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Zero Waste Gifts – Modified Sam Apron

I try to make some kind of Christmas gift for my family every year. Some years the gifts are more elaborate than others. Sometimes I have an idea well before Christmas, other years it feels more last minute. I’m sure if you have made handmade gifts you know this feeling well. And even though the official gift-giving season is over, for now, I thought I would talk a bit about the gifts that I made this year because really any time of year can be a time to give a handmade gift to a family member, a friend, or even yourself. Luckily, this year I managed to not only have an idea, but I had “plenty” of time to get it done. I say “plenty” because I did have lots of time to get the gifts done, but I still felt a bit of pressure – such is the nature of working in Santa’s workshop.

When Helen’s Closet released their pattern for the Sam Apron (free when you signup for their newsletter), I was hooked. For years I’ve been telling myself that I need to make myself a full apron – I had been sporadically wearing a half waist apron – and this was the perfect opportunity to finally get it done. I thought it would make the perfect gift for my family members as many are great home chefs and/or work in workshops where an apron would be readily used.

After reviewing the fabric requirements, I ordered some heavyweight linen hoping that I would be able to adjust the pattern to work with the width and yardage that I purchased. Since I was making aprons for a variety of people – different heights and sizes – I knew I needed to figure out a way that I could adjust the pattern so I won’t have a bunch of random pieces of leftover fabric. When I ordered the fabric I did not have a full plan yet, I was just hoping that I would be able to figure something out easily.

The pattern provides you with very helpful guidance on selecting a size. Because I was making these for people who were not standing in front of me, I needed to make some guesses. When selecting the sizes, I also wanted to take into account my fabric length and width so I would be able to maximize my fabric. Fortunately, I was able to divide the sizes of 6 individuals into 3 apron widths, i.e. 2 aprons at 31″ wide, 2 aprons at 33″ wise and 2 at 36″ wide. For the length, I decided to make them all the same by dividing the fabric width of 57″ in half and cutting the aprons out on the cross-grain. This allowed me to get 2 aprons for each width that I needed. This also meant that the aprons ended up being a bit short.

To solve this problem, I dug into my linen scrap collection with the idea of adding scrappy patchwork at the bottom of the aprons to make up for the missing length. Past me must have been planning for this because I found some already pieced-together linen that happened to be just about the sizes I needed. Needless to say, I was very excited about this find. It ended up being a huge time saver! I just sewed these patchwork strips at the bottom of the aprons and made the lengths different based on everyone’s height. This solved my length issue perfectly.

The next decision was to decide how to use the bib cutouts. I knew that I wanted to incorporate them into the apron somehow. For a bit, I thought of using them to lengthen the aprons, but that wasn’t going to work. Then I started playing around with various pocket ideas. The original pattern comes with ample pockets and I wanted to make sure the ones I made did too. In the end, I made a patch pocket out of the cutouts. I sewed the cutouts right-sides together, leaving a small opening so I could turn them right-side out. Once turned out and pressed, I had a nice lined patch pocket made for the apron offcuts. I sewed down the top edge and added a little indigo tag to each pocket.

I used more scrap linen for the top pocket and the towel loop – which by the way is an amazing addition to any apron! I also made it easier on myself and used twill tape for both the cutout finishing edge and the straps. I would have been able to piece enough scrap linen together to make the straps, but that would have increased my time spent by a lot.

In the end, I am very pleased with the outcome and so are the recipients. I even remember to wear mine while cooking – mostly! I would highly recommend the Sam Apron pattern – for yourself or as a gift. I enjoyed the process of taking a pattern and reimagining it as a zero-waste pattern. This one was simple and easy to do and I look forward to challenging myself more this year with this kind of work. I hope to share more of this in the coming months. If you have done the same, I would love to hear about it!

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Lawrence Top Dress Hack

I have been thinking about making a dress version of the Lawrence Top for a while. I began with the idea of lengthening the tunic version and adding a wide ruffle at the bottom. I did the math, adjusted the pattern pieces, and selected fabric, but something was holding me back. The more I thought about my idea, the more I realized I couldn’t see myself wearing the final version. I loved the idea, but the design didn’t fit my wardrobe or lifestyle. I love the look of ruffles and frills, but I don’t necessarily like wearing them. I didn’t want to make something that I would only wear once or twice.

I put the idea on hold for a bit while I tried to decide what direction to go with it. When I found a piece of navy double gauze in my stash, my motivation for making a dress was renewed. I decided to blend the two views of the Lawrence Top and make an oversized shirt dress with a tie.

As I looked at the original pattern, I tried to think about what aspects of each view I wanted to use in the hacked dress. I wanted to use the shape and inseam pockets of the tunic version, but with shorter sleeves that could be rolled up if I wanted a different look. I also knew I wanted to incorporate the split hem from View B, but I wanted the hemline to be even.

Once I started laying out all the pieces on my fabric, I was able to work on more specific details of the design. My piece of fabric was 59″|150cm wide x 90″|229cm long. I began by switching the orientation of the original pattern pieces (to be oriented with the grain instead of cross-grain) so I could get more length. Based on the length of fabric I was able to get a dress that hits above the knee.

Adjusted pattern piece layout

I also wanted a little more volume to the dress, so I made the front and back panels wider. I didn’t change the width of the yoke and I was able to gather the panels more. I did make the yoke taller – making it 9”|23cm instead of 6”|15cm – to go with the proportions of the more oversized look.

The buttons are one of my favorite parts of the dress. I found these yellow, vintage buttons last summer and when I got them I had no project in mind. I just loved how all the different shades of yellow and different shapes went together. Once I started sewing the navy gauze, I remembered that I had the yellow buttons and I knew they would be the perfect fit for the dress. I love how they pop on the navy fabric and add a bit of whimsy to the dress.

While I was making the dress, I thought about various ways that it could be worn. I wanted to make sure that it worked in a variety of situations and seasons. The dress definitely feels fancier when it is tied at the waist, but it can also have a casual feel. I like how it feels flexible in its style. The dress layers well over leggings and it can be worn in the cooler months. And I discovered (after we took these pictures, of course) that it layers well over wide-leg culottes. Worn without the tie, it creates a very artist smock vibe which I really like. Wearing it untied, without pants, is also an option. I think it will be great to throw over my swimsuit when we head to the beach.

If you have made the Lawrence Top and/or tried hacking the pattern I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or post and tag me on Instagram @goldfinch.limited #zwlawrencetop. I love seeing everyone’s makes!