aprons: vintage and modern retro

I’m trying to reduce my stash of fabric this year and put it to use for good causes and good people.

My friend and her mom recently moved in a new house and I wanted to make them a house-warming gift. I decided to make them a couple of aprons from my vintage sheet stash. The first apron, for my friend Amanda, was made from a vintage pillowcase I thrifted last summer. I’d already made a pillowcase apron for the boyfriend out of another vintage pillowcase I found on that trip so I just copied that first apron.

I made his apron with a non-adjustable neck as he requested, but I wanted to give Amanda the option of an adjustable neckline. I thought I still had some small D-rings, but as I was making the apron I discovered I was out. I was on a roll and didn’t want to go to the store so I improvised and made a loop out of fabric. I like how it turned out and was glad I chose not to add some shiny metal hardware to distract from the soft feel of this apron.


Here’s the final product!


One down, one to go.

I made this second apron for Amanda’s mom from a vintage sheet. I used a simple pattern based on an apron I own that I’ve used before to make an apron for my aunt. This pattern is best if your fabric is a vintage sheet or a long length of fabric since the single tie is 80″ long.


I did use two layers of sheet since the fabric was a bit thin and sheer. It looks the same on both sides. Here’s a close-up of where the tie slides through on the front.


When I tried it on, I briefly considered keeping it for myself and making a different one for Amanda’s mom. Luckily I have enough of this fabric leftover to make one for myself. 🙂


Amanda said she’s started cooking more since the move, so hopefully this apron will come in handy!

I also made another apron that started out as a gift, but is now hanging in my kitchen instead.


When I started this project, I thought it would be a good fit for the intended recipient. After I finished the apron and put it on, I realized I was making it for me. (I’ve already got ideas for a different apron project for her.)

I’d bought this fabric after admiring it every time I went into Hobby Lobby for a few months. It went on clearance and, fearing it would be sold out, I bought a couple yards though I still didn’t know what its purpose would be. (I’m pretty sure I saw still being sold just a month or two ago, so I guess I didn’t need to buy it when I did…) I got my fabric together with this pattern I’d made before and after sewing on a few yards of bias tape, I had a new apron!


If anyone knows how to take a good picture of an apron not on a body or dress form, let me know!

You can see the contrast bias tape better in this picture. I’ve made view A, C, and now D. I also really like this pattern, but would have to make sure it wasn’t too cafeteria worker. Could that pattern be cute and retro or is it the muumuu of aprons? I definitely prefer the bias trim to the contrast pockets in the photo.


dog bed cover

I’ve mentioned my friend Natalie, queen of the bargain, on the blog more than a few times. She was out trying to find some deals the day after Thanksgiving, including a bed for her dog J.R. The bed she was looking at didn’t have a removable cover and she ended up not getting it. I stashed that info away in the back of my mind and decided to make her a dog bed cover for Christmas (though it arrived several weeks into the new year).

Mailing a whole dog bed would have been a costly endeavor, so I just made the cover according to the dimensions of the bed that she gave me. I chose a light brown faux suede that was machine washable, wouldn’t attract too much fur, and could be tossed in the dryer.


The hardest part was cutting out the large rectangles evenly. From there, I just sewed (twice I believe) around the edges, trimmed the corners and left an opening to put in the velcro. I used a full length of beige velcro and attached it along the edge to make it easy to slide the bed in and out.


I know, exciting pictures, right? But here’s a cute dog!


Here’s J.R. with his new bed cover! Natalie said he was going crazy as she opened the box and was sniffing it all over (probably because the cats laid all over it as I was making the cover). Speaking of cats, here are some cat blankets you can make if you don’t have a dog, or you check out the dog blanket I made for a much smaller dog.

purple squishy scarf

My last post featured a purple hat. This post is about another piece of purple winter wear: a knitted scarf I made for my friend Crystal.


I made her a matching set of purple hat, keyhole scarf, and fingerless gloves for her trip to China last year. In an effort to reduce my yarn stash, I decided to use my remaining skein of Lion Brand Homespun in Barrington to make her a full length fluffy scarf for winter in Chicago.


I bought some size 13 needles for this project, which worked up relatively quickly. The pattern was easy and I was pleased with the “squishy” feel of the looser weave.


It looks pretty good with my blue coat.

I used the Super Easy Squishy Scarf pattern (on Ravelry and on her blog). I’m sure I cast on more stitches, but I’m not sure how much wider I made it. (It was finished before Christmas, but putting the package together took a little while.) The width is nice to wrap around your neck and face when braving the Windy City winter.

I sent it to Crystal a few weeks ago as part of her winter survival package. 🙂 There will be a part two once I finish my other project for her!

sweater hat

I’ve seen some cool sweater hats at See Kate Sew and Wunderbar but this hat was so simple it didn’t even require a sewing machine!

I’ve gotten a lot of life out of this purple cotton turtleneck. It was a bag here, and a Kindle case here. I was unraveling the rest of the sweater for yarn and decided to stop when I got to the neck. I liked the cable pattern and wanted to preserve it by turning the turtleneck section into a hat. purplesweaterhat05A

I unraveled the sweater section to the length I wanted for the hat and left a row of loops sticking out evenly around the top. (I realize it would be helpful to have a photo of this, but if you Google unraveling yarn you should be able to see what I mean. Knitters, you know what’s up if you’ve ever frogged anything.)

Then I took some of the yarn I’d unraveled, wove it through the row of loops, and cinched the top closed. I did a few passes across the center to cover the hole, tied the yarn off, and I had a wearable hat.


view from the top

It’s a bit loose and slouchy but I like it, plus it won’t totally mess up my hair if I throw it on.


This was truly a fifteen minute project. Maybe only ten. You might need to do some hand or machine sewing if you have a different kind of sweater or you need to take some of the width out around the brim. You may even be able to use an oversized sweater sleeve to make your hat.


view of the cinched inside

I love the fit and color of this hat. It’s not as warm as other hats I have, but I like the feel of the cotton on my head.


And by the way, both the hat and the blue and gray striped sweater I’m wearing were thrifted for less than $3 each!

flannel pajama bottoms

It’s the in-between time of year when it can be near freezing one day and near 70 the next. I’ve worn these flannel pajama pants that I made last year a few times during the cold spells. I was going to use this free Simplicity pattern to make them, but it still isn’t taped together. Instead I used this Simplicity pattern that I bought for $1. They appear to be very similar.

This was one of my first sewing projects when I got back into sewing and I bought “real” (not thrifted or yard sale vintage) fabric to make them. The fabric has pilled since then, leaving me to question the quality of Hobby Lobby’s flannel.


They were pretty easy to make, though the silhouette is far from fashionable. I untapered the leg a bit and chopped several inches off the waistband so they’d hit below my natural waist. Unfortunately, I chopped the waist down after cutting a few inches off the legs and hemming them so they’d be the right length. Like I said, it was shortly after I’d gotten back into sewing…

So I attached the bottoms of the legs back on and topstitched over the seams with the lovely bird ribbon I’d chosen for the elastic & drawstring waist. I’d wanted the ribbon to be more visible so it all worked out.


pretty bird ribbon!


scars from the leg reattachment surgery

I’m not sure if I’d make this pattern again since the shape of the pants is not really my style.

I also made a pair of sleep shorts using a cute flannel remnant that I found in my mom’s stash. It was leftover from a pair of pajamas my mom was supposed to make me in middle school. (The pieces are cut out in size 12 kids and the fabric is still pinned to the pattern pieces.)


I liked the print so I attempted to make myself a pair of pajama shorts from it. The pieces I had were too small for me and so my cousin Elizabeth profits once again. (I gave her the pair I made from a vintage sheet too since they were also a bit snug.)


I used a green flannel remnant for the waistband and the Prudent Baby sleep shorts tutorial.


I have fabric ready to make another pair of warmer weather sleep shorts for myself. Hopefully they will fit well this time!

blue half mitts

I had another skein of Lion Brand Jiffy in Navy left from making my awesome knit hat (the last one in this post). I thought about pairing it with some gray for a cowl, but decided on a matching pair of fingerless gloves instead. I have many simple pairs that I’ve crocheted by making a long rectangle and seaming it leaving a hole for the thumb, but I’d never knit a pair of hand warmers.

My love affair with knitting is growing and these mitts only helped. I wanted a pair with a similar pattern to the hat so I chose the relatively simple Vancouver Half-Mitts. The instructions were easy to follow; I even picked up the stitches for the thumb with relative ease. Knitting still kind of scares me, just not enough to stop me from plunging ahead and trying new techniques. I love the accomplishment and satisfaction I feel when a completed piece looks the way I’d hoped it would.

So here are the finished mitts. I’d try to keep track of the number of rows you knit if I were making these again so the two pairs would have a better chance of being symmetrical. I didn’t count rows and relied on measurements and my gloves are a little different from each other. I used a stretchy bind off at the tops for maximum hand flexibility.


They came out right, but looked kind of boring. I did choose a simple pattern to go with the hat, but these needed some flare.


I had four buttons in my stash the same color as the button I’d used on the hat; they seemed like the perfect embellishment.


The placement might be a little unusual but the buttons are visible, even with coat sleeves, and they don’t interfere with the function.


There’s more visual interest with the buttons and I like the brassy color with the blue.


I recently realized that many buttons for yarn projects can be sewn on using yarn instead of thread. I’ve started using yarn and prefer it because of the thickness and security of the attachment.


So here’s the finished set. I know the seed stitch doesn’t totally go with the (very narrow) ribbing, but the styles are similar. Next time I’ll try a fingerless glove pattern with some interesting details that can stand on its own.

fleece bow scarf

I was immediately drawn to this bow scarf from Ruffles and Stuff and knew I had to make it. (Side note: The bow scarf how-to pics are the reason I dug my flower pins out of the craft stuff at my mom’s house over the holidays.)

I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to find scarves at a dollar store so I was going to use some long pieces of fleece for the project. I mulled this over for a couple months trying to decide what kind of fleece I wanted (while working on other projects of course!). One morning, I put on a plain fleece scarf that I rarely wear anymore, and I knew I had my material. The scarf was thin and not up to par with my many softer, plusher knit and crocheted scarves, but refashioning it would give it a new life. Shortly thereafter, I cut the scarf in half and whipped this project up in no time at all.


I calculated the length of the loops and the spaces in between so my bows would be evenly spaced cause I’m precise like that (and it would have driven me crazy otherwise). I hid the seam where I attached the two pieces of scarf together by making it the center of the middle bow. Then I just used the cut off fringe to tie a good knot around the centers of the bows and it was done!


I’m not a big bow person and couldn’t see myself wearing it, so I sent it off to my younger cousin Rebecca. She really liked it (and so did my aunt!) which is nice because I imagine that one day it won’t be “cool” for her to wear stuff her older cousin made. But until then, she’ll be getting random stuff in the mail. 🙂