Friday, April 26, 2013

Lady Artisan Apron: Making the Apron (Reprinted Blog Post)

Back in 2007, I wrote this blogpost about making the Lady Artisan Apron. Since then, my website has gone through several iterations, and the article was basically lost. So, a friend recently asked about it, so I thought to try and dig it out and repost it.

So, here is the 1st installment of the three posts in it's original text. I'll post the rest for the next three Fridays.

This costume was inspired by Rachel E. Pollock aka La Bricoleuse who had posted a set of beta intructions for her original version of the Lady's Artisan Apron.

She had original designed it so that she could have a working apron that actually fit a woman's shape. I created my version, not only as a fitted apron, but to fit in with the Steampunk genre. And, I have a fondness for Steampunk

This article contains the nitty gritty of making the apron, and is divided into three major sections:

  • Making the apron
  • Making the Cogs
  • The Finished Apron

June 25, 2007: Making the Apron

I started working on the Lady's Apron (ala Steampunk-ish, Victoriana). I was going to take a break from sewing, but somehow, I got into this strong desire to actually MAKE this damn thing.

I finished the mockup in just under an hour using labricoleuse's instructions, and it worked out pretty darn well. The skirt portion worked out so well that I am going to make a full walking skirt using the same pattern. I had to quasi-guess the bodice measurements, but luckily, it worked out relatively well with only a few minor adjustments.

Fabric Choice

The fabric is brown denim with light beige pinstripes. It's a lighter than Levi-jean denim, but nothing that needed interfacing. I had just enough to make the outfit. I still have small scraps that I am saving to create various smaller pockets, straps, etc. etc.

However, when I went to lay out the pattern on the fabric I had purchased, it seemed as if I didn't have enough (oh noes!). So, I stopped by several JoAnn stores to see if they had more, but, alas, it had been on clearance and there was no more to be had! When I got home, I tried again, this time by shortening up the hem by about four inches (I had given myself a generous hem), and I definitely did have enough. I managed to fit in the major pattern pieces (five gores for the skirt, four bodice pieces, the straps, and still had 1/3 of a yard left over).


Instead of floor-length, the apron is a bit above the ankles, but longer than mid-calf (to accomodate the lack of fabric. The skirt is a simple 5-gore (panel) skirt. I decided not to line the skirt, because, it's an apron afterall, and I didn't want to putz too much. However, all of the seams are french-seamed, and all edges are serged.


During the process of making the skirt, I decided to add the in-seam slant pockets, instead of the patch pockets that Rachel had made (but that I hadn't added to the original mockup). So I took out my generic pocket pattern (made out of cardboard), made slight modifications, whipped up a quick mockup, ripped apart one of the panels on the big mockup, and tried it out. It worked perfectly the first time around. However, did I have enough material to do the pockets? With so little fabric left, mistakes could not be made.

Luckily, I did, so the front pocket piece were made out of fashion fabric and the back pocket piece out of muslin. The skirt portion was a 5-gore skirt, so I sewed three gores (panels) together, then added the pockets to either side, then attached the remaining two panels. I placed twill tape (because I have a HUGE roll of it) to the pocket sides just to reinforce the fabric where the pockets are located.

The inside pocket flap was attached to the skirt front and will be pressed over so that it's hidden on the inside. Consequently, this piece was made out of muslin.

Afterwards, I attached the "front of pocket" piece to the inside pocket. Then attached the front pocket piece to the next skirt panel.

Patch Pockets:

For the actual apron pockets, I merely made panel pockets out of the remaining fabric. I had to cobble together some smaller pieces to make actual "rectangles" for the panel pockets, but it definitely works. There's a breast pocket for pens, and two panel pockets on the legs using the wrong side of the fabric. I'm considering adding a welt pocket for a pocket watch.

The bodice is made from four pieces (two pattern pieces), that make a heart-shaped front.

I ironed-on stabilizer to the last 1/3 of the bodice (the triangles at the end) just for a bit of stiffness so that when it wrapped around my waist, it would stand up a bit and not flop over.

I attached the bodice to the skirt, and added twill tape to the waistline for just a bit of added strength. After attaching the bodice to the skirt, I lined the bodice just for a bit of finishing with some muslin.


I had some extra bits of material that I made 1/2" straps to which I added D-rings, that were then attached to the waist line. I really should have thought of those sooner, so I could have sewn them INTO the waistline when I attached the bodice, but oh, well.

The front has 1" straps from the same material. It's a simple tube that has been pressed. I also made 2" straps for the back belt portion.

Closures: For the back belt portion, I picked up 2" black parachute closures from Joann's. I didn't like the black, so I decided to paint them a burnt gold to match the coloration for the skirt.

The black plastic doesn't coat well, but it does look slightly antiqued, so I wouldn't have to antique it with black paint later.

For the front, I decided that I wanted that "overall" look, so I picked up a set of "overall" closures (again from Joann's), a nd they had a bronze/brass one that fit nicely with the overall theme.

Finished Piece 

The finished piece is rather form fitting, and I do quite like it.

The apron is 90% done. It took me longer than the mockup, since I was futzing with bits and pieces (adding twill tape to the waist line, french seaming everything, adding a really short lining to the bodice top, adding stabilizer to the tail end of the bodice piece., etc, etc, etc.) Now, I just have to actually add pockets and the belt buckle for the back. I should have enough extra fabric pieces for two more pockets, unless I want to make them out of a contrasting fabric.

Next Friday: COGS!!!