17 Sep

Karen has made a lovely apron and is talking of hosting an apronalong. What a fantastic idea. I shall certainly sign up for that.

I’m far from a novice when it comes to aprons. The first thing I ever made in dressmaking class was a pink, heart-shaped apron edged with fancy blue ricrac. It sounds awful but I suppose it was nicely made (my teacher would have seen to that even had I not had my mother to do so) and would have been useful to someone. I have no recollection of wearing it myself! I have made other aprons since, of the gardening and kitchen variety, for various family members and one for the kitchen at work. I’m not a great one for aprons, in the sense that I would probably not bother to make one for myself, but I certainly wear them because I understand their value as a means of protecting both clothing and person. I often encourage Dr B and YoungB to don an apron when they’re cooking in summer: it’s much better than having hot oil splatter over your bare chest!

You might wonder, after all that, why the idea of an apronalong has tickled my fancy. As with most things in sewing and life, there’s always something else to pique my interest in the way someone else has approached a certain problem, or the way they’ve combined colours to come up with something fresh and lovely. And, you know, it could be a good way to start the Christmas sewing.

At the time of Great Aunt’s death, I inherited not only her scrap bag but also three partly-made aprons. She was another who was not a great one for wearing aprons, perhaps because they’d been part of her work uniform for such a long time, and my own mother I don’t believe ever wore one. However, the story behind the aprons is rather nice. They’re cross stitched on gingham. Another friend, Auntie J, worked them all and sent them to Great Aunt for her to complete. It was, I believe, at a time when Great Aunt was struggling with depression about her job and a good many other things happening in her life and the lives of those around her.

Auntie J could well understand that. But her answer to help overcome the depression, as indeed Great Aunt’s answer in a different way, was to sew. Auntie J cross-stitched everything: cushion covers, teatowels, traycloths, tablecloths of all sizes and, of course, aprons. I know that Great Aunt appreciated the kind thoughts from Auntie J but either the depression was at that time too deep or it really was simply not Great Aunt’s kind of sewing, because the aprons languished, carefully folded with their instructions for completion, tucked away safely in the divan bed with other sewing bits and pieces, including a partly-completed dress which I also inherited (and more on that another time, perhaps).

The three part-finished aprons that came to me via this circuitous route are waist or half-aprons or pinnies (terminology will vary depending on where you are, I know) with little left to do: finish side hems, gather the apron, attach wasitband and ties and there I’ll have three aprons. I made an effort to finish one last year with Eldest Niece in mind, although I have to say I’ve never seen her in an apron; but Middle Aunt thought she might wear it if it were given to her and its origins explained. The particular one I’d picked out had horses embroidered on it, once Eldest Niece’s favourite animals. There is another with dogs, which turned out to be the one I ended up almost finishing because nowadays Eldest Niece has two dogs and, more prosaically, it matched thread already in my machine/on my bobbin. The third has a pattern of stars. Here’s the doggie one.

I ironed it carefully before I sewed anything, but it has been folded for nearly a year. Apologies for the wrinkles!

As is often the way with my sewing projects, it was not terrifically urgent so several others that were overtook it and I shuffled it to the back burner for a while. Karen’s idea of an apronalong has spurred me to thinking that, even if she does not host such a thing, I should really make the effort to finish at least one of those lovely aprons. I feel as if I’m letting down both Great Aunt and Auntie J although I know that both of them, very wise and compassionate women as they were, would understand life overtaking even my best intentions.


Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Musing, Sewing


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4 responses to “aprons

  1. Winter Owls

    September 18, 2012 at 20:41

    What a beautiful apron and story behind it. I’ve been coming across these cross stitched gingham aprons in op shops and wondered if they were a set school project? But from what era? When I started secondary school I had to make an orange gingham apron and horrible hat to wear in Home economics. It didn’t have any nice dogs on it though. I have managed to find some aprons just like your great aunt’s but with swans, kangaroos or star patterns on them.

    • Felicity from Down Under

      September 18, 2012 at 20:50

      who knows but that they might be of the same era and perhaps even made by the same woman? I suppose stranger things have happened. When I do the other two aprons, I’ll post pix. They’re tucked away carefully in my stash at present, so not quite as accessible as the one I was sort of working on! lol

      I must say, your orange gingham apron sounds as if it might have been quite eye-watering.

  2. Clever Blonde - Donna G

    September 18, 2012 at 22:49

    That’s a lovely read, Felicity. I got involved in the lives of your great Aunts and even a bit emotional for a moment. A lovely read, it reminded me of sewing at school – a gingham apron as well. I’m thinking of joining the apronalong – pink gingham just for the memory.

    • Felicity from Down Under

      September 19, 2012 at 19:05

      that’s a great memory, too. Pink gingham indeed. I don’t remember what fabric my first apron was, though I’d imagine a cotton, but I have a clear memory of its colour.


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