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  • Writer's pictureCraft Cotton Co

British Waterways Butterfly Apron

Project by Marie Pickles

If you are looking for a very simple but ever so useful project, why not settle down for an hour or two and try this apron. Aprons are very much in vogue but they never really go out of fashion. They can be simple, fussy, made from all sorts of fabrics and as expensive or easy on the pocket as you choose.

For this project I wanted simplicity! Nothing complicated.

All straight cutting lines (with scissors if you want), no curves, or complicated calculations

You can up your game of course - add loads of embellishments; curves, frills, fancy ties, pockets, towel loops, multiple fabrics and the rest. I decided to go as simple as I could, roll back decades to my schooldays and from somewhere in the murky depths of 1972 when I think I made an apron.

The fabric is from the ‘British Waterways’ collection by Sarah Payne The colours are so rich and jewel like they are simply gorgeous. I’ve even been able to forget my phobia of butterflies and enjoy the whole experience.


  • Sewing Machine

  • Cotton fabric of choice (you will need more if it is directional)

  • Matching thread

  • Scissors

  • Optional – cutting mat and rotary cutter

  • Tape measure

  • Ruler

  • Fabric marking pen/pencil

Cutting Instructions:

Press fabric and lay out flat with Right Side Down, (RSD) using a fabric marker mark the dimensions for all parts of the apron, cut and set aside. You can adapt the size to fit but remember there’s lots of play with waist ties etc. If you look on the internet there are many many patterns that you can download free. My apron is an adaptation of the one I made in 1st Form to use for Cookery, Domestic Science, Home Economics or whatever it’s called!

Skirt - 33” x 25”

Bib - 22” x 20”

Neck Band (1) - 4.25” x 29”

Waist Ties (2) - 3.5” x 36”

Pockets (2) - 14.5" x 14.5”


  • Press all fabric before you start.

  • Measure, mark and name all pieces before you start cutting (makes sure you have sufficient fabric before you start).

  • Try and concentrate on one element at a time and don’t get confused completing each step as far as possible before moving on.

  • All elements have turned in (and doubled) seams; it is worth your while to get into a rhythm for these and prevent the frustration of missing a turn under or a wonky seam.

  • After cutting, measure as you - fold and press as you go along and take the time to press all folded seams before stitching, it creates a crisp edge and makes the actual stitching much easier.

  • You can use steam to lightly press. Please do not iron as you may stretch the fabric and cause yourself a problem.

  • Where seams are turned under and top stitched along the outer edge you may if you want to secure by hand stitch, fabric glue or double sided hemming tape.

1. Waist Ties:

Fold fabric in half with right sides facing (RSF).

Sew a seam back stitching at beginning and end. Turn this tube through so fabric is right side out (RSO).

Flatten with your fingers ensuring the seam is in the centre, press lightly.

Fold the top inwards to create a point, pin to hold. Top stitch down one side, up to the top of the point then down the other side of the point and back to the open end. Hand stitch the point closed on the underside. Repeat for the second tie.

Neck bands and waist ties prepared in the Fold tube into point

same way, fold right sides together and

stitch down securing top and bottom

Topstitch Line up tie and stitch securely

2. Pockets:

Fold fabric to RSF, sew down edge to create a tube. Keeping the seam on the outside edge; sew along one end to close it off and turn through. Press the pocket well, fold the open end in half an inch and sew closed. Turn the top edge over 0.5”and backstitch each side to hold in place, alternatively pin to hold (basically is a simple flap with no open edges). Set aside for later.

Sew along to create tube

3. Neck Band:

Fold fabric in half lengthwise and RSF, sew down the long edge backstitching top and bottom as you go (refer to image). Turn the tube through so its WSI (wrong side in). Using your fingers, manipulate the seam to the centre back of the neck band and press well. Turn ends inside tube and press.

Neck band folded over and stitch between pins

4. Skirt:

Press fabric well. With wrong side facing (WSF) and working with the sides first, fold under 1”and press and repeat folding in another 1”and press well. Do the same on the other side. Pin/clip top and bottom to hold. Stitch down each side and press. Working with the bottom, fold 2” under and press, repeat again with 2” fold. Press and pin/clip corners. Stitch across securing the stitching at each end.

Top seam; fold under 1” and fold another 1” under and press. Fold the skirt in half and mark with a pen or a pin (this is a marking point to centre the skirt and bib to connect together later on). Take each waist tie and tuck in the open seam to create a neat top and press. With skirt WSF, place a tie on top of the side seam of the skirt lining it up to sit level with the skirt, pin if necessary. Stitch the tie in place sewing around all four sides. Using the tie as a guide stitch along the skirt end to end approximately (0.5”) in the centre of the top hem.*

Stitch tie securely in place Bottom seam folded twice and stitched

5. Bib:

Press fabric, working with the sides first, turn 2”under and press, fold a further 2” under and press. Repeat for both sides finishing with a final press.

Top; fold 2” under and press, fold 2”under and press, either pin or clip the top corners to hold.

Bottom; fold 1”under and press fold another 1” under and press. Pin along the length of the bib at the bottom edge. Take the neck band and press well, find the centre and mark 2.5” each side from centre. Fold neck band in half WST and stitch between the pin markers thereby reducing the neck band by half making it more comfortable. Fold both bib and skirt in half and mark the centre point on each with a pin or erasable marker.

2” seam turned under pressed & topstitched Stitch neck band in place behind bib

Top stitch around bib Stitching bib and neck band in Neck band In-situ



With the skirt WSF and the bib WSF, slip the bib behind the shirt matching up the centre point on both. Pin along to secure. Stitch bib to skirt along the turn under of the skirt (the bib effectively sits on top of the skirt). This will secure the 2 main elements but you should have no stitching showing on the right side of the apron at this stage.

Take the neck band and press well, find the centre and mark 2.5” each side from centre.

With RSF, starting at the outside edge of the bib; top stitch around the bib including across the skirt/bib and back up to where you started. Now sew across the bib top once more this time across the bottom seam of the bib turn under, starting and stopping within the topstitching. If required give the apron another press.

With RSF decide where you want pockets positioned. I found having them at an angle was more comfortable; when you are happy pin in place ensuring the open edge is facing up and out. You now need to sew around the pocket twice allowing a 0.25” space between the seams. It will reinforce the pocket and add decor.

Bib & skirt joined on lower edge of skirt seam 2 rows of stitching to secure bib and skirt

Skirt with bib & pockets in place Pocket placement Stitch around pocket - twice for


7. Finishing:- Clip off any remaining threads and for the last time (for now) press and look at all your hard work. Enjoy.

To see more from Marie, check out her website

Witten by Marie Pickles for The Craft Cotton Co 2022.

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