I made this heavy duty leather apron to be multifunctional and use it in some of the different activities I do.
Just to mention a few, leathercrafting, woodworking, knifemaking, sculpting, painting, etc etc.
So let’s build one!
Step 1: The Materials
Fabric: You can use any fabric you like, there are so many options.
The one I used is a heavy duty canvas fabric with a vinyl layer in the inner side I bought in Fabricland, unfortunately their website does not have too many products listed.
Leather: I buy all my leather at Tandy, the ones I used in this project are different color variation (Light Grey / Dark Grey / Yellow-ish) of the same type of leather: Designer Smooth Grain Armor Sides Assorted Earth Tones 3 oz
But as a matter of facts I strongly recommend you use anything you have in hand or scraps if the intention is a heavy duty product.
The more pretty/stylish leather can be used if the apron is going to be used by someone in a commercial store, such as a bartender, barista, tattooer or hair stylist among others.
Step 2: The Tools
- Pricking Irons
- Cutting Knife
- Craft Cutting Board / Self-Healing Rotary Mat
- Sewing Machine
Step 3: The Plans
The size of the apron might vary depending on your size, I am 175 cm (5’ 9”) and the final product is: 56cm by 95cm (22” by 37.5” in imperial)
But please be aware that some of the pictures in the preliminary steps will show a longer apron (110cm / 43.5” in length) that I consider way too long and decided to resize it almost at the end of the process.
With that said, and for the sake of simplifying this for you, my recommendation is to measure your shoulder width and the length from your shoulders to your knees as a rule of thumbs for an appropriate width and length of your apron.
I added a few pictures with the sizes of the pockets that you might find helpful for reference to adapt to your own needs.
Step 4: Cut the Fabric
Should be easy enough as it is, measure the width and length, mark the fabric and make your cut.
For those with lack of ability handling a scissor for a clean and straight cut without assistance like me, use a long ruler to mark your fabric and follow along.
You know, I am impressed about the surgically perfected cuts the ladies at Fabricland can perform without sweat, they just put a finger to mark where the cut goes and slice the fabric like butter with their an open scissor. I can’t do it even in a million years.
Anyways a “fit test” is a good idea now to adjust anything before sewing.
[CHALLENGE] What’s wrong with this step? If you find it, please comment!
Hint: You better check the pictures 😉
Step 5: Let’s Shape It
Next cut the curved portions on the fabric to define the chest section.
Step 6: Sewing Time Machine! 🧵
...Or is it Sewing Machine Time? 🧐
I think the step title sounds much better though. Just saying...
Ok let’s get serious (but not too much) as a preparatory step I folded about 1cm (2/5”) of the fabric and then clamped it to help me in the sewing process. I really don’t like sewing pins too much and these little clamps are so easy to put and remove that are one of my go-to helpers for many applications.
Then it’s time to bring the sewing machine and do the seam in all the apron perimeter.
I did a double-stitch seam as a reinforcement... don’t think everything in this project looks as nice as the picture.
Wait for the last step and you’ll see. Thumbs up 👍🏼 for that!
Step 7: [CHECKPOINT #1]
I am going to start adding “checkpoints” in my Instructables, I just decided it 😂
I think is going to be a nice way to show the progress of the project with one or two pictures and avoid mixing them with the dozen of photos I always want to put in each step.
With that said, this is how the apron looks like so far. Let’s keep moving!
Step 8: Blanks for Pockets Sizing
Using graph paper I’ve made blanks of the pockets and placed them on the apron to visualize where they where going to be.
Even with the original design and the aprons I found in internet for reference it was really helpful to check the sizes and location of each pocket.
Trust me, there were a couple of iterations and a trash bin 🗑 full of paper.
Step 9: Cut the Leather
Finally the fun part begins!!
Using the paper-made blanks, transfer the shapes to the leather with an awl and then cut the leather with a utility knife or X-acto knife.
Please remember to keep that cutting tool perpendicular and apply enough pressure to make a clean cut.
Step 10: Stitch Groover and Pricking Irons, the New Superheros in Town.
Let’s piggyback two steps in one.
Take a stitch groover and mark you stitching lines. This helps a lot not only in how the product looks like but also to protect the thread that sits in the groove preventing damage or mechanical wear due to friction.
Once you are done with the stitch groover, take the set of pricking irons you have in your leather crafting toolbox and put some holes in that leather.
NOTE: You don’t really need pricking irons but it will make your life so much easier!! You can use the awl or even a nail to do the holes if you don’t have this tool.
Step 11: Unnecessary Yet Fancy Neck Decoration.
I am confident you can do the following few steps in this Instructable in any order you want/like. It shouldn’t affect the final results.
With that said, I don’t know what I was thinking when started this step *sigh* If there is something definitely I am not, is fancy/fashion, thus this decoration for the utilization I am going to give the apron is absolutely unnecessary... but still it looks good.
So get ready to waste some of your time in the next couple of minutes if you aren’t a fashionable person like me.
Please follow along with pictures. I cut 3 (three) scrap pieces of 4cm x 8cm, one of each leather colour I used in this project.
Then grooved the stitching lines and put some holes with the irons. Then sew by hand the 3 pieces with a cross stitch technique.
I made a couple grooves in the back, which will help to bend the leather and help to look much better.
Finally, glued it to the neck of the apron.
NOTE: This step I not 100% completed, there is a lot of hand stitching coming later that includes sewing this neck to the apron. But let’s keep going while the glue dries...
Step 12: Neck/Bib Strap (Part 1)
So let’s keep going while the glue dries and put some snaps for the neck strap that will be detachable.
I avoided using the almost useless punch hole tool that comes with the snaps set and I used the awl instead.
The instructions to install the snaps usually comes with the product but if not it is a straightforward process that you can follow in the pictures I put in this step.
Step 13: Neck/Bib Strap (Part 2)
I just divided this step in two parts to separate the pictures, otherwise are too many for one step. Hope this helps to follow the Instructable easily.
So I cut a strap of 30” long and 3/4” wide and rounded the edges using a coin to trace the shape. Then using the snap itself, I pressed and marked the leather.
I used the mark to punch a hole with the awl and completed the installation of the snap.
Who said you need super tools for this, huh?
Step 14: [CHECKPOINT #2]
Just a checkpoint. This is how the apron looks like so far...
Step 15: Top Pocket (Build)
If not for the snap hook I added to the bottom of this pocket it was going to be a pretty straightforward step: Glue, Stitch, done! But nope, I needed to over complicate it.
So I took a scrap piece of leather from the big pockets, then measured the width of the snap hook hole for the needed strap and cut it!
What size? It might vary depending the hardware you are using, but for the sake of documentation, the strap I used is 1.9cm x 6.5cm (¾" x 2 ½" in imperial)
I took the blade from my utility knife and use it for skiving.
Highly recommended to have a knife like that. So versatile. I bought it pretty cheap in my local hardware store and it comes with several blades.
You’ll be able to see in the pictures how thin I was able to make the leather and it took me just a minute.
Then I glued the ends of the strap together and once it dried I glued that attachment to the back of the pocket.
TIP: You can always use the awl to make some marks in the leather you are about to glue, it helps in the bonding process.
Step 16: Top Pocket (Install)
Now it is simple, glue, sew and call it done!
Step 17: Bottom/Big Pocket (Build && Install)
This is a two parts pocket I did to use sections of the leather sides I had and avoid wasting bigger and nicer parts on them on something will be wear with tools.
So you might want to use a single piece to avoid most of the stitching.
What I did was to sew the two pieces from the bottom and stopped the sew around 10cm (3.5ish inches) from the top, latter on I will sew that with the apron as well to create a separation in the top of the pocket that allows me to put the rulers or any long tool like files for example. Just do not cut the thread!!
Then I glued the piece with a contact cement and let it sit with some weight for a while.
Once glue dried, time for sewing. Finished up the last 10 cms in the middle section. Then did the whole perimeter of the pocket.
The rule of thumbs is having a thread of around 3 to 4 times the total length of your stitching line. So this was such a long thread to deal with. Perhaps I should have done sections at a time.
Step 18: Waist Straps and Belt
The belt for the waist consist in two straps with some hardware.
• A long strap: 100cm (40”) by 2.5cm (1”) that has an adjustable bucle and a snap hook. I also rounded the ends doing cuts following the shape of a 25cents coin.
• A short strap: 10cm (4”) by 2.5cm (1”) that was attached to a 25mm D-ring, by gluing it’s ends and doing a few stitches near the D-ring for reinforcement.
Each ones of these straps are glued and sew in opposite sides of the apron.
Step 19: [CHECKPOINT #3]
It’s looking much better now.
Something you might notice in the final step photos is that the apron is shorter. I decided to reduce it size to somewhere closer to my knees.
Step 20: Hammer 🔨 Strap
The original strap I planned to put ( can be seen in the pocket sizing and leather cut steps - Steps 9 & 10 ) was way too big and I couldn’t fit it in place.
Anyways after multiple failed attempts, I found the proper size and made it sewing two scrap pieces... yeah two of those previous failures.
The last two pictures in this step are just one example of the bad measurements, when I sized I used the top of the mallet handle without realizing the lower part is shaped more ergonomically and is bigger, thus didn’t allow me to easily put the mallet in place defeating the purpose of the strap. Sadly it was like the 3rd or 4th try.
Step 21: Finished Product.
Step 22: [Bonus Track] Fails and Behind the Scenes
Sewing machine nightmare for someone who claimed to know what he was doing... I did everything that was not supposed to be done, run out of thread, tangled it quite a few times but this shows mistakes can be fixed/corrected as well.
A few pics about how I shoot some photos in step 9.
And last but not least, what can go grown when your princess wants to stop playing to help you out!
Hope you have enjoyed the Instructables.
Runner Up in the