A is for {Grandmother’s} Amazing Aprons

remember when…

grandmothers wore aprons throughout the day… especially when they were in the kitchen? My grandmothers never kneaded homemade bread or rolled out a pie crust without first securing the apron strings of a bib or half-apron. Some of my most treasured keepsakes are Grandmother’s aprons. There is something special–almost magical–about Grandmother’s aprons! The aprons transform me back in time and bring back sweet memories…

The Kitchen Workshorses

The Kitchen Workhorses

As they were for our grandmothers, aprons are a great “tool” to help with multi-tasking that we often do throughout the day. They are true “workhorses.” An apron’s large pockets are perfect hideaways for an amazing array of necessities and are holders of collections of all sorts gathered during the day: a freshly-pressed linen hankie to wipe a tear (yes, I still iron my hankies!), a tube of lip color (to apply as needed–you just never know!), beans freshly picked from the kitchen garden, rose petals deadheaded on a quick garden walk-through, green and brown eggs gathered from le palais de poulet, a treasured postcard from someone special or even the cell phone.

 What kind of things collect in your apron pockets?

a little more looking back

My grandmothers had numerous aprons for different purposes. All were handmade–often from a gingham or cotton floral print. Sometimes, a feedsack cotton or “repurposed” curtain was given new life as an apron! (Grandmothers were very resourceful!) Among my favorite aprons are those with a simple cross-stitched pattern in the small checks on a gingham fabric. As a young girl, I often had an apron that was a miniature version of Grandmother’s gingham apron. How I loved to wear aprons to be just like Grandmother.

Vintage Aprons

Vintage Aprons

Some of Grandmother’s aprons were decorative to coordinate with their dresses when they hosted a party. The decorative aprons were often made out of organdy, felt, chiffon, neeting or lace and showed off grandmother’s needleart skills. One of most treasured is a white linen expertly trimmed with an insert of hardanger the width of the apron skirt. Each year, My Best Girl wears the hardanger apron for the Swedish Christmas Eve celebration at Rose Cottage.

Hardanger Apron

Hardanger Apron

true confessions of a creative frugalist!

I LOVE aprons! I wear an apron every day because I am sentimental and practical. My homey aprons give me a sense of connectedness with the women who came before me.  When I wear an apron, life seems less complicated. But I confess, I usually wear an apron because I’m a messy and often spill.  It sure is much easier to launder an apron than an entire outfit! Most of my every day aprons are of the utilitarian type and are indispensable. You know the kind–heavy, durable cotton–usually, not a pretty sight after baking or cooking all day in the kitchen! 

So when spotting the large bolt of vintage green and white woven fabric at Rose Mille on the bottom shelf in the back room, I just had to get some yardage to make some pretty aprons. Rose Mille’s checked fabric is not the kind of gingham most often found in the fabric stores now, rather it is a true “homespun” woven textile and has some weight and density. If you love homespun cottons you just have to get some!)

Green and White Woven Cotton, Vintage Ticking and Trims

Green and White Woven Cotton, Vintage Ticking and Trims

Ribbons might also be added to my dream aprons to add another touch of beauty. Melissa over at The Inspired Room has more ideas about creatively using ribbons to beautify your home in simple ways…Maybe, I will be hanging my new-yet vintage-aprons in the pantry on a pretty hook using ribbons…

How are you bringing beauty into your life and home while being a “creative frugalist?”

The Old Becomes New for the Creative Frugalist

The Old Becomes New for the Creative Frugalist

Now, I am dreaming of several new aprons… Each of the six new aprons will have a different bib front using a Bella Notte linen fabric sample, vintage trim or carefully selvedge crocheted lace edging from a troseau pillow, and vintage bakelite or celluloid buttons. Isn’t this a creative and fun way to be a frugalist in the 21st century? Certainly an interesting way to recycle, repurpose and resuse!

Vintage Red Glass Buckle and Trim

Vintage Red Glass Buckle and Trim


Two of the homey aprons will each have a fabulous vintage glass buckle. These glass buckles are just too lovely to pass up from Mi’s stock at Rose Mille! The red buckle is a perfect accent on the red gingham. The blue glass buckle will be used on the second apron. Then, there is the apron with…so tell me,

What would your dream apron look like?

Grandmother's Amazing Apron

Grandmother's Amazing Smock Apron - Cheerfully, helped to make many batches of blue-ribbon caramel rolls!



Filed under Cooking, Family, Sewing, Uncategorized, Vintage

18 responses to “A is for {Grandmother’s} Amazing Aprons

  1. rebekahp

    What a great post! I enjoyed reading your memories of your grandmother’s aprons. I love how your writing really conjures up places and emotions. Very lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Edie

    Miss Debbykay~
    As you know I am an apron girl too… I have several of my Great Grandmothers Aprons.. My favorite apron is a bib apron my Great Grandmother often wore for Thanksgiving, I often were it on Thanksgiving too or at least I have it out draped on my chair at the table. It makes me feel like she is there with me as we enjoy the holiday using her yellow depression china.

    The apron article is fabulously detailed and brought me to my happy comfort zone of times I spent with Grandma Mac… 🙂

    I can hardly wait to see the new aprons you are making… A funny thing is, I too picked up red and white gingham for aprons for me and the gbabies (last Thursday) we must be on the same thought pattern! Nice idea of the buckles. I must get to my button box and see if I still have the mother of pearl buckle from Grandma Mac…

    Oh, I’m just loving this blog!

  3. I adore aprons- and have many to prove it. I make sure my granddaughters get a new apron from me each year.
    They love them.

    • debbykay

      What a special gramma you must be! The aprons will be such treasured keepsakes in the years to come! What is your favorite apron?

  4. Geeee Debbykay, I now want to devote my LIFE to aprons! You have such a way with words. When o when do you have time to make the aprons, take photos and write all this for the blog? I know you work full time.
    I would like to make a “virgo” kind of correction regarding the gingham you wrote about, it is actually “homespun” and not even printed at all, it is woven with green and white threads, so the color goes through both sides. I have other colors too! Ahhhh, the look and feel of cotton. Nothin’ like it.

    • debbykay

      Thanks, Mi! I have updated the post! I couldn’t think of the terms when I was writing this earlier–had a brain freeze! I am so glad for your comment!!! I almost called you to ask, but didn’t think you wanted a call a 1 AM!

  5. Beautiful designs. They don’t seem to make aprons as detailed as in the past. It’s a lot art of sorts.

  6. VBS

    It seems that aprons are a BEAUTIFUL connection to the days past when life was predictable and safe it the loving company of a doting grandmother.

    What a wonderful, soft memory.

  7. What a great post… Now I see why you left that comment. I love hearing about your memories of you grandma with her aprons. I also love aprons!! I don’t wear them, but maybe I should cause I always make a mess. Or maybe I shouldn’t because I might ruin them… I’ll have to post some of my aprons..

  8. I LOVE aprons too. My mom cleaned out my grandmother’s house a few years ago and gave me one apron which had belonged to my great grandmother and one that my mother had made in highschool. I swear you described it. It is yellow gingham with embroidery all along the edges. The other is pink and white cotton and I just LOVE it. These aprons inspired me to make aprons myself and learn to sew (just last month). I may be channeling my Grandma! 🙂 I have a few aprons that I just made on my blog. I want to use my grandmother’s apron for a pattern… that will be next!

  9. what a beautiful post! I love aprons… but don’t seem to wear them that often. I find beauty in the frilly ones but I do love the ones that have been worn and used… something special about those ones.

    xo heather

  10. Francesco


    I have enjoyed this post the most of all your posts. It shows more of your sensitivity, creativity, and a bit of your history.

    Thank you.

  11. I love aprons too. And thanks to Etsy.com I can purchase aprons, at an affordable price.
    I currently have two aprons, a green halter type and and a tie behind the back colorful one. Both have pockets but the second one is my favorite. (big pockets for cellphone and keys)
    I enjoy wearing them when I’m baking or doing housework.

  12. Mom

    Dear Daughter.
    I think you were about 2 years old when your Grandmother gave you your very own apron. She sewed it just for you – it was pale blue timmed in handmade lace that her Mother had made. You loved that little “Sunday” apron – it was one of those very special aprons worn only on Sundays or holidays. Do you remember the apron? Your apron blog is lovely and brings back many memories of the countless hours you and I spent in the kitchen together. Those were –and still are– times that I will always cherish.

    Love Your Mom.

  13. Lisa

    The selection of materials and notions in your photos really perked up this piece and elevated it to a new level of the possible. Then I saw your mom’s recollection of the apron your grandmother gave you and my eyes pricked with tears. I am going to go touch and pet my own little collection of grandmother’s aprons and tea towels.

  14. you have a beautiful blog !

  15. Audrey Nelson

    Can anyone help me date the checked aprons with embroidery making a design on them that were popular in the 50’s or 60’s? I had about 11 my aunts and grandmas had made and gave them to the women in the family for Christmas. Now they want to know how old they are and I don’t remember when that design was popular. Thanks.

    • debbykay

      Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for stopping by Rose Cottage! I have an old pattern book for the cross-stitch gingham aprons from my grandmother, and the date on the pattern book is 1960. My guess is that they are right around that time period.

      Your family must have been thrilled with your gifts. What special memories you have shared with all in your family! Would love to see pictures of the aprons!

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