Sewing Tutorial: BDU to apron in under an hour

We have lots of BDU uniforms around here. 
This style was retired by the Air Force last year, so now we find them everywhere. 
Not to mention I had about six sets of my own Army BDU's. (toot toot)

I decided to put at least one shirt to use. Here are the steps I took to make my own BDU apron. 

First, select the shirt and lay it out to cut. 

Oh dear...blurry pic-a toddler ran into me! 

It helps a lot if you have a cutting mat and rotary cutter. Find equipment here and here .

My measurements are for an apron that wraps almost all the way around me, including the backside....just because I tend to sit in mud when gardening. 


1. From BDU shirt:  cut from the back of the shirt-
31inches wide and 15 inches tall  (one panel) 

**I added some green fabric to each side, but that step is optional.

2.**Cut from green fabric:  4.5" x15"  (two panels)

3. Waist and tie band from green fabric: 6" x84"   (This can be shortened later if you prefer, but I like to wrap the ties around me to the front. Easier to take off then, ya know?)

4. Cut out both large pockets from front of shirt. Leave a 1/2" edge for sewing them down later.

First I cut the pockets out like this, then trimmed with pinking shears. It was easier.

Only cut the front shirt for this bit. 
Remember, you need the back in one piece. 

I used the entire back of the shirt for the apron body. 
Didn't take a good picture of that part. Oooops. 
Cut as mentioned above under "dimensions".

If you fancy attaching the name tag to your apron, carefully remove it with this tool.

Lay right sides together, one green panel and one side of the apron body. Sew together and then press the seam open like below.

pressing the seam open

Top stitch both sides of the seam to hold it in place.

Repeat for other side of apron. Then hem the sides like below, folding in the edge and then folding it in again and sew. 

(*This is a photo of the bottom edge, sorry. Forgot to take a picture of the side hems.)

Trim up the pockets if you haven't already.

Pin them to the apron body by centering and measuring. Make sure they are even.

Sew down the edges.

Take the waistband/ties piece and fold it in half lengthwise. This makes a crease which we need for guidance.

Unfold the band, see the crease? Now fold in both edges to meet in the middle.

Then fold again over itself. Press well. 
This is a sort of binding.

Another view:

 Then fold this again, so the folded edges meet. Am I clear? I hope so.

Now fold the apron in half to mark the center. (So left side meets right side, then press to make a crease.)

Fold the entire length of the waits/ties in half (short side to short side) and press the fold so the center is creased. This way you can match up the center of this bit (waist/ties) with the center of the apron.

Pin it to hold it in place, but before pinning the middle bit, tuck the raw edges of the apron inside the binding.

 Pin well. Check the back to be sure you didn't muddle it up (like I did the first go).

Now sew down this entire length, from end to end in a nice, straight stitch. This will catch both sides of your make-shift "binding". 

Hem the bottom edge of the apron to fit your preference. I did a double edge hem. 
(Fold in 1/4", press, then fold in again 1/2" and press. Sew.)

I pinked the edges of my waistband/ties piece to keep a rougher look to the apron. You could always tuck the edges in and sew them shut. 


HOOOOOO---RAAAAA as we say in the Army.

Yes, my husband is Air Force. It's a matter of contention I do confess


  1. So cool! A really good reuse of old uniform - my parents have tonnes of the stuff lying about - I may pass the idea on to them :-)

  2. These are beyond coooooool.....

  3. Great idea. A way to recycle other old shirts too.

  4. I LOVE this! Can't wait to get started!


I appreciate every comment, thanks so much for taking the time. It means A LOT to me. :)