THIS FREE PATTERN MAY ONLY BE ORDERED WHEN INCLUDED WITH A PURCHASE.
Designed by Luis Estevez exclusively for The Quaker Oats Company. Great old advertising pattern that was obtained by mail order using proof of purchase from a Quaker Oats box. The pattern makes a waist apron with tie ends and a shaped ruffle above the waistband.
When I was in about 7th grade (that would have been in the 1950s), I was enrolled in Home-ec and joined 4-H at the same time. A simple apron was the first project for both, and at the same time. There was a big difference. My Home-ec teacher was a brand new college grad (I swear she’d never sewn a stitch), and we were her first class. That woman made it such a laborious process that it’s a wonder she didn’t discourage all of us from ever picking up a needle again. 4-H is what saved me, and those kind, experienced ladies kept me interested in sewing. As a result, sewing has provided me with 65 years of enjoyment, and filled many needs that would have been too expensive to purchase ready-made.
What was the difference? There were several. The school teacher insisted on a particular commercial pattern. Even tho several stores in town sold sewing patterns, each store only had 2-3 in stock, and there were 25 girls in the class. Finding enough patterns was a project in itself. She had us cut out each pattern piece, whether we’d use them or not, and write our name, her name, and class period on every pattern piece. Since it was a one hour class, that took nearly the entire semester. So, you can see how that class went…the aprons became a summer sewing project.
Our 4-H leaders, however, helped us take a few body measurements, showed us how to cut the fabric and stitch up the apron. They even taught us how to tie a bow behind our backs! In no time at all, we were wearing our new aprons, and feeling quite accomplished. No, my school teacher wasn’t interested in my 4-H experience.
I remember how my grandmother laughed as I related the story to her. She never heard of anyone using a pattern to make a “waist apron”. She wore an apron on the farm, always, except when she got dressed up once a week to go to town. Her aprons were usually made from discarded clothes – which means clothes that were already worn out. And many of the clothes were made from feed sacks. It didn’t even matter if the apron was made from one material (as we called fabric then). As long as it had a pocket, it was good. Grandma used her aprons for many purposes – to gather eggs, clean up little messes, and to wipe grubby little faces (mine included), to name just a few.
When I was getting married in the late 60s, aprons and pillowcases were perfectly acceptable shower or wedding gifts. A bit of crochet edgings or embroidery made them extra special. There was no such thing as a store registry or money tree. My gifted aprons are long since worn out, but I’m still using a pair of wedding pillowcases.
Here’s a quick guide to making a simple waist apron with no pattern. You can adjust these measurements to suit yourself, but this will get your started, and you can adjust the sizes for your next apron. I like to use 100% cotton, as it wears well and is absorbent. Poly cotton doesn’t wrinkle like cotton, but it isn’t nearly as absorbent.
16″x36″ - skirt
72″x5″ - waistband and ties (make it long enough to tie a nice bow in back)
12″x12″- pockets. Cut one or two, depending on how many pockets you want. Pockets aren’t required, but they are recommended.
Turn under ¼” along the 16” sides of the skirt edges. Fold it under once more to encase the raw edges, and machine stitch. Use the same method to hem the bottom.
Run a couple of long-stitch basting threads to the top edge (raw edge) of the fabric. Start pulling the threads to gather them, without breaking the threads. Space the gathers evenly – just eyeball it. Gather until the top of the apron is the width you want it to fit at your waist, usually 20-24” depending on your size.
Almost finished! Cut the waistband and apron strings in one long piece. It’s okay if you need to stitch several pieces together. A good finished depth for the waistband and strings is about 2” wide. Spread it on the ironing board, and iron it flat. Then turn under ¾” on all edges, and press. Fold it in half lengthwise, and press. Now we’re going to stitch all the way around from the end of one tie, enclosing the skirt inside, and finish up at the other end of the tie. First, find the center of the waistband and line up the center of the top edge of the skirt. Pin it in place, right side up, and stitch, beginning at the end of one tie, across the skirt, and ending at the end of the other tie.
To make the pockets, hem the top edge like you hemmed the skirt. Press ¾” along the other 3 edges of the pocket. Position the pockets where they’ll be comfortable for you. Pin them to the skirt, and stitch around 3 edges of each pocket, being sure to leave the tops open.
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