I used to volunteer at a historic farm that did school tours and showed people how to shuck corn and cook in a woodfired oven, and all that jazz. We weren’t reenactors precisely, but we did dress in pioneer-esque period costume while we were working, or at least as close to period costume as we could manage on a limited budget. Making a skirt to wear there was one of the things that got me back into sewing. I think the review’s still up on Pattern Review and the skirt is still in the back of my closet. I made it out of this odd denim-crossed-with-seersucker from Joann’s and that sucker is heavy – at least 4+ yards of denim for a basic floor-length skirt gathered to a waistband. I wore it with boots, a ‘shirtwaist’ from H&M (has ever a more divergent phrase been written?) and a couple different aprons. My mother had an apron that used to be her mother’s that I used, and then I made a few more. All of those aprons were simply rectangles with a waistband, or two rectangles with a waistband and neckties, made without a pattern*. One time I even cut out and then ’embroidered’ buttonholes by hand. I should drag that fine specimen out of the depths of the closet and photograph it, because it is truly execrable craftsmanship.
If you want to get a bit more fancy with your aprons, Karen @ Did You Make That has just launched an Apronalong. She’s not going for any sort of formal schedule, I don’t think, just a lot of apron-related content and a sewalong with tutorials and such. Maybe if I join in, I’ll actually finish that clothespin apron from Decades of Style I’ve been meaning to sew for a couple years now.
Speaking of Decades of Style, I was reminded when I searched for that link that they’ve got a few vintage aprons that would be really good choices for a new apron. The one-yard bias cut apron from Decades of Style was one of my first completed sewing projects – I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a brand-new beginner, because there are lots of curves and either a lining or a lot of bias binding, but it does give a nice resulting shape. I’ve not tried either Val’s Apron or the Protect and Serve apron, but both have a nice mid-century shape and some detailing without being too fussy to actually work for cooking. A lot of the Big 4 aprons are ruffly and more intended for visual interest than practicality. The vintage and indie aprons tend to be more functional. The Paisley Pincushion also has some nice aprons – I’ve got the Shopkeeper Apron, which I think I bought during my volunteering phase, but didn’t get around to making for my costume. KwikSew also has a few aprons of varying degrees of ruffle, including some unisex options.
*For a half-apron, just cut/tear a square or rectangle that’s a few inches wider than half your waist measurement and as long as you want. Cut two longer skinny pieces to be the waistband, sew them together on one long end, gather the square to the other long end in the middle, and topstitch around the waistband to secure. For a full apron, add a rectangle for the bodice and connect to the waistband similarly, then add neckties to the top of the bodice. There are probably instructions for these in vintage sewing books, or maybe it’s so basic an idea that it would be like one of us writing down how to write an email.