Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Apron Challenge

Four of the aprons - Chicken Scratch Embroidery
Hmmm....It wasn't a hard decision, I immediately said YES!

Last month I was invited to join extraordinary quilters Allison Aller and Rhonda Cox Dort making quilts from aprons.  I added a caveat I would also make some sewing smalls.

The aprons are from Deborah Turner Ursell's fantastic selection.

Aprons embroidered with rick rack

The first step was to checkout the aprons and start developing some inspirational thoughts.

The colors, rick rack the soft feel of the woven gingham made me think of a stash of men's shirts I had left from a previous project.

Maybe I could use them together - like "his and hers"?  Her aprons and his shirts - together....and so it began....

As I thought about my project, I examined the construction of the aprons.
So much hand stitching!
Not just the embroidery, the construction too.  Hand mitered corners included.

I took the aprons apart so I had all the pieces available for my projects - separating the waist bands, ties, pockets and main body.

I discovered other interesting features.
The pink gingham was hand gathered with a double strand of thread.

Chain Stitch

The green gingham was stitched with a machine chain stitch.

Anyone still stitching on a chain stitch machine?


With everything dis-assembled I sorted ties, waistbands, pockets etc into separate piles.

Each apron is about 1 yard of fabric.  However, being cut into ties and smaller pieces I wanted to use the small pieces for piecing, maximize the decorative portions and have plenty of fabric for larger areas I might appliqué.

To selective cut or not?

I had to decide if I would selective cut the woven gingham on the thread lines.

I decided not to - I then decided to do the same on the men's shirting.

One hexagon has a chicken scratch center

I love hexagons and decided to make a few and see how the gingham worked.  I used floral hankies for the hexagon centers.

Then I placed a few of the completed hexagons on the men's shirt pieces.

I liked the look!

Next, I made a few pieced blocks.

The chicken scratch embroidery is rather bulky - usually stitched in pearl cotton.  I featured it in the larger pieces of the quilt.

The crochet rosette's are off the edge of a sheer white batiste apron.

I added to some of the blocks, layered and off center.

The green is a pocket.
The pink is a man's pinpoint oxford dress shirt.
The center of the hexagon is a lace hankie.

I left plenty of pink space for some quilting fun.

It was time to play on the design wall.

 Move things around.

Think about the "story" I was working with.

Make more blocks.

Leave some open space for quilting fun.

Feather Stitch around Gingham Heart

I mixed some hand and machine work.

In the finished quilt, I hand quilted this block and a few others.

While the design wall rested and I considered my options - I made some sewing smalls.

Velma approved of them.

Sewing rolls, pinch purses, pin cushions and more.

So pretty to work with!

These are some lace examples from pillow cases and hankies.

Seems appropriate to use vintage embroidered linens to make sewing smalls for our needlework!

Some embellishment from the original linens, some added by me.

This sewing roll uses pockets from aprons as pockets for the roll.  Love the needle pierced strawberry.  The binding is quilters cotton.

The hexagon pin cushion sides are gingham apron pieces and the top is an embroidered doily.

What about the pieces that are hard to use?

Two dye lots of embroidery thread

This waistband was embroidered after the apron
was made.
The embroidery went through all of the layers.

Taking the band apart would have ruined the embroidery.

Needle Roll

I finished the ends and added a tie.  I embroidered the wool and scalloped the edges.
The finished wool was invisible stitched by hand to the waist band.

Wa-La  A Needle Roll!

Then... It was back to the quilt.

All this time Allison and Rhonda are zipping ahead on their masterpieces!

I ended up with this layout with a few changes as I went.

I moved a few pieces around as I assembled it in sections.

All the while I kept to my his and hers - opposites attract theme.

With the top assembled, I started machine quilting.

I did all of the ditch sewing to get the pins out of the way.  Then I added some free motion quilting.  Last, but not least - I also added some had quilting.

This is my finished quilt.
Scrappy binding.

I think of it as a child's quilt or adult's lap quilt.  Family fabrics - aprons, shirts and hankies - all filled with memories.

It was great fun to step out of my normal project line up and join such talented quilters in this challenge!

This is Allison Aller's Finished quilt.

The center is beautiful chicken scratch embroidery.  The white round is a Quaker Lace table cloth.  Allie followed the lace design in her machine quilting.

The more you look, the more you see in this beauty.

Pattern, texture and color!

Back of Allie's Quilt

Rhonda's quilt features the apron in the center medallion.

She made the nine patch blocks and added vintage Dresden plate blocks to the corners.

She did the long arm quilting herself.

Beautiful, isn't it?

I told you they are extraordinary quilters!!
I am thankful for the opportunity to play - Thanks Deborah, Rhonda and Allie!

Happy Stitching!

Rhonda's Blog HERE
Deborah's Sale Pages
      Click HERE
      Click HERE
Also see the Facebook Group Quilting Vintage!  HERE


  1. Wow! What a fabulous finish! I so love this quilt. I wouldn't have the patience to make one but I am in love with what you did. Congratulations to all three of you. ;^)

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad you love it!

    2. I’m so glad you like them!
      Thanks for taking time to comment.

  2. These quilts are all just beautiful! YOurs is adorable! Love the scrappy binding, such a perfect touch to this quilt!

    1. I love scrappy bindings, I’m glad you like it!
      Thank you for taking time to comment.

  3. Quilts from aprons. Now that is a thought. Many, many years ago, I had a supervisor that made a chicken scratch quilt for an Eastern Star fundraiser. I was not a quiltmaker at the time. I wanted to make one but never did. I think I played with the chicken scratch technique a little bit but don't remember actually making anything.
    I see you mentioned that your parts used from the quilt were family pieces? I was wondering how you and the others came up with the aprons. I would assume they can be found at antique stores.

    1. Each apron is about a yard of fabric.
      My pieces aren’t from family. They are from Deborah’s shop. See link above.
      She has an amazing selection. I do see some in shops.
      Some of the vintage sewers have stashes of vintage textiles, just like a fabric stash.

  4. Love reading your blog posts, Dawn!

  5. How wonderful that you and your friends have repurposed these aprons into other glorious items. The chicken scratch embroidery is perhaps a lost art these days, wonder if anyone still does this.

    1. I have seen new instructions/patterns for chicken scratch.
      It would be fun to try. Maybe a full front apron? The half aprons are a little small, the vintage ones even petite!
      It was nice to give these aprons a new life.

  6. Wow! All three of you repurposed the parts In extraordinary ways. What a beautiful way to incorporate family textiles.

  7. Wow, what an amazing array of goodies you gleaned from those aprons! Every one of your "smalls" is a treasure, and the quilt is so delightful and unique. What will you do with these items? I'd love to see them on display at a museum, or a quilt show. I love the concept of making new things out of old.

    1. I use some of them. I do loan to museums.
      I also do guild and club programs. Some are used for workshops.
      Every once in a while I put some in my Etsy shop.

  8. What a fantastic idea! I love every one of these. So many aprons lying around unused and voila! Sensational quilts. Beautiful!

  9. The ingenuity each of you have shown in creating these sweet works is wonderful! Absolutely charming.


Thanks for your comments!