Do your older kids still make a mess of their clothes at meal time? Do you want to protect their special occasion clothes during a meal? Are you tired of trying to get food stains out of everything they wear?
Well, I certainly was! Let’s face it, just because they aren’t babies any more doesn’t mean they aren’t messy eaters. Coordination and dexterity come with time, not the instant they no longer fit those pull-over baby bibs that work so well! Plus, they usually have far more important things to do like playing with the toys they have hiding in their lap, poking the child sitting next to them or carrying on a social hour rather than paying attention to getting the food into their mouths instead of all over them. And trust me, this goes on well into the school-age years.
I figured that if they could still wear bibs, then I could save the kids’ clothes from the worst stains. I’d have to sacrifice the bibs themselves for the greater good. So, the quest began for kids’ aprons that I could get at a fraction of the cost of their good clothes and play clothes, but would fit them for the remainder of their growing years.My Mom had gotten some beautiful, hand-made dishtowel bibs at a local craft fair, and they were just wonderful, but she paid a pretty penny for them. And they are great for Grandma’s house — the kids look forward to using them when we go over there. But I needed several so that all 4 kids would have enough for daily use, so there’s no way I could pay $20 a bib. I might be able to replace the clothes cheaper! Nothing against the artisans because these are beautiful garments, but I needed a more cost-effective solution.
I searched and searched online and in stores, but I could not find the style that I wanted with all of the features that I needed at a price I could even consider. So, I decided to try my hand at my own version of a dishtowel bib.
I used some fairly inexpensive bar mop towels. I purchased them in packs of 5 and I think it worked out to around $1 each, which I thought was reasonable. You can use any kind of towel, such as a dishtowel or hand towel, but I felt that would quickly go over my budget since I wanted to make around a dozen to be used by 4 kids. Bar towels are nice and thick too, which didn’t seem to be the case with any of the cheap dishtowels that I looked at.I used quilt binding in a variety of colors to make them fun, some sew-on velcro and some ribbons and appliques that I already had for embellishments. The towels were white, but had a colored, rolled edge on top and bottom, so I mixed and matched the towel edge color, the binding and the embellishment so that each bib was unique. For some, I sewed a strip of ribbon across the top and for others I either sewed a ribbon loop into the top corner or I sewed on an applique.
Rather than a fixed size loop on the top to go over the head, I opted for a two part neck strap with a hook and loop closure. I cut the binding and made it open at the top and then added Velcro with two “positions” for an adjustable fit. I wanted the same bib to work for a toddler as well as a 10 year old with just a slight adjustment.
Here is how made them. It’s really straightforward, so I won’t go into great detail. We’ll see how well I do at writing instructions here! If you are using a variety of colors as I did, you should plan out which colors/trims you will be putting together on each bib as this will make it easier to just fly through making the aprons.First, I cut the colored edge off one end of the bar towel so that it wasn’t too thick to wrap the binding around and I could sew it without killing my machine. Next, I folded the towel in half lengthwise. My towels were 14″W x 16″L to start with, but yours may be different, so you’ll need to determine the right proportions to use based on the size you want and your materials. Then, I measured in 4 inches from the fold and marked. Then I measure up 9 inches from the bottom edge and marked that point on the open side of the folded towel. Next, I cut a straight line from point to point, cutting the top corner off. Make sure you aren’t cutting the corner off the folded edge or you’ll get a v-neck bib. (Hmmm…..there’s a design idea…)
Since I was just winging it, I have some variance in the length of the ties. The tie will go around the waist, so make sure to consider your kids’ shapes when choosing your length. Mine are all thin and my ties are definitely too long. I used one piece to bind the top edge and two long pieces that start at the top at the closure and end as the tie. My top edge was 8″, so I used an 8 inch piece for that. Then, I used 2 48″ pieces down the sides.
The first step for applying the binding is to attach along the top edge that we cut. The way you attach your embellishments depends on what they are, how they are made and your own personal preference. For trims with an unfinished edge, I tucked them on under the top binding and sewed them on together and then ran another stitch along the bottom edge of the trim. If your trim has 2 finished edges, you can tuck it or add it on later. When I used the ribbon loops, I sewed those in under the side binding. For appliques, I just added them after the bib was finished. So, if you are tucking, now is the time to sew on the top binding with your trim at the same time.Next, you need to attach your side pieces of binding. Starting at the top, leave 9 inches of binding above the top edge. This will become your neck strap. Pin the binding all the way down the side until you get to the bottom of the bar towel. Tuck the raw edge of the binding inside itself ON BOTH ENDS first so you don’t have to mess with this while sewing. Give it a firm squeeze to make a crease and it should stay fine. I started sewing at the top, first sewing it closed across the top and then down, along the edge of the binding. Keep going when you reach the towel and sew that binding on to the towel all the way down. Keep going when you reach the end of the towel and sew the binding closed all the way to the end. Sew across the bottom end to seal up where you tucked the raw edge. I tied a knot about an inch up the tie to give it a little weight and create a “stop” so that the kids wouldn’t pull the loop all the way through when they were tying them behind their backs. Do the same thing down the other side to attach the second binding. The next step is to attach the hook and loop closure. I used 2″ hunks of Velcro to make it easier for the kids to get it to catch. For each bib, I used 2 pieces of the loop side and one piece of the hook side. This left me with using more of the loop side, but I did that on purpose so that the second position that gets left empty wasn’t a scratchy hook piece, but a soft, loop piece. I positioned the hook piece right at the end of the first strap. I positioned the first loop piece at the end of the other strap and then positioned the second loop piece starting about 5 inches down the binding. So, my first piece of loop goes from the end to 2″ down and the second piece goes from 5″ to 7″ down the binding. Check out the photo at left to see what this looks like. I sewed them on along all 4 edges for a secure hold.
At this point, you can attach any embellishments that you’ve saved until the end. After that, you’re done! It was really pretty easy once I figured out how I wanted to put them together. Maybe my project will get you started or you can make some awesome improvements of your own!
If you have any ideas, please post a comment and share. We’d love to see photos if you decide to try this yourself!