Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Quest For Knowledge of the Apron

 I have looked at many of your Christmas blogs and I see pictures of a Grandmother in an apron, a mom in an apron, so I decided to write about the apron.  I associate an apron with my grandmother who raised 13 children and 2 grandchildren,  Mattie Whitson.  Mattie became a widow when her twins were 2 years of age.  She had 6 children in her home to raise the others had gone to war.  She would eventually raise two of her grandchildren with her twins.  I love her indomitable spirit.

Here she is (on the right) with her sister Fay Roberts Perkins sitting visiting on the front porch.  Great Aunt Fay lived to be 90 years of age.  You notice the apron that she has on.  
Memories of my grandmother revolve around the kitchen and cooking.  That will be for future posts.  To me, she was what I called real.

The other person I associate an apron is my mother-in-law who is 90 this year.

She has always been the proper example of society.  She had an apron in her drawer for every holiday occasion and party.  I love her sweet way of guiding my daughters and sons in social etiquette.
Below is a well worn apron email poem that I found on an Alberta Centennial site.

That plagiarized story of Grandma's Apron is based on a poem by Tina Trivett, a poem that is one of the most beautiful eulogies that were ever written, a eulogy that celebrates the life of Tina Trivetts' grandmother.  It  has been around for years on the Internet, as have been many other abridged plagiarized versions of the story and even abridged plagiarized poems (I have yet to read one that comes close to meeting the quality of Tina Trivett's original) with the same title. :  From a post by Walter H. Schneider that was presented at the Alberta Centennial. 
Grandma's Apron

by Tina Trivett

The strings were tied, It was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.
For Grandma, it was everyday to choose one when she dressed.
The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;
the things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold, some wildflowers that she'd found.
Or to hide a crying child's face, when a stranger came around.
Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.
Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.
To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.
When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.
You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.
Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.
When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.
I'm sure the apron that she chose, was her Sunday best.

I miss you Grandma...
A friend who posts her shared her poem about the apron.  I love it! Click here to read it.
As I started my search of information about aprons, I find that many are interested in fact there is a whole blogsphere out there that posts around and creates aprons.A wonderful post on Aprons. 
Which makes me think that Avis Yarbrough was sadly mistaken when he said in "A History of 1950's Aprons" in September 28, 2007 that the apron would never reach popularity like it had in the 1950's.
I go into the fabric store and there a mulitude of retro and new apron patterns available.  One of my favorites is a Daisy Kingdom pattern by Simplicity.

In my search about the apron's historical use, I have found a variety of information and many opinions.  One writer, David Graham, had the opinion that aprons were symbols of oppression, relating them to domestic servants, then he seemed to change his mind after reading Aprons: Icons of the American Home by Joyce Cheney, who in his words, 'lumps aprons in with hearth and home commodities such as picket fences and apple pie'.  My humble opinion is women are smart, they find the apron useful in their "gourmet" cooking to protect their clothes and there is a bit of nostalgia that comes from the relationships with family members of by-gone eras.

I was fascinated with the styles of the different era's.  The early 1900's were much like my favorite apron, more of a smock which covered most if not all of the dress.  Click here for a great site if you are looking to identify period dressing.  They have great examples.  Here is another great historical pattern site.  Below is the 1675 - 1760 New France Girls Pattern

Well, my quest has been a long one, I don't know if I have enlightened anyone else, but I have had fun researching such a nostalgic subject for me.  I was amazed to find out that the bib overall we have now that mostly farmers wear, was a full fitting bib apron that men wore while working in a shop in the early 1700-1800's.
As I was searching, I asked my daughter where her aprons were.  I was met with a blank stare.  Of course, I had to make her an apron.  I have started on a matching on for my granddaughter.  They must keep the tradition of gentility and family values as represented by an apron.  Below you see my product of piecing and quilting scraps my daughter had in her fabric boxes. 

I hope you have enjoyed the journey with me.  I thank you for dropping by, and leave a comment about your feelings about aprons if you are so inclined.


  1. What an interesting post. Sitting here trying to remember if any of my moms and grammas wore aprons. Don't remember seeing mother wear one, don't remember seeing either grandmother wear one. However, my great-grandmother Lorena did, I have the photo to prove it. And, some faint memory of my great-grandmother Ida wearing one. Yep, a very interesting post. Thanx

  2. I wrote my 'apron' poem not ever having seen the original from which you quote. A friend sent me a prose account and I versified it. You might like to read it.


  3. My MIL wears aprons still. I should. I always have stuff down the front of me. However I should keep mine on for eating to. Or maybe just a bib.

  4. Thanks ya all, for your comments.
    Lori that is just too funny.

  5. I actually dragged out an apron when cooking this Thanksgiving! I can remember by paternal grandmother always wearing one...even when just working around the apartment. I think my Mom used one when making a particularly messy meal....me...rarely, although I have several given to me as gifts. The only photo of a family member in one is my great grandmother VanGilder...who was a cook as her job. Very interesting research and post. It's always amazing where our genealogy quest will take us.

  6. Such an interesting post. And I loved seeing the patterns. You put the article together nicely.