1830s Pantry Apron – Part One

Much of my late night sewing lately has revolved around the 1820s and 1830s… not necessarily because I find these decades particularly appealing, but rather because the museum I work at is expanding (and improving) its collection of reproduction clothing for the volunteers. Since the programs are mostly based in the 182os… well, you can figure out the rest! With the spring season of programs about to begin, the 2013 sewing list is as follows:

  • 2 men’s shirts
  • 3 men’s aprons
  • 2 waistcoats
  • 3 women’s aprons
  • 6 caps
  • 6 pelerines and/or chemisettes
  • plus petticoats and dresses as needed for new volunteers

The recent Workwoman’s Guide cap that I completed was a test run for new caps and now that I have that behind me, I’m turning my attention to the men. 5 yards of coarse brown linen was procured for three aprons and once again I turned to The Workwoman’s Guide. Plate 11 Fig. 15 illustrates ‘A Pantry Apron’ and the here’s the accompanying description.

We’ll be using some of the IL090 unbleached linen from Fabrics-store.com and that’s currently in the midst of being laundered to get the expected shrinkage out of the way. A sewing day is scheduled for volunteers on April 6th so at this point I’m just drafting patterns and then cutting things out to have ready for our cadres of sewers!

Here’s what I’ll be using for cutting dimensions:

Width: 40″ wide
Length: 44″ long
Tape for neck: 22.5-25″ (tape width will depend on what I have on hand)
Pocket: 15″x9″

In case you haven’t been following the math… 1 nail = 2.5″

As a result… once all this is hemmed, the corners will be turned down 13.75″… shown as the A-B measurement in the illustration. That will leave about that same width covering the chest where the neck ties are attached. Interestingly, no ties are shown for this apron which makes me wonder if this served more like a smock and the fullness of the apron would be splayed out over the lap while seated and doing the messy chores mentioned in the description – trimming lamps, cleaning shoes and knives, etc. 40″ seems pretty wide for an apron but regardless of who ends up wearing it – they’ll need ties to keep it on since the volunteers are on the move during their programs. No seated interpretation here!

Based on the dimensions I calculated, each apron will take 1 1/8 yard of 60″ linen. As soon as I get one or two of those cut out, I’ll be moving on to “Gentleman’s Workshop Apron” which is Fig. 16 on the same Plate. As a parting note, I just have to mention how amusing the lack of scale is on these illustrations! The workshop apron is one nail narrower but drawn nearly 50% wider… go figure!


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