The weeks preceding Christmas are not the easiest time of year for many of us. Our jobs seem more demanding, with lots of last-minute things...

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The weeks preceding Christmas are not the easiest time of year for many of us.

Our jobs seem more demanding, with lots of last-minute things to do before the holiday recess, while shopping for gifts consumes evenings and weekends. Nevertheless, I have always tried to find a little bit of time to create meaningful gifts for those colleagues, friends and family members who have made a difference in my life in the past year. This year I decided that aprons, each designed for a specific task (gardening, cooking or crafting), would be just the thing to make.

First, I made a prototype of a gardening apron, fussing with the placement of the pockets, keeping in mind those things I always need when gardening or planting: seed packets, gloves, clippers and pens. I used oilcloth for the body of the apron, a contrasting stiff canvas for the pockets, and a thin leather for the binding of the edges.

For one of the chefs at my television studio, I made a long, comfortable chef’s apron from gray linen. He loves a long apron that is absorbent and soft, qualities that he has difficulty finding in a ready-made one.

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Creating an apron for one of the crafts editors at Martha Stewart Living was easy. He never makes a mess, so a half-apron, which I made from a sturdy canvas, was an ideal design for his present.

I suggest you find a little time to try one or more of these ideas this holidhay season. You will feel so accomplished at having handcrafted gifts, and the recipients will certainly treasure their presents fobr years to come.

Gardener’s apron

The other aprons mentioned above are variations of the gardener’s apron. Visit www.marthastewart.com/living for complete how-tos and templates for gardening, cooking and crafting aprons.

Use a leather needle and topstitch-weight thread for this project (you should match thread to trim). When working with the leather trim, sew a 3-mm stitch length to keep it from ripping.

1. Cut a sheet of thin leather (it shouldn’t feel plush or too stretchy) into 5/8-inch-wide strips for trim. Strips’ length will depend on the size of the sheet; we used a total of 145 inches of 5/8-inch-wide strips, plus a 20-inch-long strip of 1 ½-inch-wide leather to trim the top of the pocket.

Fold a strip in half lengthwise. Working on a very hard surface, hammer along fold to create a crease. Repeat with remaining strips.

Using the template you’ve downloaded from the Internet, cut one apron form from oilcloth and one from cotton broadcloth for lining. Stack apron and lining, wrong sides facing, and sew together 1/8 inch from edge.

Sandwich apron edge into a strip of folded trim. Topstitch trim in place (make sure you are sewing through all the layers). After you’ve attached one strip of trim, overlap its end with the next strip. Continue to attach trim until all edges of the apron are covered.

2. Using template, cut a pocket form from canvas. With a disappearing-ink pen, mark lines where each compartment (and pleats for roomier pockets) will fall. Pin 1/4-inch pleats, and sew along the bottom. Attach trim to bottom and sides of pocket, as above, and then add trim to top of pocket. Snip excess.

3. Use masking tape to position pocket on apron. Sew sides and bottom of pocket to apron. Remove tape as you work. Sew along pen lines to create compartments.

4. To make straps and belt loops, cut 2 ½-inch-wide strips of canvas: one 8 ½ inches long (for waist D-ring strap), one 40 inches (long waist strap), one 10 inches (neck D-ring strap), one 33 ½ inches (long neck strap), and two 3 ½ inches (belt loops). Fold strips in half lengthwise, right sides facing. Sew a 1/4-inch seam along long open edge and one short edge of the 4 straps; sew a 1/4-inch seam only along long edge of the 2 belt loops. Turn all pieces right side out with a loop turner.

To finish straps, tuck 1/4 inch of unfinished end into strip; hand-stitch closed. To finish belt loops, fold strips in half widthwise, and sew a 1/4-inch seam across open ends to join. Turn loops inside out, so sewn edges are on inside.

Attach D-ring straps: Thread two D rings on waist D-ring strap. Fold strap in half, so D rings are centered. Using a zipper foot, sew strap just below D rings to secure. Sandwich apron between 2 sides of waist D-ring strap, so strap overlaps apron by 2 inches. Topstitch strap to secure. Repeat to add neck D-ring strap to top of apron. Place long waist strap across from waist D-ring strap, so it overlaps apron by 2 inches. Sew to secure. Place long neck strap parallel to neck D-ring strap, an equal distance from edge, so it overlaps apron by 2 inches. Sew to secure. Slide belt loops onto long straps so seams fall behind the straps.

Questions may be sent to mslletters@marthastewart.com or Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10036. Sorry, no personal replies.