Tutorial ~ Pleated Apron With Built In Hot Pads

by Destri on February 28, 2010

One of my pet peeves while cooking is not being able to find a hot pad.  My other pet peeve is only being able to find one when I need two.  So I got to thinking….what if I put hot pads on the bottom of my apron?  I tried to add some to an existing apron, but it was not wide enough, or long enough to work.  Then I remembered I had promised a tutorial for an apron you can make with one yard of fabric.  So I found a yard of fabric in my stash and went to work.  I absolutely love the way that it turned out!!  Plus it has hot pads in the bottom corner built in so you can grab that pan off the stove or take your pie out of the oven without having to search for your hot pads….perfect!

This is a simple apron so don’t let all the pictures scare you off!

This makes a size medium apron.  For a size large use a piece slightly larger than a yard and.  You can still use the same pleat measurements.  If you only have a yard and would like it larger, just adjust the pleats!  Easy peasy.

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One yard of fabric,
All your sewing stuff
Insul-Bright insulated lining (or any brand of heat proof lining for use with hot pads)
Coordinating thread

Cut these pieces from your yard of fabric and lining: 

Two 4 x 45 inch pieces
One 20 x 45 inch piece
Two 8 x 8 inch pieces
Two 7 x 7 inch pieces from the lining

You can add another layer of the Insul-Bright to make it more heat proof.  You will want to cut out four pieces of the lining instead of just two. Then stack two together for the first step.  I have found one layer to be plenty!  I have even had a lot of people email me saying they just added white hot pads they had bought, now they’re thinking.  So if you don’t have Insul-Brite, there’s another option!

Start with a 7 inch piece of lining and place on top of the wrong side of an 8 inch fabric piece.

Fold the edges over and sew the lining to the fabric.  Then sew an X through the center as shown.  One side of the lining will be exposed…that’s okay, don’t fret will cover it up later.  Repeat with the other two pieces.


Now press the 2o x 45 inch piece in half with the 20 inch sides together.  This crease will act as a guide.

Lay the piece open on a flat surface with measurements (this is where markings on your ironing board comes in handy), or have something to measure with.  On the 45 inch side that will be the top of the apron, make a mark 6 1/2 inches from the center crease on each side.  Fold each of these marks to line up with the center crease forming a 3 1/4 inch fold on each side and pin.

Four inches from the crease now, forming a box pleat, fold fabric under 1½ inches as shown and pin.  Repeat on the other side.

Now make a another pleat 1 ½ inches from the last one, also folded under 1½ inches as shown, and pin.  Repeat the same process on the opposite side making it mirror image.

Your two box pleats should measure about 4 inches on top.

To check your measurements you can place a ruler under the folds.  At the center where the two box pleats meet it should measure about 3¼ inches as shown.

When placed under the side pleats it should measure about 1½ inches in the fold.  These measurements do not need to be exact, this should just give you an idea if you are on the right track.  Press the pleats.

This is how it should look after you have pressed and pinned.  It helps if you make sure the folds underneath are pinned so when sewing they don’t get folded the wrong way.

Now sew a basting stitch along the top with a ¼ seam allowance, go slowly!  You want to make sure the folds are laying as they should underneath.  Serge or zigzag the edge.

Now fold the other three sides over a ¼ inch and press.  Then fold over ¼ inch again and press for a nice clean edge.

Tuck the hot pads under the folds in the corners and pin, then sew around the three sides.  Make sure you catch the hot pad in the stitch.

Take the 4 x 45 inch pieces and sew two of the short ends with right sides together as shown, making 0ne 90 inch long piece.  Serge or zigzag this edge.

Double fold and press the sides as you did on the body of the apron, and just fold the ends over once and press.

Lay the strap along the top of the apron with the right sides together.  Make sure that the middle seam of the strap is centered with the center of the two box pleats as shown. Unfold the edge that lines up with the top a ¼ inch and pin to secure.

It should look like this after pinned.

Now sew the two together with a ¼ inch seam allowance, just along the top of the skirt.

Then fold the strap up as it will be when finished and sew along the entire perimeter of the strap. You can now pick out the basting stitch that is peaking out.

Fold the ends over and sew as shown.  It will make your ends look pretty.

Last step!  You want to tack the pad to the apron so that it doesn’t want to get all floppy on you.  I tacked mine with a small zig zag stitch, back stitching a few times at the center of the pad.  It wouldn’t hurt to add a little patch of fabric in between the apron and pad where you tack it.  Just a little reinforcement.

**Update** I added a second tack at the top loose corner, or you could use heat-bond. With the second tack you can slip your hand underneath kind of like a glove!

It only leaves a little speck on the front.

You’re done!!!!

Now get cookin’!  If you have a gas stove be sure to hold the apron away from the flames with your other hand.

I used it tonight when I made cookies and it worked like a dream.

You could leave the pads out if you want to, just don’t tell me, it might hurt my feelings ;)  You could also add a top to cover the chest area.  If you do send me some pics…you know I like ‘em!

I searched for this idea every way I could….couldn’t find anything.  Surely I am not the first to think of this?  If I am I’m seriously branding it as ‘The Original Hot Pad Apron’……might be my only claim to fame!

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{ 167 comments… read them below or add one }

roz22 March 16, 2012 at 6:06 am

LOVE IT………………….. can’t wait to get started anyone have a birthday coming up ….


Megan@BlueStarVermont.com March 31, 2012 at 7:27 am

Just discovered this tutorial through Pinterest. As a fellow apron maker I truly appreciate your wonderful design here. A great idea! I am pinning it to Pinterest to spread good word of you there.


Destri April 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

Thanks so much Megan!


Barbara March 31, 2012 at 10:41 am

Just a thought. I love the idea and adding homemade fire retardant would be great too. What if you sewed 3 sides of the hot pad and left the top open so you would have a “pocket” to slide you hand into to use the hot pad. This would also eliminate the need to tack the hot pad in place.


Destri April 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

Yes, you could definitely do that, I had played with the idea but couldn’t get it to play well with the pleats the way I wanted. Make sure to leave a picture if you have a go with it!


irebel April 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank You for this great idea.
I know sometimes I need to get something out of the oven fast and of course I can’t find them. This would make a great feature in aprons!!


Dorothy April 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Love the apron, the pleats are great. I made one as shown and then thought I would try one with the potholders attached to the band at the top. I used velcro and also made the potholders a little larger with a pocket at the back for your hand.


Destri April 12, 2012 at 4:06 am

Great idea Dorothy. Thanks so much for letting me know!


Beatrice May 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

I am on my second apron already – great tutorial and super idea! Added on my model a little pocket as all my aprons “must” have one and… a little hanger too – both simply on the waistband. Love the stylish skitish look of this design! Compliments!!!


Destri May 3, 2012 at 4:36 am

Thanks so much Beatrice! I am working on a second version and it has pockets and a top piece as well. There have been multiple requests for both! But I hadn’t thought about a little hanger for half aprons, such a good idea!


Heather June 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I just made this. It was my first real sewing project. I had made a huge bundle of reusable nursing pads but that was the extent of my sewing. This project was so much fun and I was able to do it in an afternoon with a 3 month old infant and a toddler running around. It was really easy. Thanks. I am going to try one with a top piece and possibly a pocket. Thanks.


Destri June 26, 2012 at 11:56 am

Yay! I am working on a second version that has a top and pockets, plus fully lined. Probably closer to Christmas though! Let me know how yours goes :)


Coral July 19, 2012 at 8:41 am

Rachel Ray has a dish towel with pockets, but I have not seen an apron, so YES, you should patent & market this. Love this idea very much. Thanks for sharing with us.


miss pat August 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I like this pattern. I just got an order for 5 custom aprons, my choice of style and fabrics. I am going to use this for one of them. Thanks.


Sue August 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Just made this apron and it turned out great but I find it to short to reach into the oven. Not sure if I should make it a little longer or just take it off to get something out of the oven. I’ve been looking for something to make my 5 co-workers for Christmas and this is it.


Evelyn November 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

This is a great idea! You have a winner here! I am almost 70 and have never seen this done and my mother and grandmother were both big fans of aprons. Great gift idea to!


jen December 23, 2012 at 4:10 am

confused… 1 yard of fabric is on 36 inches yet you make 45 inch cuts.. the width of the reel I got was only 42 inches so a yard is 42 x 36. I thought maybe your reel was wider… which would make your yard at least 45 x 36.. lets say 60 x 36.. only that is also wrong because you specify two 20 x 45 pieces… which is at least 40 x 45 and there is no way to cut that. in no way would 1 yard be enough…. my yard is 42 x42 so even if i scale it down there is absolutely no room for the extra pieces.


jen December 23, 2012 at 4:18 am

crap i read that wrong! i even double checked before i wrote that but somehow read it wrong twice! uhg sorry! just ONE piece of 20 x45.. i was so confused. anyways thanks for such a great idea :)


Destri January 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

No problem Jen, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner to clarify!


Ellen January 19, 2013 at 5:07 am

I made up 2 of these aprons for shower gifts. Did a little different waistband on them, but I also added an another extra feature, a half tea towel, to wipe your hands on, that is detachable. I added a little tab off the waistband on the front and put a gripper snap on it to detach the towel. Also embroidered the brides name, on the waistband that said their name “Lindseys Kitchen”. They really turned out cute.


Destri January 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

Oh what a fabulous idea! Thanks so much for sharing, these would be great to add!


Nancy D. February 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

This is truly a great idea! Rachel Ray could really use this apron with a hot pad on either side. On her cooking show she uses a towel with pockets on both ends that she uses as pot holders. This apron is better because it is always with the cook. Great Idea!!


Nancy February 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Great idea. Rachel ray has dishtowels with hotpads built in, but I like this much better. Aprons are back in vogue and these would make great gifts.


Roby April 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Dear Destri

These are great. I would love to have a few. Unfortunately, I cannot sew. These would be great for me as well as my friends. I think you should market them. Full aprons as well as the waist high aprons. I would surely buy them. Safety is a key for me because it is difficult for me to remove hot dishes from the oven.
Full aprons with an over the head option without ties (similar to the sport bra racerback or full back) would be a super idea as well. Thanks for this great idea you have come up with. Kuddos to you !!!


Roby April 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Destri… Sorry , I missed spelled my address. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks again.


Heather May 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

What do you think about putting the heating pad on the front of the apron and making it dual purpose pocket/heat pad?


FaveTutus June 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

I love this tutorial! Great idea. I posted it on my blog of my favorite tutorials.
Here is the link: http://favetutus.blogspot.com/2013/06/apron-with-built-in-hot-pads-tutorial.html. Just wanted to give you a shout out and tell you thank you! :)


Sharon Chiles August 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

My grandmother always had one of these. She taught me how to make these things back when I was 8 years old. You can cheat by using already made hot pads and just sew them into the apron. Easy peasy…


Michelle October 15, 2013 at 9:46 am

Love this!! Can’t wait to make my own!!


Jude October 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Those aprons “with a top piece” are “bib aprons.” Spent several teen years helping my Aunt Lib make aprons to sell for some extra money. Most we the fancy, gift-type aprons, but we made all kinds.


Jodene December 13, 2013 at 6:28 am

Just finished making one for my mom for Christmas. It came together real quick and easy. Great tutorial! I added a loop to the waistband to hold a towel. It turned out so nice. Can’t wait til my mom opens this gift!


Shannon April 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I have made about 7 of these as gifts for the women in my family, and every one has loved them! I also added them to the bottom of a man’s reversible apron. Thanks for this great tutorial! One suggestion- now that fabric is only 44” instead of 45”, you may want to adjust your measurements to reflect this. I had to do some math to make the pleats come out right.


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