Quilter's Muse Publications
Aprons of Times Past
Aprons of Times Past
Patricia L. Cummings

Aprons have been worn by both men and women for centuries. When I think of a blacksmith, I always envision a Black
leather apron. When I think of a Freemason, the image that comes directly to mind are the symbolic aprons worn during their
ritualistic meetings. Many men have worn aprons:  butchers, carpenters, painters, shopkeepers, waiters, and others.

Aprons were in much use during the Great Depression. They were indispensable in the kitchen to save clothes from being
spoiled by food splatters and cooking grease. They were sometimes sold as yard goods in which the apron, pockets and ties
just needed to be cut out and sewn together.

                         Someone cut out a large flower and two smaller ones from this piece of
                          cloth and a companion one in pink, a mystery, indeed. Photo by James Cummings

                   A finished yellow apron, look-alike, from the Lewis Collection from South Sutton, NH
                   Photo by James Cummings

Aprons in my collection range from the late 19th century, with fancy work and embroidery to an apron made in 2009. Aprons
continue to be purchased for men who like to barbecue outdoors. They retain their usefulness for women but the modern
woman mostly does not want to be bothered with aprons, so they are often considered to be "old fashioned," quaint and a
thing of the past.

            This apron was made for a young girl. It closes in the back and is heavily smocked in the waist area.
                 Photo by James Cummings

                Feedsack aprons like this one were popular and easy to make. Photo by James Cummings

  This is a beautiful, never-used Christmas apron with bias trim and a border print. Photo by James Cummings

                                            This bib apron is constructed primarily of patchwork.
                           The hidden pocket is folded outward in this photo so that you can see it, on the right.
                                                                Photo by James Cummings

I love this little apron because of its odd shape and 19th century, black and white fabric. Photo by James Cummings

Collecting vintage aprons is fun! Most of the aprons shown here were given to me. I am not actively collecting others, but I
enjoy their variety and the attempt to make household drudgery and chores just a little more colorful and fun by wearing an

To see more examples and to read more about apron history, please see my four page article that was published in the March
2009 issue of
The Quilter magazine, "Collectible Aprons of the Twentieth Century," (100-103).

We always love to see photos that readers send in. If you have a special apron that you'd like to share, please send a good
quality photo to us.

Copyright 2009. Patricia Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications, Concord, NH. All rights reserved.
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Quilter's Muse Publications - Aprons of Times Past article
19th century fabric included in this apron