Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vintage Kitchen Aprons

By the way, I apologize for the Barbie-doll proportions of my dress form. I can't afford a REAL one, and it was either this dandy, or one made of duct tape! I'm enough of a feminist to be slightly offended by those proportions, but this one looks a whole lot better in a corner of my house :)

My First Vintage Aprons

What's not to love about vintage aprons??  Of course, they are extremely popular these days.  A few years ago, there was a book written about them, and these days there's even an Apronology magazine dedicated to them as a more modern art. 

But 15 years ago, they were not so popular as they are now, and very easy to come by in thrift stores for a dollar or two, at the most. 

I have always loved thrifting.  I love things that have a past. So wandering through a thrift store many years ago, I came across two vintage aprons that spoke to me on every level, and for about three dollars, they were both mine. 

Ahh.  Yellow happy sunshine!! I LOVE the fabric.

This dandy apron is particularly flattering because of this unique curve in the band. 

Could it be, that being in the kitchen was all that glamorous and fun?  I started slowly collecting aprons, each one with such pretty details!

I realized many years later what it was that drew me to vintage aprons, other than the fact that they are simply adorable!  It was memories of my grandmother.  She always wore the same old apron while she was working in her kitchen, always making something for US.  Oh how we all miss those cinnamon twists, the Hawaiian chicken, and the swiss steak! 

Memories of my Grandmother

I spent some summers with her as a young girl, and was amazed at her schedule. In the mornings she would drop off her newspaper to someone who didn't receive it (usually without even reading it herself).  After that she would take a trip to the Geneological library in Salt Lake City to do volunteer work for the church, and be back, donning her apron, to get dinner going not just for us, but for some one else in need of a meal, too.   

She never owned a car, she walked and rode the bus everywhere. We walked all over her neighborhood making visits to the 'shut-ins': aging people that were housebound, and complained on an on about their life as she compassionately listened, some of them much younger than she was.  She was in her late seventies then, and I remember her saying to me, 'pick up the pace, so we won't be late' as I chugged my 11-year-old legs behind her all over Salt Lake City.  She wore me out!

Aprons are symbols of service.  They represent a willingness to get dirty on behalf of those you love the most.  Aprons are becoming popular fashion statements now, but generations ago, they were a necessity.  It wasn't so easy to just chuck your clothes in the washer and dryer - an apron protected them.  We dress more casually than people did then, and clothing is easier to come by.  Women in previous times put their best foot forward - even in their own home!  Maybe it's old-fashioned - OK, there are lots of days when my pajamas are on day.  But maybe, just maybe, there is wisdom in giving those we love the very best of ourselves.  I learned so many lessons those summers I spent with my Grandma.

So now, I have a small collection of lovely vintage aprons, and some other special ones, too.
I look forward to a new occasional segment on my blog posts, devoted to a vintage apron.  But since this is a post entirely about aprons, I'll share a picture of some very special ones.

Utah Centennial Apron

I received a special gift recently.  Thanks, Aunt Carol.  This was my husband's Grandmother's apron.  It is a Utah Centennial apron. Be sure to look at the lovely details.  I lived in Utah for many years, and I am a proud descendant of those tough Utah pioneers.  All the symbols in the fabric have special meaning to me.

Grannie's Apron

Then there is my Great-Grandmother's apron, or 'Grannie's' Apron. 
Her daughter, my Grandma who I spoke of before, had a rare way of making people feel they must be the most amazing person in the whole world! 

After she passed away, it was so difficult to be in her home, without her joyful personality there, and face the realization that she would never be there anymore.  We all felt her home was a refuge for all of us to come to, for so many years.  It was a place where we all felt loved and important.

She had few possesions of value, because she preferred using what money she had to further her relationships with people instead of acquiring very many things.  But I didn't know until her death that she kept her mother's apron.  Her mother's kitchen apron. And it was among her most special things, right next to her mother's white dress that she wore to worship in the LDS temple.  I was fortunate enough to recieve the apron.  I'd like to think the apron had value to her, for the same reason that it has value to me, because of what it represents.  It is a symbol, a badge of SERVICE, of hard work, of helping others.  Of being willing to 'give up' a part of yourself for someone else. 

When I 'don an apron' these days,  I can't help but think to myself, "What have I done for someone else today?" Have I lived up to my legacy of service?  My heritage?    I sure hope that I can.


  1. I LOVE aprons and I love these vintage ones! I'd never seen Utah fabric like that, how neat! I will probably pin a few of these as inspiration- I love making aprons and I've found a few sweet vintage ones too!

    How sweet to remember your grandmother. I'm sure you are keeping the heritage alive!

  2. I will never think of an apron the same way again. Thank you for such a lovely post. A reminder of all that I am blessed with and all that I have to give. Thank you!

  3. I'm so glad you liked the post. Elizabeth, I have some fun ones comming up, for inspiration if you sew. Lanae, that was so sweet!

  4. I have enjoyed reading many of your posts. I'm visiting from French Country Cottage and stopped over to see your kitchen remodel. Lovely transformation! Then I saw the little baby sweater you knit. I think I have that pattern in one of my yarn bins. It's darling! If you'd like a free pattern of a Scandinavian Christmas sock, head on over to my blog: http://daranger911.blogspot.com

    In the lower right hand column I have a list of my most popular posts and you'll see a thumbnail photo of the sock that will take you to the pattern.

    I LOVE the border design of your blog!

  5. Your blog is wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I really want to get into furniture painting, but an armiore that I painted didn't turn out how I had hoped, so I've given up for awhile. I keep hearing about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, so maybe I'll have to try again. Your knitted beanie hats are adorable. I'm new to blogging and linking, but slowly figuring all this out.