Friday, 21 January 2011

Upcycled apron from the airing cupboard (aka the pillowcase pinny)

Last month I promised a tutorial for germ warfare aprons, but things have moved on since then...

Recently I found some busily-patterned old pillowcases, and was wondering what to do with them when I realised that the pillow case dimensions might be just right for a child's apron. It worked! I do like a nice upcycle, so here's the new tutorial for an apron from a pillowcase (though of course it would work with non-pillow fabrics as well).

You will need:

one pillowcase
sewing machine
ruler and pencil (or washable fabric marker)

(I used a housewife pillowcase with a folded-over section - if yours doesn't have this you will also need some ribbon or other fabric for the ties and neckband).

Let's get started:

Turn your pillow case inside out...

and carefully cut away the folded-over rectangle of fabric at the open end.

First: the neck-band and apron strings

(it's good to get the fiddly bits done at the start)

On the cut-out rectangle of fabric, mark three 4cm wide strips, starting at the long hemmed edge.

Here's a close-up of the strips, marked and ready to cut.

Ready to start sewing!

The strip which already has one hemmed edge is going to be the neck band.

Fold and press a 1cm hem on the other long side, then fold and press again to form a double hem.

Stitch along the folded edge.

The two strips without hems will be the waist ties (the proverbial apron strings, I think).

Fold and press a 1cm hem on one short end of each.

The press both in half lengthways, fold in the long raw edges to the centre and press again.

Fold again lengthways to enclose the raw edges, and topstitch along the open edge to form the ties.

(They will still be unfinished on one end - this is where they will attach to the apron later).

Neck band and ties finished - hooray!

Cutting out the apron

Fold the pillow case in half lengthways.

Mark a point 11cm from the fold on one of the short edges - this will be the top of the apron.

Mark another point 28cm from the top edge on the side-seams of the pillowcase.

Join these two pints with a smooth curve - this is the stitching line.

Draw a cutting line 1cm outside the stitching line and cut along this through all four layers of fabric.

Cut off the top seam 1cm from the edge.

Unfold (it's starting to look like an apron...)

Attaching the ties and neck-band

Fold back the upper layer of fabric to separate the top halves of the apron - now you are looking at the right sides of the fabric on the inside of the pillowcase.

Pin the neck band in place, aligning its raw edges with the top of the apron.

(The neck band needs to be placed 1cm in from the sides to allow a seam allowance when the two layers are joined together - see the photo above).

Baste neck band to apron and pin to make sure it doesn't get caught in the seam allowances later on.

Pin the waist ties in place - raw edges against the side seams - 1cm below the edge of the fabric
(again, so they don't get caught in the seam allowances).

Sewing it all together:

Pin the two layers together, sandwiching the waist ties and neck-band inside the pillowcase, between the right sides of the fabric.

Now stitch all the way around the edges of the body of the apron, leaving a 10cm gap in the lower edge for turning.

Leave a 1cm seam allowance all the way around - even on the side seams which are already stitched. You need to sew inside the original seams in order to catch the waist ties in the new seam allowance.

When you come to sew over the waist ties and the neck-band, backstitch and sew over them again to secure them really well.

Close-up of the lower edge with pins in place to remind me to leave a gap.

(The edges look a bit uneven here so I trimmed them before stitching).

Trim the corners and clip the curves to help it all lie flat when turned.

Turn and press:

Turn through the gap in the lower edge, and press very well all the way around - it's worth doing this from both sides if you're wanting the apron to be reversible.

Press the lower edges under by 1cm at the turning gap, and pin this closed.

Now topstitch all the way around the body of the apron.

Hurrah! All done...

My apron looks as though it's posing for the camera here...

... and here's the more demure version on the reverse.

It didn't take long to make, and it's good to see old pillowcases rehabilitated and brought out from the airing cupboard! 

Let me know if you make one (or two, or three...)



  1. that is a perfect idea!very clever thing to do and lovely for a child!

  2. love it...thank you! Andrea

  3. very clever.
    I do hope to make one.

    Happy Sewing and thanks for the inspiration

  4. Thank you all for your comments! - do let me know if you make one, I'd love to see how they turn out.

  5. That's a really nice idea! I have soms pillowcases that my children made for mother's day.
    I hardly use them, the fabric is a bit hard (rigid? I don't know the english word) but probably perfect for an apron for myself!

  6. Very wonderful!!!!


    Maria Filomena