Sunday, December 13, 2009
Apron, Apron, Apron, Apron...
I've made lots of aprons, to give as Christmas gifts, along with matching napkins. For the napkins, I cut large (between 15 and 18 inch square) fabric, and used my 3-thread rolled hem function on the serger to finish. A little fray check at the corners, and done! The napkins complemented the aprons. In some cases, I had enough fabric to make exact duplicates, but in other cases I had to find something that would coordinate - in mood, if not in actual color.
Some of the fabric came from my mother-in-law, Carol, who was a painter and craftsperson. She was trained in flat pattern design at Chicago, in the 1950s, and was extremely talented. She was generous with her knowledge and work. She died a few years ago, and like most of us who sew, she had, and left behind lots of fabric. Hers was mostly cotton, as she pretty much did crafts and quilting in the last 20 years of her life. I used some of her fabric to make these aprons. I plan to give these aprons to family members, in part as a celebration of her, and so that others can enjoy the fabrics she had selected but never used. She was a prolific quilter, so these fabrics had been purchased to become quilts. Back in the 1990s, I did a lot of quilting myself. I finished several full sized quilts, and some lap quilts and wall hangings. After a while, though, I got back into sewing garments pretty exclusively. During my quilting phase, she was a faithful teacher and advisor. She was always very supportive of my sewing, and gave me lots of gifts related to sewing. Fabric, tools. I have a very old steamer, called a "Steamstress", that she gave me, and it still works wonderfully. Hams, point turners, scissors, and sewing instruction books came from Carol. When Nick, my husband,was small, she sewed a lot of clothing for him and his three brothers and sisters. She made his Easter suit many years, as well as many dresses for his sisters. I would like to think that she would be happy that I used some of her fabric to make gifts for Christmas.
For the aprons, I made 7 versions of view D, of Butterick B4945. This is such a fun, flirty style! Last summer, I made a version of view C for myself. View D is faster to make, as it doesn't call for pockets (of course, I could have made view C without pockets, but I feel view C would lose it's charm without pockets!). And view D has a single hemmed circular band to finish the bottom, which is fast to make. One of the aprons is a copy of one I have. It's pictured further below.
I think the part that takes me the longest is doing the apron strings. This is despite the fact that I use my rotary cutter to make short work of the cutting, and after sewing, I use my loop turner to turn the ties right side out. I think what takes so long is the part when, after turning the ties right side out, when I make sure the ties are pressed properly and that the seams are straight and that the fabric is not folded in on itself. Then, I topstitch the ties before putting them onto the apron. This is time consuming, but makes the apron much more durable. In fact, I pretty much topstitch or edgestitch everywhere I can. These are supposed to be durable utility garments, so topstitching is de rigeur, in my view.
I'm not normally one for production sewing as I love variety and get bored easily. But I kind of enjoyed this, sometimes in a zen kind of way. I was making these aprons in batches of two, so that I could take advantage of using the same thread in the machine, and I would do sequences in which I'd sew both parts of both aprons at the same time. At non-zen times, I cranked up my stereo, listened to music by groups like Def Leppard ( in opposition to my seemingly mild mannered and quiet outward demeanor, I like - no LOVE - loud and raucous 1980s music). It was fun to time myself to see how fast I could get things done.
There's more where these came from! I may post more pics later.
This blue apron, above, is copied from an existing apron I have. I think the original came for free, as a membership premium in a cookbook club I was in. The original was white, with blue ties. This is blue (as you can see) throughout. I put a contrast bit in at the hem and also at the top, where the ties go in, which also serves to reinforce. This one, above, is trimmed with rick-rack, which I also found in Carol's sewing room. This rick-rack is so old that a packet of three and a half yards (unopened) was priced at 15 cents, and it was 100% cotton. This is the first time in over 20 years of sewing that I've EVER used rick-rack. I wore dresses with rick-rack on them when I was little (dresses made by my grandmother Eleanor), but never sewed with it before now. I think this one is my favorite of all.
The green fabric was bought by me less than a month ago, from a store called Spool in Philadelphia. This store has a great selection of cottons, and they seem to be doing a nice job of introducing sewing to a new generation.
And here's Midget who got in on the wrapping action today.