How to Make an Apron from a Skirt or Jumper

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How to Make an Apron from a Skirt or Jumper

I wanted to make some aprons to sell at our Christmas market and scrounged through all my fabric looking for 'retro' style cloth.  That same day, I made a trip to the thrift store since my daughter had the shopping bug.  The clearance rack caught my eye because there were all these really cute summer skirts and dresses..on sale!  The colors were just awesome.  I got to looking at them and thought.."Gee, I could just cut these skirts up the back, add a waistband, ties, ruffle, and pocket and I would have some really cute aprons! In fact, if I cut them just right I could make a mom and daughter matching set.

I'm afraid I went a little crazy..."I'll take this one..and this one..and Oh..this one's so cute..I've just gotta have it too! I'll tell you... I just had a great time shopping!! (And I really don't like to shop at all.)

Now, I have to confess, I have a new passion and it's transforming cute skirts and dresses into aprons!  It's so fun!!  Part of the reason, is that I love picking out coordinating colors of fabric from my stash for the ties, ruffle, and pockets, and ribbons, lace etc. to coordinate with the cloth the skirt is made of.  I never quite know, ahead of time, what I will end up with.  This particular process leaves a lot of room for creativity!

This doesn't have to be real complicated but I wouldn't say it's all that easy either, especially if you are not very good at sewing.  I'm going to give you instructions for how I did it, but I'm also going to give you a few super easy options.

Skill Level: Intermediate 
Cost: Cheap!!!

  •   Thrift store or gently used skirt or jumper
  •   Scrap cloth about 1/3 yard of two to three colors
  •    Thread

In summary, here are the basic steps:
1. Cut the skirt open following the zipper line. (Usually the center of the back or the side.) Remove zipper.
2. Cut it into two parts. Lay it out and if it is big enough, cut it into two third for daughter, two thirds for mom, or just exactly in half to make two matching aprons of the same size. 
3.Determine Apron Length and Width:  You really need the mom size apron to be at least 14-16" in length with a 14-18" width at the top for the waistband to be attached to.    The child size apron needs to be about 10-14" long and about 10-12" wide for the waistband edge.
Note: .Don't worry about having seams in the middle, by the time you add all the trimmings, it will be so cute, it won't matter.  I do try to make sure the larger one doesn't have the seam though.  Seams are part of the 'charm' of being a re-purposed apron. :o)
4.Cut skirt to apron size. I cut off part of the top of each skirt until I get to the width that would be appropriate for the waist.  If that would make it too short, you can always add a wider waistband or a wider ruffle.

Tip: If you want to make it super easy, leave an extra inch at the top, so that you can just fold it over, rather than add the waistband.   Also cut off any thick seams (where the front and back were joined together at the sides), so that you don't have to sew through anything too thick.
5. Choose coordinating colors of fabric. Look at the colors of your skirt.  Usually most prints will have at least three colors.  For example, the jumper at the top has red, orange, dark pink, and yellow.  These are the colors of fabric you will need to make the ruffle, waistband, ties, and pocket. (Click pix to see print up close.)
6.Cut strips for waistband and ruffle. I usually try to cut a 3 1/2" wide strip for the ruffle from one coordinating color and also cut a 3" wide strip as wide as the waist for my waist band (because I'm going to fold it over to the back.) The ruffle strip should be about 1 1/2 times as long as the lower edge of the skirt to allow for gathering.
7. Cut strips for ties and a two squares for pockets.  Cut two strips about 2 1/2"(3 1/2" if you want to make tube ties) wide by 30" long for adult, 24" long for child from a second coordinating color. The pocket should be about 5 x 7 for adult and 4 x 5 for child. ( used pattern and instructions from for the cottage apron, except that I didn't do an upper pocket, just the lower one. (See my post Cottage-inspired Aprons tutorial for pix and link to instructions and pattern.) (Leave pocket off to make it easier if you need to.)
8.(Optional: If you want to add a 'piping' strip.. (don't need to use cording), cut a 1 1/2" wide strip that is long enough to span the waistband and another strip to span the upper edge of pocket from a third coordinating color.

Now..for the sewing part...
  1. (If you want to line the skirt first, do this first *)Turn the side edges of the skirt under 1/4" and iron. Turn under another 1/4" and stitch from the top edge of the skirt down to the lower edge on both sides. This is called a simple rolled hem.
  2. Fold waistband strip in half lengthwise and iron. Fold both edges in towards crease about 1/2"and  iron. (Now it looks like double fold bias tape).  
  3. Open out waist band and lay one edge of strip right sides together with skirt on upper edge of skirt. Sew a 1/2" seam. Fold over to back. You will stitch it down by hand later on the back side..
  4. Gather ruffle strip to sew on lower edge of the skirt. Zig-zag the raw edges so they don't ravel.
  5. Do a simple rolled hem on both long edges of the apron ties. Or sew tubes by folding the tie in half (with right sides together) and then turn the tubes right side out.  
  6. Lay the first tie with right sides together to the front of the waist band. The raw edge of the waistband and the tie should be even. Stich a half inch seam.  Do the same for the other tie. The ties will be laying on the right side of the apron.
  7. Now fold the raw edges of the ties and waistband into the middle of the creased waistband. That will allow the right side of the ties to face up at the same time as the waistband. (The raw edges will be covered by the folded waistband.
  8. Pin the back side of the waistband over the seam of the skirt so that no raw edges show. Stitch down by hand.
*I have been lining my skirts with muslin or white cloth to make them a little more durable.  To do that, cut out a piece of white cloth the exact same shape and size as the skirt. Sew the lining to the skirt with the right sides together. Turn right side out and iron. (The wrong sides will now be touching.) You can leave the bottom edge open and slip the raw edges of the ruffle under it if you like.  Then fold the lower half inch of the lining under, press, then slipstitch closed. That looks really nice.

I haven't got the detailed pictures posted. But the cottage apron post on my other blog shows the same process.  I'll get the pix added to this post soon.

Have fun!

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