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How-Tuesday: Tool Apron from Sew What! Bags

Jul 28, 2009

by Michelle Traub

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

The only toolbox I’ve ever known is my overflowing crate of crafting materials. Having my tools organized and easily accessible sounds too good to be true. Every quilter, crocheter, and gardener deserves a handmade tool belt perfectly suited for her needs.

For this week’s How-Tuesday, we’re sharing Lexie Barnes‘ Tool Apron project to equip you for a summer of crafting and gardening. Lexie’s book, Sew What! Bags, is full of delightful totes, sacks, satchels, and purses that are pattern-free, so you can alter and tweak to your heart’s content.

 

Lexie’s Design Principle:

Sewing without a pattern may seem like a scary prospect to some… and liberating to others. Personally, I like the freedom and flexibility of pattern-free sewing. I want a bag to work for me, not the other way around.

I can’t stand to read instructional manuals, stick strictly to a recipe, or follow the steps exactly as they are written anywhere. If there are too many steps, I’ll skip them. If the instructions are too wordy or full of jargon, I’ll ignore them and find my own way of doing things. In this book, from the first project to the last, you’ll be able to jump right in and start sewing. You’ll find simple steps and streamlined projects — fabulous bags you can make on your own to suit your taste, skill level, and style.

Click here to buy the book!

We made this apron to hold quilting supplies, but you can customize yours for any craft, hobby, or project. Be sure to choose your fabrics and pockets to suit the job. For gardening tools, you’ll want canvas or maybe oilcloth. For crochet supplies, you’ll want a variety of pocket sizes for slim hooks and skeins of yarn.

Our finished size: 8″ x 16″ with a 66″ belt

 

Measure and Cut

1. Decide your size. For a good fit, base the size on your favorite kitchen apron, or measure your torso from hip to hip and add a couple of inches for seam allowance. For the height, measure from your waist (or hip, if you like to wear it low) down to anywhere you like. It’s your tool apron, so make it as long — or short — as you need it to be.

Ease into it. Figure out how big your pockets need to be before you finalize the size of the apron. Lay your tools out on your fabric and measure them. Be sure to allow for some ease (a little bit of extra room to get your objects in and out of the pockets). Keep your tools handy while you’re sewing and test along the way to make sure you’ve got a good fit.

2. Cut your fabric. Based on your measurements, cut:

  • primary fabric: one front and one back piece
  • contrasting fabric: one pocket panel and two belt pieces (We cut ours 4″ wide for a finished width of 1 1/2″. For the total length of the belt, we measured around the waist, and then added 16″ for tying the ends.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put it Together

3. Make the pocket. Press under the top edge of pocket panel 1/4″, then repeat for another 1/2″. Edgestitch along the bottom fold. With right sides facing up, pin the pocket panel to front apron panel. Based on your measurements, stitch dividers for your pockets, backtacking at the top of the pocket panel. There’s no need to stitch the sides or bottom, as that will happen in the next step.

 

 

4. Assemble the apron. Lay the back apron piece on top of the front piece, right sides together. Stitch the sides and bottom, leaving the top of the apron open. Clip the corners, trim the seam allowance, turn the apron right side out, and press. Fold under the top edge 1/2″ to the inside, press, and topstitch.

 

 

 

5. Make and attach the belt. With right sides facing, stitch the two belt pieces together to make one long strip. Press under the edges 1/2″ on all sides, fold it in half lengthwise, and topstitch.* Center the belt on top of the apron, aligning the top edges of the belt and apron. Pin the belt in place and topstitch it to the apron along the length (following the stitching on both sides of the belt), backtacking at the ends.

 

 

*More Details for Making Straps:

1. Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press along the fold. Open up the strip, press each side under 1/2″.

2. Refold the strip with the sides tucked in, and edgestitch along the length of both sides for greater strength.

For Larger Straps and Belts:
For a wider strap that will be used as a belt, the method is the same, but turn under the ends 1/2″ before refolding. If the fabric is bulky, trim away excess fabric at the folded corners, then stitch across the folded ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you try out this Tool Apron, be sure to post photos of it in the Sew What! Bags Flickr pool! Your images could be featured on Lexie’s website

Thanks to Lexie Barnes and the good folks at Storey Publishing for sharing this useful project with us! Looking for more How-Tuesday posts? Check out our archive here.

 

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110 comments

  • workingforpeanuts

    workingforpeanuts said 8 years ago

    Nice, fast project. Thanks! And good picks, too.

  • IreneDesign

    IreneDesign said 8 years ago

    Very nice! Thanks for posting this.

  • fabric4you

    fabric4you said 8 years ago

    I like it! Thanks for sharing.

  • CityChicCountryMouse

    CityChicCountryMouse said 8 years ago

    Awesome apron! I like that it's called a TOOL apron :)

  • shoshanna2003

    shoshanna2003 said 8 years ago

    you are such an inspiration for my future collections of accessories and apparel, thanks and keep up the good work and the creativity:)

  • shopgoodgrace

    shopgoodgrace said 8 years ago

    fabulous!! Thanks for sharing this project. :)

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 8 years ago

    So cute and I love the green tree fabric!

  • moonscreations

    moonscreations said 8 years ago

    This makes me wish I stood up while crocheting just so I could wear one. Fantastic article!

  • AzitasSurprises

    AzitasSurprises said 8 years ago

    great apron! love the green fabric.

  • breadandroses

    breadandroses said 8 years ago

    Great feature & project! When the job calls for a little more coverage, I love wearing one of my eco friendly aprons. Each one of a kind & cuter than the dickens!

  • onepixel

    onepixel said 8 years ago

    Super cute! Thanks for sharing!

  • PipocaHandmade

    PipocaHandmade said 8 years ago

    Perfect project. Thanks for sharing!

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 8 years ago

    Cute and functional! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  • poppyswickedgarden

    poppyswickedgarden said 8 years ago

    what a fun little project! I think I'll get my son to make some;)

  • thebestvintage

    thebestvintage said 8 years ago

    Great little project!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 8 years ago

    Hmmmm, maybe I'll learn to sew yet, thanks for sharing this project, great color combo too plus nice shop as well.

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 8 years ago

    if only i had learned to sew!

  • aprilmist

    aprilmist said 8 years ago

    great project and tutorial. You make it look so easy!!

  • aggieray

    aggieray said 8 years ago

    Love the vintage apron too!

  • TexasBeauties

    TexasBeauties said 8 years ago

    I like it! Maybe I'll make one to hold my makeup and brushes.

  • BetaAccessories

    BetaAccessories said 8 years ago

    These how-tos are so good, thanks for it. Great idea for crafty afternoon with friends :)

  • ickleson

    ickleson said 8 years ago

    This is a fab how to, good excuse to get my sewing machine out.

  • BabbidgePatch

    BabbidgePatch said 8 years ago

    fun project!

  • LittleWhiteDresser

    LittleWhiteDresser said 8 years ago

    i love it!!! i'll go try make one :)

  • tizzalicious

    tizzalicious said 8 years ago

    Nice tutorial! I am doing my first craft show soon, so this will come in handy!

  • VixVintage

    VixVintage said 8 years ago

    Very nice, thanks for sharing.

  • bijougirldesigns

    bijougirldesigns said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your tutorial! That apron would be sooo perfect to wear during craft shows to keep track of receipts and bags and money, etc...

  • ModishVintage

    ModishVintage said 8 years ago

    I may try to make a couple for my little ones, thanks for this article.

  • nomadcraftsetc

    nomadcraftsetc said 8 years ago

    This is PERFECT! Thanks so much!

  • heartcity

    heartcity said 8 years ago

    What a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • EarthenTreasures

    EarthenTreasures said 8 years ago

    I'll definitely make one...hmmm, I wonder if I can wear it instead of a purse...

  • sleepyking

    sleepyking said 8 years ago

    I have this book! Its great. A Must have!

  • LabyrinthLeather

    LabyrinthLeather said 8 years ago

    This looks so neat - can't wait to try it out!

  • RockPaperSilver

    RockPaperSilver said 8 years ago

    This looks so simple yet the end result would leave me feeling so tough (and organized)...very cool!

  • GimCarry

    GimCarry said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much (* v *) Very very great article.

  • designfabulous

    designfabulous said 8 years ago

    so cute!! great article

  • StudioCherie

    StudioCherie said 8 years ago

    looks like a cute book. Great picks too!

  • LisaFerinDesigns

    LisaFerinDesigns said 8 years ago

    So glad the difficulty of this apron is "newbie"--must try! Wonderful picks, too.

  • madebysam

    madebysam said 8 years ago

    Love it! thanks for sharing :)

  • FlanneryCrane

    FlanneryCrane said 8 years ago

    This is exactly what I need in order to keep up with my scissors. It's a sad but humorous state I find myself in often...Thanks for the idea/pattern!

  • mykonos

    mykonos said 8 years ago

    Great article, just love it!!

  • kidacollective

    kidacollective said 8 years ago

    Your book looks great. I so need one of these aprons (how can I have 10 tape measures and still not be able to lay my hands on one?!).

  • LoveForEarth

    LoveForEarth said 8 years ago

    I'll have to check this book out! Great picks too

  • JoannasPhotography

    JoannasPhotography said 8 years ago

    this is really neat project! maybe i should look more into sewing :)

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 8 years ago

    i love this project! very simple to follow!! thank you!

  • fernfiddlehead

    fernfiddlehead said 8 years ago

    super cool, dude!

  • FrillyButts

    FrillyButts said 8 years ago

    Excellent! I don't like to use patterns either! Thanks for sharing this.

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 8 years ago

    This would work well as a craft show apron too!

  • klacustomcreations

    klacustomcreations said 8 years ago

    very cool, I can't sew so I just buy those goodies from Etsy friends!

  • vivikas

    vivikas said 8 years ago

    loving this!

  • merryberry

    merryberry said 8 years ago

    I'll be making myself a tool belt! ^_^

  • smilingbluedog

    smilingbluedog said 8 years ago

    Perfect timing! Thanks so much for sharing this project. I've been wanting to make myself an apron and put my retired sewing machine back to work, no excuses now:)

  • TreeHuggerStudio

    TreeHuggerStudio said 8 years ago

    cute!cute!

  • christinececelia

    christinececelia said 8 years ago

    love it! thanks!

  • Jularee

    Jularee said 8 years ago

    Nice idea! I could use a tool apron. Thanks.

  • Mymothersgarden

    Mymothersgarden said 8 years ago

    Lexie~ This is great! Thanks for sharing your tool apron pattern with us! ~Karrita

  • TheBeesWrists

    TheBeesWrists said 8 years ago

    Lovely!

  • riorita

    riorita said 8 years ago

    I loved this "How To" article. The idea is very useful - especially for a person like me who keeps looking for things - "where did I leave this? and where did I put that"!! I bet I am not the only one! (lol)

  • riorita

    riorita said 8 years ago

    I think that "Ladies Pocketed toolbelt by bluemoonkatherine" could be just right for me!

  • OwlandMouse

    OwlandMouse said 8 years ago

    aprons with pockets are so great! maybe i should make my own...

  • VintageJamie

    VintageJamie said 8 years ago

    Useful! Thank you~

  • phersudancing

    phersudancing said 8 years ago

    this could even be incorporated into a handy skirt or shirt, so you can have your 'crafting clothes' - I'd love a wrap-around skirt like this for when I paint, it would be great! And long enough to protect whatever else I'm wearing!

  • spacejam

    spacejam said 8 years ago

    so cute!!

  • OpusMuse

    OpusMuse said 8 years ago

    Oh I absolutely love this article & I found it at the right time cos I just inherited a 2nd-hand sewing machine from my mom. Can't wait to try out the tool apron project. :) Thanks for sharing Lexie!

  • Tina669

    Tina669 said 8 years ago

    Great little project!

  • MinceCo

    MinceCo said 8 years ago

    whats with the spam in etsy comments lately? As a genuine Etsy seller...looking for first sale...check my store for something original you might reaaaalllly like! ;)'

  • evihan

    evihan said 8 years ago

    woww what a helpful article...tips... thank you ETSY ...as always...

  • sandali

    sandali said 8 years ago

    AWESOME -- it will most definitely come in handy ;)

  • danielabesso

    danielabesso said 8 years ago

    very cool! now I want o make my own apron in cashmere?!!

  • BayMoonDesign

    BayMoonDesign said 8 years ago

    I have to say that staying organized when involved in crafting is a challenge for me. Any tips are appreciated. Thank you for including the pattern!

  • raisinlike

    raisinlike said 8 years ago

    What a cool project!

  • clothpaperstitches

    clothpaperstitches said 8 years ago

    Thank you for the good instructions...I will try this. Love the book.

  • RegalCottage

    RegalCottage said 8 years ago

    Love this project! Thanks so much!

  • thehotcookie

    thehotcookie said 8 years ago

    Sweet tool apron, and I'm totally in love with the pincushion ring!

  • Radness

    Radness said 8 years ago

    Yay crafts!

  • ItsBella

    ItsBella said 8 years ago

    what great fabric!

  • Aquanetta

    Aquanetta said 8 years ago

    So many wonderful picks :)

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 8 years ago

    what a great tutorial! every crafter needs a good apron!

  • LittleBitShabby

    LittleBitShabby said 8 years ago

    I love this!! I am off to make one of my very own!! Thanks!!

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 8 years ago

    Great tutorial!

  • babook

    babook said 8 years ago

    So good this book !! It easy to knew it : )

  • alexkeller

    alexkeller said 8 years ago

    how great! i did a post not too long ago about aprons and her book is on my wish list

  • JewelsOnAWhim

    JewelsOnAWhim said 8 years ago

    I've thought about how to make something like this so much...I'm constantly putting a tool or pen some place(I'm not as neat as I could be) and waste time looking for it! Great design/thanks for sharing!

  • PawPawsWorkshop

    PawPawsWorkshop said 8 years ago

    Great article

  • jodieflowers

    jodieflowers said 8 years ago

    Awesome apron!

  • corrnucopia

    corrnucopia said 8 years ago

    Love it!

  • LizsDivineCreations

    LizsDivineCreations said 8 years ago

    Cool apron! Love all the info!

  • mademoisellemermaid

    mademoisellemermaid said 8 years ago

    Great, fun project idea that everyone will find useful! Can't wait to make one:)

  • junkyjunk

    junkyjunk said 8 years ago

    These sure would make great gifts! Not something that everybody already has!

  • LJBabyDesigns

    LJBabyDesigns said 8 years ago

    That apron is awesome, that is exactly what I need when I'm sewing. I'm misplacing my things under fabrics!

  • RockettQueen

    RockettQueen said 8 years ago

    I love the tool apron I need to make one for myself

  • jewelrybyjackie

    jewelrybyjackie said 8 years ago

    OOOOHHHHH! This is so great! I am going to make one of my very own. Thanks so much!

  • SimpleTraditions

    SimpleTraditions said 8 years ago

    thanks so much for sharing this pattern. It's exactly what I need for craft fairs. Your the best!

  • tldgrainwear

    tldgrainwear said 8 years ago

    Great idea...thanks for sharing it!

  • kirstenfrancis

    kirstenfrancis said 8 years ago

    Yessssss! Exactly what I need. Thank you (will probably make some for my kids so they don't lose their tools either).

  • AWEshop

    AWEshop said 8 years ago

    Fantastic idea for those who do art & craft fairs to keep your money for easy access and away from thieving hands! -keep track of your pen and calculator too!!!

  • Yayahandicraft

    Yayahandicraft said 8 years ago

    This is amazing I love the ribbon wood holder. Thanks for the articule

  • lealerjcreates

    lealerjcreates said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. great idea.

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony said 8 years ago

    it could be cool too, to make one to tie around the stump that holds my anvil, to hold hammers. If I don't sew my fingers together:)

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