Daughter Gina and I were doing the washing up after Christmas dinner when she announced, "I'd love to have you make some aprons for my birthday present if you have time."
With Gina's birthday on 17 January, I have had time. I'm not clever at shopping for gifts, especially given the constraints of a frugal retirement budget and limited places to shop.
I was delighted that she had requested something I could happily produce.
The apron pattern I've used most often for more than a decade is designated as a 'one size fits all.'
The illustration shows a happy couple--man and woman--brandishing kitchen tools and wearing 'chef' style aprons. I've had issues with this pattern.
An apron meant to cover a manly torso is not a good fit for a woman--unless she is tall with a sufficient bosom to prop up the apron bib!
The pattern needs tweaking.
Since our move to the farmhouse most any sewing/crafting project entails a certain amount of rummaging through bins and containers for fabrics and tools.
[I have as yet no designated and outfitted sewing room!]
Several years ago at a local charity shop I picked up two linen blend dresses in large sizes--25 cents each--with the thought that at some point the fabric could be repurposed into sturdy aprons.
By the time I ran these to earth, rummaged in a frigid closet for some remnants of decorating cotton, collected the pattern and thread, I was frustrated at the time which had been spent in what my Grampa Mac would have termed 'getting ready to commence.'
Deconstructing the two linen dresses into usable lengths of material took more time--removing buttons, picking out hems and seams, pressing the fabric.
I needed to take advantage of center seams, tucks and darts in laying out the pattern pieces.
For the apron on the right [above] I took advantage of the border print for the deep divided pocket which Gina specified.
Cutting out the floral apron in the center was quicker as I used a length of decorator cotton.
The fabric used for the apron on the left showed some wear, needing a tiny spot of zig-zag darning.
I worked on the 3 aprons in assembly line fashion, making the ties and pockets, then finishing each apron in turn.
Gina works in a residential care home. When she is in the house with the clients she wears an apron with deep pockets to hold keys, iphone and other small items while she prepares meals or cleans.
The apron on the left is mine. I redrafted the original pattern to fit a petite female.
The apron at right--for Gina--has an extra deep pocket.
Three generations of my grandmothers--and a great aunt--display aprons in this photo circa 1910.
At the far back is g-g-grandmother Ann Rebecca--her apron, like her long calico dress, is a dark color.
Standing with her is g-grandmother Eliza. Her costume seems to be a dark skirt and light shirtwaist with an enveloping bib apron snugged at the waist.
G-aunt Minnie, seated in the little rocking chair appears to be wearing a long pleated smock to protect her shirtwaist and skirt.
My grandmother Helen seated sideways on the porch steps is perhaps wearing a half apron.
When I was a girl, aprons were still a familiar part of women's at-home attire, tied on over a 'house dress' and worn for all kitchen and cleaning chores.
If an unexpected visitor arrived, the apron was whipped off to reveal a clean and tidy dress.
An apron might be made from a sturdy 'feed sack' print, the edges neatly bound with bias tape.
The ample skirt of an apron could be hastily folded to serve as a pot holder, or gathered up to carry garden produce.
There were dainty aprons with ruffled hems, fancy pockets and flirty sashes--for Sunday best, or serving at a church social function.
My mother and her older brother with their grandmother Eliza and mother Helen.
The ladies are in everyday garb, aprons keeping them tidy.
I have a number of Grandmother Helen's aprons, too fragile now for me to wear.
I unpacked them last week and gave them a gentle washing.
I think the spots on this one were once black or navy blue--faded now.
The apron was made in three panels, machine stitched but with the seams over-cast by hand.
This dainty apron is made from a fine lawn fabric.
The border trim is faded.
In the 1910 census Helen, age 25, listed her occupation as 'waitress, private family.'
No family story has survived to elaborate on this--Helen's maternal line were well-established in town and have been described as 'prosperous.'
The area population swelled each summer with an influx of wealthy folks who had built 'summer cottages' or came to stay for weeks in the several boarding houses and hotels.
Catering to 'summer people' provided extra income for many families.
Perhaps Helen had a supply of dainty aprons made especially for this short term job.
Another of Helen's fancy aprons.
I think both these aprons would have been starched before pressing--the wide ties are long and could be fluffed into a perky bow.
The ties on this apron are short. I think this was made for a little girl, perhaps it was Helen's when she was a child. The fabric is a shirting with fine lavender stripes.
I've had another request for aprons--so I'm not finished creating.
With several dark rainy days ahead, it will be good to have something to show for
hours spent indoors.
I can take pleasure in carrying on a frugal and tidy tradition of aprons!
My dad's sister, [left] and his sister-in-law, wear aprons at a family picnic.