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Molly's Sketchbook: Adjustable Unisex Apron

I wear aprons all the time, and I'm not kidding when I say "all the time". My typical at-home outfit involves a bandana to keep my hair back and an apron to keep at bay all of the thread and fabric fuzz that follow me everywhere. When friends stop by unexpectedly they are always surprised by my house frau attire, but nobody wants a lint brush for a best friend!

As you might imagine, I have a good collection of aprons, many of them vintage and quite feminine. Some of my favorites include a pink one from the 50s made out of a feedsack and one with ruffles and a pie shaped pocket that my sister made for me. Even though I love them all, these fanciful aprons don't come in very handy when it's time to roll up my sleeves and get messy in the kitchen, nor does my husband really appreciate his options. So I decided to make a rugged, adjustable unisex apron for both of us to use in the kitchen. It's big enough to be worn by a 6 foot tall guy but can easily be folded up to fit a 5 foot 4 gal like myself. Plus the no-nonsense styling means neither of us will risk batter-splattered ruffles!

The Adjustable Unisex Apron is an update of a pattern I designed way back in 2008 called the BBQ Apron. Although this version is perfect for Labor Day grilling, its classic design and super simple construction make it useful well beyond the BBQ pit.  I used some amazing new fabric, Kokka Canvas Ticking, which seems like it was born to be an apron. It's both soft and strong and will wear and wash beautifully. I love its classic denimy feel and its subtle colors. Best of all this apron is beyond simple to make. It's so easy that I think I might make two so my husband and I don't have to share! 

(P.S. The beautiful wooden spoons in the pictures above can be found at Timber from Live Wire Farm right here.)


To make the version of this apron posted on 2/9/12 you'll need the following materials (everything else is the same!):

 The matching dishtowels can be found here.


Marking and Cutting

Press the main body fabric in half lengthwise, selvedge to selvedge. Trim the top of the fabric so it makes a clean 90 degree angle with fold.

Using tailors chalk or an erasable fabric marker make a 1-inch vertical mark at the top of the fabric, 6 1/2-inches from the fold. This is mark A and is shown in red in the picture above.

Place a pin along the fold, 17-inches from the top of the fabric. This is mark B.

Make a mark using the chalk 13-inches from the fold and directly perpendicular to mark B. This is mark C.

Make a mark on the fold 20-inches below mark B. This is mark D.

Make a mark 20-inches vertically below mark C. This is mark E.

Using the chalk connect these marked lines together with straight lines as shown in red above, going from the bottom of mark A diagonally to mark C, then down to mark E and over to mark D.

Cut the apron out following along these lines. Here is a picture of it cut out but still folded down the middle.

Cut a 17-inch by 10-inch rectangle, with the stripes running horizontally for the pocket.

Sewing the Apron

Unfold the main apron piece.

Using the darker thread hem the top and straight sides by folding them over 1/2-inch twice towards the wrong side and edge stitching the folds down.

Hem the bottom in the same manner.

Zig zag stitch along the diagonal sides.

Press the diagonal sides down 1/4-inch to the wrong side and edge stitch them down.

Press the diagonal sides down 1-inch to the wrong side and edge stitch them down. This will form a scant 1-inch channel along the diagonal sides that the cotton webbing will be threaded through later.

Attaching the Pocket

Hem the top of the pocket by pressing it down 1/2-inch twice towards the wrong side and edge stitching the fold down.

Zig zag stitch along the three other sides.

Press the right and left sides towards 1/2-inch towards the wrong side and then press the bottom edge up 1/2-inch towards the wrong side as well.

Tuck the extra fabric of the corners inside of the pressed folds forming little miters as shown above.

Press the pocket flat.

Pin the bottom, left, and right sides of the pocket to the main apron panel, 2 1/2-inches below where the diagonal sides start and 4 1/4-inches from either side. Make sure it's straight and centered.

Edge stitch the pocket on around the left, right, and bottom sides.

Using a Hera Marker or erasable fabric marker mark vertically along the pocket 3 1/2-inches from the left side and then 3 1/2-inches to the left of that mark.

Sew along these marks to form two pocket divisions for cooking tools.

Adding the Tie

Cut the cotton webbing to be 97-inches long.

Press the ends 1/2-inch to the wrong side twice.

Using the off white thread edge stitch these folds down.

Using a knitting needle or another long sharp opject pull one end of the webbing through the bottom left diagonal channel with the wrong side of the apron facing up.

When you reach the top of the apron turn pull the webbing out at the top and turn the apron to the right side. Being careful not to twist it thread the webbing into the opposite diagonal channel from the top, pulling it all the way through to the bottom of the channel.

Pull the webbing until both sides are equal and you're all done!

Reader Comments (32)

What a fantastic idea...Brilliant....thankyou so much for sharing :)
August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVicki
Thanks for such a great pattern. I am making it right now for my husband's birthday. He doesn't like to share aprons, either. I am wondering the purpose of the zigzag stitch? Is it to prevent the material from raveling? Thanks, again, for a simple, practical idea that even I can make!
September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBethanne
Thanks so much for sharing! This apron is so simple yet awesome. I have some amazing hand dyed fabric my mother got in china and it's so special i wanted to make something as useful, humble and cool as an apron. Your easy pattern is perfect. Simple and sweet and perfect!
September 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersolita
Great pattern! Making two of these for sister and brother in-laws for Christmas gifts. One suggestion, instead of folding fabric in half,fold one side 14 inches leaves a larger price of fabric to make matching dish towels, pot holders or tote bags.
November 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNelletje
if you'd like to see a really lovely finished version using the pattern, please look here:
December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramy
IN. LOVE. I was just about to sit down and make an apron for a newly married friend and stumbled upon this - I'm so excited! Love the simplicity... now need to make a his and hers. :)
February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
I have to thank you for this tutorial. I was able to use it to make kid size aprons for the little boys in my life who want to help cook but can never find aprons their size that are not girly. If you like to see them I shared them on my blog. I'm very new to blogging and did my best to point my readers here to you.
April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
I just finished 2 of these for Father's Day gifts and LOVE the pattern! Your tutorial is so easy to follow and the end result is a beautifully constructed apron. Thank you for sharing! I'm sure I will use it again!
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristy
Lovely Apron - I am inspired to go make one, or two, or five......
I have a suggestion for threading the tape thru the channels - use a large safety pin attached to the tape manouvering the pin to pull the tape thru. I do this all the time with elastic in leotard leglines. Works a treat and you don't lose the elastic as you work.
August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoy
Thanks for this pattern - First thing I've ever properly sewn and I'm mega proud. The blog and patterns are pretty & inspiring and I have had some great ideas - including a fruit felt mobile for a newborn baby (thanks for the Apple Coasters, cant wait to make it!).
Look on my tumblr for the apron I made :).
August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLydia
Can you offer a good method to help the ribbon from slipping through the sleeves? I've made this and now the ribbon is thinking to slip through one of the sleeves.... please help.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna
Hi Deanna-

It sounds like you just need to sew the channel that holds the ribbon smaller. So instead of folding the diagonal sides down 1-inch, try folding them 3/4-inch. If you want to fix an apron that you've already sewn 1/4-inch in from the existing seams.

Please let us know if you have any more questions.

November 20, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you for this tutorial. I used it to make a Christmas present for my children to give to their father's girlfriend (yes....I know...). I used a photo of them printed onto fabric as the pocket - and she loved it. So now I have linked to you on my blog!
June 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa
Love this Apron Idea! I'm going to make this. I have been sewing for 40 yrs since I was 18. Very clever idea the way you put the webbing tie to serve two purposes & like the pocket for tools & maybe cell phone! Thanks Jean Hayes - Dunn, NC
July 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJean Hayes
makeing this for my grandaughter , loveit thank you
August 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercarole
THANK YOU!!!! SO simple I will be making many - for allllllllllllllllllllllll my friends
You are a star!
September 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersonia
Made one this morning, very easy. Thankyou.
September 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetty
tanks very good no speak english i am irani
October 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternoshin
My son-in-law does all the cooking. I think he deserves a real man's apron. Also everyone in this family is a different size so this coverup is perfect. Thanks.
October 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArlene
Always difficult to make something for a man (in my opinion) but this is a great gift for my father's birthday!! It turned out great (damn, i want to keep it :) ) Thanks for the tutorial
October 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKayonel
What a clearly explained pattern! Thankyou. I will be making several of these, thanks again from the U kK
November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatyluton
Is the fabric folded
Inside out or right side out?
November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathy s
Hi Kathy s-

Are you talking about the initial folding, before you cut? If so, it doesn't matter if you fold it right sides or wrong sides together since it's a symmetrical piece.

Please let us know if this doesn't answer your question.

November 14, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Just made 3 for Christmas presents...your instructions are so clear! Do you have the measurements for a child's apron...3 year old. Would love to make one to go with her Mom's! Maybe I will make one for her dolly as well! Thanks.
November 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
I have a question. When I open this pattern from the list of patterns, the majority of the pictures only open half way. The bottom half of the photo is green. Is this a problem with my computer or is it a problem with the images posted here?
Please help. I would like to make this pattern for a gift.
Thank you.
December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Hi Julie-

The images are loading fine for us. You might want to try opening this page in a different browser?

Hope that helps. Thank you!

December 23, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi, I am so anxious to try this! I'm a new sewer so that may be the reason for my question... do you not sew the strap in place? Doesn't it move, or is that the purpose so it's adjustable? Love this idea and your fabric choice! Thanks!!
December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
Hi Kristen-

Yes, the strap is adjustable so it is not sewn into place. It slides so it can adjust to any size!

Thank you!

December 27, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This is my first ever sewing project and a great one to start with. Thanks a million for your great instructions, helpful images and for taking the time to post this pattern online!
January 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermdibbs
very it...
January 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertina pankow
What an amazing tutorial. This is only my second sewing project and it came out beautifully! Thank you for the easy to follow instructions and photos. I hope the boyfriend likes his new apron!
May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSara
Your instructions are very clear! Great job! I just made two for a couple getting married next weekend. I embroidered their names at the top and put their university's mascot on the pocket! Sweet gift and no cost.... I had everything I needed in my "stash". They look so cute! Thanks for the simple pattern!
June 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy James

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