Make a retro apron
Shop-bought aprons tend to be huge 'one size fits all' sheet-like things - domestic togas, usually with idiotic slogans about the chef's inclinations emblazoned across the front. They're a far cry from the retro-chic fitted frills of 1950s Oxo ads or naughty Agent Provocateur pinnies
Making your own apron is a must for any modern homemaker who finds cooking a perfect Hollandaise as important as looking saucy. And while you're at it, why not make matching pinnies for your little helpers - children will love having their own and they'll look too cute for words.
You will need
Decide on the size you want your apron to be. I did this by holding a sheet of newspaper against my front and trimming it until I was happy with the shape. This is a good exercise for seeing what proportions suit you - it may even help with future fashion purchases - and it also makes you realise that even an apron can be flattering. I went for something pretty high at the front and finishing mid-thigh.
On another piece of paper draw a pocket shape; this needs to be big enough to fit whatever you might use it for. Frankly, it's unlikely you'll put anything in it - what are kitchen surfaces for? - so go for a shape and fabric that look good. It's worth remembering that the eye will be drawn to wherever you position the pocket. Placing it just above the hips will be more flattering than if it's in line with your widest point. If you make the bottom of the pocket curved, rather than making it square or rectangular, you, like the pocket, will look less boxy.
Pin the newspaper patterns of the apron and pocket to the fabric, keeping them in line with the grain (parallel to the fabric edge or selvedge). Cut 1.5cm around the outside of the apron shape, then cut out the pocket shape to the same size as your paper pattern. The 1.5cm extra on the apron is so that you can turn raw edges under to hide them. You don't need this side hem allowance on the pocket because you're going to trim it with binding or ribbon.
Work your way all around the apron folding the raw edges under twice and pinning them in place as you go. Iron this hem flat, then sew all the way around, keeping your stitches as close to the edge of the fold as possible, then iron again. The ironing is worthwhile - this sounds like a lot of ironing, but makes the difference between a professionally finished piece and something that looks like it came out of a badly taught Home Economics class. Put the apron to one side.
Now pin ribbon or bias binding around the curved edge of the pocket in the same way and pin the pocket in position on your apron front. Sew around this curved edge, attaching the pocket to the apron, then iron it flat.
Take four pieces of ribbon - two are for tying around your neck, the other two are to go around your waist. Fold both ends of each piece of ribbon under twice and iron them down. Sew down one of the ends of each piece of ribbon.
Pin the unsewn ends of the other two pieces of ribbon to either side of the top of your apron so you can tie them around your neck. Sew these down, too, then fling it on. Now get cooking and bake something as tasty - and gateau-fabulous - as you're looking.
Excerpted from House Proud by Danielle Proud, priced £16.99, published by Bloomsbury.
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