January 31, 2010

I Love Aprons!

I love aprons. When I see an apron I get that good ole fashioned home feeling. Sometimes I feel that I must be a dying breed as hardly any women I know wear an apron.

If you watch a food show on the food network you never see one person wearing an apron. Okay, perhaps on Iron Chef, but that would be the only exception. When did aprons become a symbol of cooking weakness?

I have always worn an apron in the kitchen. When I was a small child wearing an apron meant that I was being like my mother. Before helping to bake cookies my mother would tell me to go get an apron. My mom kept her aprons in a drawer in the china cabinet in our dining room. Opening that drawer you would find a colorful menagerie of assorted gingham aprons. All of them had either been made by my mother or my grandmother during my mother’s engagement. Those aprons had been pressed and folded neatly and placed in the drawer. Yes, they had each been starched and ironed.

Those were the days of having two separate laundry days. One was for washing and one was for ironing. Monday was wash day and Tuesday was ironing day. My mother would start to teach us to iron when I was around 10 years old. We started out with pillowcases, tea towels and sheets. Yes, can you believe we did that? You would rarely do that now if ever. I am considering resurrecting ironing sheets in my household because they do make them softer and when a sheet is ironed it is easier to fold and keep in a linen closet.

My mother would slowly work us up to ironing the aprons. She had a special way to iron the aprons that she would teach us and we had to do it her way. After doing the initial ironing of the apron you had to iron the apron strings. Then you had to fold the apron in half lengthwise and run an iron over the fold to make a crease, fold it again lengthwise and run the iron over that fold. Then you folded the apron strings neatly and then folded the rest of the apron so the end result was one nicely folded, starched and ironed apron. My mother always started each day with a cleaned, starched and pressed apron.

There was an immense amount of pride taken in doing laundry and ironing back then. My mom would be mortified if we wore anything that had a stain on it. She had a special basket of stain removal concoctions and she always managed to get the stains out. She would have also been equally disapproving of wearing something that had not been ironed and free of all wrinkles. We did not have a lot of money when I was growing up but our clothes were always clean and pressed.

The last time I visited my mother she handed me a sack. I opened it up and there were her aprons. She no longer used them. She is living in a very small apartment and she has one apron that she keeps on hand.

The aprons that she gave me are the ones I used along with her when I was a child. They are made from different bright colored gingham. On each apron she cross stitched or “chicken scratched” a different design.  I recognized each and every apron and I was filled with nostalgia. One apron I did not recognize and my mother told me that it was an apron my grandmother had made for “special” as grandma would have referred to it. Special meant when company came for a special Sunday dinner. It was never used as an everyday apron.

My Mother's Aprons

More of my mother's aprons

Grandma's Special Apron

I will not use these aprons in my kitchen but I will display them one at a time around my kitchen. They help me remember happy days of childhood when I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a wife and mommy and cook in the kitchen using aprons of my own.

I was so delighted – really I was – to receive the book “The Apron Book” by EllynAnne Geisel.   It is a nostalgic look at aprons, complete with pictures of some very old aprons. I am obviously not alone in how I feel about aprons from days gone by.  The book also includes some patterns. It is a beautiful book of pictures and stories – wonderfully written that will conjure up great memories of days gone by.

I have two aprons that I use. They are a butcher chef’s design. I like that they cover the entire front of my body so that I can get messy and I don’t need to worry about getting anything spattered on my shirt. The apron protects me. Also my aprons have two pockets. I not only wear an apron when I am cooking but I also wear an apron when I am cleaning or working around the house. When I don an apron I get serious about the task at hand. The pockets come in handy and again the apron protects my clothing. When I am cooking and need potatoes I go down to our basement and I pick out potatoes and onions and place them in the front of my apron, bring up the ends in order to carry the potatoes up the stairs of the basement to be deposited in my sink for cleaning. I do this when I am cleaning when I am collecting items that need to be put away.

One of my aprons

I have plans to make aprons and I have purchased some patterns. I love the retro designs as they make me thank of grandma’s kitchen. Grandma wore an apron that was more like a smock over her dress. She wore that apron from the moment she got up until she went to bed. It was her uniform and it protected her clothing. Grandma didn’t have a lot of dresses to wear and she took great care of what she did have.
                            McCall's M5643  and McCall's 3979

                                               McCall's M5358

Aprons can be stylish and pretty and they are very practical. So when did aprons become a thing of the past? Not by me. I love history and the past and that is why I am drawn to aprons and what they represent to me: home, family, good times, homemade goodies and a time when life was simpler. Yes it was simpler. Okay, I know that grandma also lived without refrigeration and used a wringer washer that made chores harder and the chores took longer. But grandma didn’t have to worry about the battery on her lap top draining, about power going out (she didn’t have any), she didn’t have to worry about what her kids were looking at on the internet nor what was on t.v. Grandma lived peacefully with a day filled with chores and the satisfaction of having a home, family, putting on an apron and preparing a simple meal, cleaning up afterward and hand washing the dishes. While she was cleaning up from a supper meal the family would be in the kitchen chatting and talking about their day and the life on their small farm. There was none of the present day “electronic” distractions. It was simply conversation centered around daily chores and housework. It was a simpler way and to me an apron is an example of that life.


Moxie said...

I LOVE aprons! You have some very pretty ones there :) Whenever I wear one I feel like I've got my mommy "uniform" on and am set for a full day of love and care for my family! I swear it helps to tie one on (an apron, NOT a drink fest...heehee) when you're having an off "I want to run for the hills" type day ....LOL :)

Martha said...

I have fabric leftover from the tablecloths I made for my DS's wedding rehearsal dinner. Beautiful pinks, greens, yellows in complimentary fabrics that I am going to use to make an apron. I plan to make one for my daughter-in-law too.

I have told my family that I may have been born in the wrong decade as I think I was meant to live in as a housewife in the 1940's and 1950's! I'm happy that you share my same love of aprons.

Yamin said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Martha said...


Thanks for leaving a comment and I'm happy that you enjoy my blog. It is a definite work in progress, but then again, so am I.


Julie N. said...

Did you know that Monday, May 10, is "Wear an Apron Day"? Loved this post. It was darling...

Martha said...

They have a day for everything and I think it is grand to have a day devoted to wearing an apron.

The Frugal Free Gal said...

Ive made about 6 full aprons and several half aprons! :) I love them!

You can search the aprons on my other blog at

I bought some from Flirty Aprons a while back before I learned to make them and LOVE them!

Im giving two of my aprons away during the Handmade with Love Giveaway Event in Feb.

The Frugal Free Gal

joan said...

Lovely story and pictures of those aprons. I also enjoy wearing pretty aprons. I must have about 100 aprons in my collection. Some bought, others especially made. Would love to show some, but don't know how. LOL Joan.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and the aprons you showed. My apron goes on when I get dressed of a morning and stays on. With my apron on, I sometimes intend just walking my dog to the mail box, but then continue around the block. I am sure a Martian would get fewer stares. My aprons are similar to the McCalls M5358 pattern.
Aprons... where practicality meets fashion. Kim.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Came here by accident, but I thought I would leave a comment anyway. :) Growing up my mother made aprons for "pin" money. She and my older sister always wore an apron, so although being a boy it was usual for me to get aproned for washing up duty. (nearly every night) There were aprons hanging everywhere in moms' kitchen. Some were "test" aprons or some just weren't good enough to sell. So as I got to the sink mom would just fit me with an apron from her stash.