The History of Aprons

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Friend, Caroline is an enigma. On the surface: a classic beauty, self-assured self-employed food pro who travels the country for clients and around the globe for fun.

Yet, she’s kind of a country girl. Choosing Home Ec as a profession fit her to a T. One of her favorite pastimes is Knit ‘n Bitch potlucks with mutual friend, Cathi, her mom, daughter. Last time I attended, it was a Steel Magnolias scene.

So when I received this email from her with The History of Aprons, it was “Classic Caroline.” She didn’t write it, so if this reads as familiar, it most likely came to you via email, too. Know the source? Please comment!

The History of Aprons
Vintage aprons are lovely.


The History of ‘APRONS’ – an Email

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.  The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.  After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees, or peaches, or pecans.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron!

Homemakers made their own aprons, of course.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nesa Eliezer November 27, 2016 at 6:50 pm

I love aprons! They are not an Asian/Indian thing. A cotton saree’s “headpiece” did all that an apron did – lift hot pots, wipe a perspiring face, clean a child’s after-meal mouth, fan yourself and all that. But living in Australia for the last 35 years or more, I love my aprons! Easier to wash than a top soiled by curry splashes!
And so much so I now design aprons for a friend’s On Line business ( Look out for – coming soon to a computer near you!) The moment I put on my Apron, I feel a Professional Housewife – and the subtle implications of that feeling carries me through hours of “work” around the house. Almost a pleasure with a purpose. Cheers for aprons I say !

2 Lorene October 15, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I love this! I too started my Home Ec career in seventh grade sewing an apron! I enjoyed the intricate designs in the “old aprons”. I can still see my grandmother – always with her apron on
cooking at her stove! Thanks for sharing these memories.

3 Susanne Wilder October 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm

What a nostalgic true story.
I too am a Home Economist living in WA now, Western Australia. At a country farmers market I found a classic old apron with front pockets and all. It was so retro I had to get it to wear when I relief teach in Home Ec classes here — just to keep Betty Crocker alive and cooking.
It was Grandma that taught me a love for cooking and took the time to show me many baked goodies. After creating 7 cookbooks and many food travel and restaurant reviews I am happiest picking organic foods from my own little garden, donning my apron and making something simple and healthy!
Here’s to good food fun and love in the kitchen!

4 Table Scraps October 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I love looking at the “vintage” patterns. My first Home-Ec project in seventh grade was a gingham half-apron. We had to cross stitch in the tiny squares of the fabric.

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