Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Pretty Apron

This week I'm republishing a popular post from last spring in honor of The CSI Project's Refashions {Upcycled Clothing} Challenge.  
Once upon a time, I dropped by Goodwill to check out the glass aisle.  I was in the mood for making more apothecary jars--and possibly some cake stands, too--for my sewing room.  On the way to the glass aisle, I passed the Wall of Dresses.  I rarely ever give the Wall of Dresses anything more than a passing glance.  Usually that passing glance lands upon someone's old bridesmaid dress, and I have a quiet giggle.

This time, however, was different.  My passing glance paused upon these two dresses.
 It was the fabric that did it.  The fabric and that ruffle on the brown one.

Sadly, this pretty embroidered number wasn't reaching her full potential as a dress.  I mean, look:  she still had her price tag attached.  She'd never been worn.

The price tag is marked $58.00.  I paid $4.99.  Score!

 I started with the pretty pastel dress.  First, I used my seam ripper to take the two halves of the dress apart and pull off the zipper.  It was late at night....when my creativity was at it's height....can you tell from the pictures?
It was waaaaaay easier to take apart than it should have been.  Just think what would have happened if I hadn't come along and purchased this dress--someone could have bought this dress, zipped herself into it, worn it to her cousin's wedding, and then could have had a very embarrassing experience when the seam split as she was dancing to "Achy Breaky Heart."  Yep, I did everyone at that wedding a big favor, by turning this little number into an apron, didn't I?

Anyway, I felt a slight twinge of guilt as I deconstructed this never-before-worn dress, but it was very slight.  I mean, seriously, it was $4.99 at Goodwill.
Once I was done with the seam ripper, I had two halves of a dress and a zipper, as well as the original price tag and little bag of straps I found as I was taking apart the dress.  Did I mention how much I like the embroidery going on here?
Also, did I mention that this fabric is machine washable?

The bodice of this dress has boning in it.  I decided to leave it in, just to give the apron some unexpected structure.  I'm sure that if I had wanted to, I could have taken that out easily.

Once I'd deconstructed the dress, I picked one half to repurpose as an apron.  I chose the front.  I pinned the ripped seams back on their original folds, and stitched them down with my machine.  Bonus that these seams were serged already.

Next, I made the strap for the neck of my apron and the two apron ties.  I decided on a single, adjustable strap.  (How adjustable it will be since my sewing machine doesn't do button holes remains to be seen.)  I measured and cut out the fabric accordingly: one strip of 3-1/2" x 14" (on the fold) for the strap,  2 strips of 6-1/2" x 22" (on the fold) for the apron ties.
I ironed 1/4" folds on the end of each strip.
I folded and ironed each strip in half, with the ironed 1/4" folds showing.
Then I sewed a 1/2" seam down each strip.
It looked like this when I was done.  See how the folded ends are exposed?  Also see how old my sewing machine is?  I bought it used not long after the Bionic Man and I were married.  It must have been at least 25 years old when I acquired it.  It still does the job!
I ironed the seams open.
I turned each strip inside out.  I use a dowel to help me do this.  The dowel pushes the fabric up through, much more easily than my hands will.

Once the strips were turned right side out, I ironed them flat
and sewed all the way around, very close the edge of each strip.

Then I sewed the strap and ties in place on the apron.

Every good apron needs a pocket and deserves a little embellishment.  So, I cut out a rectangle of fabric for my pocket.  I trimmed the pocket using one of the removable straps from the former dress and sewed it into place.
I added fabric yoyos to the pocket and to one of the upper corners of the apron.  (Hmmm.  As I'm looking at the pocket now, I have a feeling I forgot to make sure it wasn't cut on the bias.  Probably why it is so wrinkly.  Live, sew, and learn!)  Yoyos are unbelievably easy embellishments.  I learned to make mine using Heather Bailey's tutorial.

Voila!  This Goodwill dress has a new life as a pretty apron.

I'm linking up to:


  1. What a GREAT idea! Love it :)

  2. ADORABLE! I love the fabric too! You have given me some inspiration to browse the dress isle at the thrift stores now.

    I found you via your link-up at CSI, would love if you stopped by my blog too!


  3. Another fabulous refashion! You are so talented and creative!

    I would love if you came and linked this project to my clothes upcycling page too!

    Have a lovely week!

  4. awesome idea! I wish i was more competent with a sewing machine!