From Dress to Apron

Hello everyone!  It’s been a long time!  I have had a lot of changes and events happen in my life over the last year, leaving me very little time for blogging.  But I am back!  This first post of the year is one very near and dear to my heart.  My Nana passed away in September and she was such a wonderful person on so many levels.  In classic Italian fashion, my Nana was an amazing cook and she loved to sew.  I took two of her loves and combined them in this project.  My cousins were helping clean out the house and they found a bunch of her old house coats.  She used these dresses to cook in so she didn’t ruin her good clothes.  They separated them among the granddaughters and I decided to refashion mine into an apron.

I don’t have step by step picture for this, sorry, but I will try to be as detailed as possible so you can follow along easily.  This is a super simple project that will work with any dress.

Items Needed


-Scissors/rotary cutter

-Sewing machine

-Seam Ripper



-Measuring Tape

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This is what the original dress looked like

Step 1:  Dismantle the entire dress.  I thought I would save time by only ripping seams as I needed them.  Just do the whole thing and life will be easier.  Keep the bottom hem if you can.

Step 2:  I decided upon a half apron, so measure from where you wear your apron, I wear my around my hips  down as far as you would like your apron to go.  Mine fell about 4 inches above my knees.

Step 3:  What ever length you measured, add a half of an inch (for half inch seams) and cut the skirt portion to final length.  Use the preexisting hem if possible.  If you ripped out the old hem, add another half inch to your length and sew a 1/2 inch hem on the bottom.  When cutting my skirt portion, I did not worry about width.  I used the entire width of the front panel.  Make sure the panel you cut the skirt from is in decent condition, because if you are using an old dress it may have rips or holes in it.

Step 4: Pin the raw sides of the fabric on the left and right and sew a hem.  I made the side have a very small hem for a finished look.

Step 5:  Measure around your waist/hips (or where you wear your apron).  After you have that number add 48-64 inches.  This will be the length of your ties.  They need to be longer than you think!  Mine were a bit too long, but I have made aprons in the past where I cant tie them in a bow and this bothers me immensely.  If you can’t figure out how much length you need take your whole measuring tape and tie it around your waist.  estimate from there.  You can do it, I have faith.

Step 6:  whatever length you determined for your ties, you now need that much fabric cut.  At this point you will probably need to take your remaining panel and square up the edges.  Squaring up fabric can suck.  If you don’t know how to do it, follow this lovely lady’s video

***Just as a hint, due to not having a salvage, I used the hem which was pretty much straight, it wasn’t perfect, however.

Step 7: I cut strips with 4 inch widths, which eventually would leave me with a 1.5 inch wide tie.  Because I did not work with a very long dress, I cut 3 strips and sewed them together to create one long one.

Step 8:  Mark the center of the strip, and pin the center of the strip to the center of the top of your skirt, right sides together.

Step 9:  Now, working from the center I gathered my skirt portion and pinned it to the strip.  My final width of the skirt was 19 inches.  I gathered the fabric like mini pleats, creating a “Z” with the fabric.

Step 10: Sew the gathered skirt portion to the strip, make sure the skirt remained centered on the strip.  I used a  1/2 inch seam

Step 11:  Fold the bottom of the strip (same side that the skirt is sewn to) and fold up half an inch so wrong sides are together.  Iron the 1/2 inch fold.

Step 12:  Fold the top of the strip the same way as step 11 and iron

Step 13:  Fold the strip in half and iron.  You should have a 1.5 inch tie on your apron.

Step 14:  Pin the open sides of the strip together.  Sew as close to the edge as you can.  This gives it a nice finished look.  I also angled the end of my ties.  If you want, you can sew along the fold so when you wash the apron the ties stay nice and flat.  I did not do this, but I may go back and do so.

Step 15:  Next, I cut out a pocket.  I made mine a U shaped pocket.  I did this by folding a piece of scrap fabric in half and drew half of a U and cut it out.  To make the curves gradual and appropriate I used my french curve as a guide, but it is not needed.

It gets tricky from here.  I will give you step-by-step instructions of what I did.  I will then tell you what I would do differently next time.

Step 16:  If you look at the original dress you can see there is hem tape around the top part.  I wanted to use this so I pinned the hem tape around the pocket and sewed the two together.

Step 17:  I then positioned the pocket where I liked and pinned it to the apron and sewed. (Don’t forget to leave the top of the pocket open!)

Step 18:  I did not sew along the same stitches perfectly, so to hide my errors, I then set my machine to do a small satin stitch to give it a finished look.

Voila you are done, here is my finished apron!

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So, as usual I would change a few steps the next time I did this.  The apron itself was easy and I liked the construction of it.  I would keep that the same.  The pocket, however, turned into a bit of a mess and I spent extra time trying to hide it.  Next time, I would probably sew the hem tape to the top of the pocket, then pin the rest around the pocket.  Then I would pin the pocket to the apron and sew the hem tape to the pocket and the pocket to the apron all at once.  That way there aren’t several lines of stitches.  Or I could have just tried really hard to follow the same stitch pattern, but that seems like too much work!

I hope this was relatively easy to follow, I apologize for not having step by step pictures.
Until next time, happy sewing (and cooking)!