Sunday, August 21, 2011
Even though I don't wear aprons much anymore, I think about those of yesteryear. Or I see pretty ones in a store or magazine. Perhaps someone has transformed an apron into another wearable item, utilizing the fabric in a unique way. Then memories of aprons surface.
In days ago, a cook wouldn't think of being seen in the kitchen without her apron. Mother had a number of these. Some were the old-fashioned, full bib ones that covered her from chest to skirt hem. Others tied around the waist and covered her skirt.
I recall both grandmothers always wearing the full coverage aprons to keep their dresses clean. Yes, they always wore dresses, never slacks.
Then when Mother or my grandmothers entertained guests, they wore aprons of finer fabric. These also might have embroidery on the hems and pockets.
Why Did Women Wear Aprons?
Traditionally ladies wore aprons to cover their dresses when working at home. In days before electricity and modern washing machines, it was very time consuming to wash clothes. So the longer one could wear a dress, the easier it was.
Also, clothing often was expensive, so an apron helped give longer wear. Young girls and their mothers wore aprons. Sometimes they had matching ones.
However, as washing methods became easier and clothing less expensive, aprons saw less use. Slacks and dungarees (jeans) became common apparel rather than dresses around the home.
Bib Aprons Had Many Uses:
*Obviously, they helped keep a lady's house dress clean.
*They often served as a towel for drying her hands.
*The homemaker used the apron for wiping her face when hot from cooking over the woodstove or doing housework.
They Had Many Other Uses:
*Aprons came in handy for carrying vegetables from the garden or fruit from the trees.
*They could be flapped to chase the dog, cats or chickens from the farmhouse door..
*If a potholder wasn't handy, a lady might use her apron for holding a pan handle.
*If a piece of furniture needed a quick swipe to remove dust, the apron came in handy.
*Aprons were good for wiping children's tears and wrapping around shoulders when a child was chilly or needed a hug.
*If you were careful, you could carry eggs in the apron from hen house to the kitchen.
Pockets in Aprons Were Useful, too:
*Of course, you could tuck a handkerchief there.
*If you were working outside, you might carry a snack in your pocket.
*This was a place for storing children's treasures (stones, feathers, odd pieces of wood) picked up on a walk.
*In a pocket, you might find extra bobby pins, safety pins, a bit of string - odds and ends you might need throughout the day.
When cooking in your apron, you might make:
Sift together 1 3/4 cups sifted flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl. Combine 1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup cooking oil or melted shortening.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid. Stir quickly only until the dry ingredients are moistened. Mixture may still be lumpy. Lightly fold in 1 cup fresh blueberries.
Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 or use paper liners. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 - 25 minutes. (Makes 12 muffins.)
(c)Mary Emma Allen
(I write from my home in NH about cooking, quiltmaking, family history, and Alzheimer's. I also write for children and teach writing workshops. For information about my books and workshops.)