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
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