Tutorial: Kitchen Towel Turned Apron

I love IKEA, I really do! They always have uh-may-zing deals on stuff, and we typically do not walk out of there without spending less than $100. Tuesday was actually one of those rare times that we did!

One of my acquisitions from IKEA was a set of cotton/linen blend kitchen towels. They are 28″x20″, and they cost $5.99 for the set.

They also come in a tan color as well as a blue color.

I love aprons. I really do. However, aside from the two that my husband and I have from when we worked at a grocery store -different times but the same chain- I don’t have any cute ones! It’s quite sad really. Maybe I’ll find a swap on Flickr or something. In the meantime, I decided I to jump on the ball and make an apron since I have this habit of rubbing my hands on my legs when I’m in the kitchen. This usually results in the dog coming up to lick the areas where I wiped my hands especially if it involves cooked meat. And I never have any kitchen towels handy when I need one either and I really hate wasting paper towels. Perfect solution! (Plus, to get Jeff to agree to buy the towels, I told him I was going to make an apron out of one of the towels and here I am doing what I said I was going to do)

Let’s get started!

(Seam Allowances are 1/4″)

Yes my hair really IS that long!



The shadow is from how my sewing room is lit.

So here’s what you need to make a quick and easy apron!

  • Either a VÅRLIGT kitchen towel from IKEA, or any similar style towel; basically something that’s flat woven like this and doesn’t feel all towely. You know, the kind made from looped terry. I know that Target has something called flour sack towels that would work as well; Walmart probably has them too. I bet even your local quilt shop probably has some as well; mine do anyway. Typically they are plain white and are 100% cotton; but I bet you can probably find ones with designs or patterns. If not, you can embellish them anyway you want!
  • Some yardage of fabric  x WOF. I’ve got here a half a yard of AMH Little Honey in Gold; or if you’re cooler than me enough to have some on hand, 2 or 4 strips of fabric from a jelly roll. (You may need more depending if you want your ties to wrap around or not). The nice part about the Little Folks Voile is that the WOF is 54 inches. In addition, a thicker ribbon would work as well; this way you could cut the length that you need. I would recommend a ribbon that’s wider than 1″. OR you can use double fold bias tape; if you want your apron like mine, use whatever width you want; if you want your ties to go completely across the front, then maybe use the widest DF bias tape you can find. The possibilities are endless as to what you can use for your ties; it’s matter of preference and what you have on hand.
  • Coordinating thread.
  • additional embellishments. I’ve decided to use lace.
  • And the general sewing paraphernalia; sewing machine -or a sharp needle if you’re into handsewing), iron & ironing board and pins. You will also need a long ruler, rotary cutter and a cutting mat if you’re using fabric; otherwise you can use scissors to trim the edges of your ribbon or bias tape.
  • Something to help you turn your fabric. I used a long piece of ribbon (I’ll explain this method)


If you are using fabric yardage: Iron your fabric to get any fold wrinkles out. Then fold it in half parallel to the selvage, and then iron it again. In my case because the WOF of the voile is 54″ and I don’t like fiddling with sliding fabric along to cut, I folded it again and ironed it. Ironing the fabric kind of sets it in place so it doesn’t move too much. The nice part about me folding my fabric twice, I only have to cut for 13.5 inches instead of 27 inches.. and my ruler is only 24″ so if I had only folded it once, I would have had to slide and cut.. and I hate doing this because I can NEVER keep the cutting line straight! If you’re using fabric that has the standard 42/44″ WOF, you won’t need to fold it twice unless you want to.

Trim one edge. Folding twice makes it a managable and easy edge to cut.

Trim one edge straight, and then either using the rule on your cutting mat or your ruler. I spun my cutting mat around to cut a 4.5″ strip of fabric; I used the measurements on my ruler. I’m left-handed, so this is why my cut edge is on the leftside. If you’re like most of the world’s population it would be on the other side. You can cut your strip of fabric wider, but I really wouldn’t cut it thinner. I want my ties to be 2″ wide. Cut additional strips if you want your sashing to be longer or if you want to be able to double them around to the front; sew the short ends together.

Now my mat has been turned! makes it way easier for me to cut since I'm not an ambi-cutter with the rotary cutter.

If you are using jelly roll strips: Now there’s two ways you can do this. If you want your apron sash to go across the front of your apron- unlike mine, you’ll need to use four jelly roll strips.

My awesome amazing rendering in paint. Pretend these are real jelly roll strips.

Take two of your strips and join them together like this; right sides together. Repeat with the next two strips for the other side. press the seams however way you like.

Joining your 4 strips together illustration; brought to you by paint.

Taking your two long strips, line up the center seams (black) and then pin the strips right sides together. Or if you’re feeling spunky just eyeball and sew them along one of the long sides; making sure that you’ve got right sides together. Don’t bother pressing them open since you’ll need to finish up the other end.

If you want your apron to be like mine without the sashing going across; you’ll need two jelly roll strips. I’m kind of going to explain what you’d need to do in the next step.

I found this really awesome tutorial the other day on an easy way to turn fabric using a ribbon. It’s actually a tutorial on how to make a ruffle quilt; however halfway through it has the steps to turn your fabric with ribbon.

Sewing my side seam following the tutorial



Flipping my strip inside out!

This method will work if you’re using the 4 jelly roll strip method or what I did with WOF The only thing I did different from the tutorial is that instead of sewing my ribbon off on the long side; I went ahead and closed the short end; and turned the corner; my ribbon was sewn on the short seam. If you are using the two jelly roll method here is what I would do.

2 jelly roll strip method

Lay your jelly roll right side up. Then, find the exact center of your jelly roll strip(green). You can either fingerpress, iron or mark it with a long pin. Center fold is marked with the gray line. Then take your ribbon (brown) and put it slightly to the left or right of your center seam. Pin. Then, using a basting stitch -the longest stitch length your sewing machine has- tack down the strip to the jelly roll (black line). Do NOT backstitch but maybe loosely tie the ends of the threads together so when you pull  the ribbon, the basting stitches will hole together instead of undo themselves. Take out the pin, and then fold your jelly roll over right sides together to cover the ribbon. Set your sewing machine back to your preferred stitch length -I like mine set at 2.5- and sew both sides; I would start at the folded edge and then work my way to the open end on both sides. When your ties are turned just snip the basting threads off and remove your ribbon. Easy! Repeat with the second one.

After you turn your ties, I would carefully iron your ties flat. The nice part about doing the two jellyroll method is that you don’t need to tuck the open ends back into the fabric to stitch close. The 4 jelly roll or WOP fabric will require you to stitch the open end close.

If you are using double fold Bias tape: Cut your bias tape to the length you want. tuck in the ends, and sew along the long seam. this will give you a long finished strip. If you want to get the same look as mine, cut two pieces instead of one. If you are going to use two pieces; I would just knot the exposed ends.

If you are going to use ribbon: Cut either one long piece or two shorter pieces depending on how you want the ribbon to go. Heat set or tie knots on the ends of your ribbon. If you’re using two pieces just treat/tie one end of each of the two pieces.

My finished apron tie

Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the towel. If it’s plain; go ahead and embellish it however way you want!  Hand or machine embroidery patchwork, applique it; whatever strikes your fancy! I went ahead and ironed mine to attempt to get some of the creases out. Typically, I would prewash stuff before sewing with it, but I decided to skip that step. Because this particular towel is 20″ by 28″ and I wanted the stitched flower at the bottom my apron is going to be 20″ across. Due to my short stature, 28″ is too long! So what I did was hold up the towel and then just sort of eyeballed it until it hit right above my knees and then folded the fabric foward. I iron pressed the fold down.

Folded to my prefered length.

I thought it would be nifty to have a pocket, so I folded the end back up and lined up the edge one inch under the top fold. Then I pinned and pressed to get creases.

Start of my pocket

The next thing I did was I took my sashing and cut it in half!

Attatching the sashing

After cutting the sashing in half I unfolded the apron. I took the sashing and lined it up right below the crease, and I lined my open edge up with the stitches on the apron and then pinned in place. Then, I sewed the sashing to the apron 1/4″ away from the raw edge. After sewing the sashing , you’ll need to fold them over the stitched edge like so. If you are using a thinner width of ribbon or DF bias tape, I would go up and down a few times to insure that it will remain in place. This will work with any method you are doing that involves two pieces of sashing.

Important step here so you can acutally use your apron!

Then fold your sashes out over the stitching you just did. I like this method beacause there won’t be any raw edges exposed and it’s just more secure.

I added the lace after I sewed the sashes on with a satin stitch and I went over the spotty areas to make it look neater.

Go ahead and sew up the side seams starting/stopping at the bottom of your pocket fold and to the top edge of your apron (you can backstitch). At that point you’ll be done!*


* If you want your sashing to go completely across the front of your apron, you’ll need to do some steps slightly different.

Obviously not to scale here...

Fold down the top edge, and press. But instead of  folding the fabric back up to make the pocket, you’ll need to find the center of the apron and the center of your sashing; mark these either with a quick press or with pins, match up the centers, pin in place and following the illustration above; do a straight stitch across the front of the apron on the top and bottom sides of your sashing; stopping at each side of the apron. You can backstitch.

Then take the end of the the fabric and fold it back up to create your pocket. At this point, you sew up the side seams like normal. This method would also work with the ribbon as well as the bias tape; although if your ribbon or DF bias tape is thin enough you may only need to do one line of stitches across. You may just want to stitch to the top of the pocket instead of going over the top of your sashing. It’ll stay nicely since you sewed through the sashing and two layers of the towel to create your apron.

What I really like about this apron is aside from the sashing I didn’t have to finish any edges; they were already done for me! It made the going a lot quicker. heck, in the time it took me to write this tutorial, i could have made 2-4 more of these, depending on how many times I got interrupted by my kids.


If you make an apron using my tutorial, please link back in the comments; I’d love to see what you make! Also PLEASE give me credit, and don’t use my photos, thanks.

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