DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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16 September 2014

I wear an apron almost every day

I wear an apron almost every day. I have about 10 of them in the cupboard, waiting, but if the truth is told, I wear about five favourites and the rest sit in there. Waiting in vain. Aprons come easy to me. I grew up in a time when they were commonplace and I don't remember many women who didn't wear an apron when they worked in their homes. Wind the clock forward 20 years to the early 1970s, and there I was in an apron again, as a student nurse in one of Sydney's largest hospitals.

Those uniforms were a nightmare to care for so it was lucky we had our laundry done for us. I doubt I could have made starch thick enough to make my aprons stand up alone, but that is what they did. Those uniforms were meant to keep us clean and more than that, to make us look clean and starched and proper. I was proud to wear that uniform and all those that came after it, but that first starched  nurse's apron convinced me for a lifetime that aprons were my friend. I have a photo here somewhere of me in 1970 wearing my nurses uniform, with that stiff apron and collar. I'll find it one day and show it to you.


The photos above are just some of the many aprons I've made over the years. The one at the top was to help with local fundraising, these two check aprons were for apron swaps we had here at the blog.

I think aprons fell out of favour for many reasons. One was that our dresses weren't as precious when our mothers stopped making them and we bought them instead. And I guess those new dresses had to be seen, another reason to keep the apron in the cupboard.  But lately I've been thinking about aprons, reading a lot about them and looking at many, many photos of aprons.  I guess much of that is nostalgia creeping in but there is also a practical reason - I read on the forum about turmeric stains on a favourite cardigan.  I know too that some of you are still cleaning a few odds and ends with chlorine bleach and that can spell disaster when it comes in contact with any sort of clothing. It will bleach the colour right out, before you have the chance to try to save it with a quick rinse. Enter, the apron. It provides a barrier between clothing and stains. They also help carry eggs from the nest to the kitchen, a camera can sit in the pocket during the day incase a photo needs to be taken and how many times have I wiped wet hands on my apron.

I keep my aprons in the linen press. That's them on the left. I didn't realise until I saw this photo how untidy they look.

If I could encourage you to try two things that would help you in your home, I would choose wearing an apron when you start your house work and making your bed every morning. Both of them have more than one function. Wearing an apron will protect your clothes from the potential stains of cooking and cleaning but it also brings with the wearing of it a feeling of being in charge of your home. Making your bed will give you a clean and fresh place to sleep every night and once it's done, you have a starting point to your day.


Some of you will be thinking that aprons symbolise a certain time in our history, and maybe that memory is a negative one. But I think that aprons have served us well in the past and can again now. To me it's just common sense and practical but there is also a feeling of pride when I put on my apron. It signifies that I'll be cleaning or cooking in my home and that I've taken the right steps to equip myself for the work ahead. I think works defines us - both paid work and the work we choose to do in our homes. And as a working class woman, I guess I could call my apron my badge and a symbol of the work I do here in my home. Do you wear an apron?

How to make an apron

53 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,

    I couldn't function without my apron! I cook a lot, and when I look at the state of my apron at the end of the day I realise how essential it is to avoid ruining my clothes. I also wear an apron for dirty cleaning jobs, and sometimes in the garden if I don't have time to change into my gardening gear.

    For those who may feel aprons like those pictured somehow represent a time when women were domestic slaves, how about something very utilitarian like a chef's apron? I have a stack of these and they have been in service for over 15 years with no sign of wearing out yet. They are simply a plain black or white rectangle that ties around the waist.

    Madeleine.x

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  2. I'm always sorry when I'm in too much of a hurry to put it on. I also find that my half aprons don't interest me anymore - I like the full ones, and the prettiest is the one Margaret made for me in the apron swap.

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  3. I wear an apron to cook and so does my husband. When I work on a sunday he cooks a roast and it's lovely to come home and find him busy in the kitchen with his apron on. It's manly camouflage pattern fabric!

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  4. I wear one each day over meal prep time. Just tonight I was thinking I need another exactly like the one I wear as the other two I have I don't like.

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  5. I have aprons, but huge ones which are long and gathered into the waist with a bib top, and I make them myself. They are scruffy, some having holes in, some having patches covering their holes, and all are stained with something or other. I always wear one when I am cooking to save my clothes from getting splashed, or I dry my hands on it, or I remove stickiness from my hands by wiping them on my pinny, or I use it to carry things such as potatoes, or I use a corner to mop up my runny nose. I love my pinnies. They make me look matronly but I don't mind, because I am of an age to remember why pinafores were a 'must have' item, and why they are still useful items, especially if one is living and working on a smallholding / homestead!

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  6. Beautiful aprons! I do not wear them, too bad. Probably I'll start:-))
    I did one as a gift for Liz.
    See at: http://daniebenc.blogspot.sk/2014/07/kuchynsky-set.html

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  7. I love aprons, too. They remind me so much of my grandmother who wore an apron every day of her life. After church on Sunday, the apron was put right back on. She wore a "pinner" style apron complete with a bib that she safety pinned on her dress. Such happy memories aprons evoke for me.

    I probably have made at least a couple dozen aprons for friends of mine, trying to match their personalities to the fabrics. Last year I made matching aprons for my daughter, daughter-in-law and my two granddaughters. I have also made a heavy denim apron for my dad to use in his woodworking. So practical, so useful and wearing an apron makes me feel energized to get on with chores.

    Thanks for this post...I liked it a lot.

    Diane in North Carolina

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  8. I always wear an apron. Quite often will take one for myself if I'm staying at a friend's house as you said people do not use them. Always take and apron when camping. Most handy.

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  9. Oh do I love aprons. I have to stop myself from buying to many in the thrift shops. I love vintage aprons the best. Yes I do wear my aprons every evening to prepare supper and sometimes you might even see me in the garden with an apron on. I even have some for holidays like Christmas with Christmas designs on them. Thank you for putting the apron on a pedestal today.
    Carol

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  10. Gee, I really should get one. I often put my house coat over my clothes when I'm washing up the dishes because I often get my clothes wet. Duh, an apron would be a cuter option.

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  11. I think making a bed as the first job for the day is so important. I feel like it gives you a fresh starting point, a place to put things off the floor and a tidy presentation of your bedroom. I love the idea of an apron. I'm a homemaker, who goes through a lot of clothes, I wonder if the apron would help. An apron swap is a great idea, I'd love it if you'd do another.

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  12. I wear full aprons with the bib top. A practical use in my kitchen when I am cooking is a safety issue. In the Brisbane summer when the weather is really hot I wear shorts and vest-like tops and if I'm at the stove with a boiling pot of anything, especially jam, I don't want it splashed on skin. Aaaaah.

    Where I grew up in the UK we used to call full aprons with the bib top 'pinafores' and if it only covered below the waist, tied at the back, that was called an 'apron'.

    My DIL always keeps a 'pinafore' in the kitchen near the stove. She uses hers when she is cooking.

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  13. As my husband works in a butchery dept and sometimes the fish counter in a supermarket, he brings home his aprons when they get new uniforms (although I have bought one). They are mainly plain blue or blue and white stripes. Then there are the two flowery ones I bought second hand. I feel naked without an apron when I wash up or cook, but feel odd if I don't take it off when I leave the kitchen. It has to be a bib apron; I don't feel covered with just a waist apron. It just makes sense; why dirty my good clothes? I spend much of my time at home and they would never get worn, otherwise. But I don't wear an apron for cleaning, that is when I do wear old clothes and change afterwards.

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  14. I love aprons and have one that was my Grandmother's but wearing them here in the Southern US makes me SO hot. I do wish I had had one on yesterday when I splashed turkey grease on my blouse. I mainly get one out and wear it when I am going to be working with a lot of flour.

    My bed gets made before I leave the bedroom everyday. Getting into an unmade bed feels like sleeping in a pile of noodles--it is just all wrong!

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  15. What a lovely post. I find that I only put the apron on when I'm going to be more messy than usual however I'm forever wiping my hands on a tea towel so the apron makes it easier. At our school fete last year they had a craft stall and they made kids aprons out of one tea towel which was a brilliant design and I bought 3 of them for my 8 year old daughter Sienna. Will have to wear mine more often I think. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  16. I find that my day is more productive when I wear an apron and shoes. Isn't that odd? I guess putting them on says to my mind and body to get to work! :-) After putting both on this morning, I made bread, strawberry jam and cooked up a beef and veg stew for dinner, as well as bustled around getting my chores done lickety-split and even had a few minutes of crochet during a rest time. Now at the end of my day, I can look back on it with satisfaction and contentment as a day well spent.

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  17. I have been thinking this is something I need to start. I'm only 34, so wearing an apron growing up was a holdover from my mom's childhood, and more of a novelty rather than anything I saw as practical. Now as a housewife, raising four young children and trying to cook a lot more from scratch, I can see that's it's very practical! Today I cleaned under all the furniture in our bedroom - what a mess! Worse, despite being careful, the dust was all over *me* instead. An apron would have kept me clean!

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  18. I too wear aprons and love them, they have saved my clothes so many times. I have cleaning aprons that are really old and worn ones and a few fancy ones that I use in the kitchen. When I put on my aprons I seem to be more productive as I associate it with getting in there and getting the work done!

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  19. I also love aprons and wear one each day. I recently made myself another one, and have one 'in the works' waiting for me to finish when I get some free time.

    Rhonda, I agree that it is common sense and practical to wear one, and like you, I also have a feeling of pride when I put my apron on. I really cannot imagine cooking or cleaning without one...they are a staple for me.

    I also agree about making your bed everyday. This is something that my mother instilled in me at a very early age, and I am now doing the same with my four sons. Making their beds is one of their morning chores, and something I hope will continue to be a daily routine even when they are grown and no longer at home where it is a requirement.

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  20. Oh Rhonda yes I definitely wear an apron....I wear heavier ones on Winter and lighter ones in Summer....I even have a lovely handmade one from my Friend which I wear when sewing at the machine! I love them! Thank you for a great post...have a lovely day!

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  21. Such a sweet post.. I truly love my apron and most of the time forget that I have it on but if I don't have it on then I feel like I am not ready to start my day.. Love the denim ones if it is not a hot summer day... Take care dear heart and once I again something we have in common.. xo

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  22. Thank you for this post, yes I wear an apron. I have 2 of them hanging in my pantry, both full body ones that ensure I don't get too messy. Often I wear it into the garden too, great for holding the secatures and the odd cut flower for the house.

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  23. As soon as I put my apron on I am in 'work mode'. I take it off and put it on several times a day and it seems to signal 'work', 'work done'.

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  24. i have 3 aprons and i haven't worn any of them !!!!! and i have a very nasty habit of wiping my hands on my clothes :-( which has resulted in lots of stained clothes.
    as of today i will start wearing them everyday, i will try and load a picture of the new apron i made its beautiful.

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  25. It's funny you wrote about aprons today. I have never worn one until 3 days ago. I found a surprise package on my doorstep. It was from a friend who bought me an apron with olive and lemon branches on it. I love olives and lemons. She asked me if I liked it. I told her I'd probably sleep in it. I love that apron.

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  26. I do wear an apron quite often and I loved reading this post! Thank you!

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  27. You know, many historically male dominated professions traditionally had aprons... Carpenters, blacksmiths, gardeners, general store owner, farrier and so forth. So for what it's worth to those who might see the apron as a symbol of the oppression women in a patriarchy, consider that all sorts of people through the ages have found extra pockets and keeping ones clothing clean useful.

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  28. Hello Rhonda,
    What a coincidence - I sat down to read your blog while eating my lunch earlier - and I was still wearing my apron! I love aprons - and my favourite is one I made myself (the first thing I'd ever sewn). I just made a pattern from one I already had, but I made it extra long to cover my long skirts, with the pockets made from the cut-outs for the bib part. I was so proud of myself for making that apron! I also have a couple of heavy-duty aprons for yard and gardening work. You're so right about aprons being practical, they save on laundry, and they really save your clothes from a lot of wear and tear. I have lovely memories of my dear grandmother always wearing aprons that she made herself, usually patchwork types made from fabric scraps (she wasted nothing!). Thank you as always for your inspiration.
    Cheers, Di

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  29. I wear an apron most days as well. I currently own five. I've started collecting vintage aprons, I like them to match my outfit, so I'm sure I will have even more soon. I love them!

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  30. I have one which I always forget to put on and then have the inevitable stains.........maybe I should make some and then I might wear them a bit more :)

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  31. Hi Rhonda , I too wear an apron daily, my 19 year old daughter also wears them. Her favorite? One that was my grandmothers,so it is on its 4th generation!,, xxBrenda

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  32. Lovely to read about aprons here, so many fond memories of them. I have four and my hubby and children all have one. Have had several silly comments like "aren't you quite the little housewife"etc. but, let them laugh. Don't make up my bed in the morning though, put bedclothes for airing, in winter when it's cold l hang them on the line, duvet and all. Pam

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  33. All the time - I love aprons - and like Winkel above, I get teased about them - but I DO NOT CARE . They protect my clothes and sometimes they are the little encouragement I need to get on with MESSY housework tasks, Blessings xx

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  34. My two aprons (one favourite and one voluminous and good for tomato sauces!) are used for cooking...occasionally I forget and those are always the occasions something gets spilled!

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  35. I love the ideal of an apron but the thought of another layer of material on me during summer makes me sweat at the thought.... I would love some pockets to carry things but it just has not happened for me....

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  36. Love this post - I wear an apron every day to cook dinner in the evening and invariably I am still wearing it when I sit down to drink my coffee after dinner and watch a bit of TV whilst I knit. xx

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  37. I was raised by my granny and she wore an apron every day. I have aprons and wear them when I cook. What a lovely idea to wear them while cleaning house as well....... the uniform to fit the work. Love your posts.
    Shannon

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  38. When I was in grade school, my parents had a mom-and-pop corner grocery. Mom wore a commercial canvas apron with bib when she was working in the store. They sold fresh meat and poultry as well as all the usual packaged goods. In the house (behind the store) she had printed cotton aprons with bibs that she wore. Now that I think about it, her mother wore similar ones.

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  39. I just wrote on my blog 2 days ago how I need to make aprons for myself and my little one! I love the idea of wearing an apron. I just need to whip a couple up now. A very timely post for me, thank you.

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  40. What a lovely post! I have just one apron that my mom gave me and I wear it very often, especially when I'm gardening, because it has such deep and comfortable pockets where I can put the packets, shears, gloves, my phone and anything else I might need. In a way I feel very protected when I have my apron on - and I don't mean just from stains.

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  41. When I was first married I used aprons but fell out of using them, my mother-in-law made a couple half aprons that tied around the waist, she used some fabric leftover from my maternity dresses and repurposed towels, great for wiping hands on. I stopped using them but I still use dish towels a lot, I may go back to using aprons, making them from kitchen towels. Just wanted to say as well that this way of life you've chosen is agreeing with you, your updated photo is very attractive and I like your new hair cut.

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  42. I have one apron that hangs in the hallway of our little camper. I do wear it when I'm not wearing work clothes (gardening stuff). I always wear it when I have my good clothes on. I love the gingham aprons with hearts and I think you've inspired me to make a few for Christmas. Cute, cute. Thank you for this post.

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  43. I just ran across a couple of aprons of my mother's. She passed in 1998 and I didn't even realize I had these tucked away. I have fond memories of my mother wearing them. I figure I can dress for the house task ahead by wearing an apron the same as a watercolor artist wears a smock or a hair dresser wears a smock.

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  44. Yes, I do! And I have a sewing business and my primary sale is the aprons so perhaps they are making a come-back.

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  45. I love aprons! I need to get the machine going and make me a couple of new ones this fall/winter! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  46. Mine is worn for baking, mainly, I love that I can wipe my hands on it, keep the flour and cocoa dust off my clothing, and is just plain handy.

    I remember my grandmother wearing hers, always, and when visitors arrived, off went the apron and clean clothing revealed. Visitors were rare as she lived on property and went ages before seeing anyone.

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  47. all the wo-and men- folk in our family love aprons....wherever we cook, bake, or just being together in the kitchen, the story of the apron-wearer binds us together...
    ...sturdy worn-out kitchen aprons mature to garden aprons....i wear an apron every single day...

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  48. I was delighted to read your post and all the comments from your readers about their aprons! I have several hundred, mostly vintage embroidered, others belonged to my late mother in law, all of them are part of my linens collection. But I also have another dozen that are in a kitchen drawer for when I need to change the one I've been wearing, for a clean one. I put on my apron the minute I start working in the kitchen, but not for the rest of the housework. I have a tendency to splash water and food all down my front, lol!

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  49. Thank you for the apron post!!
    I wore the old-fashioned rectangular yoked full aprons made of four sack cloth fashioned by my grandmothers, during my growing up years on the farm. (I loved the floral prints, generous pockets, and rickrack trim on the edges of the apron and the pockets.) In the very temperate climates, the extra layer of an apron did not noticeably alter one's comfort and provided many benefits. Living in the hot humid tropics often means an extra layer of unwelcome "warmth," except in slightly cooler weather. I recently acquired one of the old style aprons - now very thin - from my mother. I will make a pattern from it before it wears out (like the one I had been using), to pass down to my grandchildren, who love to wear aprons, like their "Mima." The aprons will have the legacy of their seamstress great great grandmothers who made aprons, potholders, quilts, blanket covers, and other utilitarian objects for additional income, as young widows.

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  50. I love wearing an apron when I do housework or cook. I am an at home mom of 7 kids age 12 and under. There is always something to do around the house. When I wear my apron, I am "at work". But, when I take my apron off, it is a signal that I can just relax. My "workday" is over.

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  51. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Mrs. Rhonda.

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  52. I am a full time housewife living on the edge of a small town in France with my girlfriend, who is the main breadwinner. We have a small holding. It is quite common in rural France for ladies to wear a 'robe tablier' literally an apron dress or overall. I have several. They are practical, pretty and feminine. I get dressed in one almost every morning and often go the bakers wearing it - other ladies wear similar overalls. I cook breakfast and after my girlfriend goes to work I make the bed and do the housework. I then do what is necessary on the land. In the afternoon, I change into a dress and go out shopping in town. I always wear an apron or pinafore when cooking, it is practical and sensible. I love wearing pretty aprons and overalls. My girlfriend and I always wear an apron in the kitchen but change into a pretty dress in the evening.
    Laura

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