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Artful aprons

To complement all those savory summer dinners on the deck, let's create an artful apron — Ashland-style.

An apron is a fun and easy canvas for cooking up creative ideas. Start gathering your trims, notions, vintage linens and lace — maybe those unfinished, rolled-up paintings in the garage, which could provide the perfect start for your unique apron design.

As you gather your materials, be playful. This is a project to let your creativity run wild. You may want to work up an apron around a theme like Asian images or an homage to a pet. Old zippers and buttons can be used as decorative elements, too.


1. For the apron body, you will need a piece of fabric to work on. Size can vary depending on how long you want it to be and how much wraparound you need. We will work with a piece of fabric 45 by 50 inches for this apron.

The fabric can be anything from canvas to a lightweight, cotton print. I like using canvas or other home-decorating fabrics, which come in various widths.

Fabric for the ties can vary in length. For this apron, cut two ties 24 by 3 inches, and another one 3 by 25 inches for the neckband. Snap tape can be used instead of fabric ties (as on the bicycle apron pictured).

2. Using the measurements shown, draw the lines indicated on your fabric. Next, cut away the curved pieces on the sides. The pieces you cut away will be used for one of two pockets.

3. When decorating your apron and the pocket piece, have fun. It can be collaged with a collection of favorite buttons, trims, printed napkins, embroidery, etc. I like to add a favorite sketch with fabric pens or stencil a design with fabric paints.

About the red-bicycle apron design

The apron in the photo above was created with a combination of fabric paints and pens. Topstitching is an important design element for me. I like using large, zigzag motions and straight stitches to apply collage pieces, snap tape and trims.

I added a strip of printed fabric to finish the hem, folding it back to show a bit of the fabric print along the front at the bottom of the apron. Incorporating metal hardware in the design and along some of the edges is fun and adds texture. I found small hardware clips to use as ornaments along the top edge and to finish the snap-tape apron ties.

4. To make the pockets, fold the top edge over 1 inch and topstitch across to hold. Press the other edges under 1/4 to 1/2 inch all around, then pin them in place on the apron. Topstitch around 1/2 inch from the edge and reinforce at the top edges.

For the ties and neckband, fold the raw edges under twice with a small hem. Press, then sew to finish the edges. Pin and stitch ties to the top of each side as shown.

5. To finish the apron edges, fold the top edge of your apron over 1 to 2 inches. To enclose the raw edge of the fabric, fold under the topstitching across. Pin and topstitch the neckband at the top edges, as shown. To finish the lower edge of your apron, fold up the hem to desired dimension (1 to 3 inches) then topstitch across.

The last edges to finish are the curved, side seams. They can be covered with bias-seam tape, serged or rolled twice and topstitched down. Pressing as you fold this edge is easier because you will stretch the edge to make it lie flat.

Adding charms or hardware to any of the edges gives your apron a unique finish. The only thing left to do is fire up the grill and do some cookin' in style!

Diane Ericson is an artist and designer living in Ashland. She teaches and works in the Ashland Art Center. Reach her through www.dianeericson.com.

This summer apron designed by Diane Ericson was inspired by vintage bikes like the 1947 Foremost Cruiser supplied by Get Into Gear bike shop in Ashland. - Photo by Alisha Jucevic