The world’s best custom-made apron is handmade by husband-and-wife team Patrick and Michelle Melchior.
When I step into my shop,a few things happen each and every time — so much that they’re nearly primal instincts. In one motion, I flip all the lights on and slip my shop apron off its hook. My apron goes on, and it’s off to work.
For the last several years, my go-to apron has been a Calavera, and it’s a beautiful apron. However, wearing my apron daily, I knew I was ready for an apron that was custom-made for me. One that fit all the tools I need. One that sits exactly where I want it to. One that simply becomes an extension of how I work instead of just protecting my clothes in the shop. It is my most-used tool, after all. That’s when I met Patrick and Michelle Melchior, and was introduced to their company, Leather By Dragonfly. Patrick and Michelle custom-tailor each and every apron to fit the customer.
With the Drop of a Square
Leather By Dragonfly came to fruition kind of by accident. Patrick, a woodworker, was working in his shop when his favorite square took a tumble to the floor. Afraid that he had just ruined the best square in his shop (spoiler, he didn’t), he ran inside to ask his wife, Michelle, to help him. Together, they talked about and worked up a design for an apron that Patrick could wear in the shop and would house his square and several other tools he used regularly.
After Michelle spent a bit of time figuring out how to sew the leather and design the apron, the first Leather By Dragonfly apron was born. Soon after, Patrick made a YouTube video (unrelated to the apron) and started to get asked questions about it. Where did it come from? Where can I buy one? Do you sell them? After several dozen questions about selling them, he asked Michelle if they did. Her answer: “Yes, we do.” Now, hundreds of aprons later, Patrick and Michelle are making aprons for not only woodworkers but anyone who wears an apron on a regular basis. They’ve made aprons for people ranging from hairstylists to blacksmiths, and more. Their goal is to make anyone who wears an apron a custom-made apron that will outlast the craftsman that wears it. Whether it’s scissors or tape measures, block planes, or combs. Patrick and Michelle custom-make each and every apron, and flawless 5-star reviews on Google reflect their customers’ happiness.
Their Bespoke Process
So, what makes a Leather by Dragonfly apron different from other leather aprons? It starts with Patrick and Michelle’s unique process. When you first place the order, they mail you a template. This template is meant to be worn during a video call that you’ll set up with Patrick and Michelle. During that call, Patrick and Michelle will ask several questions about how you work, what tools you use, and what you look for in an apron. I came with all of the tools that I use during every project: a marking knife, tape measure, block plane, a Paolini rule, various pens and pencils, dust collection remote, and my safety glasses. I even asked that they include a slot for a microphone, and a pocket for my phone.
During the call, they’ll walk you through the entire process as you customize your apron to hold what you want, where you want. Patrick and Michelle will both have suggestions on where they would put particular tools on your apron, but ultimately, the decision is yours. As you talk with them, Michelle takes notes and measurements. Remember, she’s building this apron specifically for you.
After your fitting is complete and you’ve drawn your tool locations on the template, you’ll talk about leather choices. You can choose various colors of leather for each of the items on your apron. As you can see in the main photo on the previous page, Michelle’s apron is pink, while tan, black, and brown are the more common colors (no judgment from me if you choose pink, however!). With the colors chosen, you ship the template back to their headquarters in central Ohio for them to go to work. Michelle takes care of all the sewing, while Patrick does much of the die-cutting, embossing, and riveting of the various parts that make up the finished apron.
Second to None
After receiving my apron from Patrick and Michelle, I wish every person reading this could try my apron on and have it fit as it does on me (it won’t unless we’re identically sized). It’s truly an unbelievable experience, settling the apron over your shoulders, buckling the waist belt, and having it simply sit in place. Now, don’t get me wrong. My Calavera apron is nice. But it wasn’t made for me like this apron was. If you’ve ever had a custom-tailored suit, you’ll have a fraction of an understanding of how this apron fits. As soon it arrived, and I opened the box to slip it on… there was a stupid grid that was on my face for the next several hours. So much so that my wife asked me to disappear to the shop for several hours until I stopped looking like a love-struck child.
Now, I want to point out that, because these are custom-made with top-quality materials, these aprons should be seen as an investment. You’re investing in a tool that you use every time you enter your shop and one that is custom-made for you. There are probably very few tools that you own that the makers spent time with you, building it to fit you. The Leather By Dragonfly apron is one of those tools made specifically for you and is worth every penny.
Extra: My Apron Checklist
Because each and every apron that Leather by Dragonfly is unique, I want to give you an idea of what I asked for on my apron:
• Full-length apron without leg slits
• Lower Right-hand side: tape measure clip, Lie-Nielsen block plane pouch, and marketing knife holder
• Lower Left-hand side: a pocket for my combination square and a ring for a shop towel (for use during glue-up)
• Front: a one-handed (angled) pocket with a smaller (black) pocket perfect for screws, Dominoes, or other fasteners
• Chest area: several pockets for some of my most-used items (right to left, as I look down)
–Loop for safety glasses
–Slot for my Paolini pocket rule
–Large pocket for my iPhone or a notepad
–3 pencil/pen/marker pockets
–Small magnet under the pencil area for drivers, screws, etc.
–3 not-so-obvious items: slit inside the large pocket for a corded microphone, extra D-rings near the straps for a dust collector remote, and an American flag pin (after all, it’s made in America)
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.