Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Christmas Making: Tea towel apron tutorial

Here's a quick and easy tutorial for a quick and easy apron that would make a lovely gift. You just need two pretty tea towels and some twill tape or ribbon, and a spare hour (probably less if you're a better crafter than me :). I wanted to make an apron for my mother-in-law (she cut the ties off the last one she had in order to tie up a Christmas tree. Don't ask), and I'd bought some cheap oilcloth but wasn't happy with it. I was thinking about making the tea towel apron from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing, but wanted a bib bit at the top. So I played around with my tea towels, and hey presto! As I was putting this tutorial together I thought I might be re-inventing the wheel, and a quick Google showed that Martha Stewart beat me to it, but my version has a gathered top to save on sewing time. Plus it makes it look nicer!

You will need:

Two tea towels. Mine were from Home Bargains as part of a set of three, and were £1.49.

Twill tape or ribbon. I used tape that was half an inch wide because that was what I had in my stash, but I think 1" wide would be better.

Matching thread - you might need 2 different colours if your tea towels are different colours.

A sewing machine (optional, you could do all of the sewing by hand if you don't have a machine).

A ready-made apron to help with your measurements.

Start by laying out your ready-made apron, using it as a guide, and placing your tea towels on top. You need to take into account how long you want your apron to be, and how deep you want your pockets to be. The top of your vertical tea towel will be folded over to make a casing for your neck strap, so leave enough space for this (about an inch or two).

When you're happy with your layout, pin your tea towels together, and stitch along the lines in the diagram below.

WARNING: You'll need to take into account the wonkiness of your tea towels. They're not known for their straight edges, especially cheap ones, so be careful as you're sewing the two together. I didn't take account of wonkiness, and you can see the wonky results below :) It shouldn't matter too much if you're using a thread that's well matched to the colour of your tea towel.

Next you'll sew a line down the middle of your bottom tea towel to make the pockets. Fold your apron in half to make sure you centre the line.

You're halfway there! Next you need to make the casing for your neck tie. Fold the top of your apron over, using your tape / ribbon as a guide. You need to make sure it will fit through comfortably and won't get twisted. Now sew your casing. As the edge of your tea towel is already hemmed you don't have to faff about turning it under to neaten it :)

Attach a safety pin to the end of your tape and thread it through your casing. You'll need enough tape to fit comfortably round your neck - I cut a piece about 40" to start with, and adjusted it to the right length later.

Runkle up your casing until you're happy with the gathers, and then pin your tape either side. Make sure you have an even amount of tape either side of the apron top.

Now sew the ends of your casing in place where you've pinned it.

Next you have two options. You can leave the ends of the tape free, which will mean you will have to tie the apron at the neck and the waist when you put it on. I recommend you do this if you're making the apron as a present for someone, unless you know their exact height / shoulder width / neck girth etc. :)

Or you can join the two ends together, making a loop that you pull over your head when you put the apron on. If the apron is for you then this is the best option. Put the apron on and put the tape around the back of your neck. Make sure you have enough tape to be able to pull the apron on and off over your head, and pin the tape together.

Cut the excess tape off, and join the two ends together. I folded each one over and then sewed them on top of one another, if that makes sense.

Next you need to add the ties for the back of the apron. Take your tape / ribbon and measure out enough to go all the way around your waist and tie comfortably at the front. I used about 55". Cut your tape in half, and attach each piece to the sides of your apron, where the two uppermost corners of the bottom tea towel are. Make sure you sew the tape on well.

Now neaten the ends of your tape by folding over twice and sewing. If you're in a rush (or are fed up with sewing fiddly little bits of tape) you could tie a big knot in the end instead.

Finished! Sit back and admire your handywork :)

No, I haven't suddenly got a lovely new big kitchen, the photoshoot took place at grandma pickledweasel's, with munchkin as assistant (she sat in an armchair eating raisins and shouting encouraging things).


  1. Great idea. I will use it to make aprons for the boys.

  2. Excellent! If you blog about it, post a link here in the comments so we can all come and say 'Oooh!' :)

  3. This is a great project. What a clever way to put the towels together! I really like it! Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is so awesome, thanks for posting this! I am off to the store today in search of tea towels =)

  5. I love it!! Definitely going on my must-do list!

  6. This is a great tutorial. I wish I stayed up to date better, I would twitter it! In fact, I'm going to tweet it anyway. HA!

  7. I'm so excited that I found this! I actually just got through making a tea towel apron but wasn't happy with the shape of it. This one is easier and cuter!! Thanks!!