aprons for Haiti

After I finished sewing my little dresses for Africa and Love without Boundaries, I was looking for another opportunity to sew for charity. I found a great project where people are making aprons for women in Haiti in this blog post from Maureen Cracknell Handmade. Some of the organizations that take handmade items for charity have specific requirements about designs and materials, so it’s nice to come across a project where you can use what you have around already.

I used fabrics that had been hanging around in my stash for awhile and had already been used for several things. (Vintage sheets keep going and going!)

This first fabric was given to me by a friend of my mom’s and I wasn’t crazy about it. Of course, now that I’ve seen it paired with black and with white in this crochet hook roll, the fabric is growing on me.

All the aprons I made were half-aprons that used a large rectangle folded in half for the skirt, and very long rectangles for the ties. This apron has long ties that go around to the front so it can fit a variety of sizes. The pockets are also rectangles, sewed in half and turned, and then topstitched on the apron. I’ll put more specific directions at the end of this post.

I cut all my apron skirts to maximize the fabric I had left over. This rectangle was very long so I gathered it to lose some width.

This second apron I did the same way. The skirt is a vintage sheet, and I added vintage pillowcase scraps for interesting pockets. I could have gathered this apron as it goes all the way around me, but I left it wide.

This apron (also a vintage sheet) has contrasting rectangles added on the back to make the pockets pop. The pockets have rounded corners and are placed on at an angle.

The colors are hard to see in this photo, but the contrast rectangles for the pockets are brown and the pieces on the ties are burgundy.

I sewed all the details (pockets, sash, etc.) with contrasting thread. My design elements were mostly dictated by what fabric I had left and the scraps I could cobble together. I’m happy with how they all turned out and was pleased I was able to use up a good chunk of these fabrics.

The aprons are now in the mail headed to Tennessee. More info about the aprons for Haiti project can be found on the Craft Hope Facebook page, and their apron event on Facebook. The deadline is May 31st, but you still have some time left to make an apron or two.

Edit: The deadline just got extended until July! I’ll have to make a few more aprons before then.

These aprons are pretty simple and I made it up as I went along, but here are some basic directions. If you are looking for more specific details, there are tons of apron patterns and tutorials out there.

What you need:

– a large rectangle for the apron skirt

Cut your rectangle as wide as you like to wrap around your waist. I used an apron I already had to figure out the width and length. Remember you will be folding this rectangle in half, so make it twice the length you want. If you want to gather your skirt, cut 1.25 or 1.5 times the width you need depending on how much gathering you want.

– one or two long rectangles for the apron ties

You can make the apron ties long enough to wrap around your waist once or twice. The width of the strip depends on the look you want. A wide strip would be about 6″ (folded in half = a little less than 3 inches wide after narrow hem). A narrow strip would be 3-4″ or two 2″ strips. I wouldn’t suggest going much narrower than 3″ for a single strip or 2″ for two strips, taking seam allowance and a narrow hem into account.

– one or two rectangles (or any other shape) for the pockets

I made mine just big enough to put my hand in, but keep in mind what you will want to put in the pockets: spoon, towel, etc. These will also be folded in half, so make them twice the length you want.

1. Fold your large skirt rectangle in half, right sides together, and sew around three edges. Turn the skirt right side out, press and topstitch the sewn edges. You can staystitch the unfinished edge at the top above the seam allowance to prevent shifting.

If you are gathering your apron skirt, you may want to skip to step two and sew on your pockets first before you gather. To gather, sew two lines of long stitches (I sew mine at 4.5) on the top and pull the back threads to gather to desired width. To keep your gathering in place, you will probably want to sew a seam at normal stitch length to secure it.

2. Sew the pockets the same way as the skirt, along three sides and turn. Fold the top of pocket in 1/4″ and topstitch close to edge. Attach pockets near center of skirt with topstitching. I used two rows of topstitching on mine.

3. If you cut your apron ties as two rectangles, sew the tops of the ties together and press along the seam. If you cut the ties as one rectangle, you can just press the strip in half. You can topstitch along the finished top of the ties if you want.

Then fold under 1/8″ or 1/4″ twice on the bottom edges to make a narrow hem. I sewed the raw edges of my ties closed right sides together and then folded the seam allowance back under on the edges before I started attaching the ties.

(I realize this part may be a bit tricky without a photo…)

I sewed one side of the ties to apron skirt the same way I sew on double-fold bias tape: I unfolded the wide part and sewed where the folds overlapped. Make sure you are attaching the ties below your gathering stitches and staystitching. After you’ve sewn one side of the ties to the front of the apron, fold the rest of the ties up and over and pin carefully trying to match the front and backs as best you can. This part took me the most time, but you only have one seam left and you’re done! After you carefully pin the remaining open part of the tie to itself and to the front and back of the apron and are sure it lines up, sew a long seam close to the edge. Make sure you’ve got both sides sewn down in the seam and you’re done!

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