at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Garden Harvesting Apron

Here it is: the latest creation from my apron obsession. A harvesting apron! Somehow in my quest for cute apron ideas I stumbled upon this post with an old pattern from the 1940s for a gathering "basket" apron -- you know, what every woman needs for easy, hands-free gathering of berries or kindling.

I may have enjoyed being a 40s housewife. While gathering kindling is normally limited to camping excursions and berry picking doesn't happen near as oft as I'd like, this seemed like the perfect solution for harvesting in my small vegetable garden.

It's a good day when my bounty extends beyond what I can easily carry in my hands, but when the tomatoes and green beans are coming in strong at the same time, it does happen. Or in the spring when the leafy greens all come on at once. I frequently gather up the bottom of my shirt to carry in a large harvest. Last year I got smart and started bringing a basket out with me.

A basket of bounty - harvesting in a basket does beat trying to carry everything!
But twist my arm and I will add another cute apron to my collection. I found several examples and tutorials online but none were exactly what I was looking for. Some suggested a long skirt that can double as a gardening apron to keep your knees clean. A good idea to be sure, but that length didn't give me the right sort of harvesting "basket" when gathered. I took the 40s pattern concept and adjusted to my preferences. That, and my non-seamstress self may have struggled to fully comprehend the directions on that pattern...

I had found the perfect fabric whilst shopping for my niece's apron supplies. It was on clearance (bonus!), and had cute birds, butterflies, plants and scripty "nature journal" text. It was just begging to be made into a harvesting apron. I should have take photos of the process, but alas, I did not. True to my style, I did not use any sort of pattern, but mostly eyeballed and measured against myself to get the fit I wanted. I really wanted the apron to be double sided both for extra sturdiness and so that it would still look nice when gathered. However, that left me a little short on fabric to get the length I wanted. I ended up finding some scraps from an old home decor project that matched the green in the patterned fabric nicely, and I ended up using that as a waistband to add to the length. I decided to have the patterned fabric start at my hips. I measured it to be wide enough to almost circle around my back and come down to a coupe inches above my knees. I rounded out the corners on the bottom, as well.

The trick to making the gathering skirt is really just a couple of shoelaces. By sewing a casing around the outer edge of the skirt and slipping two long shoelaces (sewn together) through the casing, you can leave the strings hanging out the top ends and simply pull on them to gather up the skirt into the "basket" shape. I think I ended up using 2 54" shoestrings and it was plenty long.

To make it simple, since I was doing a double sided skirt, I folded the fabric over on what would be the bottom edge. With the fabric inside out, I sewed both side edges together. On the top edges, I just folded each end in half an inch and sewed a seam on each top piece. So, what resulted was almost like a sack, open at the top, folded edge at the bottom, and sewn together on the sides. To make the "casing" I pulled the skirt right side out and ironed flat, then just stitched about 3/4" from the outside edge starting at the top of one side, all the way around to the top of the other side. Since I hadn't sewn the top edges together, that left a place to slip in a shoelace at the top of one side and then I just slid it all the way through the edge of the skirt, up to the opening on the other side.

harvesting garden apron tutorial
Here's what it looks like flat - I should have gotten matching shoe laces, but these were on clearance!

 For the waistband, I just doubled over a strip of fabric slightly longer than the skirt portion and about 9" wide in total. With the fabric folded in half inside out, I just sewed a seam along the long edge. Then, I simply turned the resulting "tube" of fabric right side out and pressed flat with an iron with the seam centered on the bottom (that way the seam is facing my waist and you won't ever see it).  I cut a couple of long strips out of the same fabric (again, just measuring against myself for length) to make the waist ties. I just folded each strip in half, pressed in the edges an 1/8" or so and sewed the edges together. I sewed one tie strip to each edge of the waistband, then just sewed together the bottom of the waistband to the top of the skirt, overlapping maybe 1/2".

garden harvest gathering apron
And here is the final result in regular apron mode.
Voila. A new apron! It actually fits quite well. Who needs patterns?! To turn it into the harvesting apron, I simply pull on the shoe strings sticking out of the top of either side, and the skirt gathers up and holds my garden treasures! It's still spring, so all I really have right now is asparagus and lettuce / leafy greens. I'm looking forward to using this more as the vegetables start rolling in this summer!

Garden Harvesting Apron
And here is the harvesting apron in full use!
Once I pulled the laces tight to form my gathering "basket," I tied the laces in the front to hold it all in place. We'll find out how much this baby can hold come tomato season!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!