Saturday, July 1, 2017

Who wrote the book of ... aprons?

I've been scrolling through a few books on aprons lately -- only one is my own (The Apron Book by Geisel) and the rest are library items that I've been greatly enjoying. The history of gingham aprons was surprisingly hard to find - thank goodness for interlibrary loan!

Here are my thoughts on these books, if you are also interested in aprons.

A is for Apron / Natalie Mornu
This is a really cute collection of aprons of all kinds, from practical cafe style aprons to older fashioned full coverage ones. Lots of them are very simple and would make great first projects. I thought this was a fairly straightforward book, with colourful examples and the expected kind of designs in it.

The Apron Book  / EllynAnne Geisel
This has a lot more history of aprons and of domesticity in general, focused on the United States. It has some interesting facts and historical images alongside some patterns and ideas. I quite like it, though it does have a tinge too much romanticizing about women in the house and faint religious overtones for me to love it unreservedly. It's a great visual history and has fascinating information though.

The Perfect Apron / Robert Merrett
I really liked this one. If I was going to buy a book of apron patterns it would probably be this one. There were some unusual styles and a real focus on little details that lift this aprons beyond beginner basics. There is a lot of variety for anyone in this collection of 35 styles, and the patterns seem easily copied so you can get started.

Gingham Aprons of the 40's & 50's : a checkered past / Judy Florence

Like I mentioned, this one is a hard to find history of a specific kind of apron. Since I've become more and more interested in "chicken scratch" embroidery, this was just perfect. It's a very thorough look at this "genre" of apron, with many, many colour photos showing the variations and types of decoration on these, and as a collector guide it also provides price estimates (most fall between $20-$50 - you are not going to get rich over Grandma's aprons). But I really enjoyed this one, and learned a lot about the techniques and variations which were common in this era. She even shows one that is particularly poorly sewn, but explains why and what there is to value about it. I've noted down a few ideas and really want to learn the art of chicken scratch - it's such a simple but effective optical illusion when gingham checks and thread interact. There are no patterns in this one but if you know the basics of making an apron and of chicken scratch (or swiss embroidery or gingham embroidery or depression lace, or whatever you like to call it) you'll be able to follow along by illustration and copy some of the vintage ideas here.

That's an overview of a few of the apron books on my shelves lately (and incidentally, "apron" always comes out "aprong" when I am typing - I've had to correct it every time I used it in this post! what is that about?)

Do you have any favourite apron or general domestic history books?


  1. Thanks for the apron book titles. We gave a good interlibrary system. Two years ago our Art Gallery had a great exhibit on. It was comprised, in part, with a house built with aprons as walls. The artist, Pam Hall, had collected them from women from the NS canneries. It was marvelous as were the aprons. Some of them were quite old and likely had belonged to their grandmothers. You can google Pam Hall artist aprons and see some of them. Have fun! Canary

  2. That exhibition sounds amazing. I will google her right away and be inspired! Yes, I love the interlibrary loan system -- I have just got a new book called "Wartime Fashion" via ILL that I am really enjoying too.


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