In my mother’s day, women used to take the collar off a frayed shirt, turn it around, and stitch it back on. When that side wore out, they often used the fabric to make something else—a quilt, or in this case, an apron. Patterned fabrics from one shirt can be used to edge an apron cut from another. It’s easy to make attractive complementary combinations to create a vintage-style apron like the one below.
First, click here for a PDF of the pattern pieces you'll need for your Make-do Apron (we've included the instructions below on the printout as well). Print the PDF at 100% (be sure to set "page scaling" at "none" in the printer dialog box that pops up), and take the pattern page to your local copy center and enlarge it 400 percent for your life-size MaryJanesFarm pattern. Then follow the instructions below or on the printout to make your Make-do Apron.
1. Cut along armhole and collar seams of your shirt to remove sleeves and collar; cut sleeve seams. Leave side seams of shirt intact. With a seam ripper, remove pocket (be careful not to cut fabric).
2. Iron the shirt and lay it flat, folded in half along the center back. Cut out the apron, using the pattern at right. (If the shirt isn’t long enough, sew on extra material at the bottom using fabric from the sleeves. Encase the raw edges by pressing the seam allowance to one side, trimming 3/8" off the bottom edge, pressing the other edge under 1/8", and topstitching.)
3. To finish the apron edges, sew on contrasting material from a different shirt; edge with bias tape; or hem and topstitch, then add rickrack.
4. Make a neck strap by using material from the sleeves or from another shirt. Fold neck strap in half lengthwise, stitch long side, and turn right side out. Sandwich neck strap between wrong side of apron top and right side of bib top and stitch across apron top through all layers. Flip bib to front, turn raw edges under, and topstitch to apron.
5. For ties, use material from sleeves or from another shirt. Hem edges of ties. Attach ties to back of each side of the apron. Reattach pocket or make a new one from scraps. For personal flair, add contrasting fabric, ruffles, or buttons to pocket. Or hem and topstitch, then add rickrack.