Friday, October 15, 2021

Sewing a Victorian, Edwardian, Cottagecore Apron

Although this lovely apron will be part of my #WhimsicalWitches project, it is such a fun and pretty apron that I wanted to share my experience with you in a separate blog post and video.  The style is perfect for a Victorian or Edwardian historical impression or for modern wear in Cottagecore style.  Although my apron is a simple white cotton, I can only imagine the fun prints and colors that could be used for a beautiful and useful addition to any wardrobe.

I'll share the links to the #WhimsicalWitches YouTube Playlist which includes the introduction.  If you are reading this blog post or watching the video early in the publication there is still plenty of time to join the fun collaboration!

Now, let's create an apron!

The pattern I'm using is Butterick B6229 from their Making History series.  It includes a dress, the apron, and headpiece.  I'm only creating the apron for my project.

Several years ago I found a bolt of 118" wide cotton sateen.  I love sateen for linings of jackets and skirts and it is smooth and doesn't catch on other fabrics.  It can also be used alone and easily dyes.  I'm at the end of the bolt and will have to deal with the residue of the manufacturer's tape but that's easily cut around.

Saving the last bits of any and all trims is a habit and I have just enough of this white gathered lace and consider using it for the shoulder strap ruffles.

After laying out my pattern pieces and determining how much fabric I will need, I cut, wash, and iron the yardage.

There are only 7 parts to this apron:  a self-lining bib, ruffle, shoulder strap, tie end, waistband, side back, and front.

All pieces are then cut from the fabric paying close attention to the number of pieces to be cut from each pattern piece as the shoulder straps, tie ends, and waistband all have an exterior piece and an interior piece or facing.  The waistband and shoulder straps are strengthened with an iron-in interfacing.  The pattern instructions are very detailed and great for guiding step by step.

The bib and the lower skirt have tucks of several different sizes.  This not only creates a lot of design interest, it was the perfect way to handle an apron being worn by people of different heights.  A little taller than the last person who owned the apron?  Let out a tuck!  A little shorter?  Add a tuck!  A wonderful way to handle growing children as well. 

The first step in creating this apron is to make the tucks in the bib.  The fabric is folded at the foldline marked on the pattern and then stitched a distance from the fold as marked on the pattern.  After stitching, the thread line is pressed to integrate the thread into the fabric.  Then the entire fold is pressed into the correct position which for this apron is down.

Then the bib is folded at the center foldline marked on the pattern and since the bib is self-lining, all edges should line up.  Oops!  Hmmmm.  Well, that didn't work out as planned!  I hate wasting fabric and knowing that this pattern has generous seams of 5/8" I measure if my mistake can be salvaged.  Deciding it is very close I continue until it is time to insert the bib into the shoulder straps before I make a completely new bib section.

Tea time to put the mistake behind me and then moving on!

Next, the shoulder straps.  The separate sections are joined at the centers and then the pattern markings transferred to the straps with Frixion pen.  I love these markers as they disappear with heat but always test on your fabric first.

The straps and their facings are sewn between the markings.  This will leave an opening for the bib on the inside of each strap and an opening for the ruffle on the outside of each strap.

I've sewn my pre-gathered lace in the opening for the ruffle on each side of the straps.  It is machine sewn to the part of the strap that will face out, and hand stitched closed on the part of the strap that will face in.

The ruffled lace is fnished!

The bib is pinned into place and with just a bit of adjusting I can use my bib even with my mistakes.

Similar to sewing in the ruffled lace, the bib is machine sewn to the strap on the side that will face out, and then the facing is hand stitched closed on the side that will face in.

The straps and bib are now complete!

The next section to be sewn will be the tie ends and waistband.  The tie ends are in 4 pieces, 2 for each side.  Two pieces will be sewn together on the 2 long and 1 short side and will then be trimmed and turned right side out.  To make the turning easier for me I pin a long piece of ribbon to the right side of one piece near the short end that will be sewn.  I also pin the ribbon to the fabric with a straight pin at what will be the open end so that the ribbon stays in one place and does not get caught in the stitching.

After laying the second piece over the ribboned piece with right sides together I sew around the 3 sides and trim the seam and corners.  

Now the ribbon can be unpinned and when pulled will start to turn the tube inside out.  This takes some help at the beginning but then quickly and easily turns the tube.

Remove the ribbon and safety pin and press.

The ties are positioned to one piece of the waistband at the marks and sewn into position.  Then the waistband is sewn to the lower portion of the bib and the waistband facing sewn on 3 sides.  The seam is trimmed, turned and pressed.

The shoulder straps with bib and waistband are complete!

The front and sides of the skirt portion of the apron are sewn together.  I used a French seam here by first sewing the seam wrong sides together 3/8", trimming the seam to 1/8", turning the fabric and sewing the right sides together 3/8".  Although this uses a bit more of the fabric than the 5/8" seam allowance specified in the instructions, the raw edge is enclosed and secure and with the fullness of the skirt I decided that bit of extra seam allowance was worthwhile.

The tucks on the lower edge of the skirt are clearly marked on the pattern.  I measure the top foldline from the bottom edge of the skirt, and press and pin that foldline along the entire skirt.  Then I sew along the stitching line indicated on the pattern.  I repeat the process for all the tucks always measuring from the bottom edge of the skirt.  Each tuck is pressed before proceeding to the next.

A wonderful part of this design is that the lower edge is folded up to the lowest tuck foldline and the raw edge of the skirt is encased in that tuck.  Genius!  No hemming required!

But the side edges have to be hemmed but it is a simple process.  Fold and press the 5/8" hem and then turn the hem edge in to meet the fold, pin, and sew along the inner folded edge.

The skirt is complete and ready for final assembly to the waistband.  Two rows of gathering stitches are sewn inside the seam allowance at the top of the skirt.

The skirt is gathered matching the skirt side seams as marked.  Yes, I DO use a lot of pins, don't I?

The skirt is sewn to the front portion of the waistband and the seam trimmed.

Then the back portion of the waistband is handstitched closed.

Can you believe it?  We're finished!  The apron ties thread through the shoulder strap loop (great instructions in the pattern), and our Victorian or Edwardian or Cottagecore apron is ready to enjoy!

Companion YouTube Video: