“Dainty” Apron Directions

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, March 20, 1911: Windy day, also snowy this morning. This was the last snow of winter unless we get some more before midnight. Today was Mollie’s birthday. I forgot to pull her ears. Carrie Stout was over this evening. She brought me a birthday present. It was a dainty white apron. Mother said, “It was only a patch.” Well I’ll have to say good-by to fifteen years and pass on to the next. Wonder if I will get any more presents.

Spring of the year, brightest of seasons.

Flinging grim winter into the past.

Leading us on to a happy vacation.

Making us joyous, while life can last.

First day of spring for thee I have waited.

Impatiently, eagerly, day after day

Longing, yet dreading the approach of my birthday.

Sorry, yet glad, when it passes away. 

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s sixteenth birthday will be the next day (March 21). Mollie was Grandma’s cow, and it is mentioned several places in the diary. Grandma’s parents must have given her Mollie as a calf (probably as a birthday present a couple years before this diary entry). Each year in the diary Grandma mentions when Mollie had a calf. If the calf was a male, Grandma was allowed to sell it and keep the money.


I wonder if Grandma’s friend Carrie made the apron for her. Grandma’s mother must have been a practical person who prefered large bib aprons that provided lots of protection from spills–but if you’d like to make a dainty apron I found the directions in a 1911 book:

Two sewing aprons can be made from three yards of lawn thirty-six inches wide. Tear the goods into three equal breadths. If the edges are uneven, pull the cross-wise threads into shape by stretching through the bias. From one length tear four strips, thirty-six inches long and six inches wide for the ties, and two lengths for the belt bands. The latter should be three inches wide and two inches shorter than the waist measure.

Take one of the remaining large pieces and turn up a four-inch hem at one end by folding over a narrow turning and creasing evenly. Make a second turning four inches wide and crease. Baste along the line of the first turning and hem neatly with small even stitches, using fine cotton and a small needle.

Beginning with the selvage, slope the apron off a little at the top to keep it from hooping up at the front. It should be one-half inch shorter at the center front than at the sides.

Gather the top three-eights of an inch in from the edge and stroke the gathers. Draw up the threads, making the apron two-thirds of the waist measure. Pin the middle of the band to the middle of the apron on the right side. Hold the gathers toward you and back-stitch to the band. Hem the ties with three-eight-inch hems at the sides and two-inch hems at the ends. Lay a plait in the upper end making it one inch in width and back-stitch to the end of the band three-eights of an inch from the edge. Turn the band toward the wrong side of the apron, turn in the raw edge three-eights of an inch and hem to the gathers, covering the line of sewing. Turn in the ends of the band and hem them to the ties. Overhand the remaining spaces on the band.

The Dressmaker (The Butterick Publishing Company, 1911)

The directions call for lawn cloth.  Lawn is a light, fine, high-thread count linen or cotton cloth.

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