Monday, April 24, 2017

Making a Shop Apron - Finished

The main thing I learned from this project, is sewing a project as big as this by hand isn't as much fun as it sounds. I spent several days on this project, one stitch at a time.

The good news is I now have a super cool shop apron. #8 duck canvas (or 18 ounce canvas) is some seriously stout stuff. It should last a long time.

One bit of feedback I got from Instagram was white is a bold color for a shop apron. I disagree. It is very traditional. At least all of the old pictures of woodworkers from the 19th century show them with a white apron and a tie.

I don't think I'll wear a tie while I work wood, but perhaps the white apron will motivate me to keep it clean.

Since the last post, I just had to sew on the leather straps and join them together somehow. I had to sew six straps to the apron in order to get the straps to cross over the shoulders and a waist strap.

I joined the leather on the cross straps with some Chicago screws I had laying around. I made some extra holes so I could adjust it, but I figure this is my apron, and once it fits, it shouldn't need adjusting. The waist strap I joined with two snaps, so it can be easily fixed and unfixed. The waist strap doesn't have to be super tight. I wanted to not have long straps dangling all over the place.
It should be a good apron.
I realized I didn't have enough straps treated, so I cut a bunch more. Veg-tan always looks a little creepy to me, so I thought I would treat it with boiled linseed oil. It darkened up nicely. I expect once it completely cures, it should lighten up a lot, but the color now is really cool. I could tell it isn't cured even after a few days, because every time I pierced it with a needle, some oil came out. Hopefully it will not need to be replaced.
Leather treated with BLO on top, plain untreated veg-tan on the bottom.

Treatment consisted in soaking the belts in BLO for 20 minutes or so.

I've never actually sewed leather before.
I did all of the sewing on this project with a Speedy Stitcher. I bought it a long time ago, and have yet to have used it. It works pretty well. Except it's not so speedy if you have to do so much sewing.
Using the Speedy Stitcher.

A loose ring keeps everything in place in the back.

Snaps are inexpensive, and these ones came with a tool and an anvil.
View of my best side.
The apron is extremely comfortable. I look forward to using it. I am fairly certain it should hold up for many years, especially if I continually forget to put it on.
I may want to carry a pencil, but for the moment I think it will be just fine without a pocket. If not, I can always add one later.

I've never really used a shop apron before. Please let me know if you use a shop apron.


  1. Great job.
    I really think that you should wear a tie in connection with your apron.
    Tie and apron in the workshop - It doesn't get more classy than that!

  2. My wife's a whiz with her Read's sewing machine. I've got light weight denim for summer and leather with a high neckline for turning and winter wear.
    Then there's a "disposable" light weight smock for the finishing room (a corner of the shop next to the vent fan that can be closed off with polyethylene curtains. Makes me look like a B-movie Druid but it does keep my clothes clean while I'm smearing stuff on my work.

    1. That's cool. I tend to just usually look at my ruined clothes afterwards with regret. Hopefully this will help.


  3. There are fancy barbecue aprons.
    You could completely stich a tie on it (or draw it with a sharpie.

  4. My previous comment was lost in cyberspace:
    My main sewing activity is shortening jeans for my wife. At the crossing of the hem and the length sewing, there are 12 layers. With my basic sewing machine (only straight and zig zag stiches) I go very slowly or I turn the wheel by hand at those places.
    What about a sailmaker sewing palm?
    Aldi or Lidl is selling overalls from time to time.

    1. A palm is a good idea. If I start doing any leather sewing I'll probably get one. And perhaps I'll make a stitching mule. But, I don't see a whole lot of sewing in my future. I'm glad to have this apron, but it wasn't as satisfying a project as a wooden project is. At least to me.

  5. Brian, your new half-dress looks nice!

    I do wear a shop apron. I've never been happy with how it fits or how it feels after having worn it for half a day. I'm not as motivated as you, however, so I ordered a new one from Texas Heritage. Also, they can monogram easily.

    1. Thanks, Ethan!

      After making this one, I can wholeheartedly recommend buying one from TXHW.

  6. What's next...???
    A few curtains for the balcony- Frau 'asked'
    :D :D LOL
    Great work!

    1. Haha! She did say I'm now becoming a better housewife.


  7. I often use an apron. The same one, both for kitchen and woodshop (only a few steps apart, speaking of distance; but makes it easier to be eine gute Hausfrau bzw. einen Hausmann). My apron is a fairly cheap, totally forest-green one with a neck holder, breast pocket and a cord to tie at the back (a challenging practice every time).
    I've never needed the breast pocket ever, but with the added layer it strenghtens the cotton at the breast, where the wood and knife sometimes touch me while whittling.
    I think, my one is slightly longer (middle of shin), what I link when sitting and whittling: my knee is still coverd then.
    I like the light cotton of my one, good to move. No heat under it.
    I already hate the neck strap after short time of use. Might change it one time into a strap-system similar to yours.
    I like stiching and sewing leater from time to time, but avoid that huge pieces that you've done with your canvas.
    I don't like that light colour of your apron - it'll get too dirty by time; hope for you, that'll look like patina, then.
    I enjoyed reading your story!


    1. Hi René!

      Haha, I'm glad I'm not the only Hausmann.

      It is this color because it is what I happened to have. It was intended for another project. We'll just have to see how it patinates over time.

      You're smart not to hand stitch long hems like this.

      The cross straps are indeed comfortable.

      Thanks for the comment!

  8. First off I think given you are working in the house a tie seems like a great option. Someone should bring this back, and for this you need a white apron for sure.

    Second regarding a pencil,,42363,42356

    Great project.

    1. The pencil idea looks like a great idea. No more sewing!

      I'll have to think about the tie. I always insist upon a proper double-Windsor knot, as opposed to the half-assed half-Windsor that seems to be worn by the young-uns. But, I've never worn one while woodworking.


  9. Looks great Brian! Now you don't have any excuse for ruining your clothes. Every time you get something on your clothes your gonna hear..."I thought you made an apron!?"...and it will be in that tone that every husband knows.