Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mary Jane Butter's Apron

Good morning! Welcome to the Make-Do apron tutorial. I'm going to mention right up front that this is Part One. I know, I know, I hate those shows where you get to the end and they be continued, but this project is heavy on the photos and I'm going to give you a week to get the apron pieces prepared and all ready to go so that next week we can start sewing. I'm also going to teach you how to make your own binding. That will be a separate tutorial.

The first thing you need to do is go over to Mary Jane Butter's site and download the FREE Make-Do Apron pattern. Mary Jane is very generous to share this pattern. Once you get into the apron making groove she's got lots of other patterns for sale in her online shop. Mary Jane is the rural version of Martha. Be sure to poke around her site and check out her Bed and Breakfast where guests are housed in wall tents. It looks straight up "Out of Africa".

Mary Jane Butter's Make-Do Apron Pattern

Once you've downloaded and printed out the pattern you're going to need to take it to an office supply or copy shop and have it blown up 200%. Most copy shops have an extra large machine that is used to copy architectural plans, etc. It's not expensive. I'm sure I only paid a couple of dollars.

Cut the pattern out. You can use this or transfer it to some of that pattern making material. It's like a an interfacing weight unwoven fabric. If you plan to make a lot of aprons the pattern fabric will hold up better than the paper.

Next, dig around the man's closet. Find a shirt that he won't be wearing anymore. The Farmer doesn't wear many dress shirts so he doesn't have any to spare. I go to Goodwill and dig through the racks to find shirts in cool colors or patterns. When they have their 1/2 price days I can get a shirt for $1.99.

TIP: Look for large or extra large shirts. They give you more fabric to work with and the tails are longer. In a minute you'll see why that's important.

I found a nice candy pink shirt. The label says large.


Next I choose two coordinating fabrics. One is for the upper tab piece and the pocket and the smaller print is for the binding. The pink doesn't match exactly but I don't make myself crazy over this. It's called the Make-Do apron, so I make do with what is in my stash.


Now the fun begins. We're going to deconstruct the shirt in order to get our working fabric. Cut off the collar and cut off the cuffs. (I've got a ton of collars and cuffs and I'm still thinking about how to put these to a creative use. Ideas? Let me know.)


Cut across the shoulder seam and down to the sleeve. Cut off both sleeves. Cut off the shoulder piece.


Now you've got one big piece that looks like this:


Take both sleeves and cut them open along the seam line. Lay one of the tie pieces on the sleeve. Position it as close to the edge as possible because we're going to try and get both tie pieces out of this sleeve.


After you've cut the two ties, grab the other sleeve and pin down the neck piece. It should fit. You can see why you want a large or extra large shirt.


Take the large body piece and fold it in half. Lay down the main apron pattern piece.


This shirt is a very good example to work with because I'll show you how you might need to adjust your plan a bit. This shirt isn't long enough for the pattern. There's not enough fabric for the "point" area. Mary Jane suggests that you can sew another piece of fabric on the bottom to make it long enough. I've done that before, but basically I'm lazy, so we're going to make this work.


I cut the pattern piece and the result is nice. I'm going to have a shorter apron with a scalloped edge. That can work.


Go back and cut off whatever finished edging is on the bottom. That will only create bulk when we add the bias edging.


Gather all your pieces together because next week we're going to start sewing. I'm sorry to give you homework during the summer but I know you can handle it. It's going to be fun because this pattern allows you to get really creative. Think about the color choice when you're out looking for the shirt. Possibly take little bits of fabric from your stash so you can match it up. I've found terrific shirts at Goodwill. For example, I found one with chickens and that shirt was made up into a really cute French Country Apron.

See you next week! But please, please ask questions if there's something you don't understand.


Chris is *Refining Life* said...

Oh what fun! I'll hit the thrift shops this weekend and be all ready to sew next week. My DH doesn't even own a long-sleeved shirt...

Jacki said...

Oh this makes me wish I knew how to sew. I have my grandma's old sewing machine, but I haven't a clue how to use it.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Well now you've done've inspired me! I can't sew worth beans...yet I LOVE aprons and my husband has some old dress shirts to get rid of...I think I am going to give this a try :)

Simple Answer said...

Witty and talented. That is so adorable.


I just realized. I can no longer compete. Thanks.

Bobbi said...

OMG - that is so cute! My hubby works at our local Drive-In Theater where he grills burgers and ribeyes - I'm going to have to find an appropriate shirt and make him an apron! Cool!

GemStateMom said...

Mary Jane's fun! Did you know she lives near Moscow?? Yep! Not exactly a 'neighbor' by townie standards, but out in the country, 'neighbor' can be pretty broadly defined. :)

Now you need to make a trip out to Idaho for sure!

Not sure I can actually participate right now...loads to do for wedding reception. 7/26 is moving up really fast! But will definitely mark this for future use.

Deanna said...

I love this!! I failed apron making in high school economics, but try, try, try again. Right?

Heidi said...

This will be GREAT to use on the Milk Mans shirts that have gotten to small - he says I have shrunk them - ya sure...shrunk. LOL I started sewing on my grannys mothers sewing machine - its a tredle one, I LOVED it!! Jacki - its not hard really - I am self taught and once you pull out a crap load of stitchs you really start to think before you sew!! :)

I love to read your posts!

I posted this morning - trying to be better about doing it every couple of days, but NO promises! LOL

Suzanne said...

Chris - The thrift shops should have great pickings this weekend because everybody will be otherwise occupied with Fourth of July preparations.

Jacki - Drag out grandma's sewing machine. There are instruction books for almost any machine available online. If you can manage to get the thing threaded you can sew. I promise. This is an easy project for a beginner. Imagine how surprised and impressed your friends will be.

Cowgirl - There you are!!! Hey ladies, the Cowgirl is a long time reader of my photoblog, The Farmer's Wife. I'm glad that I've inspired to sew something. Don't worry about the "beans" part. This is pretty simple.

Simple Answer - You need one of these to take to Jordan! Ladies - SA is moving to Jordan for two years (I think it's two). Anyway, can you imagine?? She's gonna get to visit Petra. That's very high on my bucket list.

My Liberty friend.........It's not a competition. It's a big fat collaboration. Ladies - Go over and check out her Grey Gardens Week posts. I'm loving it so much because I actually had LOTS of those characters in my childhood.

Bobbi - Ribeyes at the Drive In? Whoa I need to visit your town and check that out. Farmers Wife Road Trip for sure.

Paula - I would love to be Mary Jane's neighbor. Around here your a neighbor if you live with 40 or 50 miles. I know you're very, very busy with the wedding preparations. Bookmark and join us later. And whoa....there's another road trip idea.

Deanna - Now's your chance to make your high school home ec teacher proud.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and participating in the apron project. But.....where's VEE????

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I am so excited about trying this...are you going to be asking your students for examples of their work? That would be fun, wouldn't it?

Thanks so much! I think you're incredibly generous to share your source and these tips.

Rue said...

:( see that? That's my sad face.
(sigh) You unfortunately lost me at "we can start sewing" and "Apron pattern". I can sew anything, but a button. (bigger sigh)

I'm going to go eat something fattening now... LOL

Happy 4th of July tomorrow!


Heather said...

This is a fabulous way to use the pink button down I bought my husband. He won't wear it. Why not turn it into a sassy apron? Brilliant!!!

Holly Tree Primitives said...

Oh I am so doing this! I need to go get a shirt at the thrift shop.

Thanks for offering the tutorial, what fun! And all the pictures are great, they really help when doing something like this.


BittersweetPunkin said...

I am going to sit this one out LOL but I will be eagerly awaiting to see YOUR completed apron...and look how easy you make it to follow directions!!

Mamahut said...

This is going to be really neat. I have a dress shirt I bought for hubby as a joke. It's PINK, yay, it will be beautiful. I will have to start it later though :(

Cottage Rose said...

Wow what a fun project; I am going to have to go to her site and print the pattern. She is very kind to let every one have this one for nothing. It looks kind of easy, and I do sew.
So I can't wait to get my shirt.
thanks for the help.
happy fourth....


Karen said...

Like, Heather, I have pink shirt that my husband absoloutly refuses to wear. Si if he isn;t going to wear it, then an apron it will be!!

BTW...Taylor and I made cake plates today, courtesy of your cake plate post. I messed up with the epoxy and the pedestal placement with the first one, but got the hang of it after that.

Taylor wanted to glue as well, but I had visions of returning her to her Mum with a plate as an extra limb or something. So I did the glueing. She painted the stars on the plates. Photos on my blog.

chocolatechic said...

Your making that apron for me, right?


I never thought of making one out of a dress shirt.

Love the colors.

Jill said...

Ohhh... I can't wait to get my sewing machine on the "other side". It was packed up almost 2 months ago... and I SO miss it!

I'm book marking this tutorial to come back to in a few months.

Eve Grey said...

I love that! SO cute! Too bad I can't even sew a button...

BumbleVee said...

This looks like fun. I don't really sew anything except doll parts... so following patterns is out of the question. Wish I had stayed in Home Ec...oh, well.

With all the pics and info...surely I can give this a go some day..

Anonymous said...

I recently saw where someone made headbands to match the aprons that they had. You may beable to use that idea to use all those collars and cuffs you have!

lena said...

thank you for this great idea. My grandfather passed in March after a long battle with lung cancer. He has a billion dress shirts and what a wonderful way for his children and grands to have a special part of him...guess I better get to sewing :) Thank you again!

AikoVenus said...

So cute! I have a bunch of old shirts that I can't fit anymore (or I just don't like them) so this is perfect as I'm also a cook! I've seen bows made from shirt collars as well. ^^