96. How to Transform an Old Tea Towel into an Apron

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

If you’d like to skip straight to the creative project and learn how to transform an old tea towel into an apron then scroll down until you see Blue’s paw print below.salvagebox.co.uk - Blue's paw

This episode is subtitled: ‘Here’s to friendship…’

‘What are you smiling about, Jenny?’

Kim had caught me working on a flower arrangement with a big beam on my face. ‘Oh, nothing,’ I said as nonchalantly as possible.

‘She’s excited for me!’ said Jaz, who had been going on and on about the flat she was going to buy with her inheritance from Old George. Her assumption about my recent joy was incorrect but it suited me not to let on.

‘There’s a long way to go yet, Jaz,’ said Kim, putting a dampener on things. ‘Who knows how long it’ll take to sell George’s hardware shop – the buyer could drag his heels you know.’

There was bitterness in her comment, which I thought was unfair. Jaz had to wait for the transaction to complete before her share was released and it wasn’t her fault that Shaun McArthur had been ahead of Kim in the queue to buy the premises.

Jaz looked up, sad and frowning. ‘Couldn’t you ask him for me Jenny?’

‘No! I’m staying well out of it,’ I said with determination, and Jaz got back to her work in a more sombre mood.

Actually, I’d been keeping out of Shaun’s way for months. We’d had a very brief encounter in the summer (after a thirty five year gap!) during which time I’d enjoyed his company for lunch, wondered whether romance was on the cards, then been told via Kim that it definitely was not. My inclination was to avoid all confusion and embarrassment by avoiding him completely.

But then another encounter last week had shaken me out of my stupidity and made me realise I’d been missing out on a good friendship.

I’d had to brave the pouring rain and swirling autumn leaves to take Blue for a walk. Although it was gloomy, it was a few days before the clocks changed so at least there was still a bit of daylight trying its best to help us through. But I’d been foolish enough to let Blue drag me up his favourite muddy path which had taken us further away from home. Never mind, it was the end of the day so what did it matter if I got drenched and dirty? I could have a hot shower when I got in.Blue in the rain

Just when I thought I was the only one crazy enough to take this route, I was surprised to see a figure far ahead coming towards us. It looked like Shaun McArthur. But every glimpse of every man had looked like Shaun McArthur to me since we’d been reacquainted in the summer. It’s time you got him out of your system, I told myself sternly.

But as the man got nearer he didn’t morph into anyone else. Oh my goodness, now what do I do? There was a gap in the hedge so I made a beeline for it. Unfortunately the gap was smaller than I thought and I had to drag myself through it, snagging my coat on the thorns as I went.

I looked around and cursed under my breath. I was in a farmer’s field without a path and without a dog. ‘Bluuue,’ I called feebly, ‘where are you?’

‘He’s out here with me,’ said Shaun from the other side of the hedge.

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘I could have sworn he’d come through here.’ The colour was rising in my cheeks but there was no other option but to squeeze, unladylike, back through the hedge and onto the path.

‘Strange place to bump into you,’ I said. And it was. It was a foul night and the only people out were diligent dog walkers – and every other one of those had decided to stick to the pavement.

‘I’m walking and thinking,’ he said. ‘Actually, I could really do with picking your brain. How about we dry off in The March Hare and I test a few ideas for the new restaurant on you?’

It seemed churlish to flee again so I agreed and we squelched our way to the main road and the sanctuary of the bar.

‘Hi Jenny. You look like a drowned rat!’ It was Gary, warm and dry and dressed in expensive smart casual clothes.

‘Hi Gary. Errm, this is Shaun McArthur. Have you two met?’

‘Is this your plus one for Mum’s wedding next week?’ he asked with a childish grin.

‘No!’ I said emphatically.

‘Mum said you’d been helping out with her wedding plans,’ he continued. ‘Kim’s a bit put out that Mum chose you but thank goodness she wasn’t left to make all the decisions herself – what a dog’s dinner that would have been!’

I excused us from Gary’s company and we found a quiet table to chat about Shaun’s exciting new venture in the old hardware premises. But I wanted to clear the air and get things straight in my head first, so very bravely I tackled the issue as soon as we sat down.

‘I just like your company, Jenny. You’re real. You’re refreshing and easy to talk to. I love my family and I’m planning on switching my focus to the restaurant so I can spend more time with the children during the day.’

Phew, I thought. Now I know where I stand I can handle it. We relaxed into a conversation about his new project where we talked about everything from wine lists to waiters’ aprons and I was delighted that I was no longer missing out on this enjoyable friendship.

‘I think your waiters should have something much more upmarket than the apron I made this week!’ I said and went on to describe how I’d transformed an old tea towel.

He was laughing at my willingness to see value even in a holey old tea towel when his phone vibrated on the table and Francesca’s photo appeared.

‘Hi Darling,’ he said breezily. ‘I’m in a meeting at the moment. In fact, I think I might just have found the restaurant’s front-of-house manager.’ And he winked at me.

‘Kim and I do have our own business to run, you know!’ I laughed, incredibly flattered all the same. It was a ludicrous suggestion but I’d been struggling to shake it from my thoughts ever since. ◊

How to Transform an Old Tea Towel into an Apron

salvagebox.co.uk - Blue's pawThis project is nothing fancy, just a quick way to make something useful out of a holey tea towel.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

You’ll need something for the strap and ties. I used 1” (just under 4cm) herringbone tape. You’ll also need some fabric (and Bondaweb) to cover the holes.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

Decide which of the short edges will be the top of your apron and which will be the bottom. I didn’t want to cut the tea towel and have to deal with any raw edges so I just turned the corners in by 7cm each to create the shape at the top. This gave me a new measurement of about 28cm across the top. I pinned and pressed the fold on each side.

The tea towel was clean but you can see some stubborn marks here. Lucky for me they were all on the back and not the front!

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

Next I pinned on the strap, tucking the ends under the fold I’d created in the tea towel. The length of my strap is 60cm including about 6cm tucked in at each side. So my finished strap length is about 48cm. Pin it and test it to find a length that works for you.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

Once I was happy I stitched each end into place with three sides of a rectangle plus two diagonal lines to give it strength. The fourth side of the rectangle (outside edge) was stitched later.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

Now for the ties. Decide how long you need them to be (including a few extra centimetres for a double turn in at each end). My ties were 80cm each. I turned one end in twice to conceal the raw edge and pinned it into place. Then I did the same with the second one. At this point it’s useful to try it on to check the ties are pinned at the right place before you sew them on. Sew them in the same way as the strap with a rectangle and two diagonal lines.

Also at this point I turned the other ends of the ties in twice and stitched them to conceal the raw edges.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

Now it’s time to stitch down the two edges that we first folded and pinned. I stitched along the outside edge with a small seam allowance (the photo is before the stitching) and this line of stitches completes the rectangles across the tape (two on each side).

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

It’s unusual to do the embellishment at the end of a project but it’s the best time for this apron. I chose a simple design of three stars (with Bondaweb ironed on the back in the usual way).

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

I only needed one star to cover the hole. The other two were just down to design. As usual, I ironed them on then did a small running stitch around each one to make it more secure.

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron

I gave it a good iron then tried it out for size on the nearest person!

How to transform an old tea towel into an apron


  • Test you have everything the right length and in the right place before you sew.
  • It’s an old tea towel you’re using so don’t worry of it’s a bit misshapen or your stitching’s not perfect.

Salvaged Items:

  • Tea Towel

I saw this idea in a magazine years ago. A reader had made it and sent in a letter with a photo. I thought it was really impressive! Hope you like it.


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