Aprons Big and Small

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to aprons.  I love them all, whether they would fit a Barbie doll or be in grown-up proportions!  This post is a combo of all of that – a few small sized, vintage inspired ones to decorate the tiny mannequins which stand on my sewing room’s wall shelf and one big 1940’s one which I made as gift for a friend of mine.

Firstly, I’ll start with the adult gift apron.  One thing I have learned from doing many projects for others is that your ideas and preferences can show but must take a backseat to the personality of the person you are sewing for.  This was a wonderful project to work on as a gift because I used a vintage pattern for both my own taste and also because this friend also sews past era fashions using old patterns just like me!  The print is a wonderful assortment of old style sewing machines which both she and I actually use to do some of our stitching.

As I have said before for my other tiny aprons (see here, here, here, and here), these are a charming and fun way to use of scraps of treasured, nice fabric and notions too small to seem useful otherwise.  If you don’t have small dress forms like I do, or don’t want these for actual Barbies either (like me), you can pin them up on a twine “clothes line” and decorate a wall or any other space that needs a little something!  This is what I have done for our kitchen under our spice rack.  Tiny aprons take up much less wall space than having lots of actual adult aprons and yet are every bit just as addicting.  It’s literally hard to stick to just one.  Now my mini apron count to date is brought up to 6 in total.  Yet, I have a few more I want to do still!


FABRIC:  The vintage sewing machine print is a 100% cotton, bought from the now-defunct Hancock Fabrics Store.  The fabrics for the mini aprons are true vintage material, found in scraps too small to do anything more with otherwise, but still amazing and killer cute!  I am supposing from the feel of the cottons, the white and green mini apron fabric is about 50’s or 60’s, and the yellow one about 1940’s or 30’s era.

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #1221, view A, a reprint of Simplicity #4939 from 1944, for the full-sized apron; and for the small aprons I used both Simplicity #2748, view F, and Simplicity #1957, view C

NOTIONS:  As the mini aprons are of vintage fabric, I used almost all vintage notion scraps (most from my Grandmother) on them for the details.  The full-size apron is all new materials, yet still stuff that came from what I had on hand.  These were stash busting projects!!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The gift apron was made in April 2015 and finished in 2 hours.  The mini aprons were made in January 2015 and each one took a few hours.

Aprons are relatively easy-to-make, so there is not much to say.  The adult apron was whipped up quickly so I spent extra time to make nice details, especially as this was to be a gift.  I was quite happy with the sizing too and made it as-is (according to the pattern) no changes, except for substituting ribbon ties for self-fabric ones as directed.  However, the small scale of the Barbie sized ones provided a big challenge in and of themselves.  I had to do more hand stitching on them so that they ended up taking longer to make than doing an apron for a real person…how weird.

As the vintage “gardening woman watering her flowers” print fabric was rather thin, I did the extra step of lining the apron with cotton broadcloth remnants.  I also had to add a center front seam to the mini apron’s skirt because I had such limited fabric…but at least I was still able to match up the print!  This by far my nicest mini apron made yet…not all of my own aprons get lined.

The yellow-red-black mini apron is a thick, feedsack style cotton so it was not lined, but it did get a lot of details.  I even added a tiny mini “handkerchief” folded up in the pocket for a touch of quaint realism.  I quickly realized that my idea of going with a fun contrast thread color for machine top-stitching the pocket edges was not the best idea, especially as I was trying to attach baby rick-rack, too.  I really should have chosen a matching yellow, and worked the stitching by hand.  But once it was done, my work wasn’t terrible enough for my own hardened self-criticism to have the heart to unpick.  This was a mini apron after all, was my thought, and one that was taking quite long to make in my opinion.  Oh well – I really want to try this design again, anyway and then I’ll do better for the next time! Not too many people see my nice sewing area, and even then no one will notice some tiny wayward stitching on a mini apron up on a wall shelf.

I’ll admit I did feel sort of bad actually using up my vintage scraps this way.  Perhaps I should have used these scraps for pocket linings in my garments?  Even then they would not really be seen the same way, and on a regular basis (as I am pretty much sewing every day).  Why shouldn’t my house’s decorations receive the same detailing, thought, vintage flair, and handiwork as what I wear?  What would I really do with a 12 inch scrap of lovely rayon seam binding otherwise?  Yup – sometimes I have to find legitimate reasons for my creative desires, because as the saying goes, “Of course, I talk to myself while sewing… I need expert advice!”


The “It’s About Time” Apron and Matching Mini

These two projects for the week of the ‘Apron Challenge’ have certainly been all about time. My first creation is a vintage half apron, found at an antique mall back in 2005 or 2007. I bought it with the intention of turning it into a refashioned full apron, and only recently have I completed my goal after all those years. My second project is a mini apron, made with the leftover scraps from refashioning my vintage full-size half apron. The matching mini apron was completed in exactly 2 1/2 hours of straight no-break sewing – a one evening project. Apron #1 was the longest UFO to date that I have yet worked on and finished, and apron #2 (the mini) was the only project so far that I’ve ever started AND finished in one short stretch. Wow! Both #1 and #2 projects were done so close in time together…no wonder I fell sick the next week!

100_0269100_0270     You can see on the left the original apron as I bought it. To the right, I am pointing to a pitiful tear in the fabric, due to old age and over washing, I am sure.

However, the wear and washing had made it super soft, but this apron was in need of a pocket and some TLC before I would wear it. I had bought some fabric years ago (why I bought only about 1/3 yd. strip I don’t remember) that was exactly the same aqua color stripes in a similar soft cotton. I apparently never got to sew on my apron because I folded it up and packed it in such a great spot in my room, it became mistakenly forgotten. I found this again in early 2011, going through old stuff, and left this apron out, so as to work on ideas for the top half and for the pocket. I was stumped for a good while on account of such a small amount of fabric to use for bodice. Early 2012, I actually started putting this project together, using McCall’s 5643 as my base idea for the bodice. I kept with the circle theme for the pocket when my husband found this quilting scrap big enough to cover the tears in the fabric. I am proud of how I went through the trouble to line both bodice and the back of the original half (using leftover cotton from my denim and plaid dress), making for a very stable, and still modernly fashionable, apron that should last many more years of home duties.

100_0738     It must have been at least three times this year I was ready to throw this away, or at least banish it back to the UFO pile because I wasn’t sure the bodice, pocket, and trim looked o.k. together. I had to sew the bodice straps smaller and wear this a bit to fall in love with the way it now looks.100_0744

My matching mini apron, from Simplicity 1957, uses up the very- I mean the very- last scraps of the bodice material, together with some discount fabric and leftover rick- rack from another mini “red, white, and blue” apron. This tiny blue confection is the easiest mini apron I’ve done yet and makes me want a full size one, just like I said for my first polka dot mini apron. I am glad I used Wrights’ lace trim instead of solid bias tape, like the instructions wanted. The lace is more feminine and not as overwhelming. For the picture, I felt my newest mini apron seemed to match the pretty blue dressed lady crocheted to the corner of my handkerchief.

100_0739     Not only was it ‘about time’ that I FINALLY finished this project, but I also believe aprons are all about time. They are symbols of a past time, a part of history-both culturally and fashion-ally. There are aprons that range from religiously ceremonial to multipurpose (i.e. an apron that transforms into a sunbonnet), from glamorous home couture inspired by designers to a utilitarian work apron (for x-ray techs or carpenters).
Aprons are a very individual piece of clothing. They stand for different things to different people, such as a time past, a time to work, or a time to take control and be efficient, and are as unique as the wearer. Sometimes even aprons that clash or contrast with the wearer’s personality are the cutest!
There are the ‘full protection’ aprons, a decent covering of the above and the below. Then there are the fun ‘half story’ waist and below aprons. Both kinds can mix-up, combine, hint at, or plain old state-out-loud in so many styles that aprons are so intoxicating! They can be delicate, confining, liberating, rugged, handy, showy, obnoxious, feminine, glitzy, sexy, basic, fashion-wise, cultural, historical…but always fun!  They can show case your skill, but still look just as great if you are lucky to get this much put together.100_0740

So many women seem to fall into an “aprons are not my thing” trap. There may be a certain self-assurance needed for some to wear aprons, or maybe just the right appeal to taste, similar to ‘the wearing of hats’ for many people. I believe that both hats and aprons can be worn by all women. Aprons perhaps need a bit more understanding by the populace.
Now all this might be way too much to put into a mere yard or two of fabric that is meant to be used hard and dirty. But…maybe it’s all true after all because aprons are really the only fashion item that has versatility adjusted to fit every requirement of human necessity for most of human history.
So…when it comes to something handmade – especially an apron – please wear it with pride!!!

RetroapronpatternTHE FACTS:

FABRIC: 100% cotton; I had everything already except for the body of the mini and that only cost me 60 cents

NOTIONS: had thread and left over rick-rack; bought the tape trims for both aprons

PATTERNS: McCall’s 5643, view C for bodice top, year 2008, and Simplicity 1957 for mini

FIRST WORN: finished full apron on Oct. 22, Simplicity1957miniaprons2012, and I have and will get plenty of enjoyable use; finished mini apron Nov. 8, 2012

TIME TO COMPLETE: for refashioned full apron, who knows??? How can I gauge hours put into this when it goes back maybe 7 years? Probably 9 hours were devoted to my apron re-fashion this year; for the mini, it took a 2 1/2 hour marathon