Aprons Big and Small

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to aprons.  I love them all, whether they would fit a Barbie doll or be in grown-up proportions!  This post is a combo of all of that – a few small sized, vintage inspired ones to decorate the tiny mannequins which stand on my sewing room’s wall shelf and one big 1940’s one which I made as gift for a friend of mine.

Firstly, I’ll start with the adult gift apron.  One thing I have learned from doing many projects for others is that your ideas and preferences can show but must take a backseat to the personality of the person you are sewing for.  This was a wonderful project to work on as a gift because I used a vintage pattern for both my own taste and also because this friend also sews past era fashions using old patterns just like me!  The print is a wonderful assortment of old style sewing machines which both she and I actually use to do some of our stitching.

As I have said before for my other tiny aprons (see here, here, here, and here), these are a charming and fun way to use of scraps of treasured, nice fabric and notions too small to seem useful otherwise.  If you don’t have small dress forms like I do, or don’t want these for actual Barbies either (like me), you can pin them up on a twine “clothes line” and decorate a wall or any other space that needs a little something!  This is what I have done for our kitchen under our spice rack.  Tiny aprons take up much less wall space than having lots of actual adult aprons and yet are every bit just as addicting.  It’s literally hard to stick to just one.  Now my mini apron count to date is brought up to 6 in total.  Yet, I have a few more I want to do still!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The vintage sewing machine print is a 100% cotton, bought from the now-defunct Hancock Fabrics Store.  The fabrics for the mini aprons are true vintage material, found in scraps too small to do anything more with otherwise, but still amazing and killer cute!  I am supposing from the feel of the cottons, the white and green mini apron fabric is about 50’s or 60’s, and the yellow one about 1940’s or 30’s era.

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #1221, view A, a reprint of Simplicity #4939 from 1944, for the full-sized apron; and for the small aprons I used both Simplicity #2748, view F, and Simplicity #1957, view C

NOTIONS:  As the mini aprons are of vintage fabric, I used almost all vintage notion scraps (most from my Grandmother) on them for the details.  The full-size apron is all new materials, yet still stuff that came from what I had on hand.  These were stash busting projects!!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The gift apron was made in April 2015 and finished in 2 hours.  The mini aprons were made in January 2015 and each one took a few hours.

Aprons are relatively easy-to-make, so there is not much to say.  The adult apron was whipped up quickly so I spent extra time to make nice details, especially as this was to be a gift.  I was quite happy with the sizing too and made it as-is (according to the pattern) no changes, except for substituting ribbon ties for self-fabric ones as directed.  However, the small scale of the Barbie sized ones provided a big challenge in and of themselves.  I had to do more hand stitching on them so that they ended up taking longer to make than doing an apron for a real person…how weird.

As the vintage “gardening woman watering her flowers” print fabric was rather thin, I did the extra step of lining the apron with cotton broadcloth remnants.  I also had to add a center front seam to the mini apron’s skirt because I had such limited fabric…but at least I was still able to match up the print!  This by far my nicest mini apron made yet…not all of my own aprons get lined.

The yellow-red-black mini apron is a thick, feedsack style cotton so it was not lined, but it did get a lot of details.  I even added a tiny mini “handkerchief” folded up in the pocket for a touch of quaint realism.  I quickly realized that my idea of going with a fun contrast thread color for machine top-stitching the pocket edges was not the best idea, especially as I was trying to attach baby rick-rack, too.  I really should have chosen a matching yellow, and worked the stitching by hand.  But once it was done, my work wasn’t terrible enough for my own hardened self-criticism to have the heart to unpick.  This was a mini apron after all, was my thought, and one that was taking quite long to make in my opinion.  Oh well – I really want to try this design again, anyway and then I’ll do better for the next time! Not too many people see my nice sewing area, and even then no one will notice some tiny wayward stitching on a mini apron up on a wall shelf.

I’ll admit I did feel sort of bad actually using up my vintage scraps this way.  Perhaps I should have used these scraps for pocket linings in my garments?  Even then they would not really be seen the same way, and on a regular basis (as I am pretty much sewing every day).  Why shouldn’t my house’s decorations receive the same detailing, thought, vintage flair, and handiwork as what I wear?  What would I really do with a 12 inch scrap of lovely rayon seam binding otherwise?  Yup – sometimes I have to find legitimate reasons for my creative desires, because as the saying goes, “Of course, I talk to myself while sewing… I need expert advice!”

“1-2-3-4” …Things I Love in the Hue of Red

More often than not, St. Valentine’s Day has the tendency to be overdone commercially, but there is one thing right about it – love can come in the color red.  Just to show you this fact, I’d like to show you 4 of my favorite reds; 1) a tie neck knit dress, 2) a heart mini apron, 3) a re-fashioned dress, and 4) my streamlined beauty of a car, a Ford Probe.

100_1066a      This tie neck knit dress was the easiest sewing project I have done in quite awhile, and I really feel so comfortable and dressy in it.  I covered my behind (to use a phrase) before starting this pattern, Butterick 5794, by checking PatternReview.com, finding most comments saying view C and D run quite big.  Pattern review was the only guide I had to go by, since the pattern pieces were completely devoid of any finished measurements, any ease info, or anything to let someone know ahead of time how it would fit.  Very strange, indeed!  However, I merely cut a half size smaller than I normally wear and made big seam allowances (about 1 in.) and I had, for once, a dress that fit as finished, with no lengthy adjustments or alterations.butterick5794

There were only some minor changes I made to this pattern for my dress.  The tie neckline goes together very well, but there is a gap of a few inches that ends up between the ties in the center front of the neckline.  Being small chested and considering the neckline to already be generous,  I sewed a very cute, but small, inverted pleat out of those front inches between the ties.  This brought the ties together in front (making them easier to form a bow) and prevents the neck from gaping open.  Also, I did not like the pattern’s self casing idea for the bottom of B5794-drawingthe sleeves.  Folding the sleeve ends under to make a casing for elastic doesn’t give the sleeve extra room to ‘bubble’ out like the drawing shows.  To fix this, I merely cut 2 rectangles, sewed them on as separate 5/8 in sleeve casings, running 1/2 in. elastic through, and hand sewing them closed.  Doing the sleeve casings works out much better for achieving the cover drawing’s look.

The back gathering detail of this dress really makes this dress look neat and special even from behind.  Otherwise most of the details would be concentrated in the front view.  Front and back together make this a very flattering dress.

100_1073     Maybe in my close-up at left you can now see the red in the print.  The fabric’s design also includes a dusty blue, and some white, but, besides the black and red background, the scroll work is scattered everywhere.

The printed cotton knit of my dress is lined in a black jersey knit both for substance and also to hide its white underside.  The print and the finished weight of this dress makes it a perfect multi-season clothing item.  I wore it for these pictures with a tank under for warmth, but worn alone and with the sleeves pulled up, I expect to get more use out of my tie neck dress in the warmer spring and fall days.

100_1074a     Posing with my red Probe for these pictures was supposed to bring out the red in my dress, but whether it worked or not, my car always brings a smile to my face…and that’s always a good thing, right!?!  My ‘Mustang wanna-be’ car is such a minimalist when it comes to causing problems, it always is great, much like how my tie neck dress was to sew and put together.  But, unlike my dress, my Probe frequently brings out the Speed Racer in me, the way she jumps forward in a burst a power when I shift up gears and let go of the clutch.  I thought about doing a “Back to the Future” pose just for fun, but as much as I’d LOVE to talk about my car (having only 60K miles for being a ’93, handling turns so well, etc.) I will keep to sewing for now.  Then I will pop up my Probe’s eye lights and go flying along a lonesome curvy highway somewhere!100_0472a

Now I will show you my #2 red item…my patriotic/Valentines mini apron.  It is view C of my much used Simplicity 2748 pattern, with different styles made for this post and this post.  Even though it is pretty basic with just the front, the pocket, and the four ties to make, it was time consuming on account of the rick-rack and the pocket being sewn solely by hand stitching.

This is my only mini apron that was not made from scraps of previous projects.  I really do not feel guilty though because I bought the quilting quarter at a cheap price, and plan on using the leftovers for a purse.  I don’t know if you can see it, but I picked out this fabric all on account of the tiny Fleur-di-lis in white across the red.  Anything with Fleur-di-lis is hard for me to pass up!

Now to #3, my refashioned modern dress.  The way we figured it, a modern dress needed modern art.

100_1113     I picked out this red knit number at a local upscale resale shop a few months before baby came as a ‘goal’,  something to fit back into.  The whole dress fits very well, but the original bottom of it was this silly tight band with the bottom gathered around it to make a ‘bubble’ look which was plain weird.

100_0543I cut the tight band off the bottom, undid the gathers, and made a plain band instead. I really was hoping to lengthen the dress a bit and add some interest so I made strips of black ponte knit, leftover from this refashion, to sew between the dress hem and bottom band.  Not too big of a refashion, but I think what I did was a good save, and I really like wearing the results.  At left is a pic of the original ‘before’ dress.

Just a few FYI tidbits before I end this post with my The Facts. 100_1108

The modern painting in the picture with my back to the camera is “Bucolic Landscape”, 1913, painted by Heinrich Campendonk, while the second painting is a self-portrait of Max Beckmann, painted 1950.  Pretty neat, right?

I owe the title of my post to the music the CD “Big, Bad World” by the Plain White T’s.  I listened to their music while doing my tie-neck dress, with the “1-2-3-4, I Love You” song as my and My husband’s favorite.  Please click here to watch the Plain White T’s perform the song live on Jay Leno’s show.  “1-2-3-4” is so relaxing, happy, and the lyrics are very sweet and loving.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  for #1 dress-cotton printed knit with poly/cotton jersey knit for lining;  for #2 mini apron- one 70 cent cotton quilting quarter;  for #3 dress-scraps of thick ponte knitSimplicity2748 cover

NOTIONS:  had everything I needed, which was mostly thread

PATTERNS:  for #1 dress- Butterick 5794;  for mini apron- Simplicity 2748;  for #3- none

TIME TO COMPLETE:  for #1 dress- spent about 6 hours, finished Jan. 28, 2013;  for #2 mini apron- maybe 5 hours or less, finished in Aug. 2012;  for #3 dress- 2 1/2 hours of work, finished in early Nov. 2012

THE INSIDES:  As you can see below, I am proud of my french seams, done from the waist down, in dress #1.  The bodice part of dress #1 has zig-zag seams, which are still nice.  This mini apron has neatly covered or enclosed seams (which I can’t say for some of the other mini’s).  Dress #3 is made of a tight knit that doesn’t ravel, so seams actually look nice unfinished (see pic below)

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‘Flowers Out In the Cold’ – Pullover UFO Dress and Mini Apron

Here is a project which is a happy relief to have it finished.  I saved it from languishing in my “Unfinished Objects” (UFO) pile and now have yet another interesting self-made dress to wear.  It’s just perfect for bringing a bit of spring with me when I wear it in chilly weather! Then, I whipped up a cute little something extra out of the bits of scraps leftover for a happy, easy bonus project.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC: 100% cotton gauze in a predominantly pink floral design, 4 something yards @ 99 cents a yd.;  100% solid magenta purple cotton quilting fabric for both dress body lining and the contrast neck with cuffs;  100% polyester cling-free scraps were used for sleeve linings

Simplicity2748miniaprons

NOTIONS: All I needed was 2 spools of thread and a bit of interfacing – all from on hand!

PATTERN: Simplicity #3557, year 2007, for the dress; and Simplicity #2748, for the mini apron

TIME TO COMPLETE: Too long!!!  I spent a number of hours in the Fall of 2010 to cut out the floral cotton.  Then, several more hours were spent in mid-October 2012 just to figure out what I had done and cut out the pattern pieces for the lining/contrast cotton.  Finally, in late October ’12, I took many hours to finish the dress.  After a little more time in January 2013, eventually it was perfected and I was happy.  So, in total,…at least 12 hours?  It’s so hard to count time on UFO’s.

The see-through cotton gauze fabric was probably not the best for this pattern (since it required a substantial lining) but, when it was so soft and so cheap, what seamstress could resist?!  I think this dress would have had better drape with a rayon or chiffon-like fabric. The more I sew, the more I learn.

This is the “toes out in the cold” picture!
I’m wearing Charilie Stone shoes’ “Athina” suede sandals and also showing off my dress’ lining.

However, I am quite glad to be able to finally wear this dress for TWO big reasons.  Firstly, it is nice to have a fall, winter, and spring dress that is not a dark color, like many conventional winter RTW clothes.  Something about wearing flowers cheers me up a bit at a time of year when everything outside looks dead or dormant and dreary.  Secondly, this was the very first sewing project that launched me back into making garments (and other interesting things) after a several year hiatus of only sticking to altering, tailoring, and crafting small projects. 

Lacking full motivation, I did put this dress off to the side before its final completion. Thus, my “Happy in the Navy” Sundress ended up becoming ‘my first finished’ dress project since I’ve been sewing more frequently (spring of 2012) and sharing what I create here on my blog.  In my mind, my flowered pullover dress is still ‘the first’.  Now I am actually glad I didn’t complete this posts’ dress back when I started it in 2010 because I probably would have been disappointed with it. Luckily, my navy sundress was a ‘wow, I LOVE this’ project to start me out. 

Simplicity #3557 was not exactly a hard-to-make pattern. It was in fact really simple with no big tricks, easy to understand, and straightforward.  But, I do have a problem with the pattern saying “easy-to-sew”.  To me, ‘easy-to-sew’ means it is not only easy to understand how it goes together, but also comes together in a flash. ‘ Easy to understand’ can be different for every seamstress, but this pattern had so many long seams, and it was almost at my limit as a tiresome and time-consuming dress.  All the gores, and there were a lot, had to be stitched together, the seams stitched to finish the edges, then I top-stitched the seams down.  All this stitching quickly ate up 2 spools of thread, and it was oddly hard to find a color thread to match.  Isn’t that how it goes…

The cool contrast neckline is the saving grace to this dress, in my opinion. Otherwise the pattern would end up just blase due to the busy print!  Following the directions to make the neckline produced a very stable, sturdy support for the rest of the bodice. It was very fun being so precise with curves and points besides being a different technique to do. This was the best part of my project. My corners turned out just as precise as I wanted them to be!

As a pullover dress with no closures, the ease was generous. I assumed that was needed to get into the dress – for the most part, I was correct.  The side ties help pull the waist and bust in a bit, but even the large bell sleeves added to what I saw as a Mumu-like appearance.  I eventually sewed the sleeves slimmer by several inches, and this alone helped immensely towards making my dress’ appearance ‘lose some weight’.

What worked wonders for this dress was a small addition I made to bring in the fit, yet still keep this a pullover. I sewed down a strip of bias tape on the inside, at the bodice seam in the center back between the center panel. Then, I ran an even smaller piece of elastic through that channel and tacked it down inside the bias strip.  Wow..perfect fix!  I hope you can see a little of what I did in the picture at left.  I can still slip the dress on over my head, but it looks much slimmer, and the gathers pull the dress back for me while being a cute detail from behind.  There is still too much extra skirt fabric, especially below the back gathers, but I top stitched all my seams, so…(as Tempest from Sew Weekly says) “done is beautiful”!

As a side note, the only reason I lined the sleeves in a different material is for the basic reason of simply running out of fabric.  I actually like the sleeves being lined in poly lining – this way they’re lighter in weight than the rest of the dress.  My ‘make-do’ step turned into a nice design element that no one but me (and all of you) will ever know…

100_0535a

I hardly had much of any scraps leftover, but it was just enough to make yet another mini apron.  Simplicity 2748 was unfolded again.  This mini apron pattern was already used in my post for the “Polka Dot Challenge: 3 for the Price of One”.  A different view was made this time, one that is a shrunken version of a vintage style.

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The mini ‘shoulder’ ruffles were so frustrating, tedious, and nearly impossible for my machine to handle.  I had to make several attempts at the ruffles before my machine make a decent looking tiny stitch.  X-shaped back ties were also small work to get to come out right.  Here again, the finished product makes my efforts worthwhile 🙂

We took my dress pictures on a blustery day, with a cold front blowing in after some crazy warm days. It is nice to have a chance to get outside and run around, yet 70 something degree warm temps one day that turn into 20 something degree cold weather does too much havoc on the body.  (Yes – in my state, we can have all the seasons’ weather in one week. It’s quite crazy!)  Yet, it means I don’t have to always bundle up in winter but also wear semi-lightweight, in-between garments like this posts’ pretty floral dress!

Do you have a favorite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ seasonal print, like my taste for a floral in the wintertime?

Polka dot challenge: the “3 for the price of 1” green dotted aprons

100_0539ap-comp,w

These three projects were made through the stretch of the end of last year (2011) and April of this year (2012).  None were really for myself either yet all three projects share the same fabric…a mere 1 1/2 yards from Wal-mart.  How is that for being economical!?  Two full size aprons, one made from scratch and one re-fashioned, together with a mini-sized apron, make up my trio of creations for this week’s “polka dot challenge” at Sew Weekly. There are polka dots in the print – just look hard in between the bugs and daises on the fabric.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:   all cottons; the fabric was from Wal-mart’s fabric dept. except for a utility apron bought off the shelf

100_0552a-comp,w

NOTIONS:  all I needed for finishing was bought on a 50% notions sales @ Hancock Fabric

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #2748, view E  for the mini apron, and Butterick #5474 view A for the full apron made from scratch

TIME TO COMPLETE:   ??? altogether a couple hours on each apron maybe

WORN:  Hopefully, the two moms will enjoy wear their gifts; as for the third apron…well, maybe Barbie will fit in it when it’s not hanging in our kitchen

picture of m-in-l in apron, cropped pic,w

APRON #1:  FOR CHRISTMAS GIFT TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW:     This apron was made form scratch and followed most of Butterick #5474, view A, but I wanted something other than a tie pulling at the back of her neck.  So I used a 40’s/50’s true vintage apron I bought at the St. Mary’s, Mo. Antique Mall as the patterning idea base for the neck piece.  It’s just a simple ‘large-collar’ type that pops over the head and lays nicely on the shoulders.

I centered the border print (which says “All Things Grow With Love”) at the bottom of the apron and raised the pockets so as not to interfere with the border.  I am glad I remembered (almost didn’t) to sew on the pocket and crossed rick-rack in an X on the front BEFORE I sewed on the batiste backing, using bias tape to finish the raw edges.  The pockets and the ties were cut with a contrasting yellow checkered cotton (also from Wal-mart).  Making the ties was the most time consuming and bothersome part of the apron, as ties always are for me.

When it was done, the neck collar was a bit too big for me (hung too low) so my very accommodating husband put it on so I could pin it down where I wanted.  I just sewed the center in a few inches.  The hubby is always happy to help my sewing projects, but there are limits, too…

100_0538ap-comp,w

APRON #2:  MOM”S GIFT FOR HER B-DAY in JANUARY:   My mom’s apron was a UFO (unfinished object) floating around my sewing area.  It’s a refashioned green utility apron, also bought from Wal-mart.

First of all, the ugly, oversized, basic square shape got cut into something more form fitting, keeping the original ties (Yes!).  The bottom was cut into a wide cloverleaf type design and the top portion I made identical to the mother-in-law apron (apron #1 above).  I used the border design that was left over from the previous apron to hand-sew it onto this aprons existing rectangular pocket, with the same bias tape to finish all the edges.  I even used the same yellow rick-rack  for the decoration but varied it a little with some added brown lace, with a bow to boot!

APRON #3:  MINI APRON TO DECORATE OUR KITCHEN AND CHRISTMAS TREE:   This is basically a mini version of apron #1.  I used Simplicity # 2748 view E for the pattern, applied the yellow rick-rack (again) for the edging and finishing in one, and used a daisy from off of the print for the right pocket and a tiny dragonfly on the left pocket.

Guess what?  The waistband and ties were made from the leftover linen-look, cotton-rayon that I used on my brown vintage 1949 dress, made last year.  I finished this – my first of several mini aprons – in April of 2012.

What works great is a box of mini clothespins that I bought years ago at Target from the dollar-a-pop sale bins. It now seems I was supposed to find a use for them eventually!  Tiny aprons call for tiny clothes pins to display them properly!  This will look great in our kitchen.

Matching my mini apron is an antique hankie from collection of vintage handkerchiefs.

These mini aprons are very tedious and time consuming since they are such small scale work – there’s not much room for mistakes!  I wouldn’t recommend anyone sewing these at all unless you’re in the mood for needing some extra patience.  I would almost rather sew full size aprons but these are sooooo cute.

Believe it or not, I still have this fabric leftover.  After making all these projects using it, I don’t want to see it for quite awhile.