Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tool belt apron tutorial

Okay, guys. This is my first tutorial, and it's pretty basic. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments and I'll respond. It's instructions for making a tool belt apron like the one I mentioned in an earlier post.

The tool belt apron was one of the first things I ever made and there is no pattern. That should give you an idea of how simple it is to make. If you can cut fabric (even somewhat poorly), iron fabric and sew semi-straight lines, you can easily bust one of these out in an hour or so. After you've made one (or if you have any experience sewing), the time comes down to about 20 minutes.

These are one of the projects that are ideal for using up vintage sheets. Make sure your sheets are all cotton, otherwise they can be hard to iron. Cut out a rectangle of fabric from the top of the sheet, so that you still have the top seam intact. It should be approximately 23 inches wide and 17 inches tall, but exact sizes don't matter much.


If you have a side seam left on the sheet, cut it off. I use a straight edge and an Olfa cutter to make it easy, but you can use scissors if that is what you have. I do a quick check to see if my rectangle is at least roughly even at this point because I am not terribly good at cutting things out properly.


Make a double fold along the bottom edge of the fabric and iron it in place. This is going to end up being the hem on the top of the pocket.


Once you have it ironed, sew a straight stitch the whole way across to make the hem. Then take your fabric back to the ironing board and fold the bottom edge up to create the tool belt pocket. The folded part of the hem should be on the inside of the pocket so that you don't see it.


I usually make the pockets about 7 inches deep, but you can play around with it to see what suits you. If you want a slightly longer apron (I'm only 5"6) you could make a slightly shorter pocket and it would work fine. (If you aren't using a sheet, repeat the step for hemming the bottom edge on the top edge).

Once you have your fabric lined up the way you want it, iron it in place and then make a small double fold along both short sides. These will be the hems on the sides of the apron. Press them well and then sew a straight stitch along both sides.


At this point, the apron should look something like this.


You have all the edges finished and one long pocket running across the front. Now you just sew in pockets wherever you want them by running straight stitches from the bottom of the pocket up to the top hem.


I usually make a couple of skinny pockets along each side, leaving a relatively wide pocket in the middle. The skinny pockets are perfect for stashing wooden spoons or spatulas.


Here's a close up of how I sew the pockets. I try to aim for running the seam right into the seam of the hem. You'll notice that I use white thread. This is partly because I love contrasting seams and partly because I am so lazy that I hate having to switch out the thread on my machine and I tend to use white for everything.

Once you have as many pockets as you want, you just grab a long piece of twill tape. How long depends on how you want your apron to tie. I usually make it long enough so that I can wrap it around and tie it in the front, which means I need almost 90 inches of twill tape, but if you just want to tie in the back you could get away with using a lot less. I picked up white 3/4 inch wide twill tape at my local fabric store for 79 cents a yard, so it doesn't make this into an expensive project.

Place the twill tape along the middle of the top portion of the apron and sew it in place along the top and bottom edges of the tape. I don't have a picture of this because it was dark when I did it. Sorry.

And voila!


The stamps on this apron were done using my lino cuts and fabric ink.

The nice thing about this project is that it isn't very fussy. None of the measurements need to be very exact, and even if your seams aren't straight, it still ends up looking adorable (I just tell myself the crooked seams add character). And it's so darn cute that even D likes it when I wear it around the kitchen. In my book, an apron that a guy is into is a pretty good thing.

Feel free to let me know if you need any clarifications. I've never tried explaining one of my sewing projects to anyone and I'm not sure how clear this is when you read over it.

*This tutorial is provided for personal use only. Please do not sell this tutorial or create items for re-sale using this tutorial. Tutorial may be re-published only with my permission.


  1. very clear and clever! Yours is adorable.

  2. Rachel, you did such a good job with this tutorial! Really, if I had a sewing machine, I would be all over this.
    This is one of the reasons I love your blog- you are so creative without even trying. And your honest way of writing is so charming. Thanks for providing me with good reads.

  3. Your tutorial is perfectly clear. I really want to make one now, linocuts and all.

    *sigh* You're so crafty. I'm kind of jealous. =)

  4. This is SOOOOOOO fabulous! You're so creative and so low key about it. If I was this talented I'd make myself an "I'm so talented" t-shirt and sport that baby everywhere. Can you tell I really love this apron? =) I'll be linking!

  5. What a great tutorial- i think i could actually make it (which is a lot to say since i'm not very good at sewing).

    It's the coolest apron ever.

    By the way, I love to go through your blog and try new recipes :)

  6. seriously from your tutorial i feel as though i could make this and we both know how untalented i am when it comes to a needle and thread. so thorough!

  7. Great project! I love 'em when they're quick and simple like this---and I too hate to change the thread! Somehow I always manage to do it wrong, and then the machine gets all jammed. I love to sew but sometimes I think it gets the better of me!

  8. So freaking cute! I am (i think) (i hope) getting a sewing machine from my husband for xmas! I am totally going to make one of these(if I can). I am a green sewer.not quite sure how it all works, but excited to dive in and learn! Great post!!

  9. Love to do one of these or even better, order one from you! Whenever I sew, the key is ironing! Glad to see you do that too.

  10. How awesome are you?? You are helping me get over my fear of sewing, little by little.

  11. OK Rachel I will give it my best shot and put this on a project for next year. Remember my story when I was younger and my sewing teacher? Lord help me, but I'll try! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  12. great it!
    thanks for sharing

  13. u r blog Is very nice

  14. Oh how I have missed reading your blog! How cute is that apron!?! I love the stencils you created for it too. I may just have to make a version to use on photo shoots. Thank you for the great instructions for a craft perfect for my holiday break.

  15. Confession. I keep coming back and looking at this DIY because I COVET that apron. But I can't sew. At all. Well, beyond a button. The last thing I sewed was for Home Ec in Grade 7. This is just perfect.

  16. I love it. So quick and delightful. I definitely need to whip one of these together before baking my pumpkin pie.

    PS cute blog, I just popped over from OPT

  17. I wrote about your idea on my blog! Thanks for sharing :))) You have an amazing blog :)

  18. So cute! And so simple! I was in search of something to make for a friend's birthday. I've pretty muched settled on making her one of these! :)

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  20. I'm looking for apron pattern and landed to your blog. Wow... it's such a great tutorial. Simple, (seems like) easy to make/sew, and very useful. I might copy the idea and make my own tool belt apron. I'll show it on my blog when I'm done ;)

  21. Many information for this site.thanks you for sharing a long article.


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