The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

"Tea for Two" - a Pair of Re-fashioned Cafe Aprons

     It's been a while since I've done my favorite type re-fashion: turning a skirt into an apron.  I can only go for so long before I feel the "need" to do a re-use and re-fashion project.  In 2013, a family member's birthday had given me the perfect reason to sew up a duo of 'skirt re-fashioned aprons' - one as a present to give away and one for myself. 

     These aprons are not your normal aprons.  They are super feminine, fun, and classy frilly kind which only add to whatever you happen to already be wearing.  Being mostly white, and with some amazing embroidery, these aprons deserve to be worn to be seen!

     Below is the apron I made for my own use and fun!


FABRIC:  The primary fabric used for both aprons was a fancy 'Ann Taylor' brand embroidered "Tea for Two" border print skirt.  The skirt is a stretch cotton which was lined nicely, as well.  The tops of both aprons are from small cuts of fabric - the gift apron's top is 1/2 yard of a checked poly blend and my top half is a quilting 'fat quarter' square.  All other fabrics needed for the aprons came in still smaller potions, like the pockets or lining for my top bib. These fabrics were from my stash of random bits and scraps.

NOTIONS:  All notions - lace trims, thread, buttons, ribbons, and decoration came from on hand.

PATTERN:  None!  I made it all work as I went along.

THE INSIDES:  Not a single raw edge is showing. Every seam is self-covered or finished nicely by some sort of ribbon, lace, or bias tape.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The first apron I made (with the checkered bib) was the one to be given as a present.  It was made in 4 hours and finished on September 4, 2013.  The second apron, the one for me with the aqua bib, was made on October 10, 2013, in about 5 hours.

TOTAL COST:  The cafe themed skirt was bought from Goodwill, a resale store, for only $4.00, and with everything else coming from on hand, each apron only cost $2.00!

    The first step was to divide the skirt into two along the side seams.  I pinned along each side, and sewed the skirt and its lining together 1 inch away from the side seams before cutting.  I did save the invisible zipper from the side, but after my one bad experience I don't know if I'll really use it.  Then I finished off the new side edges in white bias tape, preserving the skirt's original waistband and letting the lining hang free between the sides. Now I had two half aprons ready for bib tops to become full coverage aprons.

     Choosing the fabric styling for the two different bibs of the aprons was quite fun and made us think about different ways to take a theme and cater that to individual tastes.  Since the "give-away apron" was for hubby's mother, I let him pick the theme and the fabric (with my approval, as I am the seamstress) for her apron.  He chose a black and white check fabric, which I thought fit well for the French cafe theme.  The check fabric was rather thin (I think it was meant for tablecloths) so I took the 1/2 yard the we bought and folded it in fourths for a nice, thick, stable apron top half that no stain could escape through.  As you can see above, the sides were finished off in lace hem tape, the top edge is on the fold and the bib bottom was folded in and lap stitched to the skirt waistband.  For my apron's top bib, I took the fat quarter square and cut off two large but skinny rectangles from each side to turn it into a smaller square.  I took those two rectangles cut off the side to be the ties/back closure.  The bib and the ties were faced with regular white cotton from my stash.  This step is why my apron took slightly longer to make than the first one. The bottom of the bib was like the first, turned under and lapped to the skirt waistband.  My bib was sewn differently though - I found the top center, made two vertical lines of shirring stitches down for about 5 inches, and gathered them up to create complimentary bust shaping out of a plain square.

     Picking out the decorations for the aprons was the really creative part of making the finishing touches.  The present apron received a handmade lace and button flower on the bib corner.  My apron had a vintage looking cameo sewn onto it.  The cameo was originally part of a hair decoration which I had bought many years ago but never worn.  I had it in my stash of jewelry making supplies, hoping to glue on a pin back and turn it into a brooch, but I like it much better on my apron.

     Both aprons were treated to a large single pocket on the right side of the wearer.  They were made from a scrap of black cotton in my stash, layered over with what had been a uselessly small scrap of lace.  Luckily, all I had left of this lace was the beautiful bordered edge, which was aligned along the pocket top.  

     Each apron has its own unique and special way of closing and staying on oneself.  I personally have a general dislike for the "normal" neck closures on most bought aprons, where they have single neck ties which pull and hang down from the back of your neck - like a reverse of choking.  Thus, I prefer to find ways where an apron can lay comfortably over one's shoulders.  The gifted apron was made with ultra-long ties so that they can be crossed over each other at the center back, go through loops at the sides of the waistband, and tie center back.  See my post on my "re-fashioned heart apron", where I've already utilized this X-back closure method.  For my own apron, I came up with my own idea for another kind of comfy over the shoulder closure.  I did not have long ties to use in the first place since I had started off with a fat quarter.  So I made two self-faced ties and sewed them together into a V-shape, with just enough extra to sew under the ends into a loop.  In my stash, there was a beautiful sheer aqua ribbon, which became my waistband.  The ribbon center stays in the loop under my V-shaped neck band, then it gets run through two loops on each side corner of the waistband.  I know it might sound complicated but just look at my picture and hopefully you'll see that it's actually very easy, and also extremely comfy and uniquely personal.

     All the lace that went onto both aprons came in entirety from a box of vintage lace and eyelet given to me by my Grandmother.  I feel like it makes my aprons so much more memorable to use some familial notions from one seamstress in the family (my Grandmother) to another (me).  My Grandmother's lace provides a neat connection to the extended family ties joined together through hubby.  My mother-in-law has a handmade project made by me, chosen by my hubby, made using a re-fashion method thought up by my mom, and decorated with lace from my dad's mother.  All the family is brought together in one apron - and I have the other half!

     Besides all of these reasons to make my aprons special, anything that reminds me of my time in Paris, France (thirteen years ago, by now) definitely brings a smile to my face a warm feeling in my heart.  Ah yes, there's nothing life those French cafe "friandises" (sweet treats), especially when a pastry shop was at the bottom floor of our Parisian hotel!  Stopping at a cafe was the perfect way to burn off mid-day afternoon "siesta" time in the rest of Europe, too...a time to kick back, completely unwind, and look around at the dramatic opera of life going on around you.  To me, "cafe time" is time for good memories, good treats, and good company!

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