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Someone must watch the baggage.

You only live once, as they say, so you might as well enjoy yourself, and have a nice apron while you’re at it.

At last I have finished the one I made to serve as a demonstration model for the apron class I taught for Crossroads of the American Revolution. Plain, unbleached linen (osnaburg), it will be a good, serviceable garment well suited to getting dirty through use. There’s a lot to be said for filth, and my first-ever apron has acquired a fine patina of stains and wear.

So why make a new one, aside from needing a teaching aid? Especially when you already HAVE a checked apron that’s looking used, and you have others in your wardrobe: why? One reason was the sheer cussedness of making the plainest, dullest, least-pretty item as finely and carefully as I could. Another was that the more I looked for apron data and examples, the more I noticed plain linen aprons. Yes: the preponderance of aprons are check, but looking at Sandby again made me realize that plain was documented, and under-represented in living history.

Sandby shows working women in checked and in blue aprons, but he also seems to depict women in plain, unbleached linen aprons, particularly the women in the street scenes. All the more reason to make up a plain apron, when your preference is portraying the urban underclass.

It’s also a good chance to hone one’s skills and keep in practice when you’re avoiding sewing the things that need sewing, like new shifts. And a basic project is meditative in a way that a new pattern is not: making stitches small and even is to sewing what scales are to piano playing or singing.

The first supervised apron I ever made is described here, and I’m pleased that my skills have improved since.

Stroke gathers are worth practicing, since they’re used on shifts and shirts as well as aprons; I’ve even used them on early 19th century garments to evenly distribute fine cotton lawn across the back of a gown. Sharon Burnston explains them here. I don’t know that there’s any one “trick” to them aside from patience and even stitches, but that “trick” will take you far in assembling pretty much every hand-made garment.