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Title: It's Fun to Sew Aprons and Skirts

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: January 27, 2020 [EBook #61260]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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It’s Fun to Sew Aprons and Skirts

aprons and skirts


It’s Fun to Sew—Aprons and Skirts

Prepared by
Clothing Specialist, Extension Service
Utah State University
Logan, Utah


Where to find page
Your guide for the project 1
Plan your project 1
Take care of your clothing 2
Shine your shoes 2
Sew on buttons 2
Assemble your sewing tools 3
Do your shopping 3
Buying cotton fabric 3
Learn to use the sewing machine 4
Learn to press cotton 6
Sew—have fun 7
Make a scarf 7
Make a sewing kit 8
Make TV slippers 8
Make your apron or skirt 9
Peasant apron with band 10
Peasant apron with elastic top 12
Gathered skirt 13
How does your apron or skirt look to you? 16
Complete your record book 17
Show others what you have learned 17
Exhibits 17
Give a demonstration 17
Are you ready for the next project? 17

Read this book from cover to cover before you start your project.


Your guide for the project

Learn to sew—have fun. This book will help you get the right start on your second 4-H clothing project. Read it carefully and study the pictures. Ask your mother to read and study with you. Follow the instructions and you will form good habits. This project is planned for you. Learn to do each part step by step.

Keep this book in your sewing box. Refer to it whenever you need help.

Study these subjects

1. Care of clothing—
sew on buttons
shine your shoes
keep dresses on hangers in closets or placed neatly in drawers
2. Good grooming—
keep neat and tidy
practice good health habits
3. Cotton fabrics
4. Use of your sewing machine

Articles to make

One of the following first for practice
Head scarf—single
Head scarf—double
Sewing kit
TV slippers
An apron or skirt as your main project
Gathered skirt
Peasant apron
Elastic top apron
Cover-all apron

Add to your record book

Your County extension agent will give you your 4-H record sheets. Keep your clothing record up to date. Write your 4-H story for the year when you complete your project. Be sure to fill in your permanent record, too. There are places on your permanent record to show the activities you have participated in—be sure to keep a record of them. Activities plus project work make a well-rounded 4-H program.

Learn to give a demonstration

Show others what you have learned by giving a demonstration at one of your club meetings. When you show another club member how to tie a knot or sew on a button, you are giving a “demonstration.” Things that are done or seen are remembered longest. Give your demonstration alone or with a partner. You will find demonstrations interesting and helpful. Ask your leader to give you ideas on how to give a demonstration. Choose a topic you have studied in your project.

Plan your project

You will want to talk about your project with your mother and leader. This will help you to understand your project. Study the project outline and your record book. Take your mother with you to your first 4-H club meeting.

You will need your mother’s cooperation in selecting equipment and cloth.

Plan to do all your shopping at one time. Buy the cloth for your apron or skirt and slippers or scarf at the time you buy your sewing equipment. This will save you time.

Before you go shopping make a list of all of the things you will need. Think about the blouses or dresses you have when you plan the colors for your skirt or apron. You may want to wear your scarf and skirt together—if you do, plan the colors to go together.

This project is more than just sewing. You will study health and good grooming and how to care for your clothes.

Get off to a good start by learning how to care for your shoes and how to sew on buttons.


Take care of your clothing

Shine your shoes

Daily care will improve the looks of your shoes and will help make them wear longer. Clean and polish your shoes. Wipe them off with a clean (wool) cloth and brush away the loose dirt before you put them away. When they need polishing, use one of the many good polishes that are on the market. Select the kind that is best for the leather in your shoes. Follow the directions given with the polish.


Shoes become damp from perspiration when you wear them. Wearing socks will protect the lining. Allow your shoes to dry thoroughly between wearings. Filling the toes of your shoes with tissue paper will help absorb the moisture.

Examine your shoes for signs of wear. Keep the heels straight and do not wear the sole through before having it repaired. Have all rips mended as soon as they appear.

Do not place wet shoes near heat or in the sun to dry. When they are dry, clean and polish them to make them look like new.

Your dress is only as pretty as the shoes you wear with it. Are you proud of the care you give your shoes? Keep a record of the care you give your shoes in your record book.

Sew on buttons

To help mother care for the family clothing, why don’t you take the responsibility of replacing buttons on shirts and blouses for the family. Make a game of it with other members of your club. Have a button contest. Give yourself a point for each button you sew on. The club could plan to give a prize to the girl who sews on the most buttons during the club year.

Keep a record of the buttons you sew on, something like this:

Date Article of clothing Points—or number of buttons

Record the total in your record book.

Use buttons to trim your bedroom slippers. Select one flat, medium-sized one or three small ones. Arrange them on the toes of your slippers to make an attractive trim.

How to sew on a button

1. Make a small knot in double thread (15 inches long). Fasten to article where center of the button is to be placed. Take two or three stitches over the knot.

2. Sew the button in place with one or two stitches. See that the stitches run in the same direction as the buttonhole.

Sewing on a button

3. Place a pin on top of buttons under the first stitches. This makes a shank. Continue to sew on the button. Take as many stitches as necessary to hold the button securely. When the stitches are in place, remove the pin. Lift the button away from the article. Wind the thread tightly around the stitches, as shown, and fasten the thread on the back by taking three or four stitches, one on top of the other.


Assemble your sewing tools

You will need a sewing box or basket and good sewing tools. Obtain a small box to hold your tools and another one large enough to hold your small box plus your apron or skirt. A small suitcase makes an ideal sewing box.

Sewing tools
You will need

Thimble—This is for the middle finger. Make sure of a snug fit. A thimble protects your finger.

Needles—A package of needles, assorted sizes of 7 to 9 sharps, will give you the various sizes needed. Use as fine a needle as will carry the thread you are using.

Thread—White mercerized thread No. 50 is used for basting. Match other thread to your fabric.

Pins—Select smooth fine dressmaker pins so they will not leave a dark spot on your cloth. These usually come in a box.

Pin cushion—Plan for a pin cushion that can be worn on the wrist. You may make or buy this.

Scissors and shears—Scissors have short blades and are used for snipping threads and cutting small pieces of material. Seven-inch blades are a good length. Shears have one long handle for the fingers and one short one for the thumb. Scissors with bent handles are handy because the cutting blade rests flat on the table. Use plain scissors to cut out your articles. Do not use pinking shears.

Tape measure—Select a tape measure that will wear well and one that is numbered with “1” on each end on opposite sides.

Measuring gauge—You can cut a gauge from cardboard or buy a 4-inch metal one. From the start, learn to measure accurately. On a tape or measuring gauge, locate the 1-inch, ½-inch, and ¼-inch marks.

Do your shopping

Buying cotton fabric

When you start to sew, it is most important that you have a fine, firm piece of cotton cloth. The best fabric for your scarf, skirt, or apron is percale, either plain or crease resistant. Percale is soft and firm, and comes in figured and plain colors. Select a small all-over pattern in colors that you will enjoy wearing. Avoid plain colors, plaids, or large designs. Also avoid cloth which feels stiff. Crush several pieces of cloth in your hand. You will be able to tell the difference. Select the one that wrinkles the least.

When you buy your fabric, be sure it is preshrunk and colorfast. Also find out if it is crease-resistant and how to wash it. Is it hand washable or machine washable? You will find most of this information on the end of the bolt of fabric or on attached labels. Study these and also ask the clerk to tell you about the fabrics.

Bolt of fabric







55% Cotton

45% Arnell Tri-Acetate

WIDTH 44/5″




Good percale has the same number of threads in the warp as in the filling. The warp threads are those that run the long way of the fabric. The filling threads go back and forth across the warp threads. The filling threads are softer than the warp threads but not as strong. Examine the edge of the fabric. The edge is called selvage. It is stronger than the rest of the cloth because it has more threads in it. This may also cause it to shrink more during washing.


Percales should be torn, not cut, from the bolt. This leaves a straight line or shows one thread for the entire width of the cloth. Before you buy any fabric, lay the folded cloth on the counter and examine the torn end. Are both sides even or is one side an inch or so shorter than the other? Select a piece which is reasonably even. Do not select fabric if one side is more than ½-inch shorter.

Border prints make interesting skirts. Study the design on the cloth and buy enough cloth so you can match the design on the side seam. Make sure the fabric is straight. Crooked fabric will give you a curved side seam.


Percale may be used for all the articles you will make in this year’s project. Other fabrics that may be used are chambray, broadcloth, poplin, and novelty fabrics.

Plan a shopping tour with your club before buying your fabric. After studying the different cotton fabrics, have your leader and mother help you select the fabric for your scarf, apron, or skirt. If you plan to make a double scarf, buy ½ yard additional fabric like your skirt and the same amount of a contrasting color.

You will need two washcloths if you plan to make the TV slippers. Select medium weight washcloths either with or without border trim.

Learn to use the sewing machine

Many of you learned to use the sewing machine in Phase 1 of It’s Fun to Sew. You will find this section of your bulletin to be a good review.

For those of you who are starting with this phase, this section will help you become acquainted with the parts of the machine and will tell you how to use it.

The needle—Notice that it has an eye near the point instead of at the top like the one you use for hand sewing.

The presser foot—See the two toes between which the needle passes? This is the presser foot. Find the small metal arm which raises the presser foot up and down. The metal arm is on the back of the machine.

The bobbin—This carries the thread for the underside of the sewing. Bobbins are different shapes and sizes for different machines. Learn to place the bobbin in the machine and to remove it. Learn to wind the bobbin.


The balance wheel—This is the wheel on the right-hand side of the machine.

When you can recognize these parts and know their use, you are ready to learn to run the machine. Check these points before you start to use the machine:

1. Remove the bobbin and top thread.

2. Have the needle up as far as it will go.

3. Raise the presser foot.

How to start the machine

You are now ready to get the “feel” of running the sewing machine. You will first practice starting the machine off slowly and evenly.

If you use an electric machine, you must learn how much pressure to put on the knee or foot control. Remember there is a lot of power in an electric machine.

If you use a treadle machine, put both feet on the treadle, one ahead of the other. With your right hand, move the balance wheel forward or back, whichever is right for your kind of machine. Take your hand off the balance wheel and treadle with your feet, pressing first with your toes and then with your heels. Practice treadling until you can run it smoothly at a moderate speed.


How to stop the machine

Try stopping the machine by slowing down the treadling or releasing the pressure on the electric control. With your right hand, stop the balance wheel. Turn the wheel slowly until the needle is raised as high as it will go. Always do this when you stop the machine. Practice starting and stopping. You will do this many times while you are sewing. Try stitching both forward and backward if there is a reverse lever on your machine.

Practice sewing on paper

Now that you can run the machine, practice sewing by first stitching on paper. Draw some straight and curved lines on paper as a guide to follow as you stitch. Here is how to do it:

Place the end of a line under the needle.

Lower the presser foot. This holds the paper securely and helps feed it through the machine.

Start the machine by turning the balance wheel. Treadle slowly or press on the foot or knee release of the electric machine.

Guide the paper with both hands. Place the left hand in back of the needle and the right in front of the needle. Keep your hands at a safe distance from the needle when stitching.

When you can stitch straight and control the speed of the machine, you are ready to learn to thread the machine and start sewing an easy-to-make article.

Thread the machine

You can best learn to thread the machine by having your leader show you how to thread it. Then practice while she watches you. Watch closely when she draws the bobbin thread to the top and see how she pulls both threads back of the presser foot. Learn about the tension. The tension determines whether or not you have a good stitch. Until you are older, have your leader or mother adjust the tension for you. Watch her while she does it.


Check the stitch

Pull both top and bobbin threads back of the presser foot. Place a double thickness of cloth under the presser foot and make several inches of stitching. Inspect the stitch. Does it look the same on both sides? If not, have the tension adjusted until it does.

Use 12 stitches to the inch for the type of sewing you will be doing. Have your leader show you how to adjust the length of the stitch.

When you have finished sewing, raise the needle as far as it will go. Raise the presser foot and pull the fabric back about 4 inches from the needle. Cut the thread with your scissors or on the cutting knife on the side of the needle-bar.

Sewing machine needle

Use a cloth gauge

A cloth gauge placed to the right of the needle will aid you in making straight seams. Place a strip of colored scotch tape, band aid, or adhesive tape to the right of the needle if you do not have a gauge. Watch the edge of your cloth as it follows along the gauge rather than watching the needle when stitching. This will help you make a straighter seam.

Your posture at the machine

Posture is important. If you sit “tall,” you will be less tired and will do better work.

Become a 4-H machinist

There is a special activity planned to help you learn how to use the sewing machine. It is called “Know Your Sewing Machine.” Ask your leader and county home agent about this.

Learning to use the machine is the most important part of this clothing project and it is a lot of fun. Bring your mother to club with you the day you study machines so she can enjoy it with you. When you have learned to use the machine and can pass your test for a 4-H sewing machinist, your leader will sign your certificate. You are now ready to start to sew.

Have you learned to:

Start and stop the machine?
Run the machine smoothly?
Wind the bobbin and place it in its case or shuttle?
Thread the machine, top and bobbin, and pull up the bobbin thread?
Adjust the length of stitch?
Stitch on straight lines, corners, and curves?
Guide, not force, the fabric?
Tell a good stitch?

Learn to press cotton

Examine the iron—locate the different parts. Set the heat indicator of your iron for cotton. This will keep the iron at the correct temperature.

Cotton may be ironed on either the right or the wrong side. If your fabric does not iron out smoothly or take a sharp crease, dampen it. Here is how to do it:

Dampen a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze it tight. Do not make it wet. Place it over the cloth you want to press and set iron on it. Steam will form and dampen the cloth.

Always iron or press with the grain of the cloth. Follow the warp or the filling threads. Do not iron on the bias.


Sew—have fun

Now that you have practiced using the sewing machine, you are ready to make a scarf, slippers, or sewing kit.

Make a scarf

Wearing a scarf

This scarf may be made larger than the measurements suggested but it will require more fabric. Using these measurements, a square of cloth can be cut into four scarves. It will be more economical to cut a scarf this way if four in your club use the same colored fabric.

Plan to have your scarf match or look nice with your skirt. For a double scarf, have one side the same as your skirt fabric and one a plain or contrasting color. A single scarf may either match your skirt or be a contrasting color.

Double scarf

Scarf Pattern

Cut two triangles of fabric—



Pin right sides together and sew a ½-inch seam around edge.

Start sewing 6 inches from center of scarf. Stitch around scarf and stop 3 inches before reaching starting point (see diagram). The opening is for turning your scarf.

Scarf seam

Press the seams open. Then trim the seams until they are ¼-inch wide. Trim off corners. Turn your scarf and press.

Hemmed scarf

Baste a slot for headband, 14 inches long and ¾ inch wide. Sew across one end. Turn and stitch along basting threads. Turn and stitch across other end. See diagram.

Scarf and headband

Sew (by hand) 2 inches of opening, leaving 1 inch open to insert head band.

Insert head band and your scarf is finished.

Single scarf

Cut one triangle of fabric.

Scarf pattern

Press ¼-inch hem on both 25-inch sides of scarf. Press ¾-inch hem on long edge of scarf.

Hemmed scarf

Trim off end of hem on dotted lines. Turn ends under even with side hems. Press.

Folds in cloth

Miter corner on point of scarf according to directions under sewing kit.

Mitered corners

Refold the scarf on folds for hem. You now have a mitered corner.

Stitched scarf

Stitch around your scarf. Start stitching 6 inches from center on 35-inch side. Stitch all around scarf.

Stop 1 inch from where you started to stitch. Turn and stitch to folded edge of hem. Stitch across hem 7 inches from center of scarf to make other end of slot to hold head band. Finish two top corners by hand. Trim off peak (x) to edge of hem. Insert head band and your scarf is finished.

Make a sewing kit

Sewing kit pattern

This kit can be used to roll your sewing in and to cover your work table to protect your fabric while you are sewing.


Use a 36-inch square of muslin. Make a ¼-inch hem on all sides.

To make the hem, turn the edge of the fabric over ¼ inch and press. Turn this over once again and press. Pin or baste around the hem. Pressing eliminates many hours of basting.

Miter the corners. Open the corners and fold along diagonal dotted line as shown in the diagram. Refold the hem and press.

Start to stitch in the center of one side and continue to stitch all around the square. Stitch as near the edge of the hem as possible. Remove your sewing kit from the machine when you finish stitching and tie ends of the threads. Pull out the basting and press your sewing kit. Trim off the extra fabric in each corner.

Place an 8 x 12-inch pocket in the center of this square to hold your pattern and sewing equipment. See “Pockets,” page 12.

Make TV or lounging slippers


Materials needed:

2 washcloths

thread to match

2 10-inch pieces of ¼-inch elastic

wool yarn for pompons or flat buttons


1. Fold each cloth in half. If there is a design on two sides, fold the cloth so the design is at the top. Stitch 4 inches from folded edge for top. Make a ¼-inch seam.

Folded sewing kit

Stitch from fold to edge of cloth for heel on other end of washcloth. Stand on a ruler and measure length of your foot. Add 1½ inches to this length to get the size needed for your slipper. Example: foot—9 inches, plus 1½ inches equal 10½ inches. Your seam will be at this point. Most washcloths are 12 inches square. You would have a heel seam 1½ inches wide.

2. Turn seams to inside. Open the heel seam.

3. Fold the edges over 2 inches to the outside of the slipper. Pin or paste in place. Stitch ½ inch from folded edge to make a casing for the elastic. Tie or back tack ends of thread.

Casing for elastic

4. Thread elastic through casing. Use medium-size safety pin. Pin to one end of elastic and thread elastic through casing. Start at opening of front toe. Pull both ends so they extend out from slipper. Overlap ends ½ inch and sew them together.

Threading elastic

Pull on heel and toe seam and the slippers will cover the elastic. Trim your slippers with pompons or buttons.

Making pompons

5. To make the pompons, use a four-tined table fork. Cut a piece of yarn about 6 inches long and place through the center tine of the fork. Bring both ends down and hold next to the handle. Now wrap the yarn around the tines, either weave it in and out of the tines or wrap smoothly around. When the tines are completely covered, bring the two ends which you are holding with the handle up around the other yarn and tie a knot, at the same time slipping the yarn from the fork. Tie securely. Clip through looped ends and fluff into a ball.

Sew pompons to center front of slipper to cover opening for elastic.

You may use buttons to trim your slippers instead of the pompons. Select flat buttons that can be washed. Use one average or large button or three small ones on each toe. (See “How to sew on a button,” page 2.)

Select yarn or buttons that will look nice on your slippers. They may be the same color as the slippers or another color that will look good on them. Try several colors. Medium colored buttons rather than black or other dark colors look best on pale colored slippers.

Make your apron or skirt

Aprons and skirt

Aprons and skirts are fun and easy to make. This will probably be the first apron or skirt you have ever made all by yourself. Your leader will show you how to make it, step by step. Follow her instructions and you will learn to sew in no time at all. Learn to do each step right the first time.

Choose one that you would like to make

1. Peasant-type skirt

2. Peasant apron with straight band

3. Peasant apron with elastic top

Plan to have one or two pockets on your apron or skirt.

Peasant apron with band

You will need to buy:

30 inches of 39-inch percale or other firm cotton fabric—if you are taller you will need more material to make your apron longer.
1 spool of matching thread
Apron pattern
APRON 20 × 32½
5 × 32½ SASHES
5 × 32½
6½ × 18 BAND
5 × 6½
5 × 6½

Measure and cut your apron

Mark the apron according to the diagram.

Band 6½ x 18 inches
Apron skirt 20 x 32½ inches
Two sashes 32½ x 5 inches
One or two pockets 6½ x 5 inches

Measure and mark off these pieces with chalk or pins before cutting. Cut with long, even strokes.

Make your sashes

Fold the right sides of each sash together. Place pins across the stitching lines as shown in the diagram. Make a ¼-inch seam along the side and end of the sash. Backstitch for two or three stitches to make the end of your thread secure. Trim off the corner.

Check the stitch on your machine. Be sure it looks the same on both sides of the fabric.

Stitched sash

Press the seam open and turn the sash. Use the end of a table knife or ruler for turning. Press the sash flat, keeping the seam at the edge. Make the corners square.

If you prefer to hem the sash, make a ¼-inch hem, miter the corners. See instructions on scarf, pages 7 and 8.

Press and stitch hems

Side hems

1. Make a ¼-inch hem on each side of the apron. To make a hem, press a ¼-inch fold on the side edges of your apron (20-inch sides). Press with your fingers, then with the iron.

First turn

2. Fold edge over again ¼ inch and press. Stitch along edge of hem. This completes the hem.

Selvage edge—If the selvage is used, clip only the very edge of it every 2 or 3 inches. This prevents puckering when it is laundered. Fold the edge over ¼ inch, press and stitch. A double hem is not needed.

Bottom hem

Make a 3-inch hem on the bottom of your apron. Measure and turn ¼-inch fold at bottom of apron. Press. From this edge measure 3 inches, fold, and press. Pin and stitch the hems. Use matching thread. Stitch as near as you can to the edge of the hem. Backstitch on both ends of hem.

Gather the top edge

Divide the top edge of your skirt into four equal parts.

Set your cloth guide for a ¼-inch seam. Lengthen your stitch to make the largest stitch possible.

Make three rows of stitching along the top of the apron, placing rows ¼ inch apart. Place the first row ¼ inch from the edge. Be sure to follow the guide.

Gathered top edge

Make your apron band

Your apron band is made the same way as a skirt band, only the proportions are different. Turn to page 14 for illustrations.

1. Press a ½-inch fold along one side of your 18-inch band. Divide the band, lengthwise into three equal parts. This gives three 2-inch sections. Make the section with the ½-inch fold slightly shorter than the other two sections. Place a damp press cloth over the folded band and press sharp creases along the folds.

2. The section with the ½-inch fold is the front of your band. The double part is the back. Stitch criss-cross through the back part of the band. You can stitch straighter if you make a guide or pattern. Cut a strip of waxed paper the length and width of your band, 18 x 2 inches.

Fold in four equal sections.

Then fold it diagonally. Then diagonally again. Open the paper and pin it to the band and follow the creases in the paper. This will give practice on starting and stopping the machine and on turning corners. Tear the paper away after the stitching is completed.

Apron band

3. Pin and sew the end of the sashes to the end of the band. Fold the band right sides together, and stitch across ends. Do not sew the ½-inch fold at bottom of band into the seam.

Apron band

Stitch both sides. Turn and press along the original crease.

Band on apron

Sew apron to band

Be sure the edges of the band and apron are marked in four equal parts. Place the right side of the apron to the right side of the band. Match the quarter marks and pin. Place the hemmed ends of the apron at the seam ends of the band. Ease in the fullness in the apron until it fits the band. Pull all bobbin threads from each end at the same time. Pull gently so you do not break the threads. Spread the gathers so they are even and pin. Baste along the second row of gathering and the crease in the band. Machine stitch along the bastings. Press.

Pin so back edge of band is ⅛ inch longer than edge of front of band. Top stitch along front edge of band. This finishes your band. Be sure to press the band before you stitch. It will make stitching easier.

Add your pockets

Pockets are for both use and decoration. Make patch pockets that are securely stitched and have no raw edges at the top.

Press the side and bottom hems of the pocket first. Then fold the top hem over and stitch in place. Study the most convenient location for your pocket. Baste it in place. Check to see that it is even. Reinforce the top of the pocket with double stitching, as shown in the drawing. Stitching is ¼ inch apart.


Remove gathering stitches and press your apron.

Finished apron

Peasant apron with elastic top

You will need to buy

30 inches of cotton fabric
1 spool of matching thread
14 inches of ½-inch elastic

Measure and cut your apron

Cut your apron 20 x 31 inches. This will fit a girl of size 10 to 12. Make this longer than 20 inches if you are tall.

Cut two sashes 26 x 5 inches.

Cut two pockets 5 x 5 inches.

Make sashes and hems the same as for peasant apron with band, page 10.

Apron pattern
31 in.
20in. APRON
5in. 26 in. Pocket 5in.
5in. SASHES Pocket 5in.

Make the side hems ¼ inch wide and the top and bottom hems 2 inches wide.

Gather the top

1. Make a heading or hem at the top of your apron. From the top edge of the apron, measure down ¾ inch and mark with pins or chalk. Start stitching at upper corner and slope to ¾-inch line. Stitch across the apron and slope up to the corner.

Hemmed apron

2. Stitch one sash to end of ½-inch elastic. Thread elastic through heading. Then stitch other sash to end of elastic. Pull ends of sashes into heading of apron.

Elastic hem

3. Finish ends of bottom hem with a slip or blind stitch.

The slip stitch is used on a hem with a folded edge.

Fasten the knotted thread in the fold of the hem. Slip the needle through the fold for about ½ inch. Pick up one thread in the skirt or, if the fabric permits, split a thread with the needle. This thread should lie at right angles to the hem edge. Slip the needle back into the fold of the fabric, and continue hemming. Stitches are almost as invisible on the wrong side as the right side of the skirt.


Gathered skirt

Select fabric that is colorful and gay for your skirt. Closely woven cloth will be easy to sew and will hold a sharp crease.

You will need from 3 to 3½ yards of fabric for your skirt. The more fabric you try to gather in your skirt the harder it will be to make. For the girl of average height cut your skirt as follows:

How to cut your skirt

Cut or tear a 6½-inch strip from one side of your skirt fabric. Measure in from the selvage edge. Use this for the skirt band and pockets. There will be some left over.

Tear off the selvage edge from the large piece.

Skirt pattern

You may have to cut the band from the end of your fabric instead of the side if you are tall and need the extra length.

The above method of cutting gives you one seam on the placket side.

Sometimes the design in the fabric will be more attractive if the skirt is cut in several lengths. When this is necessary, you will have three or four seams in your skirt. This may make a difference in the amount of fabric you will need, so decide how you will cut your skirt before buying your fabric.

Make your skirt

Pin the short edges together to make the side seam. Make the seam 1¼ inches wide. It is to be used for the placket. When finished, the placket will be on the left side.

Stitch the side seam. Stitch the seam from the bottom up. At a point 5 inches from the top, turn and stitch half way across the seam. Turn both edges of the seam toward the front section and press.

Stitched seam

Trim the seams. Start at the bottom of the wide seam and trim it to ⅝ inch wide up to the placket. Do not trim above this point.

Trimmed seam

Finish the placket

1. Baste and stitch a ½-inch hem on the back edge of the placket.

Hem on placket

2. Fold the front edge of the placket even with seam line. Press. Now fold again to make a complete hem. Baste.

Pinned placket

Pin placket together. Stitch from the top to the bottom of the placket, turn and stitch across the end of first stitching. Pull threads through and tie ends. This is a strong, easy-to-make placket.

Stitched placket

Hem the skirt

Skirts look best with hand-stitched hems. Make the hem before placing the band on the skirt. Unless you have poor posture, it will hang even. Decide how long you would like your finished skirt to be. Be careful not to make it too short. Measure from the top edge to the length you would like the skirt to be and press in the hem. Turn the top edge of the hem under ½ inch. Your skirt will be prettier if you make a wide hem—3 inches or wider.

When the hem has been carefully pressed, stitch ⅛ inch from the fold of the top edge of the hem, to keep the fold in place. Pin hem in place. Ask your leader to show you a hand hemming stitch.

Place gathering threads at top of skirt

Make a long stitch on your machine. Use size 50 top thread and heavy duty for bobbin thread.

Using the guide on your machine, stitch around the top of your skirt ¼ inch from the edge. Make two more rows ¼ inch apart. You are now ready to make your skirt band.

Gathering treads

Make the skirt band

1. Measure your waist. Add 2½ inches. This will give you the length needed for your skirt band. Cut your band 6½ inches wide.

2. Press a ½-inch fold along one side of your band. From the folded edge divide the rest into three sections. This gives three 2-inch sections. Make the section with the ½-inch fold slightly shorter than the other two sections. Press.

3. The section with the ½-inch fold is the front of your band. Stitch criss-cross through the back part of the band. You can stitch straighter if you make a guide or pattern. Cut a strip of waxed paper the length and width of your band, 24 x 2 inches.

Cross-stitched band

Fold it in six equal sections. Then fold it diagonally. Then diagonally again. Open the paper and pin it to the band and follow the creases in the paper. This will give practice on starting and stopping the machine and on turning corners. Tear the paper away after the stitching is completed.

Folded paper for band

4. Stitch a ½-inch seam at the ends of the band. Turn and press. Do not sew the ½-inch fold at the bottom of band into the seam.

Gather in fullness

Divide both your skirt and the skirt band into eight equal parts to help you make the gathers even in your skirt. Do not include the placket or 1-inch overlap at the end of the band. Mark with colored threads. Mark the skirt band so the extension or extra length will be on the back of the placket. The front of band will be even with the front edge of the placket.

Pin and stitch band to skirt.

Pin the pieces together, right side of skirt to right side of band. Match dividing marks that you have made. Gently pull on the gathering threads at the side seams, the center front, and the center back. Pull the threads until they are the same length as the band. Work with the gathers until they are even. Baste and stitch along ½-inch fold on the skirt band.

Top stitch the band

Fold the double section of your band toward the back and baste the edge of the band to the skirt. Baste it so the folded edge hangs just below the stitching you just made on the front side of the band. Machine stitch from the front side of the band. Place the stitching as near the edge of the band as you can. Press before you stitch. It will flatten the seam and make stitching easier.

Press your skirt

Press your skirt. Use a dampened cheese-cloth and an iron set for ironing cotton, or use a steam iron. A skirt must be well pressed and fresh looking to be pretty.

Pressed skirt

Fastenings for the skirt


Study the drawing above. It shows the placing for fasteners on your skirt. Sewing them in this position will keep the placket from gaping. Sew a snap fastener in the center of the placket if it is needed to keep it closed. Do not try to set in a zipper. Use hooks and eyes or buttons for fastening this band.

Buttons and buttonholes—When buttons and buttonholes are used, make the buttonhole lengthwise of the band. Place it far enough from the end of the band so there will be at least ¼ inch beyond the button when it is sewed in place. Measure half the distance across your button and add ¼ inch for this measurement.


Learn to use the machine attachment for making buttonholes. They are stronger and easier for you to make than hand-made buttonholes. Have your leader, mother, or a neighbor set it up for you and show you how to use it. After you have made a few sample buttonholes, make some in your apron or on your skirt. If you have a machine with a zig-zag stitch, learn to make buttonholes on it.

Pin the band together and mark place for buttons. See page 2 for instructions for sewing on buttons.

Sew fasteners to skirt band

Snaps—Examine the snap fasteners. One part has a ball on top. This is placed on the front part or top of your placket. The other part has a hole or socket and is placed on the back or under part of the placket. Place them exactly opposite each other on your placket.

Sew the top snap on first. Mark the placing of the bottom part of the snaps by rubbing chalk on the ball and then pinning placket together. Press ball against fabric. The chalk will rub off and mark the exact spot to sew the under part of the snap.

Snap fasteners

Sew snap fasteners on with several over-and-over stitches. Be sure to hide your knot under the snap. Sew securely through all four holes. When you cross from one hole to the other, take a stitch in the cloth and bring your needle up from the under side to the next hole.

Hooks and eyes—Each package of hooks and eyes, has two types of eyes, a round and a straight. Use the round eye for your skirt. Sew the hook on the inside edge of the top part of your band. (You will need two.) Sew these with several over-and-over stitches.

Hooks and eyes

Sew several stitches through the hook end. Pin the placket in place and place the round eye directly under the hook. Sew with several over-and-over stitches.

Press all the things you have made. Pressing will improve their appearance. Make sure they are clean.

Have each member of your club judge what you have made and then make the corrections they suggest.

How does your apron or skirt look to you?

Once again, score your own and other club members’ work. These are the points to use in judging:

Your score
1. Fabric or trimming used 25
Is it suitable for aprons and skirts?
Will it launder?
Will it wear well?
2. Workmanship 35
Are seams, hems, finish good choices?
Are they well made?
3. Design and color 20
Are design and color attractive?
Are they right for you?
4. Condition of article 10
Is it clean?
Is it well-pressed?
5. Value of garment 10
Is there good value for the time and money spent?
Total 100

Complete your record book

Your record book is important. Examine it carefully. Have you completed your clothing record? Have you recorded your activities as well as your project summary on your permanent record? Have you written your 4-H story for the year? In your story tell how you feel about the things you have made and the experiences you have had.

Each year your record book will add another chapter to your 4-H Club story. You will have fun looking back at each chapter as the years go by. Is this chapter as complete as you would like it to be?

You may want to keep a scrapbook of pictures and newspaper stories to go along with your record book.

Show others what you have learned


It is fun to let others see what you have done. Your club may want to plan a display for your families. You may want to exhibit your work at a fair. If you do, your exhibit will be the main article you made. Be sure your article is clean and pressed and clearly labeled so it can be returned to you.

Give a demonstration

A demonstration means “to show someone else how to do something.” Select one small subject for your demonstration. Avoid one that has too many parts or details. Here are some suggestions:

How to sew on a button
How to make a pocket
How to shine your shoes
How to thread a needle
How to thread a sewing machine
How to make a scarf
How to make washcloth slippers
How to make a mitered corner
How to make a hem
How to make gathers
How to make a sash for an apron
How to make a skirt band
How to make a hemmed placket

Because everything you use for sewing is small, you will need to make your samples large. Use contrasting thread, large stitches, and make large buttons so the audience can see what you are doing.

Are you ready for the next project?

1. Have you kept your shoes clean and shining?

2. Have you studied and improved your health habits?

3. Have you sewed buttons on family clothing?

4. Have you kept your record book up to date?

5. Have you made two or more articles?

Keep this bulletin. You will need it for your next project. When you have completed all the 4-H clothing projects, you will have a complete sewing book.





County, State, and Federal governments cooperate with Oregon State
University to make the latest information available to everyone.

4-H Club Work is the Youth Education Program of the Cooperative Extension Service; 5,500 Volunteer Adult Leaders and 1,500 Junior Leaders guide 35,000 4-H members in 4,200 clubs in every county and city in Oregon.

Cooperative Extension work in Agriculture and Home Economics, F. E. Price, director. Oregon State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Printed and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914.

6M—Reprinted May 1964.

Transcriber’s Notes

End of Project Gutenberg's It's Fun to Sew Aprons and Skirts, by Anonymous


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