Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Today I have a special treat for you. My mother is the keeper of our family's treasured heirloom aprons and is graciously sharing with us photos of them and some thoughts about both aprons and life.

Thanks, Mom!

Some of my favorite childhood memories include the aprons that my mom, grandma, and aunties wore.  Back then it was a part of a lady’s working garment – the part that kept a lot of soil from landing on her dress.  I wish I had the apron that Grandma used to wear, or at least a picture to share. It covered the front of her dress from just below the neckline to nearly her hem.  It had a loop that went over the head and around the neck, then tied behind her back at the waist.  

The apron I remember most was a light blue and white pinstripe broadcloth with two generous pockets. Her aprons were most often made of feed sack cloth. She would lay the worn out apron over the replacement cloth and trace a new apron. If there were gaps, they were pieced from another remnant. Her apron served as a towel, a hot pad, a soft cloth to dry her granddaughter’s tears, a bag to carry things, and many other uses.  When she shelled beans the beans went in the bowl and the pods landed in her lap.  She would gather the edges of the apron to carry the pods to the compost pile and then shake out her apron. Her 'outdoor' apron didn't have a bib but it had two huge pockets. You could nearly always find a clothes pin, random bird seed, or even pecans in the pockets.

 Grandma fixed all the meals, did all the dishes by hand, all the clothes washing, virtually all of the household chores and gardening. The apron only came off after the evening dishes and she was done working for the day.  (The apron also came off immediately whenever someone brought out a camera - we searched high and low and couldn't find a single picture of Grandma in any apron.)

The only apron I have of Grandma's is one she rarely wore. The pocket is only large enough for a hanky and this would have provided no protection for her blouse. Yet it is a good example of the style of the time and is long enough to have covered a hem well below the knee.
Grandma's Apron

My Mom and Dad married in 1948 after he came home from his service in the Marines. Her working apron of choice tied at the waist and had lots of gathers and a hanky pocket. 

Mom's Apron

She also made her aprons from scraps. It is easy to see the selvage edge on either side of the apron and the seam down the middle of the apron, plus the pieced ties. The fabric is light weight material such as she made Dad's pj's – something comfortable for the hot southwest climate. 

I have two other aprons that she made from remnants that would pass for hostess quality when guests came over. The white apron is a heavier fabric with lots of gathers and came to just above her knee (rising hemlines!!) The early permanent press coatings on fabric made laundering a challenge and this apron has many yellow stains from greasy fingers.

The red apron was a favorite of hers. The gauzy fabric held little protection for her dress but she loved to wear this one. She embellished it with remnants from worn bed sheets. 

The ties she put on most of her aprons have pleats where they attach to the waist band and are beveled for a point at the end. She didn't use a pattern for her aprons. It was a fairly simple formula; apron width – measure at the waist how far around you want the apron to go. Double that amount for gathers. Apron length was your skirt length minus 2-3 inches. Waist band was the waist measure that was doubled for the apron and the ties could be as long as you wanted. Add hem and seam allowances and all cuts were straight lines. Voila! An apron.

Child's Apron (front)
Mom made aprons for my sister and me when we were fairly young.  We loved wearing our aprons because it meant we were going to make cookies or bread or some tasty treat!  This apron was made from a pattern and she got two aprons from 3/4 yard of fabric. She cut them a little big to allow for growth and finished the seams with her favorite – hem tape.  A small dart at the waist conceals the attachment for the ties, which are short for safety and close with a snap.
Child's Apron (back)

I am very lucky to have a couple of my Aunt Lydia’s aprons.  She was a short lady with a very tiny waist! Her most prolific skill was crochet. She made untold numbers of doilies and other decorative crochet.  

Aunt Lydia's hostess apron

This hostess apron front is only 11 1/2” wide. It appears very dressy until you see it up close. The apron is pieced from remnants with several piecings along the ties and waist band. The seams and hems are finished with 1/4” double folded hem tape. The trim, which appears to be crochet is really blue rick rack to which she has crocheted embellishments that give the appearance of a much more elaborate trim. 

The apron dates back to the 1940's when everything was rationed. The ingenuity of these ladies really is impressive! 

Aunt Lydia's crocheted apron

The second apron is all one piece with no seams. The stitch is very open and quite lovely. This apron also measures 11 1/2”. The apron I remember her wearing most was made of canvas and also covered the top of her dress.  She wore the canvas apron when she was tooling leather.

close up of Aunt Lydia's crocheted apron

Aprons most befitted a time when women nearly always wore a dress. Not just a dress but also a girdle and hose.  No pantyhose back then – the girdle held up the hose.  When the weather was hot the girdle stayed in the drawer.  So without a girdle the hose were rolled down to the ankle.  

Most of the women I knew only had 2-3 pairs of shoes at most so their daily wear was a black 2-3” pump.  I’m so glad I never had to do housework in a dress and heels!!   As pants became normal womens wear in the 70’s, the apron has nearly disappeared.  But for me they’ve never lost their charm. 


During the short period where I was the right age/size I remember mom letting me wear her childhood apron (pictured above).   I guess my mom's affinity for aprons was passed on to me; I always have a couple hanging in the kitchen ready to use, mostly stained up from years of enjoyable cooking.  

I made this apron, inspired by her Aunt Lydia's hostess apron, a few years ago and wear it often.

my well-used aprons hanging with the clothes pins and chopsticks

I have a bib apron I made about a decade ago and an apron with a rather fancy pocket that was a gift from one of my good friends when we were in college. These three are my current standard aprons but I'm finding lately I'm wanting another, and wondering if my husband wouldn't want a manly apron of his own for when he does the cooking.  

Happy Monday and have a great week, everybody!


  1. How cool is that! Love the aprons!!!
    The first thing I ever sewed was an apron, at my grandmother's house. She probably did most of the work but I remember selecting the fabric etc. I still have it...but the ties are so short I can no longer get it around me!!

  2. This was a lovely look at what is becoming an old tradition. I have posted some links to some lovely aprons below, the last two are among my favourite, I hope you like them too. There are plenty more projects on the site.






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