DIY: Convertible Harvest Apron / Produce Bag

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There’re still a million and a half things to do around here, but the garden has been calling. (Literally. The robins are LOUD.)

More often than not I find myself walking around with a hose and eating vegetables right off the plants like an animal; but the harvests are getting to be too big for me to eat immediately, too unwieldy to juggle in my hands, and while my first instinct is to bundle them up in my skirt I’m not too excited about flashing the neighbors.

All of this to explain why I decided to turn a half a yard of cotton material and some bias tape into a harvest apron- not just an apron, but an apron that converts to a drawstring produce bag.

For those of you who like to reverse engineer projects (and improve them!) the concept is simple. It’s a rectangular drawstring bag with one string that’s large enough to tie around your waist. For the rest of you who want to see what I did, follow along!

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Supplies

• 1/2 yard of printed cotton fabric. (18 inches x 45 inches wide, typically.)
• At least 3 yards of a durable, sewable trim to use as a drawstring and tie. I used Double Wide Bias Tape from Wrights.
• Sewing machine (or a needle and thread if you’re handy)
• Complementary thread and bobbin
• Ruler
• Straight pens
• Fabric Scissors
• Pinking Shears (optional).

Tips

• Remember to take it slow, and maybe start with a piece of material that you’re not in love with. The second one will go faster/easier.
• This project will hide a bunch of mistakes, so don’t fret!
• I used pinking shears to keep my edges from fraying. If you prefer, you can ignore all the steps that use the pinking shears and instead do a zig zag stitch down the fraying edge of the material. (This post on Craftsy is quite helpful.)
• Whenever you get to the end of a line of stitches, always go backwards and forwards on the spot with a few stitches to tie off the ends.
• A seam ripper is always useful if you’re as prone to mistakes as I am.
• An iron is also useful, if you have one handy. I use it to iron fabric flat, to fold seams over, and sometime I just push the steam button to listen to the hiss.

Step 1 – Making the Pocket

To begin, you will cut or tear the 18″x45″ piece of material down the fold so that you have two pieces of 18″x22.5″. You will be stitching the edges to form something almost like a pillow case, leaving one of the 22.5″ sides open (this will be the top of your pocket.) To remind myself which way went up, I used the pinking shears to trim one of the 22.5″ sides of each piece of material.

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Lay the two pieces together, with the right sides in. From your pinked “top” measure down 3 inches and put a bright pin or mark to show that your stitches will end here. (Don’t stitch above the markers.)

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Now sew a straight stitch 1/2 inch starting at your marker and going down to the bottom of the bag, across the bottom, and back up the other side (stopping 3″ below the top of the bag.)

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Voila! Pocket made!

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Now trim the other sides with your pinking shears to stop fraying.

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Step 2 – Drawstring Casing

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This first step is a little finicky– the goal is to fold under the raw edge of the fabric so it’s out of the way of the drawstring casing. First, fold back your unstitched raw edge (the 3″  from the top on each side we skipped before) and pin flat. 

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Use a zig-zag or straight stitch to permanently pin down that edge on each edge of the flap (leaving the flaps open.  One side shown open below.)

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Now for the drawstring casing, itself. Fold each open flap backwards to make a 1.5″ hem. Pin each side separately so that the pocket remains open.

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Run a straight stitch around the bottom of each flap, about 0.5″ from the pinked edge.

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Then run a second straight stitch approximately 0.5″ from the top of each side. The space between those stitches is where the drawstring will run.

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Step 3 – Drawstrings and Ties

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Cut your drawstring material into the following 3 pieces:
• Apron Tie: Wrap the string around your waist, add 12-18″ to your measurement and cut.
• Short Drawstring: Measure one piece that is 24″ to act as your other drawstring.
• Wrist Loop: The final piece will be a loop that you can use around your wrist to hold open your apron. I used about 12″ for my loop, but you may want to make yours longer or shorter (or omit this step, if you want!)

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For your wrist loop, cross the ends, and stitch to the middle of one of the open sides. (Make sure to stick above or below the drawstring casing area.

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The side with your loop will now be the front of your apron. Use a large safety pin to feed the 24″ piece through the casing on this side. Repeat with the long piece, through the casing on the other side.

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Fold over and stitch each of the four ends to form a 1.5″ loop. If you have a trim that will fray at the ends, it’s a good idea to do a tight zig-zag here to limit the fray over time.

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To keep your short drawstring from disappearing into the casing, feed the long piece through the loops on each side.

Trim all your little threads, and you’re ready to harvest!

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Tie the long tie at your natural waist, and get into the garden!

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Use the wrist loop when you need to hold open the apron, but keep your hands free. (Especially handy when you’re picking tricky berries.)

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When you’re ready to go in, untie the apron and pull the drawstrings for an instant produce bag.

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When the bag gets just too dirty, throw it into the wash on hot. (Turn the bag inside out to get rid of those stubborn bits of dirt.)

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Things to Try

• Add a pocket for a garden knife or shears.
• Add vintage cotton trim to make it even more vintage-girly.
• Add a bib and neck strap – more pockets?

Any suggestions? Do you have a favorite garden project you’re rocking this summer?

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