Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sewing Aprons: Vintage Restyle or Repurpose

sewing apronsIf you are in a creative mood, try this vintage sewing project. Restyling or repurpose: making over vintage is getting alot of coverage lately. I have had a little sewing binge of my own, making aprons from dresses. In this case the dresses were summer frocks, with various reasons making them unwearable. And what I got in the bargain was a fun new version of each dress that I will wear much more often than I ever did the original dress.

The bonus of making dresses into aprons is size: find a cute dress that's too small? Make it an apron. The open back design means it has a wide range of sizes, making it a perfect purpose for cute styles that are too little to wear.

vintage repurpose
In this slide I show the two aprons. The green dress has an empire waist, and the brown country calico dress was a shift. Originally, both had bias shoulder straps and a back zipper. The dresses were a sort of "A" line shape.

The side views show how I cut away the sides: low under the arm hole then straight across to center back.



Here's a brief tutorial. Since few dresses are the same, you can adapt these suggestions to suit your own project:

1) Selection: Dresses with straps or halter necks are the easiest to convert. I have seen dresses with sleeves re-styled into aprons as well. I wouldn't use acetate or nylon because those fabric are too flammable!

2) Center back: Cut out the center back. Starting at the top of the dress body, cut about 3" on either side of the zipper all the way down to the hem. After you do this, remove the zipper and lower back seam. Press the two long strips flat.

3) Shoulder Straps: Cut the existing shoulder straps where they are sewn down to the dress body in back. These will become the neck ties. You can finish the ends by sewing them over or tie knots at the ends instead.

4) Side cut-out: If you can try this on or pin it to your shirt, use chalk to mark how low you want the sides to be cut. Also mark where you want the hem. Cut this with a 1" seam allowance.

5) Back ties: Use the 3" wide long strips that were cut from each side of the zipper. Fold over each long edge about 1/4" and press. Next, fold these sides together, matching the pressed folded edges (like double fold bias tape). Sew along the pressed edges, creating a long strap. It's possible to use other fabrics, bias tape, or woven tote bag straps for the back ties as well.

6) Pockets: There should be some fabric left where you cut the upper body of the dress away under the arms. This curved shape can be used as a pocket bottom, or make a big patch pocket. More fun: edge this in bias tape, rick-rack or lace. Create patch pockets by using a double folded edge for the pocket top and sew that in place. Then press the remaining three sides over 1/4". Set aside to sew onto the apron front.

7) Upper edges: Double fold the apron's upper curved edge. Do this by pressing a 1/2" over each time. Machine sew this in place. If this edge puckers and won't make a smooth curve, try folding a more narrow edge. Other options are bias tape edges. Ribbons and lace won't curve as well as the bias trims will.

8) Hem: The center back edge and lower hem can be turned and stitched like the upper edges or bias trimmed. Mine are plain, but there's room for improvement!

9) Sash application: At the upper edge of the apron in back, sew on the back sash ties. To do this, fold one of the sash ends over about 1/2" and press. Lay this end at the upper corner of center back where you want the ties to be located. Sew in place by stitching a small rectangle over that folded end. To finish the other end of the sash tie, you can fold it over and stitch. Another option is to tie a knot at the end, which means you don't have to sew it at all!

10) Pocket application: With the apron on, decide where you want the pockets. The green one I made has one wide pocket with several stitched sections. The calico has two patch pockets with curved bottom edges as cut from the underarm section of the original dress.

That should do it!

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