Nelly Don’s Zero-Waste apron (part 2)–measuring, drawing and cutting the pieces

The drawings of KC designer Nelly Don’s patented zero-waste apron, so intrigued me, that I committed myself to working out the measurements and construction process for the apron. My post last week about Nelly Don and her apron design (including a downloadable copy of her 1925 apron patent) is here.

And now, for the measurements and steps to cutting out the apron

The 1925 patent diagram shows a single layer of fabric. For my apron, I concluded the fabric needed to be 48″ long and 36″ wide (1 1/3 yds x 1 yd).

Drawing the diagram.  Start with the measurements across the yoke and work out the rest from there. 

From there you can work out the width of the side panels, and the front and back pieces:

Here’s the process in a step-by-step slide show. If helpful, it can be viewed on Youtube in full screen; pause and rewind as often as necessary.

For shaping the simple round neckline in the yoke pieces, here is a pattern you can download and print on an 8 1/2″ x 14″ (legal sized) sheet of paper:

I tried some different dimensions and measurements for the apron layout, but the version I’ve described above is the only one that really worked. Some problems I encountered when varying the dimensions were:

  • Narrowing the yoke width also means the side panels become narrower, which makes the side pockets too narrow to be useful.
  • A longer/lower yoke meant the side panels became shorter, which made for a shorter apron; which then made the A-line angle more exaggerated. Alternatively, if the hem length were maintained, it made the side panels sit too far below the waist, or not extend all the way to the hemline.
  • A shorter/higher yoke made the side panels longer, which made them come up higher to the waist. This made a smaller, tighter waist because the front and back pieces are narrower at that higher point where the waistline is located.

So, there you have the apron pieces. Nelly Don designed the pattern so that the entire apron could be constructed without ever having to remove it from the sewing machine. I’ll tackle that in the next post…

9 thoughts on “Nelly Don’s Zero-Waste apron (part 2)–measuring, drawing and cutting the pieces

  1. Great post! I’m a sucker for zero-waste sewing projects. I once made a 1935 cotton slip which was zero waste, where the pattern pieces were like a puzzle.


  2. Love the twenties music…reminds me of Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, and the Algonquin Round Table…I could listen to this all day.


      1. Is that music Dixie Band Jazz? I’m not sure of the name…I could listen to it all day. I loved those vintage pictures from back then.

        I have read about Chanute, Kansas…the reason is Kustom Amps were made there. Bud Ross made them. I have 4 or 5 60s-70s Kustom Amps…the padded kind that Creedence used.


      2. I think of it as ‘KC Jazz’. To me it had its own sound, that then morphed to Chicago and NY. That might be me being KC-centric. Chanute is another interesting place! It is a very small city; more like a town. But a few surprising bits of history are from there. I had no idea about the Kustom Amps. That is very cool!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No you are probably right. It has a vibe to it like no other. Record players or whatever they were called were affordable through the 20s and music really hit off.
        I plan to do a post on the amps one day soon…they are tough as nails. I play on one released the year I was born…67


      4. My grandparents always had an old record player cabinet with the discs from their youth in their living room. It’s still in the family, so I just need to remember who has it now. 🙂 I’ll look forward to your post on amps.

        Liked by 1 person

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