By Mary Johns IMG_2412  IMG_2413

We have been woefully behind the times in the barn area when it comes to aprons, and this week we have decided to remedy that. We had a huge Old Joe tour yesterday (even Abi and I were on tour, which only happens in emergencies these days, if that tells you anything;), and we have pretty much run out of all costumes for that era (1880’s). So…since we didn’t have time to make everyone a new costume, we decided a good way to up the visual authenticity of the costumes was to add good aprons! We have some, but seeing as its fall, and we have about 12 girls on BBQ line on Saturdays, we didn’t have any decent ones in stock. I’ve made a few really good ones recently for a project (Calico Ghost Town, Lane House and Museum), so I pulled out my notes and what not, and we got to work. Here are some details of the above apron, which was for the project.

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I was getting antsy, wanting to do more research, but at Abi said, “We don’t have time, get it done!”, which was very true. So here is what we were able to pull off in about 2 days.

1889 Kitchen Apron

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This one is the same as the one above, minus the bottom ruffle. I used almost every square inch of the fabric I had, and this apron was not destined to have a ruffle. I tried to make it more adjustable by just adding ties to the back instead of doing the belt that goes around to the front. I would be fine if we were making it for a specific person, but right now they need to fit many people. I don’t like the way it is more bunchy at the waist, and am wondering if its due to the fabric. The first one was out of a nice cotton shirting, and this one was out of homespun.

1868 Apron

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This one is a little early, 1868, but it had some of the same elements of one from 1878, so I went ahead and tried it out. It definitely needs some work for me to really like it. The earlier skirts are needed to help hold it out right, the back of it keep falling below Sarah’s skirts when she wore it. The bib is pinned, and I like the pockets.

1878 Apron

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This is the one from 1878. As you can see it has the pin up bib, with darts (which I love!), and it wraps around and buttons in the back, same as the one from 1868. This one needs a few adjustments, and it will be wearable. It needs a little more fullness for it to fit well. It gets some weird gapes on the back were it wraps around. I think if we add another panel to the skirts, or add some width to the existing panels, it will eliminate the problem. This one was made by Abi (glitches not her fault, using an original pattern!).


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Here is the same one again, but from the earlier project. I just noticed that Abi didn’t put a ruffle on the bottom, or lace around the bib. It was a working apron, and this one is more of a dress apron, but we may need to add some ruffles;) This one is out of fine white linen, with covered buttons from a cotton embroidered piece, the ruffle has an eyelet band on the bottom, and the eyelet is on the bib also.

1878 Apron


This one is from 1878. I looked at a drawing and made a pattern…I really like this one! I will admit, I made this one today, after the mad rush of costuming yesterdays tour. The waistband is very simple, and just buttons in the back, to size. It was for Lizzy, our kitchen manager at the barn, so I knew what size to make it. The bib pins on this one too. We have two of these in dark brown linen, but I think we will add pockets to them for a finishing touch.

Indicative of the era Apron


I like this one, it is one I designed using period elements for our BBQ line girls, but we always use white for them. This one is a tiny tan and white check. The waistband folds over on the sides and the straps are long, they crossover in the back, then feed through the little waistband casings and tie at the waist. I thought I was so original and then I read something somewhere (oh I wish I had the fabulous quote to insert here!) that talked about this very thing being done! But hey, at least I was thinking along the right lines! I did it this way so that the straps are adjustable for many sizes, and the waist is too. We do make bibs in several sizes, and the waist bands are not all the same size either, so if we get close to someones size they look pretty fitted. The only thing I really want to add is pockets. This one was made by Abi.

1909 Servants Apron, for 16 or 17 year old girl

1909 apron front  1909 back 1909 closeup  1909 back closeup

This apron was made a while ago, but I’m on a roll….;) And I used the bib to make for the next apron….

Mix-mash of many apron styles from the years 1880-1909

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This one is a bit of a conglomeration…I took everything I loved from all the aprons I’ve made recently and put them together, and I must say I really like the way it turned out! I used the pockets and the ruffle from the 1889 apron, and the bib from the 1909, and the rest is from the one I made up with the straps feeding through the little casing on the ends of the waistband.

I was going to do more apron research tonight, but this post took longer then expected! I have a feeling that the barn aprons are well on their way to a nice accurate mix of styles that will fit in nicely!


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