Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Aprons, Aprons, Aprons

Do you remember your first apron? Mine was made by my mother, truly a work of art and heart, and was a miniature of the type she wore when she worked in the kitchen. I was very young when I received my first apron; probably about 5 or 6 years old. During those childhood years, my mother made many beautiful garments for my sister,me, and our dolls. These included aprons for our baby dolls and Barbie's. Ric-rac, binding, and colorful prints; pockets and ties that wrapped around waists. Such memories!

In later years, aprons seemed to go 'out of fashion' and were not used as frequently by the women in our family. I suppose we grew tidier as we grew older and we didn't feel them so necessary. But, during years of home economics classes in high school and college, an apron was always required when cooking in the laboratory kitchens. As a student, my very first 8th grade sewing project in home economics was a reversible apron with pocket. I labored many hours on that apron, getting each bit of top-stitching perfect and straight. Later, as the teacher of such home economics classes, my foods and nutrition students all wore white, duck-cloth aprons in the kitchen. Full length, they were one-size fits all, and were usually too large for the students they were assigned to. The wearer would wrap the ties around their waist several times to tuck the apron in and make it fit. During those years, I traded in my apron for a white laboratory jacket that I wore with pride. What wonderful pictures come to mind; of happy students working in their kitchen units, creating foods as they learned the art of healthy cooking. At the end of a lab, thirty aprons would be placed in a laundry basket for washing, drying, and folding, and thirty clean aprons would be set out for the next group of students.

Special aprons are tucked into my linen drawer: my mother's white muslin apron, embroidered with floral designs and bound in dark blue trim; a brown full-length German apron that buttons up the front that was given to me by Aunt Marcella; a beautiful printed jacket-style apron in delicate fabric from dear aunt who lived in Japan; and the tea-themed apron I made with Bonnie when we stitched matching aprons together. Years ago, before I married my husband, I stitched a full-length patchwork apron for his grandmother. It was red and embellished with embroidery. So pretty, she tucked it away as something special and I never saw her wear it. I'm sure it is still somewhere in her house, but so far hasn't been found by her daughter who lives there now. Grandma is 102 years old and unable to remember who we are, let alone where that apron might be, so asking her for help in finding that apron is a fruitless option. During college years, I was hired to sew full-length aprons for a restaurant I worked at. That sewing job paid for my very first sewing machine. The waitresses and cooks wore aprons with a colorful farm scene on them and red trim that I stitched on all edges and corners until I was weary of the task. But how cheerful everyone looked as they served french fries and soft-serve ice cream cones while wearing those aprons!

I was excited and delighted to receive the most recent issue of MaryJane's Farm magazine in the mail this week. The entire magazine is dedicated to aprons! Patterns, stories, prose, and pictures all depict the beauty and utilitarianism of the lowly apron. The art of homemaking is becoming more popular again, and aprons, frilly or plain, again have their place in the home.

Viva la apron!


  1. I love Mary Jane's catalog. I have her recipe issue out on my coffee table right now.

    What a lovely post, I enjoyed it very much. Let's see, I know I made an apron in Home Ec but I have no clue where it went. My first apron I remember is one made by my husband's cousin when I was first married. That's over thirty years ago and I have retired it (it is thread bare...literally) but I still keep it with my other aprons.

    I wear one when I cook because I'm messy and when I clean just because they are pretty.

    I have two that I wear all the time, both vintage. I have two that are hanging on hooks in my kitchen. They are things of beauty.

  2. Isn't Mary Jane's catalog/magazine nice? I always look forward to receiving mine.

    Your aprons sound special. And like you, I also think they make beautiful decor in a country home.

    Thanks so much for writing!

  3. Yes, one of the beautiful aprons I have hanging in my kitchen reminds me of the day I bought it. I was visiting my daughter in New England and we'd gone together to a flea market. We had so much fun that day. After we drove back to her town, we picked up my grandaughter and we all visited a tea room then went to antique shops to find vintage linens and orphan tea cups/saucers. A perfect day...

  4. Wow, that was a perfect day, Brenda! I'm glad you have the apron as a reminder. :)

  5. I stopped by JoAnns after leaving my dad at the airport and soothed my sad soul after saying good-bye to him by purchasing some additional apron fabric. Plan on sewing tomorrow !


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