Play Aprons for Children Making Mud Pies

burlap bag 1

Are children’s play aprons and mud pies a relevant topic for a post on A Hundred Years Ago? This blog is about food and related topics. Today I may be stretching the limits,  but somehow it seems to work on this muddy spring day.

Now that spring is on the horizon, children are playing outside again—and horror of horrors– perhaps making mud pies. They may need a play apron.

Here are hundred-year-old directions for making one:

Play aprons for children may be made most satisfactorily of burlap. An ordinary feed bag will do.

For the material on the shoulders cut a kimono clip apron having a square neck large enough to permit dropping of the apron over the child’s head. Do not seam it, but bind it all around with some bright-colored material and fasten under the seams with large buttons and loops.

This kind of apron requires little washing, as the coarseness of the material prevents the dirt from sticking to it. Such aprons will protect the children when playing in the sand or dirt, or making mud pies.

Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)

Sometimes when I read old magazine articles, I’m surprised how much times have changed. A hundred-year-ago so many people must have still had such close ties to farms that a mass-circulation magazine like Ladies Home Journal thought that readers could easily get an “ordinary feed bag” made of burlap.

I also can’t quite picture parents putting burlap aprons on their children today. And, do kids still play in the mud? What about the germs?

P.S. I know that the burlap bag in the photo is not anywhere close to being a hundred years old, but it brought back nice memories of Agway feed bags that we had on the farm when I was a child.

51 thoughts on “Play Aprons for Children Making Mud Pies

    1. Our ladies group through the Country Extension uses this type of bag from feed and bird seed to make grocery bags/tote bags and then sells them to raise funds for our service projects. They are very sturdy.

    1. I’m intrigued by how the thriftiness of people during the depression actually helped conserve resources. I also find it interesting how thrifty and cheap have similar meanings, yet thrifty has a more positive connotation.

  1. Not only would it be hard for most parents to find feed bags, I wonder how many of the mothers now would know how to sew…not my two daughters. 😀 Fun post.

  2. Interesting read.
    As for your question “what about the germs” – some new researches claim that children today are more prone to allergies and weak immune system exactly because they are not exposed to such things as playing with dirt and spending more time outside. Too much hygiene is actually very bad for us.

  3. We played in mud right off the front porch. I’m sure Mother groaned inside, but she didn’t get after us. Back then mothers expected their children to get dirty, didn’t they? We knew not to drag excessive dirt into the house, but I’m sure we were never punished for playing nicely together.

    My brother and I punished ourselves once. We played in the long, square boxes that insulation came in. I think those were early days for glass fibers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those splinters were still embedded in my skin. We writhed with unscratchable itches for days! A burlap apron would not have protected us.

    1. Anne! I did that too! Not in the box, but found insulation near a construction site on a walk home from school. I took it home and played with it until my mother figured out what I was up to. Lol. Not good.

  4. What a delightful post! I remember mud pie making. 😄 My children did it,and I hope to see grand children do it. Better than playing on computers all day. Neat way to recycle feed bags. BTW ,I like your sack. A child wearing that while making mud pies would be so cute!!

  5. Fascinating post. I actively help with our local primary school’s after-school-care program. I’ve always been impressed by how the organisers focus on craft, outdoor play, story time and healthy snacks. They even teach the older children to cook. Perhaps I’ll suggest these aprons to them, although all our old shirts get used as smocks.

  6. I must say that when I look back at my childhood, I can’t recall having made even just one mud pie…although my childhood was not 100 years ago…but it certainly feels like it was. Lol. Perhaps I missed out on something. It’s never too late though… 😉

    1. hmm . . .My memories of making mud pies aren’t that great. If you’ve managed to miss making mud pies for this many years, I’m not sure it’s worth trying now. 😊

    1. I agree that doing laundry was arduous a hundred years ago – and that’s probably almost an understatement. Sometimes I think that methods for doing laundry have changed more across the past century than many other household tasks.

  7. Funny enough I was just in Hawaii and I bought a handmade bag made of the material that would hold kona coffee beans (burlap like). I use it now for some of my jewelry! I love it.

  8. I loved playing in the mud when I was a kid, but I have to admit that I don’t think I allowed my kids to do it. It’s good to know they had that fun 100 years ago, though, even if their aprons were made of burlap.

    1. I’m like you. I played in the mud as a child, but my children never did. I don’t think that I did’t allow it, but rather that we lived in the suburbs and there just wasn’t very much mud around.

  9. I played in the mud now and then, but I don’t remember making mud pies. In any event, an apron wouldn’t have done me much good, because I generally was sitting flat on the ground. Our folks assumed that the best mud-playing outfit was bare feet and a bathing suit — or maybe shorts and a shirt if it was cooler.

    There’s growing assent in health and scientific circles that obsessive concern with cleanliness is more harmful than helpful. Immune systems develop by being exposed to low levels of pathogens, and too many children are being kept in bubbles. Playing outdoors, going barefoot, sharing colds with classmates, and eating unwashed fruit all help to create strong immune systems. Of course, I did have one classmate who took it a little far. He’d eat spoonsful of dirt for a nickel, and spend the money at the penny candy counter. But he was willing, and we paid, and he’s still alive and kicking. 🙂

    1. Must not have done any damage if he’s still alive and kicking. 😊 Like you, I think that I sat on the ground –or maybe was on my knees–when I played in the mud.

  10. Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to read what parents did a hundred years ago. Today, I let my twin girls roll and play in the mud with as little clothing as possible. After play, I would just hose them down with water! Of course this is only possible when the weather is great.

  11. . Playing outdoors, going barefoot, sharing colds with classmates, and eating unwashed fruit all help to create strong immune systems.

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