Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Stenciled and Quilted Patchwork Apron

Aprons are a signal to my brain that creative joy is about to commence. When I put on an apron, my inner child starts percolating with ideas and excitement. Whether I'm cooking a meal or about to start making a beautiful artistic mess with paints, or collage, or stencils, or a gelliplate, donning an apron means I'm sliding into my happy place, and ready for some serious fun.

Tucked into my very small studio space (also known as a corner of my bedroom!) is a special box, full of fabric scraps and samples. Some large, some small, and all dear to my heart. There are tests on fabric of almost all my stencil designs. Also in the box are scraps from fabric that I designed myself and printed at Spoonflower.

Here's a few of my original fabric designs that I printed at Spoonflower on 100 percent cotton.

One of my favorite stenciled fabrics was an allover design in bright, summery colors made with some of the designs from my Wyatt ATC MixUp, Blooming Violet, and Lemurian Leaves.

This is one of my favorite stenciled fabrics. It was hard to cut it up for the apron, but fabrics are for sewing, so I sliced it into ATC sized pieces! I also used a strip of it for the neck ties.

I decided to finally do something with the fabrics and debated just what to create...a throw pillow for my couch? A patchwork teddy bear? A tote bag? A blouse? I didn't want to make something that I would wear once, then tuck away in the closet, saved for special occasions only. It occurred to me as I was putting on my apron to prepare dinner that a patchwork apron would be just the right thing.

So, the next day, I took inventory of what I had. There were lots of little ATC sized pieces from testing my Wyatt ATC Mixup stencil in dark and light colors, brights, and pastels. Since I had so many ATC sized test prints, it seemed logical to make my patchwork rectangular (2.5" x 3.5") rather than the standard square shape. Using a piece of mylar, I cut my template 3" x 4", which allowed for a 1/4" seam on all sides. I also had stenciled fabric samples left over from the clothing I made for my Wisdom Doll last year.

I got out my green cutting mat, my metal-edged yardstick, and my rotary cutter and set about carefully cutting the blocks. 

Here's the old, worn, favorite apron that my mother made years ago. I love the way it fits and feels, so I decided to use it as a pattern. 

I measured the size I would need for the top and skirt of the apron. Next, I arranged the blocks, shuffling them to get a good distribution of dark and light, while being careful not to have the same stencil shape too close to itself. I took pictures so that I didn't forget what the arrangement was.

I tried to balance the light and dark fabrics, the large and small patterns, and have variety in the colors.

Once the arrangement of the squares in rows was decided, I clipped each batch together. On the right, you can see my notes, measurements, and sketches.

Here I have more of my Spoonflower fabric yardage, and in the background, some of the cut and uncut stenciled fabric pieces.

Next, I carefully sewed the rows together, pressing the seams open with my steam iron. When the rows were done, I sewed the top pieces together, then the bottom sections.

I pressed the seams open carefully on the ironing board after stitching each row.

I used chalk and a clear ruler to mark where I wanted my quilting lines to be. It easily brushed off when I was finished quilting.

I decided to quilt the top piece; it seemed a logical next step. I used a full piece of one of my fabrics, stitched a 1/4" seam on all three sides, turned, and pressed it. I cut a piece of felt to fit just inside, pinned it in place, and stitched.

The original apron has two patch pockets, which are very handy, but I decided it would be too busy and bulky with the patchwork fabric, so I omitted the pockets from my new design.

I hung the finished top and bottom pieces from a shelf and stepped back to see how the apron was shaping up.

The old apron had a gathered skirt, so I put in two rows of machine basting across the top of the skirt, pulled it until it was the same length as the top, adjusted the gathers so that they were even, and pinned it in place. Just to be extra careful, I hand-basted the gathered section to the top, removed the pins, checked to be sure the gathers were distributed evenly, then slowly stitched the pieces together.

The backside of the apron shows my mini paisley Spoonflower fabric that I backed the quilted top with, as well as the basting on the gathered bottom.

Here's the almost-finished apron. The finishing touch was adding long strips of fabric for ties at the neck and waist.

It was a bit of a happy accident that my stencil of the word ART fell right in the middle, above the waistline!

I'm really pleased with the way my quilted patchwork apron came out, and the best thing is that 100 percent own fabric designs, my own stencils, even my own pattern design. While I kind of want to save it for special occasions, I also can't wait to put it on and make some creative mischief!

Many thanks to Jeanne Waller for modeling my special creation!


  1. Wow Linda! Tour apron is beautiful and I love that everything about it is 100% you. The Art square in the center is pure kismet. Well done.

    1. Thanks! It was a very welcome happy accident


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