These have gone on forever and the honest truth is I haven’t enjoyed sewing them at some stages, my un-picker has seen a lot of action in past weeks. In fact, I was so excited to finish the green version, that afterwards I opened a mini bottle of (cheap pretend) pink bubbly. I wish I was joking. On the plus side I love the end design and have put one aside for myself already.
So back in 2010 (yes, THAT long ago) I was searching for 1940’s apron images, as I was really keen to make a cross over back apron for the shop, a kind of hybrid Muji/vintage number. I’ve made 1940 vintage aprons before, for the theatre and I really like this kind of style. Whilst researching, I came across this image
and felt very inspired by the apple pockets. I also realised that a full vintage style apron was a no go, as I simply couldn’t buy the linen cheap enough (and I felt they had to be linen or a linen mix fabric) and make a profit on what people would pay for the aprons.
OK, so then I doodled lots of images and bought some cotton/linen fabric from Ada and Ina Linen ready for sewing. Then I did nothing, for over a year, which is when I decided that apple lavender bags (to go with the aprons) would be a neat idea.
The apple lavender bags done, I still didn’t get on with the aprons. I had the entire design worked out and everything but lacked the time or inclination to get on with them.
So come last year, I had a big fabric sort out and it prompted a decision to make a point of using up some of the larger stacks for their intended projects (I have many on the go). By then, I knew it was to be a half apron, so I obsessively checked out the ultimate size (for a fits all result, I did consider making two sizes, but knew it was adding lots of extra work which was very probably unnecessary)
I washed and cut out all the linen, including the straps (I had already thought about the best making method so knew how I wanted to cut them), then using the existing apple lavender bags and dissolvable ink, I worked out how to get the best apple position and size.
The apples were made up using linen bought especially for the job. I went for gold stitched pips on the green ones, they don’t really stand out as well as I’d have hoped but they are OK. By now I was becoming a bit of a whizz at close zig-zag stitching, a method I use a lot in my work. The hard bit is getting a very close sitch but one that doesn’t bunch up, also it takes up a lot of thread!
I then stitched the pockets on. This was take two, first they were stitched with a double (for security) line but quite frankly, it looked crap, so I decided to zig-zag around the edge instead. I love how it looks finished, how it kind of hides the opening and echoes the rest of the apple stitching. At this stage I did a ‘apple apron’ search on Etsy, to make sure no-one else was doing something too similar. I have found, over the years, that no matter how original an idea may be, it has often been done before in some form. Sometimes I check at the beginning of the design process, so I don’t waste my time, in other cases (like this) I make a point of not looking until I am pretty far down the line, this way my conscience is clear that I haven’t in any way been influenced by someone elses work. It matters to me that I am as original as I can be.
Then I did another check on the dummy, with various widths of bias-binding to see what worked best. Annoyingly, the 25mm binding I’d bought especially for the job looked wrong, it was just too bulky (see it here on the waistband) so I had a re-think and went for 15mm, knowing it’d be a right royal pain to stitch on neatly.
I also made the decision that no matter how tidily done, I didn’t like the backs, so I decided to cover them.
I loved the idea of dots, to echo the apples, but as the linen/cotton canvas was already quite solid, adding a quilting cotton to it would be too much, plus I found a stack of cotton gingham from my early Linen Cat days that I no longer use, so that seemed perfect.
There are many annoying bits in the process of sewing these. A problem I already know about is that no matter how neatly you sew the zig-zag, however perfectly round the apples look, the process slightly stretches the fabric and when you steam it back into place, inevitably the perfect curve you stitched gets less perfect, mild angles forming in the weaker areas. I hate this, but accept it can’t be fixed, I know from many hours of stitching cashmere bear belly patches, using every trick I can think of that it’s the price for using the tight zig-zag. Also, I cannot exaggerate the hours I spent unpicking the binding, as I like it to be as perfectly aligned as possible, which is quite tricky, especially when you’re using a narrower width.
Lastly, when I have come to list them (which has taken ALL this morning) I noticed that the apron ties on the red version are 20cm longer than the green. I couldn’t work this out for ages, then I remembered that after trying the green sample on every waist I could find, I decided the cut version could be shortened and still wrap nicely around most, fastening at the front.
Clearly I forgot when I came to sew up the red apple ones. Never mind, they still work well.
What else? Oh yes, they were a nightmare to iron. I pre-washed the fabrics so that there is no additional shrinking but even with a damp cloth and full steam they don’t iron fantastically, the linen/cotton is almost a canvas weight and I’d suggest ironing whilst damp in future.
Both versions have green gingham on the reverse, as that’s what I had to use up. The red apples has green bias binding trim and the green apples, brown.
I need to do a big studio tidy now and try to finish any other open projects so I am free to make new things. There is a big call for badgers, I hope to find time to make those towards the end of the year, and I desperately need to re-stock cashmere bears and monster purses. Then there’s the looming summer school holidays, but best not think about that right now 🙂