Introduction: Up-Cycle Shop/Gardening/Craft Apron From Bib Overalls (no Sew Directions at End)

About: I'm "retired", and now have time for all the creative things I've done since I was a child. I especially like anything with texture.....fabric, wood, glass, stones....even rusty objects. I have a LARGE fabric…

A while back BLKHAWK asked for an Instructable for a "Manly Shop Apron" on the Instructables Forums, so that got me to thinking (anyone smell smoke???) about a way to upcycle something I already had here.  My daughter left a pair of bib overalls when she moved to her own place. I wanted to figure out a way to make them into an apron. I figured they'd be great since they already have several cool pockets, as well as that "hammer loop" thingy.

This is what I came up with

Step 1: Step 1 Start With a Plan (and a Pair of Scissors)

FIRST DETERMINE: #1 Do the overalls fit you? IF they do, there will be no need for strings to tie the apron around your waist.
                                   #2 What length do you want the apron to be?
                                   #3 Do you want to use the back pockets?
                                  #4 Do you have a sewing machine, and know how to use it? Can it handle denim?

1. Bib overalls
2. Sharp Scissors
3. Seam Ripper (this is only a couple bucks at the fabric store or Walmart and well worth every penny...get the one with a larger handle if possible)
4. Straight Pins
5. Iron and Ironing board
6. Soap sliver or marking pencil
7. Straight edge (yard stick)

1. Sewing machine and/or Serger
2. Thread (matching or contrasting color)
3. Fusing Tape or Fabric Glue
4. Stop Fray

Step 2: Step 2 Jump Right In

OK I'm assuming your bib overalls fit (loose is better than too tight). Try them on, and adjust the straps, since this will make a difference in the length. You might want to get someone to help you mark the length. It doesn't have to be perfect, but close. ADDabout 1/2 inch to the length you chose. Remember it's easy to cut more fabric off if you make it too long.....impossible to add it back on (I'm pretty sure BLKHAWK won't want a ruffled edge to add length).

1. Cut off both of the legs at your chosen length (plus 1/2 inch). Save the excess fabric.

Step 3: Step 3 the Back Pockets (OPTIONAL)

If you have decided that you want to utilize the back pockets, now is the time to remove them. I decided I wanted to use them in the mid-front, and that I didn't want to fool around with strings, so I didn't want to make these pockets into a separate apron (like many waiters wear) but you could do that easily.

To remove the pockets use the seam ripper, or very pointy scissors to start cutting the threads that attach the pockets. With this handy little tool it should be very easy.

Put the pockets aside for now.

Step 4: Step 4 Cut, Cut, Cut

You have removed the bottom of both pant legs, so now that your scissors are all warmed up, it's time to remove the back end.

My bib overalls had 2 buttons on each side, so I wanted to be sure to use both to their fullest. I marked about half way between the two buttons, and using a straight edge (yard stick) I marked a line to cut on with my soap sliver. CUT on the line.

Next I wanted to remove the lower part of the back. I wanted to preserve the cool little pockets on the right side, and the hammer loopy thing on the left side, so I cut up the back side leaving that 1/2 inch beyond the cute pockets (and the hammer loop) for a seam allowance. You will leave the outer side seams intact.

Finally cut the back from the crotch leaving the inner seam as well.

OK put your scissors down (for now).....Well done

Step 5: Step 5 Front Apron Pocket (From Back Pockets) Two Options

For the OPTIONAL use of the back pockets determine where you want to put these pockets, and IF you want them to be permanent, or removable. I made mine permanent, but they look like a tied on apron. Either way you will start the same way

Measure the space across the middle. Since I wanted to be able to use all of the pockets all ready there I found the pockets were too wide to use side, by side, so I overlapped them. Once you have them overlapped to fit the space, pin them together.

To make the back of the pocket, position the pockets onto a leftover piece of denim. Pin the pockets in place. Using either the marking pencil, or the sliver of soap, draw a line all the way around your pocket ADDING 1/2 inch as a seam allowance.  Cut the pocket backing out on the line you just drew.

Pin the pockets onto this piece and set it aside.

You will finish the pockets in Step 8

Step 6: Step 6 Iron

Set your iron to the appropriate setting for the fabric you are working on. On my iron denim is HIGH.

Iron ALL of the 1/2 inch seam allowances under, to the inside, or back of the apron. EXCEPT for the pocket backing.

For the pocket backing iron the seam allowance to the FRONT, or outside, so that the seam (raw edge) will be sandwiched between the backing, and the pocket, that way it will not show.

Step 7: Step 7 "Finish" the Edges

Think back to the days of cut off jean shorts, where you just whacked the jeans off, and away you hemming. Once the shorts were washed, and dried there was LOTS of fraying, and loose threads. To avoid that you will want to finish the edges of your apron, without adding bulk to your seams, which would make it harder for your sewing machine to sew.

I used a serger to "overlock" the edges.....look at the inside of your T-Shirt to see an "overlock" stitch

You can simply zig-zag the edge of all cut edges. Use a matching thread (my picture is done in pink so it shows better) for both the upper, and bobbin thread.

NOTE: You do NOT need to zig-zag all around the piece that is the back of the pocket. Only zig-zag the top of this piece.

Step 8: Step 8 (OPTIONAL) Front Pockets From Back Pockets 2 Ways

IF you will be using the back pockets for either an attached front pocket like I did, OR if you want to use the back pockets as a detachable "apron" you will proceed the same way. 

You will be "sandwiching"  the 1/2 inch seam allowance that you previously ironed to the FRONT of the backing fabric, in between the backing and the pockets.

I wanted to make the two back pockets into 3 different sized pockets (since they were overlapped any way). I sewed down the BACK pocket (the one next to the backing fabric) first using a straight stitch. Then I sewed down the TOP pocket and that gave me a narrow pocket to use for a paint brush or pencil.

NOTE: Leave the top 1/2 inch seam allowance open (do NOT sew it)

Finally, I put the finished pocket RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER onto the apron and sewed across the 1/2 inch seam allowance at the top of the pocket. Leaving the rest of the pocket loose will give you more room for filling the pockets.

****IF you want your pocket to be detachable, you will now need to attach ties to either side of the pocket.
Measure your own waist.
Measure the width of the pocket
Subtract the width of the pocket from your waist measurment.
Divide by 2 (this tells you how long EACH tie needs to be JUST to go around you, but not to tie)
Now Add 12 - 18 inches to that and this tells you how long each tie needs to be

EXAMPLE: Your waist measures 36 inches, and your pocket measures 12 inches 36-12=24
 Divide by 2 =12 + 12 = 24 inches for each tie.

Cut two strips of fabric from the leftover leg. Each should measure 25 inches long by 1.5 inches long.
Fold each strip in half lengthwise with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.
Sew using a straight stitch, and 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Turn both ties to the right side using a safety pin attached to one end. You will have a tube for each tie.
Iron, turning the 1/2 inch seam allowance on both sides of the tube under.
Sew across the upper edge of the pocket being careful NOT to sew across the pocket opening.
Sew one end of each tube in place on the apron (pocket)  next to the upper edge of the pocket.
Sew across the other edge to close the opening.

Step 9: Step 9 Sew the Front (crotch)

Lay your "apron" out on a flat surface face up, and fold both edges of the front crotch to the back making sure the apron front lays flat. Turn the apron over, and with your scissors cut away the seam, and excess fabric.
With  the outsides together sew the two leg sections together to form a smooth front to your apron

Step 10: Step 9 Hem the Edges and Bottom

Now is the time to sew all of those 1/2 inch seam allowances under to give the apron a finished look.

You Might want to match the stitching on the original over-all. Usually that means using a contrasting color of thread, and stitching two parallel lines. NOTE: If your sewing skills aren't the best, or you really don't care about any "decorative" stitching, use MATCHING thread in both the top and bobbin. Mistakes won't be as visible.

Hem the bottom of the apron in the same way.

And You're DONE!!

Step 11: No Sew Directions

You have a couple different options for a no sew shop apron.

#1 Do not sew or finish any of the edges EXCEPT for the front crotch edge. Follow the directions for one of the two other options for that seam. When you wash your apron trim off the frayed edges as needed

#2 Use a Fabric Glue found at fabric stores, to hem all the edges. Follow the directions on the glue you buy.

#3 Use a "fusing" tape that is narrower than your seam. Protect you iron from the's hard to remove. Follow the directions for the use of the fusing tape.