fabric had been bought a while back (maybe a year or two) and the apron pattern has also been on my radar of things to make ever since I bought the book in year 2011.  Now I could combine both into one!  Besides, how could I go wrong with something that combines my favorite things – a dachshund dog printed fabric (I own a dachsie, by the way), an apron, and a design named after one of my favorite mixed drinks, the Cosmopolitan.

This was super easy to make.  I like how the pockets are right over the hips – this way they can’t catch stray food like aprons with center front pockets often do.  I like the slightly vintage “café waitress” aura to it, as well, though this is not as strong with my version compared to the original in the book.  Look at how cute is that fashion themed fabric on the one in the book!  My fabric is pretty darling, nevertheless.  I mean there are cute wiener dogs dressed as a ladybug, police officer, witch, princess, and butterfly!100_6572-comp

This is not the best apron for coverage against spills and messy cooking, but it is mostly decorative anyway.  I did slightly change the pattern by both making the inner dip of the U-neckline smaller and having the center back neck closure be Velcro hook-and-look tape rather than a button and button hole.  I also had to shorten the neck straps so the waist ties would be where they should be rather than on my hips.

I went through just over 2 packs of bias tape to go around and around all the edges.  Honestly – that is the hardest and only step that takes up all my time spent to make this apron.  I thought the amount of edging I had to sew would never stop.  This sounds like a Halloween “Twilight Zone” nightmare… the “different sewing dimension where the edges to finish never stops and keeps going…with no end…you can’t take your foot off of the pedal, and the bias tape keeps coming, never lessening…”  Oh, I could have too much fun with this!  Happy Halloween everyone!

Save

Advertisements

Family ‘Maprons’

For Father’s day, I’ll post about something which is often associated with women being made to suit men – aprons for most all the men in my family!  Did you even know the word “mapron” (one of the more unusual terms, I must admit)?  I didn’t until I sewed some men’s aprons.

100_5354-comp

Anyway, these aprons get probably the most use out of any and all of the things I have sewn…which is so cool!  I have found that the most practical, overlooked, and daily used items are often the ones I don’t sew too often because they do seem a bit boring and tedious to make compared to other project which showcase skill and creativity.  I’m thinking of underwear, aprons, pajamas, hankies, and maybe curtains and seat covers, for some examples in my life. However, when I make these items that no one will ever really see, that are meant to be worn out…well, it completely pays back in a special way that’s hard to explain.  It kind of hits in the brain that sewing can also just be more than showing ability but very practical and a way to personalize one’s life and tastes.  I always know that, but sometimes the right project needs to come along to remind me.

Why is it that (like I said at the beginning) aprons are generally associated with something for women, and men are only relegated to very basic “cobbler-style” aprons.  I call no fair!  Men can be just as messy with their food anyway, and definitely do need to protect nice clothing sometimes, especially little boys.  Also, my husband does some of the cooking in our house, besides especially being the king of the outdoor grill.  So – he now has his very own apron, as well as my dad, my brother-in-law, and my son.  Yes, sometimes I do get on a roll when it comes to aprons.  They’re so easy to make, so fun for me to come up with, and so open to creativity, sewing aprons is like potato chips…it’s hard to limit yourself to just one. 100_5351-comp

For my husband’s apron, I used a basic shaped apron from my collection and traced it out directly onto the fabric, widening it just a bit for his frame.  Such a simple design makes the very cool fabric shine. The fabric feels like a denim really, but it’s so textured and interesting and sort of like camouflage.  There is an extra-large pocket off to the bottom right side for handy purposes.  Unbleached cotton braided rope becomes the ties.  The side waist ties are attached to the apron by hiding in a little pocket square of self-fabric, while the neck tie runs through a casing in the top.

My dad’s apron is a carbon copy of my husband’s.  He is often dressed up and my mom’s arthritis limits her from doing the laundry many days, so anything which saves him from more wash is a good thing.  One yard was enough fabric to make both of them.

100_6660-compMy brother-in-law’s mapron was also made pretty much the same way with the same shape, same ties, and the same pocket as the duo made for both my dad and husband.  Only, his was made from an awesome cotton just perfect for him – a print with giant loaded slices of food…pizza pie with all the toppings.  I did add a utility loop to the outside corner of my brother-in-law’s apron pocket so he can hang tools or towels or whatever he wants.  It was lined in a bright green contrast cotton, leftover from what I used to line my very own Christmas apron.  100_5838a-comp

Our son’s aprons are made much simpler – it’s just a self-traced mini version of the same shape used for my hubby’s apron with no pockets.  I also made two just to cover the fact that one will probably be taking its turn in the wash at any given time.  The ties on both aprons are self-fabric loops sewn on in place (no casing).  Both train aprons are meant to go on him in different ways.  One apron ties around both the neck and waist (like a regular apron) while his second apron is tied into two arm-holes to tie in one spot at his center back.  Also, one apron has the print of choo-choo trains right way up and the other has it wrong way up.  This way the one apron’s print looks right from a viewer’s perspective while the other he can see best when it’s on himself.  Variety keeps our little guy thinking.  The trains on the fabric make him more than happy (excited, really) to put on an apron – score!

train apron tie backs-comp

Fun fabrics and prints and a few tough touches for an apron made the perfect gift for the men that are hard to give to in our family – perhaps I’ve given you a gift idea, as well?!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  all aprons are made from 100% cotton – my husband’s and dad’s are from a novelty denim, my brother-in-law’s a novelty print quilter’s fabric lined in broadcloth, and my son’s in a kid’s print

NOTIONS:  I had to buy the roping for the ties of the adult aprons but other than that I had all the thread and everything else I needed

PATTERN:  None!  I drafted my own apron patterns here.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My dad and hubby’s aprons took maybe 30 to 45 minutes each to make and were made back on June 14, 2013.  My brother-in-law’s apron was made on December 13, 2015 and took me about 1 to 1 ½ hours to make.  I spent maybe 2 hours or less to sew our son’s aprons, and they were made on July 30, 2015

TOTAL COST:  All the apron’s fabric and notions came from Hancock Fabrics, except the train and pizza print were bought on clearance when there was a store closing.  As these are gifts, I won’t get into cost really, but aprons are always quite reasonable, especially since each adult apron takes one yard and my son’s two aprons took only ½ yard.

A Christmas Cotton Set for the Mr. and Mrs.

No – I’m not talking about the Mr. and Mrs. Claus of Christmas, but making something for me and my hubby! It feels so good to finally see (and get to wear) something from my stash that was silently begging to be re-fashioned! It is nice, too, among the business of making (and finding) gifts for everyone else to make holiday gifts for a little “selfish” sewing for ourselves…

100_6663a-comp

I’m wearing my Burda “Wrap, Drape, and Tie” set from the previous post.

This story starts with a downer but ends well. One attempt at creating an elegant, ankle length, full circle cotton skirt for a Christmas about 12 years ago turned out to be a disappointing fail that I couldn’t wear. The skirt only looked tacky, overwhelming, and literally homemade. It was just one those bad ‘fabric-print-pattern’ combinations. However, I loved the print of mistletoe and holly, and the cotton was very soft, thick, and high quality so I always wanted to make something better of a ‘failure’ to redeem myself. Here is that re-fashion combo on Christmas day at family’s house – not-so-good picture and all! It is a man’s neck tie, 3 ½ inches wide from a 1971 pattern, for my hubby and a vintage inspired bias-skirted apron for myself.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  100% cotton is the “Holly and Mistletoe” print, but the lining for the back of my apron (in a deep bright green) is a broadcloth which I suppose is mostly cotton, too, with some polyester perhaps.100_6606a-comp

NOTIONS:  I used whatever I had on hand for both the apron and the tie, which included thread (of course), interfacing, bias tape, and a blank clothing label.

PATTERNS:  The Tie: McCall’s #2971, year 1971; The Apron: the “Mango Tango” pattern from the book “A is for Apron” by Nathalie Mornu; The original skirt: Simplicity 4883, “Design by Karen Z”, year 2004, made in a size larger than what I needed so as to have an elastic waist.

Simplicity 4883, full & half circle skirts, yr 2004, with A is for Apron bookTHE INSIDES:  Both items could not be made any better even for being rather fast in completion. The apron has bias bound edges, both inside and on the edges, while the tie’s edges are not seen, 100% covered, tucked away inside itself. There is a “custom label” underneath just like store bought ties, too (picture below).100_6827a-comp

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I have a beef about the tie which I’ll address later, but it took me a total of 2 ½ hours to make. The apron took me maybe 4 or 5 hours, which is twice as long as my ‘normal’ time for aprons, a fact due in part to adding lining, doing some fitting, and much ironing.

TOTAL COST:  As this was a re-fashion of something bought and made from such a while back, made with what was on hand, I’m counting it as free. However, the tie only calls for 5/8 yard, and the apron pieces are rather small, so both could be made from scraps or at least very little fabric to make them low-cost creations.

100_6603a-compFor this duo of re-fashions, the absolute hardest part was at the pattern layout and cutting stage. It was hard to re-establish the grain line and selvedge direction on a garment that had already been made. My first step in the re-fashion was to cut off the waist panel which extended several inches down below the waist so that I could deal with just the bias circle skirt part – the only part I really wanted to use this time. I’ll save the skirt lining and the waistband for some other time. Now the only thing I knew was that the center front of both the front and the back skirt were on the straight grain, so I the rest I figured from there. Then finding the right grain for each of the pattern pieces for both patterns was the next challenge. It was kind of like a puzzle to fit the patterns in on the right grain and I can tell the bias might be just very slightly off in the tie and the apron skirt, but so close to right on that I shouldn’t be fretting. A successful re-fashion is always something great, especially when you can end up with two wearable projects out of one unwanted one!

100_6822a-compNotions and supplies given to me by my Grandmother came in handy for these two projects. Pre-Christmas time can be crazy enough the way it is, and the last thing I needed was an extra errand to the fabric store. Besides, I love to make my projects work as far as I can with what is on hand, although I do try to keep up a good supply so as to make this practice work more often than not. Anyway, I used two slightly different colored bright red single fold bias tapes (1/2 inch) for the apron, as well as a random cut of happy Christmas green. Going with a slightly shortened apron skirt, this green cotton lined the back of my apron and also a man’s utility apron I made as a gift for my sister-in-law’s husband, so it was enough for two actually. Hooray for stash busting with a good cause.

Oh goodness, the cover of the tie is so happily deceptive, for as nice as the tie turned out it 100_6655-compcertainly did not take me 45 minutes. In reality, it took me half of an hour to do both the cutting out and sewing out the pointed ends and two hours of hand sewing to finish the long inner center seam edges. (The two hours of hand sewing were actually quite productive, as I was multi-tasking listening to Ken Burns’ program on the history of “Prohibition”.) However, surely there must be a faster and easier pattern to use to make a tie so I probably will not be using this pattern again. Beyond some not-as-clear-as-they-could-be instructions, the pattern wasn’t really all that bad. After all, the tie did turn out quite nice, with clean finishes, and creative construction methods…it just didn’t live up to its façade of being ‘quick and easy’ as it makes you think. I do appreciate the fact that the tie pattern gave two size options: a 3 ½ inch wide or 4 ½ inch wide front bottom. Both of us decided unanimously for the 3 ½ inch option. He didn’t want to look too vintage, although he does look totally like a swing era gent in his picture.

100_6604a-compHow and who came up with the method of transforming a ‘T’ shaped end into a self-faced triangle? So smart, I wish I’d done it, but whatever, it tickles my mind. Seriously, look at that pattern! There is definitely some backwards thinking ‘engineering-style’ needed in sewing, especially when it comes to designing patterns, in order to deconstruct how to manipulate fabric and get it to turn out a certain way. I think this tie pattern is a good example of what I love about sewing…it’s better than magic how something in paper that’s flat, odd-shaped, with no dimension can become a wearable work of art. Amazing!100_6654-comp

My hubby’s father has done all this before me – he makes ties out of worn out denim blue jeans, and he has made his own pattern for his projects. Not to give away any secrets but it has a simpler design of construction which fits appropriately with the heavy weight of the denim. My father-in-law’s ties and my own are both products of re-using and re-fashioning, a trait I am proud to share. I am the happy owner of a copy of his personal, special pattern and maybe I’ll have to try it in my quest for the perfect design.

My biggest fear was that the two ends would turn out looking wonky. What if one side of the point has a different angle? As it turned out, following the markings of the pattern and such did produce perfect angles for even looking tie ends. Yay! I’m proud at being able to successfully make a not-so-traditional item and try something new.

100_6738a-compA cotton tie might sound odd just because you don’t see them sold but ties haven’t always been what they are today. In the 1910’s and 1920’s men’s ties were more like scarves or square bottomed. In the 1930’s, 1940’s, and the 1970’s tie were often a little wider than what we’re used to, and throughout the last 70 or so years ties were made from different materials such as sweater knits or made with odd monograms, painted designs, and appliques. On the pattern I used, the envelope back lists every material under the sun (almost) as recommended fabrics.

100_6746a-comp

Love the quote on this page!

Interfacing was added down the inside center of hubby’s tie. I didn’t really know what to use as interfacing. Muslin cotton? Canvas? Regular modern interfacing? I went with the modern lightweight interfacing and merely ironed it down in very small patches at the two pointed ends (to create a sharp triangle), at the center seam for joining the two pieces, and once in between. I made sure to tack the interfacing down with the tie anyway when I hand-stitched the first center inside seam down through all the layers. It should stay in place if it needs a washing, which I can do ‘cause it’s only cotton, he he.

I have so many patterns and choices when it comes to apron making but for some reason this particular design from a book of mine “spoke” to me, just seeming to be the right fit for the Christmas cotton. I’ve already made my mistake when I made the skirt, and it a pattern naturally pairs up with a fabric I’m not resisting. I kind of wanted something classier for my apron, like ivory or soft green color highlights by using different bias tape than the bright red I did use, but Hubby was right when he said those colors would have been too muted. I do love the slightly vintage flair to it, the very fun and feminine bias flaring skirt, the unusual pocket (too small to be too useful, but still cute), and the neckline features. In other words, everything! Maybe I should re-name this apron into a twist on the pattern title – “Christmas Tango”?

Patterns from this book are in the back, needing enlargement of 400% to be true to size. I took the “easy” route for the patterns and used a photocopier service to do all the printing and figuring for me. Otherwise one could draft the patterns up to full size themselves.

100_6813a-compThe pattern was made “as-is” except for a slight fitting I made to the ties. The ties are an extension of the bodice and slanted at such a sharp angle down that on my smaller frame I would have ended up with a bow over my behind…not the best spot. So I added a pair of 100_6825-comp1/4 inch darts into the inner (upper) curve where the bodice section runs into the ties to make a sharper turn, keeping the ties around my waist where they should be. Keep in mind that this was done before I sewed on the bias trim. Notice, too, how I took the extra time to line the extension of the ties with the printed fabric so that there wouldn’t be a “wrong side” of green lining cotton showing behind me. I love to make such little touches that none but an expensive apron would have. It doesn’t take much extra effort on my part and gives the pleasure of having a de-luxe apron.

Perhaps the mistletoe on the print will prompt holiday smooches both ways – from him for the cook (me), and from me to the dapper man with the cotton tie (me). Being a coordinated twosome has never been so fun and tolerable as this. It’s not like making matching clothes. An apron and a tie are just something to add onto our clothes, that we can take off when we feel “too cute” together. What a better time to be together than the Christmas holiday, anyway!

100_6824a-comp

My special “Merry Christmas” pin is decorating the apron top!

What’s Red and Black and Ruffled All Over?

Why my new “Parisian Dachshund” apron, of course! I’ll bet you would have never guessed that one coming, he he 😉

100_4760a-compNo really, with all its miss-matching of cultures and objects, this apron has a rocking vintage flair, fun prints, and feminine attitude. I can never get enough of aprons, but this newest one tempts me the most to wear it out for more than just cooking or entertaining. Should I wear this one as a fashion statement, what do you think? I personally think the apron looks best going overboard in matching and accessorizing in the spirit of fun, like I did in my photos…flowers, feathers, large bright earrings, tight black knit-wear underneath, deep red heels, and a big hairstyle! This wild combination shows the outgoing fearless side of me.

Just like for my “Tea for Two” aprons, my “Parisian Dachshund” apron was made into a carbon copy duo: one for me and one for a gift for a family member. I had small doses of both my fabrics and used my high efficiency cutting practices to make two of these highly dramatic frilly versions of a kitchen clothing cover.

As is normal for me, my best aprons are created when I don’t use a pattern. The starting ‘blank’ for this “Parisian Dachshund” apron was to outline an existing rectangular “cobbler’s” style apron which I own already. Then my supplemental fabric, the one with the layers of Fleur-de-lis, roses, dachshund silhouettes, and scroll work, was cut into long wide strips, to be ruffled. All four of the edges were finished on the strips before I ran two rows of loose straight stitches to gather the top about ¼ inch away from the edge.

100_4768a-compI’ve always wanted a supper frilly, ruffle apron in forever. I was totally tempted to add two layers of ruffles to my “Parisian Dachshund” aprons, and I cut out two rectangles for a gathered duo, whether I used them or not. After sewing on one layer to the apron ‘blank’ bottom half, two ruffled layers seemed to make it way over the top. Thus, for each apron, I ended up with an extra not-yet-gathered rectangle, and it went towards making the back ties. I made sure to be precise and center two layers of print for the width of each tie. See how nicely the layers of dachshunds, Fleur-de-lis, and roses can be seen so much better on the ties than on the ruffle? By the way, I hate doing ties…but somehow or another I always seem to suck up my disgust and make them well 🙂

Cutting out the two apron ‘blanks’ out of only one yard left me with nothing more than a small triangle of scrap fabric left. This small triangle was slightly adapted and cut into more of a crescent shape and made into a neck band for my version of the apron set. I really enjoy the way that this crescent shape fits nicely around my neck. The two skinny ends come to join into the apron top corners, while the flared middle lays over the back of my neck like a collar. For the gift apron, I used two leftover ties of the ruffle fabric to make ties for neckline to make it easier to get around and over the head and face of the recipient.

100_4773a-compPockets are a must in my book for an apron! I took a liking to a decent sized scrap of black denim, and used it to make pockets for the aprons. Inspired by the interestingly placed decorative, but useful, pockets on many vintage patterns and garment originals, I added a “mother and daughter” type of pocket style to the “Parisian Dachshund” aprons. There is a normal hand sized pocket, monogrammed for a special touch with the wearer’s initial (a “K” for me, and a “B” for the gift apron) in bright red thread. There is a mini, but still useable (for change maybe), pocket hanging over the edge of the bigger one and slightly a step off and above. Both pockets are top stitched down in two rows of the same bright red contrast thread. I love to add little details and fine work to my projects!

100_4764-compThis apron is perfectly blended with everything that I love and enjoy: dachshunds, anything French themed, Fleur-de-lis, and aprons. My mom’s side of the family has always had a 100_4774a-compdachshund in the household – my Grandparents had several, as well as my dad and mom, her sisters (my Aunts), and myself and my family currently own one. These long and short dogs are sweetest companions I know. Our own dachsie is good to everyone, but he is especially close to me, his dog-mommy. Anything French is hard to resist for me, after the wonderful time I had in that country years ago. I can never get enough Fleur-de-lis stuff because it is very symbolic to me in many ways, but especially since it is the symbol of our town’s patron, King Saint Louis IX.

Aprons are very meaningful and special to me, as well as easy but an incredible amount of enjoyment to create. I try to make each apron different and uniquely individual, especially when it comes to giving them as presents, which is my favorite thing to do with aprons! My aprons are not at all something to ‘save’ in fear of ruining them – they get displayed by being worn on a daily basis and getting loved by enjoying using them. The neatest old vintage aprons are always the ones that are stained and torn or threadbare because I can’t help but think of the times they saw and the work they helped out with – in other words an apron can be a tangible memory! Besides, I seem to think of aprons as the best friend of someone who sews or works with fabric – an aprons protects garments while decorating your style for the day, all the while expressing your personality. What an odd but special combination!

100_4763THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  Both fabrics are 100% cotton “M’Liss” brand prints, from the “In Paris” line of designs sold at Hancock Fabrics. I only had 1 yard of the red and black scroll fabric used to make the basic apron ‘blank’. The “layered with lines of designs” fabric was used for the ruffles and ties – and I only had ½ yard of it! Scraps from on hand went towards the apron pockets.

NOTIONS:  Thread was the only notion needed and that was on hand in plenty.

PATTERN:  None – I just winged it!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Quick and wonderful – each apron took about 2 1/2 hours each, and both were done on December 10, 2014.

TOTAL COST:  Should I really address price when it comes to a gift? Anyway, with such a small amount of fabric used to make the two aprons and scraps for the pockets, the price was a very reasonable total.

“Tea for Two” – a Pair of Re-fashioned Cafe Aprons

It’s been a while since I’ve done my favorite type re-fashion: turning a skirt into an apron.  I can only go for so long before I feel the “need” to do a re-use and re-fashion project.  In 2013, a family member’s birthday had given me the perfect reason to sew up a duo of ‘skirt re-fashioned aprons’ – one as a present to give away and one for myself.

These aprons are not your normal aprons.  They are super feminine, fun, and classy frilly kind which only add to whatever you happen to already be wearing.  Being mostly white, and with some amazing embroidery, these aprons deserve to be worn to be seen!

Below is the apron I made for my own use and fun!

100_3880a

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The primary fabric used for both aprons was a fancy ‘Ann Taylor’ brand embroidered “Tea for Two” border print skirt.  The skirt is a stretch cotton which was lined nicely, as well.  The tops of both aprons are from small cuts of fabric – the gift apron’s top is 1/2 yard of a checked poly blend and my top half is a quilting ‘fat quarter’ square.  All other fabrics needed for the aprons came in still smaller potions, like the pockets or lining for my top bib. These fabrics were from my stash of random bits and scraps.
100_1953

NOTIONS:  All notions – lace trims, thread, buttons, ribbons, and decoration came from on hand.

PATTERN:  None!  I made it all work as I went along.

THE INSIDES:  Not a single raw edge is showing. Every seam is self-covered or finished nicely by some sort of ribbon, lace, or bias tape.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The first apron I made (with the checkered bib) was the one to be given as a present.  It was made in 4 hours and finished on September 4, 2013.  The second apron, the one for me with the aqua bib, was made on October 10, 2013, in about 5 hours.

TOTAL COST:  The cafe themed skirt was bought from Goodwill, a resale store, for only $4.00, and with everything else coming from on hand, each apron only cost $2.00!

The first step was to divide the skirt into two along the side seams.  I pinned along each side, and sewed the skirt and its lining together 1 inch away from the side seams before cutting.  I did save the invisible zipper from the side, but after my one bad experience I don’t know if I’ll really use it.  Then I finished off the new side edges in white bias tape, preserving the skirt’s original waistband and letting the lining hang free between the sides. Now I had two half aprons ready for bib tops to become full coverage aprons.

100_1958     Choosing the fabric styling for the two different bibs of the aprons was quite fun and made us think about different ways to take a theme and cater that to individual tastes.  Since the “give-away apron” was for hubby’s mother, I let him pick the theme and the fabric (with my approval, as I am the seamstress) for her apron.  He chose a black and white check fabric, which I thought fit well for the French cafe theme.  The check fabric was rather thin (I think it was meant for tablecloths) so I took the 1/2 yard the we bought and folded it in fourths for a nice, thick, stable apron top half that no stain could escape through.  As you can see above, the sides were finished off in lace hem tape, the top edge is on the fold and the bib bottom was folded in and lap stitched to the skirt waistband.  For my apron’s top bib, I took the fat quarter square and cut off two large but skinny rectangles from each side to turn it into a smaller square.  I took those two rectangles cut off the side to be the ties/back closure.  The bib and the ties were faced with regular white cotton from my stash.  This step is why my apron took slightly longer to make than the first one. The bottom of the bib was like the first, turned under and lapped to the skirt waistband.  My bib was sewn differently though – I found the top center, made two vertical lines of shirring stitches down for about 5 inches, and gathered them up to create complimentary bust shaping out of a plain square.

100_3875     Picking out the decorations for the aprons was the really creative part of making the finishing touches.  The present apron received a handmade lace and button flower on the bib corner.  My apron had a vintage looking cameo sewn onto it.  The cameo was originally part of a hair decoration which I had bought many years ago but never worn.  I had it in my stash of jewelry making supplies, hoping to glue on a pin back and turn it into a brooch, 100_1957but I like it much better on my apron.

100_1954     Both aprons were treated to a large single pocket on the right side of the wearer.  They were made from a scrap of black cotton in my stash, layered over with what had been a uselessly small scrap of lace.  Luckily, all I had left of this lace was the beautiful bordered edge, which was aligned along the pocket top.

100_1956a100_3873     Each apron has its own unique and special way of closing and staying on oneself.  I personally have a general dislike for the “normal” neck closures on most bought aprons, where they have single neck ties which pull and hang down from the back of your neck – like a reverse of choking.  Thus, I prefer to find ways where an apron can lay comfortably over one’s shoulders.  The gifted apron was made with ultra-long ties so that they can be crossed over each other at the center back, go through loops at the sides of the waistband, and tie center back.  See my post on my “re-fashioned heart apron”, where I’ve already utilized this X-back closure method.  For my own apron, I came up with my own idea for another kind of comfy over the shoulder closure.  I did not have long ties to use in the first place since I had started off with a fat quarter.  So I made two self-faced ties and sewed them together into a V-shape, with just enough extra to sew under the ends into a loop.  In my stash, there was a beautiful sheer aqua ribbon, which became my waistband.  The ribbon center stays in the loop under my V-shaped neck band, then it gets run through two loops on each side corner of the waistband.  I know it might sound complicated but just look at my picture and hopefully you’ll see that it’s actually very easy, and also extremely comfy and uniquely personal.

100_3881a     All the lace that went onto both aprons came in entirety from a box of vintage lace and eyelet given to me by my Grandmother.  I feel like it makes my aprons so much more memorable to use some familial notions from one seamstress in the family (my Grandmother) to another (me).  My Grandmother’s lace provides a neat connection to the extended family ties joined together through hubby.  My mother-in-law has a handmade project made by me, chosen by my hubby, made using a re-fashion method thought up by my mom, and decorated with lace from my dad’s mother.  All the family is brought together in one apron – and I have the other half!

french-cafe-flappers     Besides all of these reasons to make my aprons special, anything that reminds me of my time in Paris, France (thirteen years ago, by now) definitely brings a smile to my face a warm feeling in my heart.  Ah yes, there’s nothing life those French cafe “friandises” (sweet treats), especially when a pastry shop was at the bottom floor of our Parisian hotel!  Stopping at a cafe was the perfect way to burn off mid-day afternoon “siesta” time in the rest of Europe, too…a time to kick back, completely unwind, and look around at the dramatic opera of life going on around you.  To me, “cafe time” is time for good memories, good treats, and good company!