Friday, April 12, 2013

Farm Girl Apron Tutorial from Recycled Jeans

Of all the things you can do with an old pair of jeans, recycling them into a cute apron is perhaps the most perfect application. By design, the denim is rugged and durable - perfect for protecting your clothes while out in the garden or BBQing. The fabric will hold up to continued use and washing as well. So make a cute apron and then have fun getting it dirty!

UPDATE! I've since made more adult aprons (including 3 to sell!). Check out more Farm Girl Apron pics or buy one if your sewing machine challenged here: More Farm Girl Aprons. Children's versions of this apron for both boys and girls can be seen here (although are not for sale).


  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1/2 yard cute fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruffle foot (optional)

**An important note about rights. I am delighted for you to make these for personal use, gifts and even to sell at local farmers markets or craft sales. I reserve the exclusive rights to sell aprons made following this tutorial online.**


Step 1: Cut Front of Jeans
Cut out the front of the jeans by cutting along the side seams and across the the front as shown by the yellow line. You'll be left with a piece that looks a bit like shorts.

Next, we'll clean it up a bit by folding it in half and cutting along the yellow line starting at the bottom of the crotch seam.

This is what your piece should look like. Go ahead and set it aside.

Step 2: Cut Out Cute Fabric
Fold your fabric so that the 1/2 yard length is running in front of you. Fold the fabric widthwise or "hamburger" style twice so that the 1/2 yard length is across the table in front of you and the piece is about a foot tall, making it a manageable height to cut strips from.

Using a straight edge (in my case, I used a smaller cutting mat...the one with the pink numbers laid out on top of the fabric), cut strips in the following widths:
  • 4.5 inches wide - cut 2
  • 4 inches wide - cut 1
  • 1 inch wide - cut 2

Step 3: Make the Waist Ties
Cut the 4 inch strip in half to create 2 shorter 4 inch strips. Fold them right-sides together lenghtwise or "hotdog" style so the strip appears to be about 2 inches wide. Stitch down the long side and one short side (red lines), leaving one short side open.

Fold the pieces right side out, press, and top stitch all the way around.

Step 4: Make the Ruffle
Lay the 4.5 inch strips on top of each other, right sides together. Sew across one of the short sides to create an extra long 4.5 inch wide strip.

Fold the strip lengthwise or "hotdog" style, WRONG sides together and press. Sew along the long raw edge to create a ruffle. Use a ruffler foot if you have one or set your machine to high tension and a long straight stitch. Depending on your machine, if this does not create enough of a ruffle, you may need to use my patented "scrunch and push" technique. As the name implies, you scrunch some fabric together and then push it through the machine and it stitches your "scrunch" in place.
Once you have created your long strip of ruffle, tuck the short ends inside of themselves and top stitch the ends closed.

Step 5: Assemble the Bottom of the Apron
Lay your waist ties on top of the jean front as pictures. The raw edges of the ties should entend slightly beyond the raw edge of the jeans. Fold the rest of the waist ties in and safety pin in the place so they don't get tangled while you are working.

Line up the short, top stitched ends of the ruffle with the top of the waist band. Line up the raw edges of the ruffle and the raw edges of the jean front all the way around, pinning in place as shown.

Set your machine to a medium length straight stitch and slowly stitch all the way around the edge. Be very careful to not stitch over any of your pins. Go over the top edges where the waist ties are twice for added security.

Open up the ruffle and press.

If you just want a cute little half apron, you could stop here. If you would like a full apron as pictured at the top, continue to step 6.

Step 6: Cut Out Apron Top
Cut one leg from the jeans. Cut down the length of one of the leg seams and open it up flat on your work surface with the bottom hem from the jean leg facing up. 

Lay the bottom of the apron you already assembled on top of the leg. Line up the remaining leg seam with the fly from the apron bottom.

Slide the apron bottom down until the top part exposed is the right length for you. The apron shown in the pictures was made in a size medium petite and I made the top about 10.5 inches long. If needed, you could tie the apron bottom around your waist and measure from the waistline up to where you'd like the apron to begin in order to determine the right length for you.

Once you've determined how long the top needs to be, draw a gentle curved line in and straight up. I just eyeballed mine. To keep the sides symmetrical, just draw on one, fold in half and then cut both sides out together. Leave about 3 inches straight down on each side and cut across.

Step 7: Make & Attach Top Straps
Make the 1 inch strips you cut earlier into 1/4 inch double fold non-bias tape following this tutorial.

Once the bias tape is made, open it up and line the edge up to the raw edge of the top. Pin it in place like so (but keep going up the entire right side). Then, using a medium straight stitch, stitch in the fold (shown by the dotted red line).

Once you're done, fold the bias tape over to the other side and use a short straight stitch to go all the way up the side. Keep going after the top of the apron to stitch the bias tape together to make the neck ties.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 8: Finish the Top
Use little scissors to snip one of the back pockets off.

Center the pocket on the top of the apron, pin down and stitch around the edges, leaving the top open.

Fold up the bottom half inch of the apron top toward the right side and stitch across.

Step 9: Attach Top and Bottom Pieces
Lay the apron bottom on top of the apron top and pin in place. Stitch across the waistband, following stitching that is already in place in order to hide your stitches.

Once you're done, trim all your tiny threads and enjoy your new apron! Perfect for digging in the dirt or whipping up a cake in your kitchen.

Did you notice you have a whole leg left from your pair of jeans? Don't throw it out! I have another project you can make with the leftovers from the pants you used on this apron that I'll share soon. 

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  1. The apron is adorable!! It is too cute!! Love it!!

  2. Am excited about making your jean apron. We all have jeans in our closet that are in need of recycling. What a great idea!

  3. A fabulous refashion and a great way to reuse pre-loved jeans. Such a comprehensive tutorial. I would love for you to share this at our Ongoing link party that's just for Refashioning with Denim

  4. This is a wonderful apron for summer!

  5. This is a wonderful apron for summer!

  6. Love this! My kids just outgrew some jeans, so I will give this a try!

  7. love your idea! I am about to make some right now! :D

  8. Something fun to help my niece learn to sew.

  9. Love it!!!! I want to rush out and buy old jeans and make an apron NOW!!
    Presumably, you could also use the back (with both pockets still attached) to make a second apron - perhaps more masculine looking for DIY jobs??

    1. I made a more masculine boy version off the apron here:

  10. Do you have a picture of the back? I'm wondering how finished it looks? VERY cute too!

    1. I don't have a picture of the back. How finished it looks will depend on the skills of the seamstress. You can always add bias tape to cover raw seams if they bother you

  11. I think this is one of the cutest projects I have ever seen!! Would you ever consider doing a Youtube video on making one? I'm somewhat stunned when it comes to reading patterns, lol Thanks so much for showing this, I love it!!! Wendy

    1. Thanks, Wendy. Due to how long making YouTube videos takes, I probably won't. I hope the pictures I show of the process help you, though. Maybe you have a friend who wants to make one with you and you can help each other?

  12. So cute, I'm going to make one, thanks for posting it! I was wondering why you didn't use a seam ripper to remove the pocket. It would be SOOO much easier. I had to use those little embroidery scissors the other day to remove a seam, because I couldn't find my seam ripper. I almost went crazy. I went out and bought two more seam rippers the first chance I got, LOL.

  13. My hubby found this for me and just in time too! He has jeans that he doesn't want and I was already planning on making an apron out of them. This saves me the trouble of figuring it out myself! Thanks

  14. This is so cute & I really want to make this but step 4 is confusing me. Do u mind elaborating? I'm visual and just not picking up what you're throwing down in that step. Thank u!! :)

    1. In step 4 you make the ruffle. You have cut 2 pieces of fabric and you will sew them together to make a really long strip. Then you find it in half - so that it is still really long but now there will be a folded edge on the bottom and two raw edges on the top.

      Does that help?

  15. I love this apron. I've already made 3, 2 kid sizes, which i just subtracted fabric. I know you posted about being able to sell them at farmers markets and craft fairs, are they allowed to be sold at a local mom n pop store?

    1. I'm so glad you love my pattern. Feel free to sell them at local mom and pop stores. I maintain exclusive rights for online sales, though.

  16. I made an apron that kooks much like yours (including the ruffle) when I was just a teenager. That was way back in the early 70s, when I was making quilts and adding ruffles to them!

  17. Uncanny, I made an apron much the same (including the ruffle) when I was a teenager, back in the early 70s. That was at a time I was putting ruffles on my home made quilts as well!

  18. I've made these since the late 60s, early 70s, only I used premade ruffle to sew around the apron and used a piece of ruffle for the neck strap (when I put a bib) and for the waist ties. My Sewing teacher showed us this in class in 1967.

  19. what a lovely idea to recycle old jeans! i am going to make one, love your site! thank you very much!!!

  20. Es una excelente idea, gracias por compartirla

  21. My sister made me one of these, and I love it - with one exception. So here's a note for anyone making this in the future - the seam down the middle of the top will tend to fold when you wear it and stick out in front. It tends to get in the way if you're moving around a lot. Two ways to fix this - make it narrower toward the top (taper), or instead of tying the neck ties together at the back of your neck, make them longer, and attach them straight back and down to the waist ties (like overalls) so they pull straight back instead of inward toward your neck.

  22. I am going to make all my grand daughters aprons from my Daddy's jeans and trim with his old shirts So grateful for the idea and the great directions.


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