Saturday, November 12, 2022

The story of an apron, and a swap!


You either wear them or you don't. You either love them or you don't. Or perhaps I should say you do love the look of them, but wearing them isn't your thing? Regardless of personal preferences, I shall raise my hand high to affirm my delight in making and wearing the humble apron.

Yesterday I dashed out for a quick trip to Spotlight for some embroidery threads, and whilst there decided to choose fabric for a new summer apron. As we're only three weeks away from yet another hot Australian summer (although it began a couple of months ago here in the tropics) I thought it would be nice to sew up a couple of new ones as my regular daily aprons are very well used indeed. I don't think a homemaker can have too many aprons (or tea towels) in her possession, for they have many practical uses alongside the obvious one of saving your clothes from spatter and stain. My most-used aprons have pockets for gathering up the small items left around the house each day, and I used to gather hen's eggs in those pockets when we had the chooks. 

I wipe my wet or floury hands on an apron, use the billowing hem to wipe away grandchildren's tears when they fall or hurt themselves, fold up the ends as a make-do basket for collecting salad greens and herbs from the garden...and so many other little things which seem inconsequential and yet become easier when wearing an apron. 

This is the pretty rose adorned fabric I chose yesterday. Fortunately it was marked at 40% off, so I purchased an extra metre for another apron, which I'll tell you about later. 

The pattern I shall use is the Magic Slip-Over Apron, my favourite one, and also the most difficult to figure out the first time you make it as the only instructions are how many inches to cut from where and this line drawing showing where you need to start, finish, and draw freehand curves. 

If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you will remember my first attempt at making this style of apron early in 2015. It was in January, right at the start of my first "Year of Gentle Domesticity" theme. The pattern was inside Amy Barickman's 2010 book "Vintage Notions" (which is very pricey these days, but still available).

It was my favourite apron that year, but I passed it along to Blossom mid-2016 when she was very pregnant with Cully May and needed some tummy cover in the kitchen. 

In that 2015 post I wrote about the making of this apron - 

*** It's not actually a pattern in the sense that you trace it and sew it, but as a diagram with written notes suitable for a 1929 geometry freak...I'm a clear thinker first thing in the morning, so ask me why I decided at 8pm last night to make the magic apron? No idea. I probably had too much coffee yesterday because after dinner my beans were still jumping and my mind declared it could master the instructions...

Mr E graciously excused himself from the area and during the following two hours his replies to my repeated self-monologue (honest, I had to read and re-read the instructions out loud over and can I forget 'g meets k at 8 inches on a right angle parallel to h' between the desk and the cutting table???)  were answered with, "Not talking to you, darling. Talking to this pattern!" Did I mention you need to freehand draw all those curves??***

I can laugh now, but at the time it was a crash refresher course in basic geometry. My darling husband took a photo of me modelling the new apron (pic above) next morning, when I was in a deliriously relieved and accomplished state of mind. Ha ha!! Since then I've made a few more, but never as nice as the original. Hopefully this new rosey-fabric apron will be just as loved. 

This morning, whilst enjoying a cup of hot tea accompanied by a delicious lemon tart, I went through some of my homemaking and craft books for more apron ideas, because I'd like to sew three or four new aprons this month. 

Back in 2019 I led us through a year long book study of Jane Brocket's "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" (you can read all the study posts HERE) so that was the first book I opened for apron inspiration. Jane wore many different aprons throughout the book, but I especially loved the photos of her daughters in aprons. 

This one, worn by her youngest daughter, always catches my eye and I'm fairly sure it was purchased at a thrift shop (op-shop/ charity shop) because Jane did frequent them and the style looks rather wonderfully vintage.
I'd love a pattern for this style myself...

Here's a few others I came across in my browsing of the book shelf...

The photo above is from Tif Fussell's book "Granny Chic" which I bought back in the day because I loved the quirky style she displayed in her old blog, Dottie Angel. She really veered away from that after a while and started a new  blog which I did not like at all. But her old blog is still HERE if you want to browse for re-cycled apron design inspiration. 

Let's backtrack a bit to yesterday's trip to Spotlight, shall we? On my list of things to look for, apart from replenishing some needed DMC threads, were some baking items to create unicorn cakes or biscuits (cookies) as 4yo Rafaella will be here for the day on Tuesday and she asked if we could make unicorn cupcakes. I said yes, but then needed to consider 'how' we would do that. 
Browsing the baking aisles I found a unicorn cookie cutter shape and quickly decided we could make gingerbread unicorn cookies instead. I already have a little rolling pin she can use, but I bought a small icing spatula as well as a box of professional vanilla icing mix on clearance for $1 (originally $24 - crikey!) and some pastel unicorn-y sprinkles. 

Then, I rummaged through my apron shelf because I remembered a couple of pretty children's chicken scratch aprons purchased years ago for 50c each at an op-shop. The purple penguin apron is the smallest so I shall gift this to her on Tuesday...

I'll give it another wash and then press it ready for our big day in the kitchen! And of course, my own new apron will be made by then as well. I say that with hope in my heart as life really does come with tumbles and turns we rarely expect. 
Our baking day was meant to be last Tuesday but Blossom and the children all came down with nasty head colds again, and Rafaella fared the worst with a fever that refused to budge for days. So all going well, I want to make our day together next week extra special and fun. 

Nana always, always, wore an apron, mostly a half apron...

If I knew back then what I know now, I would have gathered together her beloved aprons after the funeral and treasured them for always...but I was a 23yo mother of three at the time and hadn't fully developed the homemaker heart which would bloom in season at age 33. 

If you'd like to download the free 1929 apron pattern I will be making again this weekend, the link is shared by Amy Barickman HERE

I thought some of you may be interested in doing a few simple swaps over the coming year, one every second month? 
Let's kick it off with an apron swap, shall we? I'll be adding my name to the swap list too (which is why I purchased that extra metre of the rose fabric!).

I'll try and partner you with someone in your own country or continent if possible, and there's only a few rules to follow...

* You must make an apron of the quality you would love to receive yourself. It can be simple, embellished, a full or half-apron - but make it with love and care for your swap partner.

* You must email your swap partner when you receive their details from me, and then again when you have posted the apron to them. Just knowing whether they prefer a certain colour helps a lot when creating for someone you do not know. 

* Only send an apron...nothing else. I know from years past people can get carried away and send all sorts of extras in their swap parcel, but not everyone can afford the time or finances to do the same, so in the spirit of keeping the next Year of Gentle Domesticity stress-free and simple, put your love and time into making just that one special apron for your swap partner. 

* The apron must be handmade and not purchased. 

* Give your swap partner the tracking number when you post the apron so they can follow it's journey - this is a very exciting part for those expecting a parcel! 

* You must post your apron by December 9th.

* You have until Friday 18th November to sign up for the Swap. Go HERE to email me. 

I hang two aprons at a time in my kitchen, alternating them every week or so. They always make me smile! 

Now, you may not want to be part of the swap this time, or any time, but perhaps you want to make yourself a new apron? What style do you like? Is there a pattern you already have or one you're planning on purchasing? Let me know in the comments...for I love to hear about aprons! And I really enjoy getting new ideas for making my own as well. 

Dear friends, I shall leave you today with a prayer for God's blessing on your heart and home, and this quote by Jane Brocket, which I find very inspiring to homemakers of all walks of life...

Bless you heaps, dear creative women,

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Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
That apron pattern sure does sound like a geometry lesson or those math questions relating to distance and time coverd ! " If Jane left at 8 am walking ...speed and Sarah left at 9 am with the bike at ...speed wehn will they meet up ? "
I will see what I can come up with that pattern :)
Have fun sewing creative aprons:) Thanks for the memories :)
take care,

Rosie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Jennifer, your dear blog always leaves me with a calm and expectant feeling. Thank you for all your love and hard work to give godly encouragement and domestic wisdom. You words are crafted with joy and are always profitable for thought and consideration. I would love to wear a pretty apron, but I never seem to remember to put it on! I LOVE your new fabric. What joy an apron made with it would have given your precious Nana. God bless you and enjoy the sun unicorns!!

Lin said...

Your fabric is gorgeous- going to make a stunning apron. Enjoy your cooking day. xx

Corvus of the Faerie Wood said...

Good Snowy Morning in the northern US,
I love reading about aprons and have been following you for a long time. I have all the books shown or mentioned in this apron post. Being somewhat messy, I am a 73 yr. old full apron wearer.
I really have to share this about my great grama who ALWAYS wore 2 full aprons at once! The top apron was one that she cooked with, etc. and could get messy but the bottom apron was in case she had to answer the door. On the way to answer it, she would slip off the top apron to now have a lean apron on, slip it into the hall closet, take her teeth out of the clean apron pocket, put the teeth in, and now, be properly ready to answer the door! I’m a proud apron wearer even if I have to answer the door and have my own teeth!!!

Susan said...

I have to be content with watching others this time. I love aprons, and have a few, one from that first apron swap you did! Half-aprons are my favorite, with great big square pockets. I'm sure that's what Mama wore. Isn't it funny how much we like the things our loved ones did?

I really like the rose fabric you bought and think this will rival your affection for that 2015 apron you gave Blossom. =) I hope that later next year, I can join a swap, too! Thanks for a lovely, chatty stroll down memory lane. I hope the day with Rafaella is wonderful. Those cookies will be delicious and magical. Still praying. <3

So Much Glory said...

What a beautiful picture that is of you....and the apron! I don't think I've ever see a picture of you. I do love aprons, and wear them in the kitchen because I will ruin my clothes if I don't. They are invaluable.
Alas, I cannot make an apron or I would surely join the swap. I did have the foresight to take my mom's aprons after her stroke and use them regularly.

Rosie said...

I must admit to not wearing aprons unless I'm entertaining but I do like to make them. I love the fabric you have chosen for the new apron and lucky person who gets to swap with you.

Ondrea said...

I never wear an apron unless I am mixing and baking which is extremely rare lol. I did buy a pattern for some aprons several years ago but never used it and gave it away, I think they are quite practical protecting our clothes from spills and I guess now that we have automatic washing machines and clothes that are easy to wash and wear, we no longer think about it. It is rare to find my 89 year old mum wearing an apron too. I remember my grandmothers wearing them though. Enjoy the swap.

CathieJ said...

I have a few aprons that I wear mostly when baking. I have never made one myself. I have several cherished vintage aprons of my mom's. Enjoy your swap!

Kim said...

What a fun swap idea! I rushed right over to sign up since I've been wanting to make myself a new apron and I'd love to bless someone else with one. I plan to use a simple "See & Sew" pattern that I've used before to make a full apron with stash fabric. Your rose fabric is gorgeous and I'm eager to see what beauties are hiding in my stash.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer
I remember when you made this apron way back when. And I made mine too. Which is a miracle mine actually turned out right. What a blast from past. I love wearing aprons. I am a old fashioned house wife at heart. Love that beautiful rose print fabric you chose for your apron

Julie said...

Gosh is that photo of you wearing the apron from 2015 dear Jennifer?? It seems like yesterday when you made that!! I hope you take some photos of dear Raphaela making her unicorn biscuits - what a wonderful time you will have. I had quite forgotten that handwork was called "chicken scratch" ... thank you for reminding me. I would love to take part in the apron swap but I am bit snowed under & behind on everything at present so I will wait & take part in a future swap. Thank you for organising this for us all dear Jennifer. Xxxx

Anonymous said...

Will there be November's books and roses soon or have I missed it xx

Maxxme said...

It is so perfect;)

Robin in New Jersey said...

Hi Jennifer! I love this post. I remember when you made that apron. ๐Ÿ˜Š There's a book about aprons that is very interesting: Aprons, Icons of the American Home. It was published in 2000, but maybe can be found on Amazon. It was gifted to me by my pen pal.

Thank you for being so kind and encouraging. You are a treasure!

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny I am a lover of aprons too ,but sadly mine is a shabby one ,I must make some more .
I love how you have yours hanging off the cupboard.

Anonymous said...

Loved the story about your great grama and her reason for wearing two aprons !! So sweet !! ๐Ÿ’• And it gave me a good giggle, too!!! Thank you so much for sharing!! All the best, Paula ❤️

Sharm - Country Fragrance said...

I couldn't live without my aprons! I'm definitely in need of having to make a few newbies, however I'm a little set in my style - You see I made up my own pattern many years ago ... in the 90's actually - a full apron that slips over my head and has a huge pocket to hold all sorts of things (they used to get used for carrying baby chicks and eggs when we had chickens). I very nearly signed up for your swap ..... however, its full aprons I'm needing and of course my swap partner might be wanting a half one which I don't tend to make or wear ..... so I've decided to give the swap a miss

Anonymous said...