Introduction: Fab Rehab
I find children's denim clothing at yard sales and thrift stores all the time. It seems a shame to let these orphans end up in the landfill when they have so much character left in them. I rescue them and rehabilitate them as aprons, hence Fab Rehab. This little pair of jeans, with about a yard of fabric I just happen to have left over from a dress project, will become a smashing half-apron worthy of your next summer outdoor tea party. Or barbecue. Whatever suits you best.
Step 1: Step One: Cut the Jeans Apart
Cut the inseam out by cutting along the seam on both sides. You want to remove the whole seam as it's really bulky and you don't want to have to sew over it later. Then decide which side of the jeans you want to be the front. On this pair, I'm using the front as the front of the apron, but some jeans have more embellishment on the back. If yours have fancy back pockets, make that the front of the apron. Anyway, cut out the seam all the way through the waistband on the side you've chosen to sacrifice. Lay the jeans out flat and use a ruler to mark and cut a straight side from the hem to the waist. Take the piece you cut off and place it over the other side of the jeans so you can cut the other side the same.
Step 2: Fill in the Gap
Using your seam ripper, snip out enough of the front crotch seam that you can overlap it and make the front lie flat. Pin the overlap and lay the pants over your contrasting fabric so that it fills the gap between the legs. Draw a short line about an inch lower than the pants legs and pin the legs in place as shown. Fold over the legs, one at a time, and cut away the excess fabric.
Step 3: Hem the Insert
Flip your work over to the back and fold up the raw edge of the insert so it's even with the leg hems. Fold in the raw edge and pin the hem up on the insert, but do not pin it to the legs. You want it hanging free so that you can take it to your sewing machine and sew the hem all the way across the folded edge.
Step 4: Topstitch the Insert
Flip the left side up so that you can get your presser foot up under the edge. Topstitch the edge of the right leg, backstitching at the hem edge. Then pin the left leg back in place. Start your sewing about half an inch above where you snipped the seam, backstitch, and stitch to the corner. With the needle down, lift the presser foot and pivot around to line up with the edge of the left leg. Topstitch down to the hem, backstitch and end off. Turn the apron over and trim the seam to about ¼" or so.
Step 5: A Lot of Photos, But Not Much Sewing
Measure the length of your belt loops and cut some strips that are twice that measurement plus ½". My fabric remnant was getting short, so I had to cut 3 pieces to get the length I needed. You need about 2 yards, so if your fabric allows, 2 strips cut across from selvage to selvage will be perfect. You don't want to sew the pieces in a straight seam as it looks awkward when it's done. Instead, place the strips perpendicular to each other at the corner and fold the top piece back as shown. Iron a crease. Unfold and pin, then stitch on the crease. If you've had to use more than two pieces, just sew one after the other until all your pieces are joined in one long strip. Trim the corners off and press the seam open. Fold the strip in half, right sides together, and stitch. Turn the strip right side out and press well. Press back about ¼" on the raw ends, then fold them as shown and stitch this fold down to form a triangular point on the ends of your waist tie.
Step 6: Bind the Edges
It's possible to hem the edges of your apron, but it's not worth the effort. Folding over the waistband and hem areas makes a hem that's way to thick to sew. Instead, cut 2 strips of your contrast fabric , 1 ½" wide and an inch longer than the raw edges of the apron. Fold in half, wrong sides together, and press. Open them flat and fold each edge in to the crease in the center and iron, then fold the strips back in half along that center crease. Press well. Open out one strip and stitch along the edge with the right side of the strip facing the back side of the apron. The ends of the strip should extend about half an inch longer than the apron at the waistband and hem. Trim the seam to reduce bulk. Fold back the extension, then refold all the creases of the strip, bringing the unsewn edge to the front. Stitch across the end of the strip, down the fold, and across the opposite end, backstitching at both ends.
Step 7: Sew on the Ties
Fold the apron in half and put a pin in the center of the waistband. Fold the tie strip in half and mark the center with a pin. Line up the two centers and pin through the tie and waistband, then run the ends through the belt loops. Stitch the tie to the edges of the waistband through the edge binding strips.
Step 8: Add a Ruffle
At this point, I had enough of my fabric left to make an 8" ruffle. You'll want at least 6", and can go up to 10 or 12 inches if you're tall enough. You'll need at least 1 ½ times the width of your apron to get a nice ruffle, and you can go up to double the width if you have enough fabric. More than that will be overkill. Sew strips together if you need to. You don't have to use the diagonal seams you used on the waistband as the seams will be hidden in the ruffle. Once you have your strip, hem all the edges by folding over ¼" twice and stitching along the fold. I like to do the long edges first, then the short ones. Using the longest stitch length on your machine, stitch along one long edge about an inch down from the top. I like to use a contrasting thread for this for visibility. Fold the strip in half and mark the center with a pin, then fold in half again and mark the quarters. Do the same with the hem of the apron. Match up the pins and pin the ruffle to the hem, wrong side of the ruffle to the right side of the apron. Pull the bottom thread of the stitching to gather up the ruffle to fit the apron and pin as much as you need to control the gathers. Stitch, trying to stitch just a hair below the gathering threads. This is where the contrast thread is helpful. Backstitch at both ends. Pull out the gathering thread. You're done!
Step 9: A Little Faux Bow
To make a faux bow, cut a strip the same width as the tie strip, about 18" long or so. Fold in half and stitch a diagonal seam across one end, turn and stitch down the side, and diagonally across the other end. Leave about 3" unsewn in the center so you can turn it right side out. Clip off the excess on the ends before turning. Press, making sure to press the raw edges in that center opening. You can sew it closed, but Carlike to use Steam A Seam instead. You can buy ¼" wide rolls made just for this purpose. With your fingers, press the Steam a Seam to the seam edge. It clings. Carefully peel off the paper backing and smooth the opening closed. Iron with steam and you're done. Loop the strip over the center of the tie and tie it in a knot, letting the ends hang down.
Step 10: Ta Da!
Here's the finished apron. Cute, yes? Remember when I said sometimes the back side is cuter than the front? Here's another apron made from a denim mini skirt. The back pockets were where the embellishments were, so I used that for the front. The ruffle is applied inside on this one to take advantage of the existing denim ruffles that were already on the skirt.