The History of the Handmade Apron
by Judi Harris,
Aprons of Today and Long ago... Were aprons of
yesteryear really made from bags of seeds and flour? 
When most of us hear the word apron we picture our grand
mother in the kitchen wearing an apron and baking away, or we visualize a middle
aged mother from a television show of the 1950's - 1960's like June Cleaver from
"Leave it to Beaver", or Alice, the maid on the "The Brady Bunch" wearing a half
apron made with lace and a feminine print fabric. The fact is aprons came about
long before the television was even invented.

The apron came into part of fashion because of practical
necessity when times were hard and money was scarce. Back in the early 1800's
everyday folks did not have the luxury of owning many pieces of clothing. Nor
did they have washers and dryers, therefore washing clothes was not done that
often, so people had to wear the same clothes for a couple of days in a row. It
was not uncommon for a woman to wear the same dress everyday for a week before
it was washed.

Hence, the apron came about. An aprons purpose was to
cover up the dress underneath and protect it from getting dirty. This made
washing much easier for women. The apron would be washed every couple of days,
and the dress might be washed once a week. This left more time for other many
chores that the women had to attend to.

Aprons were not just worn by housewives. School
teachers, children, shop keepers, and even secretaries wore different styles of
aprons everyday over their clothing. The apron served one purpose; to protect
the dress and clothing underneath it.

By the 1920's and 1930's handmade aprons were made from
feed sack. Feed sack is a large bag that farmers would buy which held their
seeds or flour. It was made from a heavy cotton fabric with different floral and
plaid prints. Nothing was wasted back then, so when the feed sack bag was empty,
it was never thrown away. Handmade aprons were made from the feed sack bag. It
was a sturdy heavy fabric which was perfect for an apron! Once the feed sack
apron was used up and ready to be thrown away, parts of the apron were saved to
be used for making a quilt. Not one inch of fabric was wasted!

By the 1940's and 1950's the half apron became popular.
Many were made with beautiful prints of different kinds of cotton fabrics with
different color pockets and bottom borders. The fancy aprons were trimmed in
lace and rick-rack and were made to look very pretty just like the ones you
would see on television today.

Nowadays people wear aprons for not only practical use,
but also as part of fashion. Today you can find an artist, a gardener, a baker,
and many more every day people and professionals wearing aprons.

As nostalgic as they are, they are still the most practical
item around. Kitchen aprons can keep the nice clothes clean. No spaghetti sauce
on that cute white tee shirt. You may prefer the bib type kitchen apron for
preparation and then put on the fancy, frilly apron for serving your guests.
Have fun wearing a very old fashion statement!



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