Already I can't remember where online I stumbled upon a vision of this Edwardian apron ("dress protector"), but immediately I was enamored with it. I considered asking my husband for a custom-sewn one for Christmas, and the sixty dollar price reflects a low hourly wage for the seamstress when the cost of fabric and the pattern is factored in. Instead, I decided this is an item I might like to make more than once, so I wanted to do it myself.
Do you remember the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility? I have always love the two bookend scenes: Early in the movie, Miss Marianne sprains her ankle during a rainstorm and is brought in muddy by the dashing but shallow Mr. John Willoughby. The ladies bustle about, removing their work aprons, which a lady would have worn, I imagine, most hours of the day except when socializing. Toward the end of the movie, the sensible and devout Mr. Edward Ferrars is announced by little Margaret and, again, all the ladies bustle to remove their aprons and appear casual, knowing that Edward is coming to propose marriage to patiently suffering Miss Elinor.
Aprons can be very romantic, in my book anyway.
And now with this pattern I could sew my own Edwardian apron in which to bustle about!
When a mother of four still-littles wants to sew, this takes some coordination.
Step 1. Find an available day. I noticed that the subsequent day, Daddy and the second grader would be on a little day trip. I decided that the world wouldn't end and my child wouldn't be doomed to educational failure if I skipped school for the Kindergartener for one day.
Step 2. Buy fabric. I just so happened to have a slow cooker meal burbling away, which meant I could dash out in the afternoon to the fabric store . . . with all four tots in tow. The scene was quite humorous (because if we don't laugh, we will cry).
Despite my reminders ahead of time about proper behavior, despite my offering that the kids could earn Reward Bucks for good behavior, there was much wandering away in the store, touching of cheap toys from the movie Frozen (and subsequent begging for them, "Mama, why aren't you one of those mamas that buys things like this?"). The three-year-old got speared by a dramatic splinter from a wooden shelf, such that I had to pin down the child screaming hysterically and yank it out, which actually caused a fellow patron to come find us and make sure the child wasn't being murdered or kidnapped. Children climbed on the fabric cutting table. And then a dear lady from our parish who is heavily pregnant with her first, long-awaited baby saw me, "Hi!" she said cheerfully. And at that moment, one of my children began punching another one on the back, with repeatedly satisfying thumps. The lovely lady admonished, "Be gentle!" while I actually chase the offending child to incarcerate said batterer. And that's when I announced that, no, I was not giving the children any Reward Bucks, nor would they be allowed to spend some of their allowance money on fat quarters of fabric because we were leaving now.
Step 3. Occupy the children.
The day dawned, Daddy and John departed on their day trip. If one is going to 'scrap' an entire day of normal homemaking, one might as well do it whole hog, as they say. Yes, I changed from pajamas into daytime clothing, but I neither confirm nor deny that I didn't even brush my hair or anyone else's. I left dishes piled in the sink and didn't sweep after feeding children food that might not count as a proper, well-rounded meal but certainly filled them up just fine.
I got to observe what the five- and three-year-olds would do when basically unsupervised, nearly left to roam the house by themselves with me checking in every so often. The Earlier Parent Me would be horrified at that thought, but the Somewhat More Experienced Parent Me understands desperate times calling for desperate measures and these days don't happen very often.
The girls made a complement of paper doll outfits. Then the five-year-old made an entire set of paper fish and a fishing rod with string and hook. Each of these projects left an explosion of paper scraps, scissors, glue, and tape lying about, but I let it lie. When the baby napped and I was sewing most in earnest, the children got to watch television . . . which is when I discovered that the five-year-old knows how to operate Netflix by herself (oh no). When the baby woke again, I paid the girls Reward Bucks (a reward system we use around here) to occupy their brother. After initial enthusiastic agreement, this was met by shrieks when the toddler tried to enter the fort they had made. I reminded them that their job was to occupy him, so he gets to enter forts, knock down castles, and walk off with kitchen play pots and plans.
Cutting the pieces for this apron was a reminder of one of my first sewing lessons, as given by my aunt. When selecting a pattern, review on the back the measurements for each size as they vary widely. Never (!) say to oneself, "I am a size X in clothing, so I must be a size X in this pattern." In the case of this pattern, I was four sizes bigger in size than I am in regular American clothing. One has to just swallow pride, remember that a size number does not change the reality of one's body up or down, then proceed ahead with the sewing. (Do you think that maybe at least once in the past I have refused to make the pattern's 'too-big' size, made what-surely-must-be-my-size only to discover it was ridiculously too small for me and I had wasted an entire sewing project? May'haps . . .)
And even then, I got to try my hand at making make measurement modifications (even bigger!) in a couple of areas. This degree of variance reminded me of wedding dresses (which are typically labeled many sizes bigger than clothing).
Thankfully, this pattern--which comes only with black and white illustrations by hand--comes with additional online photo instructions (and even a video to help with the inexplicable Step 2).
Also, I made my own bias tape, which results in a cleaner, more sophisticated look. I don't have a lot of experience making bias tape, but was able to muddle through following online instructions. The result looked very good and was well worth not buying pre-made bias tape.
This project was also a good example of cutting carefully. The pattern called for 4.5 yards for the pattern itself plus an additional 4 yards for making bias tape: 8.5 yards at regular priced fabric would be shockingly expensive for an apron. I bought the end of a role which was only 5-1/8 yards. Could I do it? By cutting judiciously in a much more creative way than laid out by the pattern, I had 3.5 nearly perfect yards left with which to make bias tape. Wow!
I couldn't quite finish the project in one long day, but almost did. Then followed three days in which my mind was distracted by wanting to finish this aspect or that tricky part, grabbing literally ten- and fifteen-minute moments between duties to sew some more.
|Pretend it's not 85 degrees out . . .|
imagine me wearing this around the home on a blustery winter day,
baking with the children or serving guests for dinner.
I have finished the apron and found this to be a very satisfying project. I note that the "dress protector" certainly makes me look like a plump matron, but, you know what? I am a plump matron! And being a homemaker and homeschooler of four children and nearing the closing out of yet another decade in age, a matron is a proper and respectable thing to be. We women sure seem to succumb to the worldly societal pressure that no matter how much age, wisdom, experience, and babies we accumulate, we're still supposed to look like we are unmarried twenty-somethings who wear single-digit size clothing.
I'm already pondering another version of this apron . . . I might try making it in a lighter fabric, but one still sturdy enough for an apron, in a length that falls just below the knee for a summertime version!