Hand Sewn Apron (no sewing machine used)

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

Have you heard of #memademay? Every year, clothes makers everywhere take over the internet to share pictures of themselves wearing clothing they made. Zoe Edwards says, "

Me-Made-May is a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe. You set the specifics of your own challenge to make it suitable and useful for YOU."

As someone who sews in one dimension, the idea of making something that I would wear makes me break out in hives. But I'm also learning a lot about the the clothing industry's impact on the environment and the questionable working conditions for factory workers. I'm trying to shop more responsibly, as well as push myself into sewing something that I'd wear.  My first, and utterly unambitious, project is an apron.

(For the record, I've sewn one shirt and half a dress, but both of those projects were done in a class setting with someone holding my hand. I had a million questions, forgot everything, and ultimately decided "apron = success" here.)

Perhaps it wasn't completely unambitious. I felt like I could take a little bit of a challenge, so I decided I wouldn't use a sewing machine. I would make something from start to finish with just a needle and thread in my hands. 

I prewashed some Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, grabbed some spools of Aurifil thread, and got a chenille 24 needle. I traced the one apron I already own onto the linen and cut my new apron about a half inch larger. 

I debated an Aurifil lana wool and floss, but I ended up using a cotton 12wt. I really liked the wool but thought the color I had might have been too pink. I was a little worried that floss through the linen would be tiring after a while, and I've got a great track record with the 12 wt on wool.

I've been sewing some bojagi-inspired patchwork which you can see on this previous post. I simply took the whip stitch that I use there and applied it to the hem and the string ties. The string ties were cut at one inch from selvedge to selvedge (about 40"). I ironed the strip in half, then folded the edges into the middle and sewed shut with the whip stitch.

I attached the straps with stitches and common sense. I have no idea what the "right" way is here, but I did try to place the stitches so the pull would occur on the hem and not the single layer of fabric. The hem is reinforced and stronger.

I left the selvedge on the ends of the straps which created the world's tiniest pom poms.

I thought the fringe from the selvedge would be an interesting feature on the neck so I only hemmed one side before testing which side the fringe needed to point.


 In the end, I decided I wanted the fringe to point out.

The internet is full of 10-minute apron tutorials. This is clearly not the result of one of those. I'm not exactly sure how long this project took me (a few hours?), but I love seeing all those little stitches.

And even though I used a variety of tools (scissors, needle, clover clips, etc), there's definitely great satisfaction in knowing I made something useful - something wearable - and that I did it without a machine.

Now I just need to add a pocket or two...

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