Sewing up a Cross Back Apron

tl;dr: How I customized Purl Soho’s Cross Back Apron for myself and rocked a dinner party. My alteration process included (in case you want to adapt it)

Like so many garment sewing projects, I finished this apron just hours before an occasion where I wanted to wear it. If you are wondering (rightfully), what exactly is the right event for an apron, it is the once-a-year dinner party that the S.O. and me host for our friends.*

I have been lusting after Purl Soho’s Cross Back apron for months. It is a minimalist, utilitarian apron that oozes modern artisan — perfect for my San Francisco sensibility. From the beginning, I was also certain that I wanted it in that color known as “burnt orange” after seeing a picture in my Pinterest feed of a model wearing a one-shouldered burnt orange dress. The color looked so good against her brown skin that I needed it in my wardrobe immediately. When I saw the Purl Soho instructions and came across burnt orange linen at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco, I knew it was fate.

During the sewing process, I was struck by the little details like side pockets and cross-backed straps that rest on your shoulders rather than your neck. What a delight to sew and I’m sure that I’ll enjoy wearing this in the years to come.

Altering the Purl Soho Cross Back Apron to be “Me-Sized”

I’m on the small side of “one size fits many” so I altered the pattern to be “me-sized” aka XS. I think my approach could be used to make the apron bigger or smaller especially since there are no curves to this pattern.

One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need the same amount of fabric for seam allowances. As you draw out the updated dimensions of the apron, You’ll want to figure out by how much you are increasing or decreasing each dimension. In my images below, I represent these “relative changes” inside parentheses.

Step 1: Identify the dimensions of your desired apron.

Original Measurements of the Purl Soho Cross Back Apron

I’ve included the original dimensions of the apron as provided by Purl Soho and the dimensions I wanted for my final project. The dimensions you’ll definitely want to track include:

  • Front Panel Width
  • Front Panel Height
  • Back Panel Heights
  • Side and Back Panel Width
  • Pocket Depth (relative difference from original pocket depth is fine)
  • Strap Length (note: I just eyeballed this)

Step 2: Identify the difference between each of the original dimensions and the desired dimensions

This part is really important because you’ll make adjustments to each of the pieces you cut out based on how your measurements differ from the original. I’ve included the differences between my apron and the original for each panel in parentheses.

Desired Measurements for the Purl Soho Cross Back Apron

Step 3: Calculate dimension of pieces for your pocket panels

The hardest part of modifying this pattern was figuring out how to modify the pocket panel. The pocket panel is constructed like a sandwich. The top of piece A will become the top of the entire pocket panel. Pieces A and B make up the pocket. They are stitched by their bottoms to form the bottom of the pocket. You still need a panel that goes to the bottom of the apron. This is where piece C comes in. The top of piece C is stitched with the top of piece B and forms the front of the pocket panel.

Pocket Panel of the Cross Back Apron

I’ll walk through the process of updating the panel length and pocket depth below since those are the hardest parts. For simplification, I only walk through modifying the long sides of each of the pieces A, B and C. You will want to reduce the length of the short sides of pieces A, B and C by the same amount that you reduce the length of the long sides.

I’ll go through process via the visuals below but in a nutshell

  • Altering Pocket Depth: Alter the length of pieces A and B by the desired amount
  • Altering Panel Length: Alter the length of piece C by the desired amount.
How I updated the length of the pocket panel of the Purl Soho Cross Back Apron

Step 4: Draw out the altered pieces to cut out

Now you are ready to draw out the set of updated pieces for your apron. For your front and back panels, you can directly adjust the height and width of the pieces based on the alteration amounts you came up with in step 2. You will also be able to directly adjust the width of the pocket A, B and C pieces. For the length adjustments to pocket pieces A, B and C, we walked through the process for adjusting pocket depth and side panel length in step 3.

Step 5: Go sew up your apron and host a dinner party

This part magically happens right?

* Post dinner party, the S.O. and I decided we can host more (especially with a stronger potluck component) but I didn’t know that while racing to finish the apron and I didn’t want to wait a whole year to show it off.

Patchwork Quilted Coasters

Batik quilted patchwork coasters on a coffee table

I made these gorgeous Aloha themed patchwork coasters from some lovely fabric that I purchased in Maui. I love how they look against the living room coffee table. They are the perfect pop of color to complement our mostly neutral apartment furniture and go perfectly with our coffee table book on Hawaiian shirts.

These were a really fun, low pressure project to make. Many of the non-sewing steps also lend themselves to being done while watching TV.


My primary focus was on completing the project with minimal fuss (read: not too much precision, technique or accessories). I loved the small imperfections in each individual coaster and found it gave them character.

I approximated all the fabric measurements. I started by measuring the first coaster next to our old coasters and went from there. A ruler probably works better

I used the backing of the coasters to create a faux binding. I adapted this technique from Pretty Prudent but went even simpler with my corners (simply folding the sides on top of each other).

The important part of this project is picking fabrics that you like and go well together. Remnants from a fat quarter pack would be a good option here.

What you need:

  • Fabric scraps to make the patchwork fronts
  • Batting (~4.5 in square per coaster)
  • Backing fabric
  • Thread
  • Iron and Ironing board
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (optional)

Making the fronts

  • Sew scraps of fabric together to create a patchwork front.
  • Trim and press your seams to one side (Note: I accidentally pressed my stitches open) in preparation for stitch in the ditch quilting.
  • Trim the entire piece to 4 inch squares (or your choice of coaster size).
  • Cut a piece of square of batting that is half an inch larger on either side.
  • Cut a piece of fabric backing that is one inch larger than the front on either side.
  • Sandwich the backing between the front and backing (centering both the front and batting on top of the backing) and quilt the pieces together using the “stitch in the ditch” method. Snip the thread edges.
Stitch in the ditch quilting the patchwork coaster
Stitching in the ditch quilting

Binding the Coasters

I adapted the faux binding technique from Pretty Prudent but made the corners even simpler.

  • Trim the batting so its edges are flush with the edges of the front.
  • Fold the edge of the backing fabric on each side so it is flush with the batting and front
    • Pro Tip: Leave a tiny gap (maybe 1/8 inch) between the folded edge and batting so it is easier to fold the edge of the batting.On each side, fold over the edge of the backing so it is lined up with the edge of the batting and press.
  • Snip off the corners to reduce the extra fabric bulk
  • Fold each of these folded edges over the front of the coaster to create the faux binding and stitch through the binding, the front, the batting and the bottom so that everything stays in place. You can sew each side individually or sew it all in one go: when you come to a corner, use the back stitch function of your machine to create the cross effect.
  • Once you’re done, clean up your threads and you’ll have a coaster ready to go.

There you have it. Some beautiful bright patchwork coasters to show off your fabric stash and brighten up your morning tea!

Six new coasters for the coffee table to add some Hawaiian brightness, even on grey days.