Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

Find out what materials work best for chef, waitress and shop aprons. Learn how much fabric you will need for making one!
Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 22, 2023
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Most people likely don’t put a lot of thought into the aprons they buy. However, different aprons work better for different jobs, and it all comes down to the apron fabric used. So, if you plan on getting one, it makes sense to educate yourself about these different fabrics and the different benefits. That way, you only buy or make one that’s a perfect fit for the intended use.

Among the alternatives available are denim, leather, cotton, nylon, and more. Below we tell the options you should pick depending on your situation and why.

What kind of fabric is best for aprons?

Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

Aprons are for a variety of potential uses and not just for cooking in the kitchen at home. Some are used by chefs, others are worn by shop workers as protective gear, and even others are used by waiters and waitresses. Here are some of the basic requirements that the apron materials need to fulfill to be useful to potential users.

The apron fabric type should be durable and long-lasting. Additionally, there should be a consideration for the job description of the wearer and why they’re making or buying an apron in the first place.

If, for instance, the wearer works with a lot of water and wet materials, then the material makeup of the apron should be able to protect him from getting wet as well. On the other hand, if the person wearing the apron works with fire and heat, the protective clothing should feature a material that doesn’t transfer heat.

Ultimately the apron is a protective piece of clothing, and as such, it needs to be able to do its job. Next, the best fabrics for aprons also tend to be flexible and comfortable, so the user has an easier time performing their duties with the apron on. Ultimately the best kind of material for aprons is one that matches your use needs. That said, some popular options are cotton, leather, nylon, denim, and linen, although as you’ll see below, there are others.

Types of aprons and best material

Since the intended use is the most important consideration when picking the apron material, we will look at some potential uses and the apron materials that fit them best.

Best fabric for chef aprons

Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

Worth mentioning is that different chefs have different needs as well. For instance, there are pastry chefs who primarily work with dry materials. These include flour, powdered sugars, baking powder, and more, although there is also the occasional brush up with a liquid. In such a case, the apron only needs to protect the user’s clothes from dry materials, and thus it’s perfectly okay to get a light material. The only other need to consider is the comfort of the chef.

Cotton works reasonably well since it is light and very comfortable. Additionally, cleaning off flour and other dry materials from cotton is more or less a piece of cake hence why it is ideal. Chefs in the home setting also don’t tend to deal with a lot of spills, and the cotton apron might work well for them as well.

Notably, even among cotton aprons, some offer more protection than others. The disparity is brought on by the difference in thread count and how the threads are weaved. Ultimately, there will be different types of cotton to pick from, including basketweave, batiste, batik, and bird’s eye, to name a few. That said, users recommend the 60” Cotton Muslin from ben textiles inc. It is a 100% cotton fabric available in beige, and it’s perfect for projects like aprons for those who intend to make their own.

Alternatively, some chefs spend most of their time around water and other liquids. In such a case, spills on their apron become inevitable. If you were to use cotton in such a scenario, the moisture would seep right through and soak the other clothes of the chef. As such, this is where rubber and nylon aprons come in. Their construction ensures the moisture doesn’t reach the clothes and chef behind the apron.

Another group of chefs stays close to heat and fire, for example, those in charge of barbecues and grilling. Apart from the heat, the apron may also have to protect the chef from sparks that rise from the fire. Of course, this necessitates an apron that doesn’t burn easily and one that is capable of insulating the chef from the heat. Leather is the preferred material since it fulfills the said criteria.

Best fabric for shop aprons

Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

The needs of most shop workers are quite different from those of chefs. As such, they need unique apron materials that match up to their daily use scenarios. For starters, a comfortable material is essential since shop workers spend long periods wearing their aprons. They could do so for their whole shift.

They also have to match the kind of shop you’re working in. For woodworking shops, for instance, it makes sense to have a leather apron. It’s pretty comfortable and protects you from splinters. For those who work in places with a lot of water, like fish shops, the ideal material is comfortable, does not get cut easily, and is waterproof. One example is an oil-finished canvas Trusted Source Canvas - Wikipedia Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, shelters, as a support for oil painting and for other items for which sturdiness is required, as well as in such fashion objects as handbags, electronic device cases, and shoes.  en.wikipedia.org . The oil makes it waterproof, while canvas is naturally very durable despite being relatively soft and comfortable.

A repair shop will again require a unique type of apron. Denim seems like a very good fit since it is relatively comfortable while still offering a higher degree of protection than cotton. Additionally, it can keep the materials you work with from reaching you with relative ease.

Ultimately you need to research the job description and what you’re tasked with as a shop employee. This should allow you to pick a material for aprons that’s in line with what you’ll do every day.

Best fabric for waitress aprons

Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

Just as with shop workers, different waiters and waitresses do different jobs depending on the institution they work for. Some, for example, offer cocktail service, and as you might know, they wear aprons that cover below the waistline. Others can cover their whole bodies.

For the cocktail waiter and waitress, there might be minimal spillage of beers and liquor. As such, a moisture-resistant fabric isn’t necessary, but one that washes fairly easily is. Durability and comfort are two other considerations hence cotton and polyester are two fantastic options.

According to most reviews, one popular polyester material option for waitress aprons is the Gingham checkered poly-cotton fabric from Likes ‘n’ Wants. This 60” wide fabric is made of 65% polyester, while the other 35% is cotton construction.

Denim and linen also work as excellent material alternatives for waitress aprons. That said, you will still need to do some research to determine what kinds of food and beverages you’ll be working with so you can choose a fabric with that in mind. Also, in most cases, you will need to match the décor of the establishment where you work. Again, this necessitates a careful look at your color and design options.

Notably, even where the fabric you choose is not available in the best designs or colors, there are fabric  dyes that should allow you to add your own.

How much fabric do you need for an apron?

Apron Fabric Options: Which is Best for the Particular Use?

Assuming you’re going to make the apron yourself, you will need to come up with the right measurements to purchase the fabric. While there are one-size-fits-all aprons, you want yours to be a good fit for you. Consequently, you need to take measurements of your body depending on the type of apron you want.

If you want one that starts at your waist and ends at your knees, take the measurements for that. Other configurations can be waist to ankle and shoulder to ankle. Take a tape measure and check the appropriate length of the fabric. You only need to check the length since 60” fabrics are more than enough to cover the front side of your body.

Additionally, you should note that most vendors sell fabrics in terms of yards and won’t cut a fractional measurement. As such, if you conclude that you need 1¼ yard of fabric, then you need to round it off to 2 yards. One way to get around wasting ¾ yards of fabric is by making multiple aprons. In this case, where your measurements are 1¼ yards, you can decide to make three totaling 3¼” yards, so the only material wasted is less than ¼ yards.

Of course, this means the apron-making project will be more expensive, and you can decide whether it’s worth it or not depending on your needs and how often you’ll have to change or clean your aprons.

Final thoughts

Ultimately when you start to fashion your apron out of the fabric you bought, you should bring you’re A-game. It’s easy to make mistakes while cutting the fabric, especially if you’re using scissors. This would necessitate that you buy a second piece of fabric which would be a waste of funds. Rotary cutters tend to improve your cutting accuracy.

Another way to ensure you get the best out of your apron fabric is to be up to date with the best sewing tips and tricks. If you can avoid mistakes early on, there shouldn’t be any problems. That said, it all has to start with picking the right apron fabric panels.


Canvas - Wikipedia
Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, shelters, as a support for oil painting and for other items for which sturdiness is required, as well as in such fashion objects as handbags, electronic device cases, and shoes. 
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