red flannel pantry

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terrycloth dishtowel apron–a tutorial

My friend, Lynn, recently asked me if I could make a terrycloth dishtowel apron for her mother-in-law, aka Bubbie or Mrs. T. I didn’t know what she meant at first, so to Google images I went. Oh, the pictures brought back memories and I knew exactly what Lynn was describing!

vintage terrycloth apron

If you are over 50, you will remember these aprons worn by our mothers and grandmothers. In the 1950s and 1960s, resourceful, creative women would take a terrycloth dishtowel and add a waistband, ties, and binding to make an apron. It was a practical way to wear art that you could wipe your hands on!

I searched online for instructions to make one, and although there are loads of creative apron tutorials, I couldn’t find one to make an apron exactly like Mrs. T wanted. So I made one up. Here’s my take on making a terrycloth dishtowel apron.

Materials: terrycloth dishtowel, approx 16″ wide x at least 20″ long; coordinating fabric, one piece cut to 5″x17″ (for waistband) and two strips cut to 5″ x 28″ (for ties); and iron-on interfacing (two pieces cut to 2″ x 16″).

First, find a plush terrycloth dishtowel–not an easy task. You could use a regular linen-type dishtowel, but Mrs. T wanted one that you could really dry your hands on–only terrycloth would do (and I agree!). The best ones I came across were at Bed Bath & Beyond and made by Calphalon–they are reminiscent of the vintage Vera Neumann dishtowels with their bright artsy renderings of fruits and vegetables.

cutting dishtowel

Cut the towel to 19 inches in length, discard the shorter piece, and zigzag-stitch the cut edge.

zig-zag and baste

About 1/4 inch from the cut edge, baste-stitch so you can pull the thread to create a slight gather.

waistband & interfacing

Iron the two strips of interfacing to the wrong side of the 5″ x 17″ waistband so they are centered and abut each other in the middle.

waistband to towel

Find the center of the waistband and the center of the apron (by folding each in half and marking with a pin) and then pin the right side of the waistband to the wrong side of the apron, matching these center pins. Sew using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. The waistband will extend beyond the sides of the apron–that’s ok.

iron waistband

Iron the waistband, turning 1/2″ under on the top and sides.

stitch waistband in placeFold the waistband in half over the top to the front, covering the seam beneath. The waistband width will measure 2 inches finished. Iron, pin and top-stitch the bottom edge of the waistband in place. Leave the sides of the waistband open. The sides of the waistband will extend about 1/2″ beyond the apron on both sides.

ties with pleatsFor the ties, fold each 5″ x 28″ piece of fabric in half lengthwise right sides together. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew along one short end and then the long edge. Leave the other short end open. Clip the corner and trim, turn inside out through the open end and press with an iron. Fold the open end to create a small pleat.

insert tie into waistbandInsert this pleated tie end into the open end of the waistband. Pin in place, adjusting the pleat so the tie fills this open end smoothly. Top-stitch the seam shut, making sure to catch the back side of the waistband.

To finish, top-stitch the top edge of the waistband.

Here it is:

apron frontapron backIt is practical and cute–I hope Mrs. T loves it!

If you’d like a pdf of these instructions, you can find it here.

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2 thoughts on “terrycloth dishtowel apron–a tutorial

  1. Lynn Tobin on said:

    Hi Linda,
    My Mother-in-law and I are honored to be your inspiration! Your aprons are
    exactly what she was searching for. I passed on your tutorial and she vowed to make some for her friends! It really does bring back memories of my Grandma creating her magic with her trusty flour, rolling pin and apron.
    Thanks Again
    Lynn

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