Category Archives: aprons

Frugal and Fun and Fast

Do you ever just feel like making something quick and fun and maybe a little whimsical?  Something that isn’t going to task your brain too much, but which is nevertheless rewarding?  

That’s how I was feeling a few days ago.  I just was not ready to start a big new project, of which I have (too) many lined up in my head.  In addition, propped in my sewing room, looking at me forlornly, were a few piles of fabric, leftovers from things I had sewn this past summer.   For the life of me, I cannot throw away any decent length of fabric left over from something I have made.  I always think I’ll need it for something.  That is rarely the case, but for once I decided to do something about it.  I decided to make some aprons.  

Seriously, who doesn’t love an apron?  They can be all-business or whimsical, pretty or frilly, plain or busy, colorful or monotone, practical or impractical.  The list goes on.  Fortunately I had three apron patterns already available to me, one from the 1950s, one from the 1970s and one more recent one, perhaps from the last 10 years or so, shown in order below.

In order to make my leftover fabric go as far as possible, and to make this apron project fit my criteria for fast and fun and frugal, I went with the simple chef’s apron (View F) on the pattern directly above.  The only change I made to the look of it was to construct contrasting ties and pockets.  Not only did I like the idea of adding color and whimsy to my aprons, but this change gave me the ability to use up shorter pieces of fabric.

The first one I made from excess fabric from dresses I made for my granddaughters this past Spring and Summer. 

The neck and waist ties and binding along the side fronts are a continuous piece of bias binding. Oddly, the pattern instructions did not indicate how much should be left for the length of those ties, so I guessed. It seems to have worked out okay!

The second apron used fabric left over from a ribbon-embellished tunic I made for myself, also in the Summer.  The ties and pockets used zigzag-patterned fabric I had on hand to use for “baby tote bags”  I have made over the years as gifts.

That zigzag fabric is quite an effective accent as you can see by these baby tote bags, made years ago… But “so long” to the red zigzags – now they are embellishing aprons!
I decided to divide the pocket into two unequal parts with a simple line of stitching. Otherwise the pocket gaped a bit and could possibly catch on panhandles or other obstacles!

After making two aprons, I was having so much fun, I thought I would look and see what other apron-appropriate fabrics I could find stored away.  I came across a “vegetable” print which is from the 1980s or ‘90s, given to me by a sewing/quilting friend.  I had one yard which was perfect for the main part of the apron.  I stitched this one up in a flash, having perfected a few time-saving techniques in the first two aprons.  

What else would you use this fabric for?

Now I’m ready to approach some more serious sewing!  But what fun to create three distinct looks from one simple-to-make pattern.  My friends and family had better watch out – they may be getting aprons for Christmas…  

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Frigid February

For such a short month, February is certainly making itself heard loud and clear here in the northeastern United States. Windy, snowy, bitter, bitter cold. The only way to push through it is to try to have some fun with it. So – in that vein, I am delighted to announce the winner of my February give-away, who is Adecia!

Frigid February - winner tag Adecia, I’ll be sending you an email so that I can get your mailing address. And a warm (emphasis on warm, mind you!) thank you to all who commented and added so many wonderful additions to my “hopeless dressmaker” list.

Of course, another way to have fun with winter days which keep us housebound is to spend those days sewing. And so I have! In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I did some sewing for my almost-two-year-old granddaughter, First I made her a little apron to wear when she is playing with her little kitchen – or helping her mommy in the real kitchen:

I found the red gingham in one of my fabric drawers, and I purchased yards and yards of the heart lace when Waechter's (sadly) went out of business.

I found the red gingham in one of my fabric drawers, and I purchased yards and yards of the heart lace when Waechter’s (sadly) went out of business.

Next, I made her a white flannel blouse, using a pattern which I had used 30-some years ago when I was sewing for her mommy (my daughter).

The best view of the blouse is in View B on the left.

The best view of the blouse is in View B on the left.

I made the blouse out of flannel so that it would be warm and practical, and I lengthened the sleeves so that they would reach to her wrists. Next, I changed another pattern, also left over from my daughter’s toddler days, and made a red jumper, embellished with rick rack (of course!)

I started with the yoke part of the yellow dress and made it into a jumper.

I started with the yoke part of the yellow dress and made it into a jumper.

Frigid February

With adjustable buttons on the jumper...

With adjustable buttons on the jumper…

The back view.

The back view.

More fun sewing was spent on two baby bags. One baby bag was for a new little girl, so I chose a pink and navy blue color scheme.

Frigid February

Frigid February
 The next one was part of a shower gift for a little baby boy, expected in April. I chose an orange and navy “sailing” theme for this little one.

Frigid February

Frigid February

Now it is back to some serious sewing, as I have finally started work on a cashmere wool suit dress. One way to get the weather to improve is to spend these final weeks of Winter sewing with wool, right? By the time I have it completed, the days will be longer and the sun warmer. But if Mother Nature continues her wrath, I may be able to wear it once this year – and that is what I am hoping for (I think)!

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Season for Shopping and Sewing

Well, every season is the season for sewing, and shopping, too, for that matter, especially for fabric.  But somehow, the holiday season seems to take both activities to a new level for the year.   Somehow, knowing how to sew makes one very susceptible to feeling like at least one or two of your planned gifts to family or friends be hand-sewn by YOU.  I, of course, am one of these people.

Remembering some of the gifts I have made over the years came into sharp focus this week.  I went into a storage box (acid-free, of course) where I have some family textile heirlooms in safe-keeping.  I was in search of a Christmas item, but what caught my eye were two aprons which I made the first Christmas my husband and I were married.  It was 1973.  I wanted to do something special for my new mother-in-law and my husband’s aunt, and since they were both “apron-wearers” I thought they might like hand-made aprons.  I designed  a simple pattern, which had two pockets and rick-rack trim.  Gingham was widely available, so I chose colors I knew they each liked.   Most of the sewing on them was by hand, and I still remember furiously working on them to get them finished on time.  I also remember the true delight that both ladies showed upon opening them. I obviously had made just the right thing!

This was the apron I made for my mother-in-law.

This is the apron I made for my mother-in-law.

Season for sewing - apron

And this apron was for my husband’s aunt.  If I made this apron for myself, I would add a “bib” to it.

I added a label with my name on it!

I added a label with my name on it!

Twenty years earlier, in 1953, Vogue Pattern Book magazine had a multi-page feature on “Merry Christmas Gifts and Fashions.”  I must say those 1950s’ home-sewers must have been very ambitious, as this is only part of what was suggested as gift projects:

1)  Lots of sequin-embellished ornaments and decorations.

There were sevben apages of projects like this in the December/January 1953-54 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine.

There were seven pages of projects like this in the December/January 1953-54 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine, c1953, The Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

2)  Doesn’t everyone make ties, shirts, jackets, and pajamas for husbands and grown sons?  “The tailoring is not hard with Vogue’s step-by-step, clear sewing directions.”

This is one of two pages of things to make for men.

This is one of two pages of things to make for men.

3)  Of course you’ll sew for your little ones (which I did a lot of when my own children were young….)

Everything from petticoats to overcoats were featured for children.  Lacking from all these suggestions in this feature were dolls' clothes, surprisingly.

Everything from petticoats to overcoats were featured for children. Lacking from all these suggestions in this feature were dolls’ clothes, surprisingly.  Maybe Vogue Patterns had not yet started making patterns for doll clothes.

4)  Now we’re getting into my favorite ideas – “something special for the girl who loves pretty, unusual  things…”

The two tops shown on this page would be very stylish today.  And the grouping of accessories just happens to from a pattern which i own.

The two tops shown on this page would be very stylish today. And the grouping of accessories just happens to be from a pattern which I own.

Here is the pattern, which includes patterns for other accessories, as well:

The curved belt (not the one with the spikes!) attracted me to this pattern even though it is an unprinted one.

The curved belt (not the one with the spikes!) attracted me to this pattern even though it is an unprinted one.

And here are more suggestions for stylish women:

I can do without the jacket with the ball fringe, but I love that wrap blouse featured in the red triangle on the right!

I can do without the jacket with the ball fringe, but I love that wrap blouse featured in the red triangle on the right!

5)  It seems appropriate that the section ended with a feature on aprons and clothes to wear at home.

"At home clothes for serious work or lazy-lounging."  I doubt too many home sewers are doing lazy lounging this time of year - or ever!

“At home clothes for serious work or lazy-lounging.” I doubt too many home sewers are doing lazy lounging this time of year – or ever!

So – am I making/sewing any gifts this year?  I have just one very simple thing planned (still in my head).  But – along with the Christmas decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, the cookie-making, the cards, the parties and all the other wonders of the season – I am hoping to finish my current work-in-progress (a wool dress for me) and start and finish (?) a pair of wool pants – also for me.  Yes, for me.  Should I feel guilty about this??

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Filed under aprons, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, Unprinted patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, Vogue patterns