stripwork apron top

I love these simple apron tops on my monkey. They double as a cool top to wear in the summer heat as well as something visually busy enough to catch the watermelon and popsicle drips without showing. The top can be made to fit any size. For materials, the design here uses three different fabrics. One print for the bodice and sides, another print for the middle panel (divided into 3) and one solid coloured fabric to frame the other pieces. You may also want to use bias tape to make the straps, otherwise, just cut them out of the solid coloured fabric.

Begin with three measurements: chest measurement (measure around the widest part), from underarms to bottom of bust (to make the bodice portion) and from underarms to how long you want the top to be (desired length). (I think I may be getting too involved with windows paint... who knows of a good free drawing program?)

Using the chest measurement, figure out how far around you’d like you apron top to go. A guide line for the kids I’ve been using is chest measurement minus 1”. This allows for growth so they’ll be able to wear it for a few years. For adults, try the chest measurement minus 2” to 3”, though it’s really about how much coverage you want.

I’ve created a couple of formulas for cutting the fabric for stripwork design here. Just plunk in the appropriate number, based on your three measurements, and then cut the fabric to that size. The formulas are all width x length. Each colour represents a different length of cut fabric, not necessarily different fabric.

A = desired width (based on chest measurement)
B = desired length of bust (the bodice portion)
C = desired length minus B Note: for the gray portion of the map, the formula is for one large piece that will then cut into three equal pieces lengthwise.

Another note: these formulas use a ¼” hem. For a larger hem, the lengths and widths have to adjusted accordingly.

For the straps and hooks for the corset lacing, either cut 1” wide strips of fabric and double fold and stitch closed to make straps, or use double-fold bias tape cut into appropriate lengths and stitched closed. The straps can be as long as you need (and if you are lacing up yourself, go for longer rather than shorter). I usually cut six hook straps about 1 ½” long.
Once your fabrics are cut, it is simply a matter of piecing the stripwork together. Don’t neglect to press your seams as you go.
Use a ¼” hem to sew the bodice pieces together widthwise.Next, piece together the bottom of the apron length-wise (with the center piece cut into three). Sew the bottom piece of the frame on, then the sides.

Press under the top, bottom and sides of the pieced stripwork and stitch down a ¼” hem all the way around.

Add the straps to the stripwork panel as shown: For the fabric hooks, fold over a 1/2" long bias tape (or cut material made into a strip) and stitch both ends together on the wrong side of the panel (as shown above).

Lace up and off you go!
This is a free tutorial and I encourage you to use the information in any way you need to (check the disclaimer at the bottom of the page). If it works for you, please consider supporting my etsy shop by purchasing a Little Print Design pattern or toss a dollar or two in my paypal to show appreciation and to encourage me to offer up even more quality patterns and tutorials.

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  1. Yea! I have been hoping for a tut on this one! Love it! Thanks!

  2. Those are *so* cool! I love that you can wear it as an apron or as a top :)

  3. I love these... I really can't wait to make one... You have great taste in material:)

  4. I just found your blog from Sew Mama Sew's blog and just have to say I love it! What great tutorials you have!! I'm off to subscribe to your blog!

  5. This is so sweet, and truly fabulous :) Thanks for sharing!


  6. this is just beautiful! you are one talented mama!

  7. Just stumbled onto your blog (looking for a cape pattern). You have such great ideas! One talented girl.

    I'll be back!

  8. try Gimp. it's a bit clunky, but it's way better than paint.

  9. even better for graphics is
    great site - thanks!

  10. For some reason the pictures aren't showing up for me in this post, do you have a pdf of this by chance?

    I'm a slow, visual learner!

    Awesome patterns, btw!

  11. Nichole,
    The pics work fine here. You might want to check your internet settings (especially if using a work computer) since some pics may be blocked depending on your security settings. Let me know if you can not resolve the issue on your end first. If not, I can see if I can find some of these pics to email you.

  12. I love it! I want to make one for myself since I have a boy. When will I find the time?

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Could this pattern be adapted for a larger chested woman and be appropriately supportive? I don't need complete support but enough that I don't embarrass anyone.

  15. Emily,
    I know there are patterns out there for an apron top bodice with darts in that are more flattering to the chest, but I'm not entirely sure how to work in the suppport. I tried the dart thing on my own and got horribly frustrated... guess my skills just aren't there yet. If you do find someting that works, please share, I'd love to know :)