Birdie Appliqué Apron

April 11, 2023


Bird apron beauty shot.PNG

Applique is a great way to embellish and customize a wide range of projects.  These “birdie” and “tree branch” appliques can be used to add a personal touch to a store-bought apron or one you can make yourself.  The pattern templates for the birdie and tree branch can be found at the end of these instructions.

What you need:

  • 1 yard (90cm) apron fabric
  • 8” x 6” (20cm x 15cm) fabric for bird body applique
  • Small fabric scrap fo bird wing applique
  • ¼ yard (23cm) fabric for tree branch applique
  • ⅜ yard (35cm) fusible web
  • All-purpose thread to match apron (for construction)
  • All-purpose thread in contrast color (for applique)
  • Lightweight tear-away stabilizer
  • Ruler
  • Removable fabric marking pen
  • Point-turning tool (chopstick, stiletto, etc)
  • Hand sewing needle & large safety pin
  • Applique templates (see last pages)

Cutting Directions

Main apron fabric Cut one 26” (66cm) for width, by 21” (53cm) for length
Apron ties Cut two pieces 34” x 3” (86cm x 7.5cm)
Apron waistband Cut two pieces 21” x 3” (53cm x 7.5cm)
Bird body applique fabric Cut one piece 8” x 6” (20cm x 15cm)
Fusible web for body Cut one piece 8” x 6” (20cm x 15cm)
Bird wing applique fabric Cut one piece 3” x 3” (7.5cm x 7.5cm)
Fusible web for wing Cut one piece 3” x 3” (7.5cm x 7.5cm)
Tree branch applique fabric Cut one piece 22” x 7” (56cm x 18cm)
Fusible web for tree branch Cut one piece 22” x 7” (56cm x 18cm)

Sewing Directions

1. Thread the top of the machine and bobbin with all-purpose thread to match the apron fabric. Set the machine for straight stitch with a medium stitch length setting.
2. Prepare the skirt of the apron first. To begin, fold up the bottom hem 1” (25mm) and press. Fold up 1” (25mm) again and press. Pin in place. Stitch the bottom hem, then press again when finished.

fold up and pin bottom hem.jpg          stitched bottom hem.jpg

3. Next, sew the apron side hems.  Fold over and press ½” (13mm) on each side, then fold and press ½” (13mm) again. Stitch the hem on each side of the apron, then press.

fold up and pin bottom hem2.jpg     finished side hem.jpg 

4. To make the pleats at the top of the apron, first mark the center of the fabric with a pin, for reference.  Using a removable fabric marking pen and ruler, draw guidelines on the fabric front side.  These drawn lines will be used for creating the pleats.

The first line is 4” (10cm) from center, the second line is 5¼” (13.3cm from center, the third line is 8¾” (22.2cm) from center, and the fourth line is 10” (25cm) from center.  Each line should be drawn so it is 1¾” (45cm) in length.

Repeat for the opposite side of the center pin mark until you have a total of 8 lines drawn (4 on each side of the center pin).  

drawing pleat lines - full view left side.jpg    drawing pleat lines - full view right side.jpg    drawing pleat lines - close up.jpg 

5. For each “pair” of pleat lines, finger press one pleat and fold it to meet the other line, as shown in diagram below. Pin the pleats in place.

Illustration.jpg      folding pleats in place.jpg

6. Hand or machine baste each of the pleats in place and then remove the pins. Set aside for now.

basting pleats - aqua thread.jpg  

7. Prepare the apron ties next. Start with one of the 34” x 3” (86cm x 7.5cm) pieces, folding in it in half lengthwise and pinning all the way across. Stitch across one short end of the tie, pivot, and sew along the whole length of the fabric, leaving the opposite end unstitched and open for turning. Repeat for the other tie fabric. When both pieces have been stitched, clip the corners at the sewn end of both ties to reduce bulk in the tie ends.

ties pinned - ready to stitch.jpg    tie close - closed and trimmed.jpg    tie close - open end.jpg

8. Turn the ties right side out using a safety pin and point-turning tool. After the ties are turned right side out, press.

two finished ties.jpg

9. Pin the ties to the right side of one 21” x 3” (53cm x 7.5cm) waistband piece, centering the tie ends at the ends of the waistband piece. Hand or machine baste the ties in place, then remove the pins.

pinning tie to waistband.jpg    pinning ties to waistband - wide.jpg 

10. Prepare the other waistband piece by turning up one long side ½” (13mm) and press.

pressing seam allowance on waistband piece.jpg

11. Pin the two waistband pieces together with right sides facing one another. Stitch, starting by sewing one short end, ten pivot and continue all across the long side. Pivot again and finish at the opposite short end, making sure to keep the ties free from the stitching area. When finished stitching, clip the corners on each side of the waistband to help reduce bulk at the corners.

pinning waistband front and back together.jpg  sewing waistband front and back together.jpg

12.Turn the waistband piece right side out and press.

waistband alone turned right side out.jpg

13. Pin the waistband unit to the pleated apron skirt, with right sides facing one another. Stitch the waistband to the skirt.

pinning waistband to skirt.jpg

13. Fold the waistband seam up and press. Tuck in the seam allowances and hand sew the waistband facing in place on the wrong side. Set the finished apron aside to prepare the appliques next.

fold waistband over for hand sewing.jpg    hand sewing waistband.jpg

14. Apply the fusible web to the wrong sides of the applique fabrics, following the fusible web manufacturer’s recommendations. Trace around the applique shapes (see last pages of these instructions), then cut out the appliques.
Note: Print the appliques before tracing on the fabric. Increase or decrease size ratio on your printer to make any desired size adjustments desired before cutting out the fabrics.

squares of fabric and fusible web.jpg  drawing appliques.jpg  cutting out appliques.jpg

15. Try on the apron to determine where you would like to place the appliques. Fuse the “leaves and branches” applique and “bird body” applique in place, but don’t add the wing just yet. Thread the top of the machine and bobbin with the contrast thread color that you want to use for the applique stitching. Set the machine for a narrow zig-zag stitch and decreased stitch length setting. Place a piece of lightweight tear-away stabilizer underneath the areas to be appliqued, as this will help prevent the dense stitches from puckering the fabric.

Note: Try your applique stitch settings on fabric scraps first, so you can adjust stitch width and length until you get the look you want for your appliques.

bird appliques pressed.jpg

16. Stitch around the “leaves and branches” applique, then stitch around the “bird body”. After this is done, apply the “wing” onto the bird and then stitch around the wing. When stitching is finished, remove the excess tear-away stabilizer from the back side of the apron. Press to finish.

  stitched bird.jpg

Patterns for appliqué