riparian rap

The perfect machinist’s apron.

(Ed. note: No river science or geomorphology today!  This is a post about the perfect shop apron, designed at Little River Research & Design!)

As a thanks to all the professional machinists who’ve helped me online, here’s a shop apron design.

Please note I am NOT selling anything here, not the design, not aprons; just passing along my experience.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this years ago if, like me, you’ve not liked any of your shop aprons.

I haven’t been able to find a decent ready made one, so I made my own.


I used cotton duck fabric. I started with an old apron and modified from there.  I can sew a bit, so I made mine.  If you don’t have friend or family to sew it, you can always find a local alterations place to do it; it’s a very easy project. In that case, just mock it up with butcher paper and take it to them; a good drawing would probably work as well.

There are also patterns you could modify.   Check a fabric store.   Especially if you want one that wraps around you, I didn’t; that would be too hot for me.   Having a tight wrap-around apron (check “French apron”) might be just what you want.

Above:  Me at Little River Research with my home-made apron.  It goes below my knees; one benefit is that it usually catches things I drop when I’m sitting down.

I made the pocket high and small (and the front of the apron, too, most don’t come up high enough for me) and just the size for a few things; notebook, scriber, pencil, ruler or two — and tight to keep chips out; that’s worked great.
The wide cross straps were made by seaming a tube (think seam-welded pipe) and turning it inside out.  No skinny string digging into your neck.  And the cross strap design just slips on like a t-shirt; you don’t need any ties or buckles.  You could add these if you’re not fat like me and want to look trimmer, or keep the apron out of moving machinery.

If you do work around dangerous machinery, perhaps use big buttons where the straps join the apron; something that will disconnect if it gets caught and not drag you in; I would change that on my design.

Length is about the knee; that’s optional.  I do like that this length protects my usually bare legs, and also if you’re sitting at the bench and drop a tool or part, it usually ends up in the apron and not on the floor!

I would also change this one so the sides wrapped around a bit more; I have the habit of using the apron to wipe my hands and I often miss and hit my shirt on the sides.

If you make it yourself, I’d recommend attaching the straps at the top (front, near pocket) and then experimenting a bit with safety pins on the bottom strap attachment point (and strap length) to get it just right.    Or make them adjustable; here a big button would work; maybe even one turned out of aluminum!

Straps are bar tacked to sides, but you might want to use something that would release if machinery catches it, like a big button or snaps.  I experimented with the length and attachment point until I got it just right; just use safety pins.


The crossed straps are very comfortable and you just put the thing on like a t-shirt, no knots to tie.  No skinny string digging into your neck all day.


Bar-tacked front straps; again, something that would release if the apron is caught in machinery might be better.  A big turned aluminum button would be pretty cool.
I put the pocket high on my chest and made it tight with just the space for things I keep there; this has worked great to keep chips out, and things don’t fall out when I bend over.