Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Vintage Apron

I'd meant to come back the next day and show you my other thrift store find, a vintage apron made of aqua gingham. It's trimmed with matching rickrack and embellished with cross stitch. Not only is it hand-embroidered, but it's also completely stitched by hand. (Click on the photos for a closer view.) I like the way the maker used the checked pattern of the fabric to evenly cut out the stair-stepped scallops on the sides. And it struck me that I could use the same method to duplicate this apron. It fits me perfectly, but I don't want to subject its delicate hand stitching to everyday laundering. I'd love to display this apron in my sewing room, and make a copy of it to wear in the kitchen.

I've been very interested in aprons ever since I saw EllynAnne Geisel's exhibit of vintage aprons at Road to California in 2009. Geisel is the author of The Apron Book which, unfortunately, I do not have a copy of. But I may try to hunt it down through inter-library loan because its mix of patterns, pictures, and anecdotes sounds like a fun read.

However, I do have a copy of Aprons of the Mid-20th Century by Judy Florence which I found at the local library's used book sale for $1.00. Ms. Florence's focus is on collecting and classifying aprons. She has a background in quilting, and it was the aprons' fabrics which first drew her into collecting them. Later, she became interested in aprons for their own sakes. I love paging through her book which is profusely illustrated and includes a whole section on embroidered gingham aprons. (But none of them have the kind of scalloped edges which mine does -- tra la!)

Not surprisingly, most of the aprons in in her book are "company" aprons which were donned only when serving a special meal to guests -- a plainer "work" apron having been used for actual protection while cooking. Company aprons, elaborately decorated and often made of such impractical fabrics as organdy, were more likely to survive their humbler, more hard-working cousins.

Ms. Florence wrote another book I'd also like to read, Gingham Aprons of the '40s & '50s: A Checkered Past. Alas! There are no cheap used copies on Amazon. Worse yet, according to Worldcat, the closest library with a copy is 220 miles away! I don't think I can get this one through interlibrary loan. Oh, well.

In the meantime, I briefly wore my new apron during Easter dinner.