Turn a Center Tie Back to a Crossover

There seems to be a lot of interest in crossover back aprons on Pinterest, but no actual instructions on the pinned sites. Usually they either reference an old pattern from the 1950s or they ask readers if they know of a pattern. I’ve wanted such an apron pattern, and figured out how to do it, but thought I’d start with one for my granddaughter. I hope it fits or I’ll be back at the sewing machine.

I’m using a child’s pattern for a craft apron for this demonstration, so I didn’t need much extra fabric to make the changes, but if you’re making an adult pattern, you need to consider how wide the new back piece will be with its crossover strap. The pattern called for 7/8 yd and I bought 1 1/2 yds, with lots left over.

The base pattern has a two-piece, center-tie back, so I have a good pattern piece to work from, but I think you could take a plain sleeveless front and modify it for the back pieces.  Just make lots of extra pattern pieces before you cut any of them up.

It helps to draw the outline of the full front and then lay your back pattern on it, so you can draw your new shoulder. After pinning the back to the sketch, matching the side seams, fold the original shoulder out of the way, or cut it off, if you think you’ll never use it.

  • Using something with a curved edge or sketching freehand, draw in the new shoulder that goes from the left shoulder neckline to the right side seam at the top, and from the left shoulder outer edge to the center of the back piece.
  • If you are worried about needing more armhole room in the finished piece, lower the side seams at the armholes—do that for front and back.

Tape the new shoulder to the original pattern piece, or you can cut a completely new back and shoulder. Cut out your pieces and lay them together just to see that you understand how it will all go together. My apron did not have facings; that would be more pieces to adjust to this new pattern. Mine was finished with bias tape binding, which was like binding a mobius strip. You can’t really tell where it begins or ends.

Alternative closures:

  1. If you are worried about getting into the finished piece, finish the shoulder seams separately and add buttons or velcro for shoulder closure.
  2. You could eliminate side seams and have tie or button closings there.
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