OK, so now that I'm a moderator on the clothing boards, I figure it's about time to flex my tutorial skills
This is a tutorial for a personal favorite of mine, the lace-up apron top. Bodice is of my own design and the bottom is a rectangle of fabric, back loops and attached straps that lace up the back. This pattern would work well for ALL sizes, even kids and plus, just by varying the measurements! This is also a GREAT project for a beginner or a pro
Here's a peek at the finished product:
Ready to get started?? Let's go!!
1 yd bodice/straps fabric
1/2-1 yd body fabric (length needed depends on preferred top length, see Step 7)
brown kraft paper or comparable tissue/pattern paper
Yardstick or ruler
Pencil or penLoop turner
(optional...but VERY helpful!)
Of course, a sewing machine would be helpful for this as well! More power to you if you will be handsewing through this tutorial
And an iron and press board or ironing board will be VERY useful...you can get an inexpensive iron for less than $10 at most discount stores, and also a table-top ironing board for about the same cost. It will come in handy for many other projects and light personal use, so I totally endorse having one!Any thumbnail pics are clickable for a larger version!!DRAFTING YOUR BODICE PATTERNWanna skip the drafting directions and view a photo of the finished bodice to save/trace/enlarge yourself? Click here to directly view the bodice photo.Step 1:
Gather some 'ideas' on bodice drafting...things like empire waist tops or dresses, commercial patterns with bust styling in this design, photographs from magazines or catalogs, etc. Basically, find an item that has a bust that fits you, or you know the style wears well on you for an aid in drawing out your own.
Here's a few thumbnail examples (click for full size pics) of things that worked well for me in drawing out this pattern:Step 2:
Get your brown kraft paper/tissue paper/pattern paper and unroll about 15 inches or so. Your paper should have a long end, at least about 20-22+", so you will be able to cut out one continuous piece without cutting and taping. You can cut it off the roll if you like, or to avoid waste, just roll out enough for you to draft out your pattern and weight down the roll until you're finished. **Helpful hint ~ I use brown kraft paper (aka that brown shipping paper stuff or brown paper bag paper) because it's HELLA sturdy and will last you through many, many, MANY, pattern drafts without ripping or tearing...unlike commercial tissue patterns. It's only about $1-2.50/roll depending on where you buy it and how big of a roll, and you can use it for pattern drafting or re-do's on additional commercial patterns for durability. Check your local dollar stores, Walmart, or office supply stores.Step 3:
Measure yourself for the bodice. 3 parts: bust, strap placement, and length.
Full bust: measure around the largest part of your bust, mine shows 49":
Strap placement: measure from strap to strap of your bra, or in my case, my tank style dress
This will tell you how to place your straps. Mine shows about 12":
Bodice length: measure from the top of a comfortable scoop neck top/dress to just under your bust. If you notice, in my photo, I have both of my hands under my bust as a 'guide' and the measurement showing on the yardstick of about 8":IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you with a larger bust, (I, myself am about a C on a good day ) be aware you may need to add an extra inch or 2 length for proper coverage and support with the bodice.Step 4:
Draw out and cut your bodice pattern!
First, on the far left short side of the paper, measure out the bodice length, adding about a 1/2" or so for seam allowance, and make a mark on the paper.
Next, measure out half of your strap placement length, and make a mark.
Now, using your ruler or yardstick, draw a straight line across from the bodice length to the strap placement mark. Then, using the photos/clothing items from step 1, make a curved line to represent the 'armpit' area of the bodice.
Then, measure out half of your bust measurement and subtract about 4-6" from that depending on how close you want your loops and straps to meet in the back. Then, draw out a straight line from the bottom of the armpit curve to the right. For example, mine was 49", minus 6, is 43". Because I'm using 44" fabric for the bodice, this works out perfect because I will have a 1/2" for seam allowance on each end of the bodice piece
If you are needing a bust measurement wider than your fabric allows...you may need to do some piecing for the extra inches here. Those 'add-on' pieces will be in the back, so will not be very noticable, so don't worry if you have to piece!
Finally, finish out the back line and bottom bust line as shown below:
Cut out, and you have a piece like this:**Helpful hint ~ I have a separate set of 'paper only' scissors that I use for cutting non-fabric stuff like commercial and self-made patterns. I recommend getting a pair of 'craft scissors' so as not to dull your fabric ones Step 5:
Make the scoop neck.
Measure over about 2.5" from the right side, make a mark, then make a curved line (similar to how you drew out the armpit curve) from the left side of the strap mark down about 1.5-2" from the top corner of the pattern.
Cut out the section for the scoop, and now you have your finished bodice:**Helpful hint ~ I have made a longer bodice pattern for use on a variety of bust sizes, and have marked them out with inch lines so I can measure and cut without remaking a whole pattern...most of the time, though the bust size can vary from 44 to 46 and so on, the width between the straps will largely remain the same unless going to a larger size to a very small size, like from size 18 to size 4, then the strap width will change and you should draft a new pattern to accomodate. I have also marked CENTER FOLD on the front of the pattern so I remember how to place and cut!CUTTING IT OUTStep 6:
Place and pin bodice on bodice fabric. CUT 2!! ONE IS FOR YOUR FACING!
Open it up and you will have 2 looking like this:Step 7:
Measure and cut out apron body.
The width of the body should measure about 1" less than the bodice that you just cut. For example, my bodice was 43", so I would cut this width to be 42" as you will be hemming the sides in about 1/2" so it will end up even with the bodice. Most fabrics you will be working with will probably be 44" wide, so if your measurements are similar to mine, you could just opt to use the full width of the fabric and hem in the sides extra to meet the proper measurement to save time and have one less cut to make
The length of the body can vary based on your personal preferences and where you want the top to hit. Most measurements will be about 18-22" (DON'T FORGET TO ADD ABOUT 1/2-1" FOR A HEM ALLOWANCE!), as your bodice piece is the other part of your garment length. I'm working with a pre-cut piece here, it was part of an old dress, but if you are working with fabric cuts, one yard is 36", so you could possibly get away with 1/2 yd if you want a shorter length on the top by using only 18". Most tops will total 24-30" in length to hit at about waist/high hip to low hip/mid thigh for you after hemming. I chose 22" for a cut length, taking into account a seam allowance of about 1/2", and because my fabric used was already PRE-HEMMED from its former life, made my body piece 21.5". This makes me a top hitting about mid-thigh. If you make the top too long, you can always re-hem later!Step 8:
Measure and cut shoulder straps.
From middle fold on 44" fabric, measure out 3 sections about 4 1/4" wide, snip at each mark. For you smaller ladies, you likely will only need 2. Cut full length of each. Cut 3rd strip in half at fold, lay a half with each of the wholes and put aside for later use. Step 9:
Measure and cut back loops.
From middle fold on 44" fabric, measure out 2.5" and cut one long strip for 4 loops, or 2 long strips for 6 and you'll have some left over. Unfold your piece(s), measure out 6-8" long sections. Depending on how close you want your loops to meet when laced up in the back, this can change the length of your loops. Put cut pieces aside for later use.SEWING AND ASSEMBLYStep 10:
Dart your bust.
First, fold bust lengthwise at each strap, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER
, one at a time. Measure from the bottom edge up, 3", mark with chalk or washable marker. Using the width of your tape measure as a guide, mark at the bottom edge as well. Helpful hint ~ Sew each dart ONE AT A TIME so you don't loose your fold and dart line...yes, this means mark/sew/stop/repeat to do the other side instead of both at once, I don't mind the extra couple minutes in doing it this way!
Next, using a ruler, make a line from the top to the bottom, matching the marks:
Repeat steps above for the other strap area. Tie your thread tails in about 2-3 knots at the point of the bust to make sure your dart does not release over time due to wash and wearing! Tedious, I know...but, TRUST ME, it pays off!!
Open the bust, and you should have a piece like this:
Press darts toward the outside ends.REPEAT DARTING FOR 2nd BODICE PIECE, THIS IS THE FACING AND WILL BE USED LATER IN THE ASSEMBLY, PUT ASIDE.IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you with a smaller or larger bust (when making this pattern, I modeled it for myself, and I'm about a C for most garments), darting may not work out well for you, or you may need to adjust the darting to be more or less than the 3" for proper fitting. I suggest using the longest stitch length and holding the bodice up to yourself to see if the darts need to adjusted for proper fit, that way if you have to rip and re-sew, it won't be noticeable, then go over it with a regular stitch length once you find the proper fit. Step 11:
Fold and press your hems, then sew. **Helpful hint I usually fold up 1/2", press, then fold 1/2" again for no raw edges...this is my personal preference, it's up to you how you want it to look. If you have a serger, you can serge the raw edge and then fold up 1/2" only if you're a little short on having enough length to work with on your fabric, just remember, your hem will show a little when wearing this item and if you want it to be a fully finished look, it would be best to fully hide all edges.
Then, fold in each side 1/4", press, fold 1/4"...or, if you opted to use the full 44" width on the fabric and need to hem in a little more, do so accordingly to make the total width 1" less than the bodice measurement. It's important to hide ALL edges on the side hems, as these will show the most when wearing the garment.Step 12:
Sew bodice front to body.
Fold RIGHT SIDES
together on body, then fold WRONG SIDES
together on bodice. Place a pin at your center fold mark on each piece, bottom of bodice to top of body. With RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER
, pin both pieces together, matching the 2 pins.
Unfold and pin down entire bodice bottom to body top, matching up raw edges. Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance, or 3/8 or 5/8"...honestly, a slight off-set of a portion of an inch on the seam allowance won't kill the project for as simple of a garment as this is Helpful hint ~ I have a left setting and a center needle setting. I use the left setting and line up my raw edge with the side of the presser foot instead of at the 5/8" mark on my machine when I do a lot of my sewing. This gives me a little extra ease on my garments, and as long as you're consistent in using this method on ALL seams, your pieces will match up without an issue...this is usually at about a 1/2" allowance by doing it this way.
OK, let's take a little breather here....get some coffee, or other choice beverage, maybe have a snack. Don't forget to wash your hands after eating before resuming your project
Your top is starting to look like a REAL piece of clothing, finally!
Let's continue....SEWING...CONTINUED...Step 13:
Prepare and sew straps.
Remember those straps we cut out and put aside a few steps back? Go get 'em! Match up one short raw end of a long piece with the raw end of the short piece, using a 5/8" seam allowance (to hide the selvage edge), sew and trim excess to a scant allowance of a little less than 1/4".
**If you only cut out 2 long straps for your size, skip this step, and go to folding and sewing**
Repeat for the 2nd strap.
Fold strap in half, lengthwise with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER
, matching raw edges up. Using my Helpful hint
above about lining up the raw edge with the side of the presser foot, put the needle position to the far left, and sew ALLLLL the way down. Pin if needed on this, but I find I can keep it in line myself just fine as I stitch down. Trim excess allowance to about 1/4".
Repeat for the 2nd strap.
Next, using a loop turner
, or other method of choice, turn straps right side out and press seam to back. Press seam to the middle if you can, otherwise, press to one side or the other as even as you can. Leave short ends raw, as one edge will be hidden in the top and the other edge can be pressed and sewn later...this way, if you need to shorten the straps, you can cut them off before finishing the edge.
Finally, top stitch the straps. Place to the side for later use.Step 14:
Prepare and sew the loops.
Grab those loops we cut out a while back, prepare in much the same way as the straps by folding and using the presser foot lineup technique for seam allowance, BUT, put the needle position to the MIDDLE instead of far left. I suggest pressing each loop flat RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER
, and using a 'chain stitch' assembly method for these to get them all sewn at once. Basically, start with one loop, sew, and just before you get to the end, grab another one of your loops and butt it up close to the end of the current piece so you can keep on sewing and go right onto the next one, and the next, and so on.
Cut each piece apart, and using the loop turner again, turn each loop right side out and press flat.
You may top stitch these loops if you want, but I chose not to. Place to the side for later use.Step 15:
Prepare and sew bodice facing.
Get your 2nd bodice piece, fold under about a 1/2" of the bottom edge and press to the wrong side.
Matching RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER
, pin bodice front to bodice facing all the way around, SKIP pins at the strap sections.
Take each finished strap and feed between the bodice pieces, face the RIGHT SIDE of the strap toward the RIGHT SIDE Of the FRONT bodice piece. Pull through about 1/2-1" and pin.
Sew around top of bodice, all the way around, again using my presser foot hint listed in previous steps. Backstitch at each strap for durability. Clip rounded scoop neck area, turn bodice to the inside, carefully pushing out corners at the straps. Press seam to inside facing.
Fold the raw edges on the bodice ends to the inside of the bodice/facing. This will fold over the finished side hem on the body.Step 16:
Stitch in the ditch on bodice.
OK, so this technique called 'stitch in the ditch' is where you stitch on the right side thru to the wrong side to attach facing to garment or other pieces. By stitching on the seam 'ditch' between where the 2 pieces come together, you hide your stitch at the fabric meeting.
The trick to doing this successfully is to SEW S-L-O-W-L-Y....turtle speed it if you have to, slo mo, even. If you overrun onto the bodice a little, because you should be sewing with MATCHING thread for it, you shouldn't see the little bit of stitch that may end up on there, and shouldn't see it that noticeable on the body part if you run onto it a little either...it coordinates, it's all good!Step 17:
Pin loops and top stitch the bodice.
Take the 4 or 6 loops you made earlier and press them in half, seam on the inside of each folded loop. Next, slip in between the bodice and facing, pin. Repeat for the other side.
Topstitch and sew the loops all in one swoop! Sewing on the front side, close to the edge, start at the bottom of the bodice on one side, sewing up toward the top and over the loops. Stop at top corner with needle down, turn and pivot to head across the top toward the other end of the bodice where the other 3 loops are. Pull your threads to the inside of the top at each end of this stitch and knot 2-3 times to prevent the top stitch from unraveling later...yes, tedious, but worth it!Step 18:
FINAL STEP!! Lace your top and finish final raw ends on straps.
Voila!!! You're ready to wear
Lace up your top, criss-crossing in the back. Put on and pull straps to your desired fit, tie in a nice bow and decide if you want to cut off any extra inches on them. If yes, do it, if not, fold about a 1/4-1/2" toward the seam side of each strap, press, fold again to hide raw edge, topstitch and tie your strings to prevent unraveling later.
Comments, question, changes?? I think I was MORE than clear on all my steps, but if I missed something or was not as clear as I thought I was, please call me out on it and I will explain better and show more process pics as needed **Please don't copy and use my pattern for profit....personal use only....or I WILL have words with you....