If you drop by my house and I’m not writing, I’m probably wearing an apron. I’ll also be wearing one if you spot me outside tending or watering the flowers. My love of aprons goes hand in hand with my love of domestic life. And making messes.
I wear an apron when cooking, cleaning, and doing projects indoors and out. For practical reasons, yes. But also because I like what my apron says — that I like my domestic work, my household puttering and projects, my gardening and home tending. These aren’t things I just squeeze in; they’re things that I choose to make up my day (and life) and that I have a uniform, of sorts, for.
Of course, the practicality of wearing an apron is its strong suit. Aprons protect our clothing from splatters and stains when cooking. My aprons have saved many garments from soaking up grease stains! (Cotton fabric, in particular, is easily stained in the kitchen, I’ve discovered!) Aprons also keep my clothes from getting very wet when doing dishes.
Something I hadn’t considered until recently, though, is that aprons work in both directions. A clean apron protects the food we’re preparing from the germs (and pet hair and whatever else) that might be on our clothing from the day’s wearing while they’re keeping our clothes clean.
Aprons also protect clothing from soil when gardening, paint and other supplies when doing household projects, dirt when housecleaning, and art supplies (paints, glues, etc.) when doing arts and crafts.
I appreciate that I can dig into a quick, grubby project and not have to change clothes afterwards, as long as I wear my apron.
Types of aprons
I love all kinds of aprons. I have a beautiful new embroidered apron that was gifted to me and a collection of vintage gingham waist aprons (with cross stitch embroidery), too. Whenever I tie on an heirloom apron, I think of the woman who made it. My fancy and vintage aprons are the ones I iron and wear on special days — and hang in my kitchen to admire. Because they are waist aprons (they cover from the waist down), I don’t usually use them when cooking. (I’m a messy cook — splatters reach clear to my shoulders!)
My hardest-working apron is a crossback. It’s my favorite for everyday use because it provides full coverage and just slips on, without tying. It’s super comfortable, sturdy, and easily washable. Mine is a serious gray; I’m planning to use it to fashion a pattern and make several more in prettier fabrics.
My friend Ona (who taught me to can and bake cakes and always offered an apron when I worked in her kitchen) wore cobbler aprons. These are sleeveless aprons that cover front and back, similar to a large vest. Some have side ties, some have snaps down the front.
Another apron that offers fuller coverage is the bib apron (French chef’s apron or Barbeque apron). The bib apron is maybe the most popular today, worn not only by the person tending the outdoor grill but also baristas and artists.
Wearing an apron is something I enjoy sharing, too. (If you help with the dishes, I’ll offer you an apron.) I have an array of colorful aprons the grandkids can choose from when we do art projects, and they each have one for helping to cook. Cooking with Nana is a loving ritual — put on your apron and pull over the stepstool!
I have aprons for each of the grandkids, which I’ve made from fabrics I thought they’d like. (It’s time to make bigger ones, in fact.) On a weekend visit some time ago, our granddaughter Olive and her BFF Anna made mermaid-themed aprons before we dug into cookie making.
Do you wear aprons? Did your mom or dad or grandma or grandpa? What memories are tied to those apron strings?
If you love aprons, you might enjoy The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort by Elynnanne Geisel.