Mom's Vintage Aprons

Vintage aprons were more than just kitchen aprons.

| July/August 2015

Aprons were a necessary part of Mom’s wardrobe as a farmer’s wife: She had to be careful to not soil the few nice clothes she had. So protecting her dresses (Mom never wore slacks – she considered them sinful) from stains and splashes was a priority.

While looking at a few of Mom’s 1920s photos, I noticed a cover-up style of apron worn over her dresses. In checking the history of aprons, I found that in the 1920s and ’30s, women’s aprons followed the silhouette of a dress – long, flowing, and no waistline.

I hadn’t known how important aprons were for Mom until my oldest sister, Anita, told me that when she married in the 1940s, Mom’s advice was, “Make sure you have your hair combed and wear a clean apron!”

My older sisters, Anita and Jannetta, filled me in on Mom’s first aprons. She sewed her own, of course, usually from a discarded dress or material someone had given her. Some were colorful, trimmed in rickrack, but each one always had pockets. The material could be cotton, even feed bags that once held flour. She did have nice half-aprons (tied at the waist) that she usually wore on Sundays when she wouldn’t soil her dress as much.

As the youngest child, I remember Mom in mostly bib aprons – either a bib pinned to the bodice of a dress or shoulder straps attached to the waistband and crisscrossed in back.

I do recall that Mom’s aprons were quite stained and were seldom washed. My sisters were quick to point out, “Mom never wasted anything – even water. If she felt an apron had worn itself out, she’d take what she considered ‘still usable’ pieces and use them in her quilts.”

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