Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (2023)

January 22, 2023Paula Ortega Giménez

Want to know how to sew your own apron? This is what I’ve been working on as my first ENGI 210 project and I am happy to show you the finished result!

Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (1)

Here is how I did it:

  1. I used the template provided to get an idea of the proportions between the top and waist of the apron. I then measured my own waistband, the distance between the shoulder and the waistband, and the overall desired length for the apron. I drew this on a big piece of paper in the following format (Figure 1):

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (2)

    Figure 1: Paper with the Desired Dimensions Pinned to the Fabric

  2. Before cutting the paper shape, I roughly checked that the dimensions seemed fine for me.
  3. I then cut this paper and checked again, this time more accurately. No adjustments were needed. As seen in Figure 1, I then pinned the paper on the fabric and drew the contour onto it with a pencil.
  4. I then added three more contour lines around the obtained shape 6/16th inch away from it to obtain the following shape, which I then cut out on the outside-most line (Figure 2):

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (3)

    Figure 2: Fabric Shape for the Main Part of the Apron

  5. I folded the edges of the fabric inwards until they touched the outermost line. The iron was not working, but I still used it to press the fabric together in this format so that it stayed in place. After that, I folded the sides inwards again until they touched the next and last line such that the fabric was folded inwards over itself twice overall. I again pressed the iron to shape it and pinned it (Figure 3). It was easier to do this by sides rather than the full apron at once.
  6. I then sewed the sides using a sewing machine. I used red thread for this and removed the pins as I went so that the sides maintained their shape (Figure 4).

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (5)

    Figure 4: Sewing the Apron with a Sewing Machine

  7. Once the main part of the apron was done, I went on to attach the straps to it. To do this, I measured three straps that fitted me and cut them longer than needed to have a margin (two for the waist and one for the neck). I wanted the waist straps to be long enough to go around my waist and tie at the front.
  8. I first drew the dimensions seen in Figure 5 onto the edge of each strap, leaving a little distance on the end (I drew four in total – two for the waist and two for the neck) . I then attached the waist straps right where the fabric changed directions at the waist using tape and sewed both pieces together. After that I put the apron on and held the top to see the angle at which to sew the neck strap and repeated the same procedure. I attached the second strap on the mirror position with respect to the first one. A box x stitch was used sewing it in the steps seen in Figure 5 [1]. The leftover strap fabric at the unused end was cut shorter after sewing.

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (6)

    Figure 5: Sewing the Straps Using a Box Stitch

  9. I then went on to add a pocket using the video instructions provided. I used the dimensions in Figure 6 (I used a paper to see the size I wanted for the pocket and it turned out to be almost a perfect size for the apron!).

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (7)

    Figure 6: Paper Shape with Dimensions for the Pocket Pinned to Fabric

  10. I then cut the shape and pinned it to a fabric that I chose for the pocket and drew the shape onto it. I cut it out (Figure 7) and sewed it to the apron (Figure 9 below shows the reinforcing sewing patter used at the top of the pocket).

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (8)

    Figure 7: Cut out of Pocket with Top Sewed

  11. Once the pocket was done, I cut the top neck strap into two (one of the things that annoys me about most aprons is that I cannot adjust the neck strap so I wanted this feature in mine!).
  12. Lastly, I folded the unattached edges of the four straps inwards and inwards again with a longer fold, just like it is done in backpack straps. I then sewed these ends together for reinforcement (Figure 8).

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (9)

    Figure 8: Edges of the Straps Sewed for Reinforcement

  13. Voila! The apron is done and ready to be worn:

    Paula’s apron | ENGI 210: Prototyping and Fabrication (10)

    Figure 9: Finished Apron


For the most part, everything was fine, but there were a couple of times where things did not go as expected.

One time, I forgot to backstitch and so I decided to sew on top and ended up with some more threads than expected… so I decided to use a needle to take them all to one side and I made a few knots with them. I chose to make a knot like that a couple other times in my apron.

Surprisingly, the most difficult part was to sew the edges of the straps. In Figure 8 you can see that the sewing did not go very well. What seemed to happen is that the straps were too thin for the sewing machine to hold on to, so the sewing took place on the spot, sewing mostly without moving. I had to remove the thread and cut the sides of the straps shorter and try again a couple of times. It kind of worked but it gave me some issues (like getting the end part of the fabric getting stuck when reverse sewing) and resulted in not very good stitching. I had to do some hand knotting again.

The fabric was also too thick for the machine in the corners of the main apron component so it sewed without moving in that position too. I had to sew the corners after finishing the main part using a line that cut through the ‘hypothenuse’ of the triangle formed with the corner so that it was not so loose and stronger.

Cost estimate

The cost was estimated the following way:

Fabric used (includes the actual fabric that went into the product and any scraps that went to the trash because they were too small):

  • Size of fabric for apron (fabric given minus usable left-over): 37in*45.6in – (18.25in*9.75in + 18.5in*45.875in) = 660.575 squared inch = 0.5097029321 yard
  • Size of fabric for pocket: about (11.5in*11.0625in + 13.5in*1.25in + 10.125in*0.75in) = 151.6875 squared inch = 0.11704282407 yard
  • Total size: 0.5097029321 + 0.11704282407 = 0.6267457562 yards
  • Cost per yard: while it varies and I don’t know the exact fabric type, common fabrics range between $7 and $20, so I estimate about $10 per yard for the fabrics used [2].
  • Total cost for the fabric: 0.6267457562 yard * $10/yard ≈ $6.267

Labor time: 440 minutes

  • Labor time includes the time spent working on the project, but not that spent understanding the task or how to do something, since it is assumed that the person performing these tasks already knows how. I kept track of the time as I worked on the project.
  • A Sewing Machine Operator earns an average of $13.00 per hour in Texas [3]. While the labor included other things other than operating the machine, it allows for an estimate to be calculated.
  • Total labor time cost: 440 min. *$13.00/60 min ≈ $95.333.

Machine time: about 85 minutes

  • The time was estimated as I went (it was not calculated exactly but I think that it is about the time I implemented, give or take a few minutes).
  • This amount of time adds to the cost since it uses up electricity.
    • I used an ‘electricity usage calculator’ for a sewing machine to calculate the overall cost of the time that the machine was used (the calculator used 100 Watts for the sewing machine power) [4].
      • I changed the electricity cost in the calculator to the average cost that I calculated from several plan options offered for a big building (I figured the OEDK probably used more power than a normal house) in the postal code 77005 (Rice) ($0.1638695652 per kWh) [5].
      • Total electricity cost calculated with the ‘electricity usage calculator’: $0.023

TOTAL COST: $6.267+ $95.333 + $0.023 = $101.6237909 ≈ $102

*Note: the straps were not included in the cost calculation. This would increase a bit the cost.

That’s it for this post!







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