Sunday, April 20, 2014

All for Accessories, Accessories for All: A Ruffled Apron- Preliminary Research

Happy Easter! Spring seems to finally be peeking its head out in Northern Illinois, which means event season is upon us. With events, come my desire for new items in my wardrobe. While I am plucking away at a new pair of stays not only for myself, but for three lovely friends, as well, I want to make something beautiful that will actually be seen by someone other than myself! (You know the feeling, right?)

Inspired by Sarah Woodyard's Morning Ramble ensemble (view it here at Two Nerdy History Girls or check out the project as they progressed via the Margaret Hunter Shop on Facebook), I decided to attempt an apron unlike any apron I've made before: one that's dressy and with ruffles!

While surviving aprons accessible via the internet aren't exactly abundant, there are a few aprons done in whitework that are documented, as well as silk with a combination of embroidery and lace. There are also a couple aprons out there that represent the lower sort (but that's a post for another day/another apron.) There are probably way more in collections that aren't view-able online, but because I'd like to start my apron this weekend for now I'm limited to what I can get my hands on via the web. Even though we may not have a ton of extant aprons online, perusing the collection at the Bunka Gakuen Library, I found this lovely lady:
Check out her apron- Ruffly love!

That's kind of the effect I'd like to get. Luckily for me, when I was at my last workshop I picked up some sheer striped muslin with a fancy apron in mind. Angela helped me figure out how much to get and gave me a rough idea of measurements. I didn't even think to ask for more detail regarding construction- doh! Oh, well. Live and learn, right?
The striped muslin from B&T. Single
layer on bottom and double near top.

While the apron in the first print isn't striped, I like the idea of a stripe for mine. It's legit for the period, too. (Yep, I just said legit...) Another search of the Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collection returned this studious beauty:
There is a subtle stripe to this apron similar to that
in my fabric. 
Let's not forget checking any advertisements available, either. A cursory search of the Virginia Gazette Archives turned up this little nugget:
"Just imported in the last ships from London, and to be SOLD on reasonable Terms by the Subsciber in Williamsburg, ...striped bordered Muslin Handkerchiefs, flowered and striped Gauze Aprons, plain Gauze, long Lawns..." (emphasis added) Virginia Gazette, October 15, 1772

All things considered, I'm feeling pretty good about this apron. I think it will be a nice addition to my wardrobe and (bonus!) a good chance to practice my rolled hems to prepare for the High Hair and Coquettish Caps workshop coming up this May. Not bad a'tall, if you ask me. =)


  1. I bought a spotted muslin from Angela a few years ago with that same apron in mind to make. She had to help me figure out how much to buy, too. It's interesting that the ruffle around the edges aren't the same width as the bottom....maybe we'll get them done at the same time and be twinkies!!!

    1. Awesome! We could do an apron sew along or something. =P I've honed in my cutting directions (I'll post about that soon) and hope to start sewing within the next week. I'm kind of taking a guess at the construction techniques, but hopefully I won't be too far off.


I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts on all this, so please feel welcome to comment here :-)