Friday, January 11, 2013

Apron Quilt Inspiration

This is the interactive 3-D apron quilt which hangs above my kitchen sink:
It's about 14" x 20". Each miniature apron (about 4" wide) hangs free from a white square of fabric; the white square is itself a pocket. The pockets are filled with kitchen implements and funny postcards. You can see my favorite postcard displayed in this shot, but you don't need to squint to read it because... 
Here's a closeup. The lady has an important message:
That's an Asian stew implement sharing the pocket.

For Baby Boomers like moi, aprons evoke the 1950's and 60's. I rarely wear them (pretty much only on Passover), but my yiddishe Bubbie (grandmother) sure did, and I have a collection of real vintage aprons, plus images of vintage apron patterns. These all helped inspired the tiny aprons I created for the quilt above.

For example, here's a vintage apron pattern with a curly-tailed bird/rooster (?) pocket: 
Which inspired my bird-pocket mini-apron: 

Here's a cascading flouncy apron: 
Mine has a simplified flouncy shape. I went wild with the dreadful shamrock fabric and tiny green rick rack:
Here are two vintage aprons with heart themes, the first with a heart-and-dove pocket, 
And the one on the right below has two hearty pockets, a sweetheart neckline, and bow-tied shoulder straps.  Is that not deeply adorable?
My heart apron is below, right. It has only one heart pocket.
And speaking of dreadful fabric, with the red apron on the left above,  I made maximal use of watermelon print fabric. (The black shapes are watermelon seeds) I gave it a green rind waistband. Let's face it, aprons don't get much tackier than that! 

Or do they? Here are some more vintage apron images from my files that perhaps will inspire a sequel to this quilt (by you or me). 

There's a kitties-peeking-out apron: 
Awwww. My teenager would have loved that when she was 4. I believe the top pocket kitty is an applique, and the bottom pocket contains a kitty-shaped potholder. 

There's the Mexican hat apron: 
Which may or may not cross the line into objectionable ethnic stereotyping.

There's the layered upside-down tulip skirt apron, 
(or is that a crocus?)

And finally, giant happy head aprons: 
(With matching decapitated potholders). 

Except for the white pockets, the whole quilt was made with vintage print fabrics that I couldn't possibly use anywhere else. (Like that shamrock fabric). The rick-rack is also vintage. 

Feel free to use the comments to tell your apron stories!

[Update: I am delighted to share this link on the awesome Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday project, at ]

[Update, 1-21-13: If this post makes you want to make a full size apron, here's a long list of free patterns online:

And booklets of downloadable patterns can be found at:]


  1. This is so funny! I know aprons were popular, but didn't realise they were a billboard of sorts.

    Then again I have some full fronted aprons I use when I bake bread or do pie crusts - or I get flour all over my front - They all have with its ears in 3D. :^) one was a cheater fabric Christmas cow with baubles and all. I painted it with glittery fabric paints back in the day. I wear it for the Christmas pies.
    Sandy in the UK

  2. Thanks for the comment on my blog about my keys and especially the reminder about the Harry Potter scene from book one. I'd totally forgotten about that! Obviously, we share a passion for vintage household articles ... so I'm totally wild about your new piece and the beautiful photos of apron patterns. What a collection. I'm old enough to remember making aprons (that I didn't wear and neither did my mother) because it was still a requirement for the Girl Scout sewing badge. My mother (not a sewer) sent me down the street to my paternal grandmother, an older woman who came to this country along with my then 17 year old Dad in 1953. We made aprons all day long on her treadle machine. I inherited that machine when she died and have special memories of aprons and the only sewing I really ever did as a kid! We didn't have a single pattern ... but Grandma seemed to know all sorts of variations!

    1. Susan, thanks for sharing your apron memories. How wonderful to make aprons on a treadle! Wouldn't that be fun to try! (I have a treadle, but it doesn't work.)
      I'm a brand new (thanks to Nina-Marie) huge fan of your work. Your key-to-everything are inspired.

  3. Thanks for the trip back memory lane! My mother used to wear aprons, and I still own some of the fabrics (scraps) she used for those aprons. And your pattern collection is just amazing !!

  4. Your apron quilt is so cute and your pattern collection is priceless! Boy, do they bring back memories.I still wear a bib apron when I'm cooking something messy, but none of mine are as adorable as those patterns. Thanks, for sharing!
    It's funny, but aprons have made a comeback. My son's girlfriend made one for her first project in a sewing lesson.

  5. Thanks quilthexle and Norma for sharing your apron thoughts. Yes, vintage aprons became a huge fad a couple of years ago, and I have one of the new books on the subject. Quirky, whimsical, retro, what's not to love? Thank you for stopping by!

  6. SOOO CUTE!!!!!!! Love your little quilt and the patterns too. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Glad you enjoyed it, Jeanne, thanks for stopping by!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Annie, your comment is below. I accidentally authorized it to appear twice!

  9. If there is anything that could get me back into the kitchen, it's a cutesy/tacky/hilarious apron. Unfortunately, even owning those doesn't make me an enthusiastic cook! Thanks for the historic perspective, Annie!

  10. Loved those aprons, Susan and your funky quilt too. Interesting how in the 1950s those aprons were so big and there was an attempt to lure women back into the kitchen and homefront where they "belonged" after WWII was over and there was no longer a need for Rosie the Riveter. Interestingly, the same thing happened in the 1920s and 1930s too, but I think perhaps not for the same reason, though that WAS after women had gotten the vote throughout the U.S.

  11. Oh my gosh - those little aprons are sooooooo cute! I'm always on the look out for vintage aprons, I never thought to look for the patterns. Great idea to make a super cute quilt. :)

    1. Thanks, Kit, glad you enjoyed them! Vintage aprons are a ton of fun, but bring out my hoarding instincts...

  12. That is a really cute idea! I actually wear an apron when I cook. This has been passed down to me through my Grandmother (also, I seem to be a target for food when I cook without one) So seeing so many types was a fun adventure, thanks!

    1. Carol, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! And I'm also glad to hear that apron wearing still goes on! I'm also a food target, at all times, maybe I should think about wearing mine permanently....Thanks for stopping by!

  13. A very cute idea. And the vintage sewing patterns are a hoot. I especially love the women in slinky dresses and heels, wearing a small apron that wouldn't protect them from much if they were actually cooking.

    My first sewing project in home ec in 6th grade was making a gathered apron out of pink gingham...

    Jill Williams

  14. Jill, you've got me wracking my brains to remember if we made aprons in my 7th grade Home Ec class (which was my first experience with sewing machines). I made a kerchief...and a psychedelic shirt...but I don't think aprons?! You're so right about cooking in heels with the teeny aprons. Maybe at that time, aprons were considered...dare I say it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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