Sewing Without A Pattern -
Fabric Geometry
Beginning with a rectangular length of fabric - even an attractive bedsheet - you can sew shapes that may seem complicated but are not. The mysteries of a bias cut apron, of a circular cape that swirls, or of a round tablecloth that completes a bedroom ensemble, are not difficult to solve.

You will not need special equipment. Pins, tailor's chalk, pencil, ruler, and scissors are sufficient for measuring and marking the fabric and cutting out the shapes. A pencil at the end of a taut piece of string makes an adequate compass for describing a circle. If you need to make an adjustment in the size of any of the garments shown here, or if you want to determine the number and size of the sheets you will need for the room ensemble that comes later, it may be helpful to work out the proportions on a sheet of graph paper, making each square on the paper equal to an inch.
The Bias Cut Apron/Shawl

Making the bias cut calico apron is a good investment of time and energy because it can also be worn as a shawl or as a beach skirt knotted at one side of the waist.

The triangular shape of the apron is arrived at by folding a length of material on the diagonal, cutting along the fold, and rounding off the opposite tip. The ruffle is then made with two strips of fabric taken from the material remaining after the triangle has been cut. It is trimmed with lace, gatered, and attached. The longest side of the triangle becomes the apron waist. The ruffle begins 12 inches down from the points, freeing them to serve as ties.
The triangle is cut on the bias - the diagonal of the fabric (see figure A) - which is not the usual way to cut fabric. Woven fabric consists of two sets of threads, one running lengthwise called the warp and the other running crosswise called the weft. They cross each other at right angles. Usually fabric is cut along these straight thread lines for stability. but when fabric is cut on the bias, angling across the thread lines, it will stretch slightly when pulled. The bias cut of this apron lets it cling and mold itself to the body as it is tied into place.

You will need 1 and 2/3 yards of material for the apron and 3 and 1/4 yards of 1/2 inch wide lace for the trim. In order to cut a fabric triangle 28 inches long down the center front, not counting the ruffle, you will need material at least 45 inches wide. The long side of the triangle measured diagonally is 56 inches.
To obtain the basic apron triangle, with two sides equal, from a rectangular piece of fabric, fold the fabric diagonally. Measure and mark the desired length (28") from the bottom right hand corner. To obtain two bias strips 8 1/2" wide for the ruffle, measure and mark that width and twice that width along the fold line, connecting the points on the diagonal of the fabric, as shown.
Fold the aprons's triangular section to the left, pin it there temporarily, and cut along the diagonal fold.
To cut a perfect triangle from the length of fabric, fold the fabric as shown in figure B and cut along the fold. Round off the tip, as shown in figure A, by measuring 3 inches in from the tip on either side and cutting a freehand curve.

Ruffles are gathered strips of fabric used for trimming. By cutting them on the bias, you can make them produce softer folds than they would if cut along the lengthwise or crosswise threads. To make a ruffle of average fullness, use a strip of fabric 1 1/2 to 2 times the length of the edge to be trimmed. For the apron, cut two strips, each 8 1/2 inches wide and 56 inches long. round off one end of each strip by measuring 3 inches in from a corner and cutting a freehand curve. Join the two strips end to end with a French seam - figure C - so the raw edges will not be visible on the wrong side of the ruffle. With the wrong side of the two strips facing, stitch 1/4 inch in from the edge. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch, turn the fabric so the right sides are facing, and stitch 1/4 inch in from the seamed edge to encase the raw edges of the seam allowances.
A French seam encloses raw edges to provide a neat finish. Firs, machine stitch the two pieces, wrong sides facing, 1/4 inch from the edge (top). Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch. Fold along the stitched line, right sides facing, and stitch again 1/4 inch from the fold to enclose the raw edges.(bottom)
To attach the lace trimming, turn up the raw edge 1/8 inch to the right side of the apron and stitch it. Then sew the lace on top.
With right sides facing, stitch the lace trimmed ruffle to the apron triangle 1/2 inch inside the latter's raw edge.
Fold over the 1/2 inch allowance twice, so its raw edge and the raw edge of the ruffle are enclosed. Then stitch close to the edge of this fold.
Making the Ruffle

It is not necessary to hem the raw edge of the ruffle before sewing on the lace trimming. Simply turn up the raw edge 1/8 inch, right sides facing, and stitch it down with invisible nylon thread.

To gather the ruffle, loosen the tension on the sewing machine slightly, and sew a row of stitches along the raw edge of the ruffle opposite the lace, 1/4 inch in from the raw edge. Knot one end of the threads, pull the bobbin thread at the other end with one hand to reduce the length from 112 inches to 52 inches, and arrange the fullness evenly with the other hand.

Finish the raw edge of the triangle across the top and 12 inches down on each side before attaching the ruffle. If your sewing machine has a hemming foot, it will double roll the edge for you. If not, fold under 1/8 inch of fabric and then a second 1/8 inch and stitch.

Join the ruffle to the triangle so the seam on the wrong side will have a clean finish. With right sides together, place the ruffle 1/2 inch in from the edge of the triange, pin it in place, and baste it with a loose running stitch before sewing a row of permanent stitches right over the basting and gathering stitches. Then turn under the 1/2 inch of fabric twice, and stitch it down so it encases the raw edge of the ruffle.
that's all - your new apron/shawl is finished! Use your browser's back button to return to where you started...