Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Sew An Elasticized Apron (for Kids)

Here is a tutorial on making a kid's apron for pretend play and even 
real baking with mom/dad. With many kids aprons I've seen, I've 
found that if the neck strap is long enough to fit over a child's head, 
the apron ends up hanging a little too low over the chest. Emily is 
still too little to manipulate buckles, so an adjustable sliding strap 
meant she couldn't be fully independent when putting it on and 
taking it off. So I decided to elasticize the neck strap so it stretches 
over her head and is still short enough for the apron 
to hang at the right height.

(Note: for the rest of the tutorial, "the apron" refers not to the 
entire finished garment, but just to the apron-shaped piece of 
fabric i.e. the one with prints in the picture below).

You will need
  • Half a yard of fabric for the apron 
  • A 9"x 6" rectangle of fabric for the pocket
  • 13" of 1/4" or 3/8" elastic (not shown in picture, sorry)
  • 14" of 3/8" bias tape for the pocket and top edge of apron
  • 62" of 1" bias tape for the straps
(I used two different colored bias tapes just for clearer
 pictures for this tutorial. Yours can of course be of the 
same color if you choose.)

First cut out the apron shape. Here's the pattern I used. 
It isn't to scale, since it wouldn't fit on an 8.5" x 11" sheet 
to scan, but if you follow the measurements in the pattern, 
it should turn out right.
Part I
Attaching the pocket and neatening the raw edges of the apron.

Step 1
  • Serge or zig-zag stitch the bottom hem and straight sides of the apron. Although in the picture, the apron does not have serged sides because I was too quick to take the picture. Sorry! (If you roll your eyes now and give up on me, I deserve it).  
  • Serge or zig-zag stitch both short edges and one long edge of the pocket. It is unnecessary to serge the fourth edge because it will have bias tape sewn on.

Step 2
  • Sew the 3/8" bias tape on the top edge of the apron. I find it helpful to sew the first seam on the wrong side of the fabric, then turn the bias tape over to cover the right side of the fabric to top-stitch.

Step 3
  • Sew bias tape on the unserged edge of the pocket like you did with the apron's top edge.
  • Top stitch. In the picture below, I sewed a double row of top-stitching simply because it seemed to give a nicer finish.

Step 4 (optional)
If you want to personalize or embellish the pocket, it needs to be done before Step 5.

Step 5
  • Fold the apron and pocket lengthwise down the middle to get the center lines of both.
  • Place the pocket centrally on the apron using the center lines as a guide and pin in the desired position. I found that a distance of 5.5" between the top of the apron and the top of the pocket is good (see pattern).

Step 6
  • Fold 1/4"  - 3/8" of each serged edge of the pocket under and top-stitch the pocket on these three sides onto the apron. I did a second row of top-stitching again because it gave a nice finish.

Step 7
  • Fold under the two serged sides of the apron and top stitch the hems.

Part II
The Straps 

Step 8 
  • First take the 62" length of 1" bias tape and fold it in half to get the middle (which should be about 31" from either end). 
  • Put a pin or some other marker at the middle spot. 
  • Measure 10" on either side of that middle point.
  • Unfold the bias tape and mark this 10" point on the inside of the bias tape. Make a mark rather than use a pin because you are going to sew on this spot. The picture below shows this 10" mark to the right of the middle point (where the white pin is). 

  • Repeat this step 10" to the left of the middle pin. You will now have two marks 20" apart, with the pin exactly mid-way between them. Still with me?

Step 9
  • Take the 13" length of elastic and sew one end securely on one of the 10" marks, and on the inside of the unfolded bias tape. The best position is not on the middle fold (faint white dotted line in the picture) of the bias tape but on either side of it. This is because you will be folding the bias tape closed again along the natural folds to stitch it up and you want it to lay flat.
  • Repeat this step with the other end of the elastic i.e. sew the other end onto the other 10" mark, being careful not to let the elastic get all twisted.

You will now have a funny-looking thing like in the picture below: 20" of bias tape, with the middle pin still attached, straddling the 13" piece of elastic. This is the neck strap, although it looks nothing like it (yet).
  • Remove the pin.

Step 10
  • Measure 1 " below the 10" marks on each side of the neck strap and mark those points (in red in the picture). These will be the points which attach to the top corners of the apron so that the elastic goes around the wearer's head.
Step 11
  • Position the bias tape on the corner of the apron so that the (red) 1" marks line up with the top edge of the apron (the orange edge in the picture) and sew along the curve of the "armhole" to attach the bias tape on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Repeat with the other 1" mark on the other corner of the apron and sew along the curve of the other armhole.

You will now have
  • 22" of bias tape (with the 13" elastic sewn on at its ends) forming the neck strap
  • 20" (total) of bias tape attached to one side of the apron by the curved armhole and dangling beyond that to form one tie
  • 20" (total) of bias tape attached to the other side of the apron by the other curved armhole and dangling beyond that to form the other tie.

Step 12 - the last step!
  • Fold the bias tape closed all along its 62" length. You will need to fold it over the raw armhole edges and also tuck in the elastic in the neck strap section. It might take some pulling when you get to the neck strap because the elastic is shorter than the bias casing that contains it. Sew slowly and keep readjusting. 
  • Top stitch the open edges closed, tucking in the ends of the ties.

A picture of the neck strap sewn up, with the elastic inside it. 
Note: For this apron, I used 3/4" bias tape instead of 1" because it was 
what I had on hand. The end product is this snug-fitting elastic case. 
1" bias tape would give the gathers more room to lay flat 
which would look better.

The finished apron

which fits a 3 year old (and beyond). 
It is a little long for toddlers like Jenna, but they grow into it so 
quickly that it's not worth making them shorter.


  1. I think I've said this before, I can't wait till Nikhita is old enough so that we can play together!

    I really like the embroidery... they look like from templates but I bet you did them all freehand!

  2. So awesome! I'm going to have to send this to my friend who has 3 little boys that love to cook. Once my nephew gets a little older, I'm going to have to make one for him. How do you think it would look in cow print? :)
    childrens aprons

  3. Was just thinking I need to make my son (3) an apron as he loves to help mix and sieve and here I stumble across your blog! Love the elastic idea - so clever. And really clear instructions, thank you.

  4. Your postings about the Birthday Baking Party finally did it for me! I LOVE making gingerbread houses from scratch... and last year my 5-year-old grandson helped me bake one. This year my 4-year-old granddaughter asked if she could help make one. And with the great ideas and photos of your recent birthday baking, I have decided to host a gingerbread baking party for the 4 grandchildren (with the help of their two mothers). Making aprons for all... and getting excited about the party! If it turns out well, we may make this an annual event! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  5. @smilingwoman
    Thank you! Thought I'd mention that if you are using this apron pattern, it's small - it worked for a 3-4 year old but I've had to size it up since my kids got older and bigger.

  6. I just used your tutorial to make my best aprons ever! The elasticized neckline is so smart... I posted about them here:

  7. This is a great tutorial! I love the elastic in the neck strap. what a great idea! i just made one for my daughter.

    The arpon I made is here:

    I gave you credit for the tutorial and I also linked back here.

  8. Your Elastic neck strap idea is inspired!!!!! Thanks You


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.