The 1950s housewife was never seen around her home without her apron, and if you want to channel your inner domestic goddess then this pretty pinny is the perfect thing. And of course, every good hostess wants to set the table with pretty embroidered linens, so while you have your needle and thread in hand, why not make a table mat which could easily double as a tray cloth. You can find the templates for this in our Home Sewing Inspiration guide, or online.
- Yellow cotton for apron, 70cm x 114cm
- Yellor cotton for tray cloth, 36cm x 25cm
- Embroidery hoop
- Anchor 6-stranded embroidery cotton, 1 skein each in lemon 288, violet 110, green 204, and pale blue 175
- Crewel needle
- Bias binding, 170cm
Transferring images to fabric
Trace or photocopy the design on to thin paper; you may find it easier to tape the paper to a light box or a window pane. Go over the lines on the reverse using a transfer pen or pencil to produce a mirror image, then place the paper on the fabric, transfer side down, and press with a hot iron, following the instructions given with your pen. Voilà!
From the yellow linen, cut a 65cm square for the main part of the apron (the skirt), plus a 15cm x 42cm rectangle for the waistband, two 3cm x 63cm strips for the waist ties and a pocket measuring 12.5cm x 14cm – refer to our online diagram for help.
Transfer the flower motif onto the main panel and a one small flower and two leaf sprigs onto the pocket. Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop, stretching it until it is quite taut – but take care not to distort the weave. As the design is quite wide, it will be necessary to work on one area of the embroidery and move the hoop as needed.
Thread a needle with three strands of embroidery thread, then fill in all the shapes using satin stitch and stem stitch. In the centre of each flower, add a cluster of French knots in yellow thread. Use the photos of the finished apron as a guide to colours, or use your own palette.
When the embroidery is complete, remove the fabric from the hoop and press it with a hot iron on the wrong side to remove any creases.
Create narrow hems on the two sides of the skirt, then finish the lower edge with a 2cm double hem by turning 1.5cm to the wrong side, then a further 2cm. Press with a hot iron to set the creases and fix using a neat hemming stitch or running stitch.
To make the waistband, fold in 1.5cm on all sides and press, then fold in half lengthways and press again. Gather the top edge of the skirt and pull up until it fits the waistband, then pin in place on one of the longer edges.
Fold each tie in half and stitch along the length, then turn right sides out and press. Turn in one end on each tie to neaten it, then pin the unfinished ends to the sides of the waistband. Fold the waistband in half and top stitch around three sides, trapping the ends of the ties and the gathered top of the skirt inside.
Embroider the pocket and cut off the two lower corners diagonally. Turn under 1.5cm on the sides and base, then hem the top edge and stitch the pocket in place.
Tea tray cloth
Cut fabric to 36cm x 45cm, then place a round object (such as a tea cup) on each corner, draw around it and cut along the line to create neat rounded corners. Transfer the flower motif on to the fabric and place it in an embroidery hoop.
Thread a needle with three strands of embroidery thread, then fill in all the shapes using satin stitch and stem stitch. As for the apron, add a cluster of French knots in the centre of each flower.
When the embroidery is complete, remove the fabric from the hoop and press it with a hot iron on the wrong side, to remove any creases. Bind the raw edges all round with bias binding, then press.