Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Aprons and their Uses

We're going to be playing with shapes.

"Say what now?"

Well, that's technically what we're going to be doing, working with rectangles and a square. Depending on the need, maybe just rectangles. In other words, we're making a pattern for an apron.

Before we jump into that, let's go over the different jobs of aprons, a little bit of their history, and why I'm recommending you start using them and know how to make one.

We in the modern world haven't enjoyed mass produced clothing for all that long. At most, we've enjoyed clothing in its current form for only 60-70 years. Aprons, however, have existed for a very long time, with some of the earliest examples found with the Vikings. These are actually fairly accurate apron dresses, as some of the pieces from grave finds have been remarkably intact.

In some of the oldest professions in the world such at wood carving, leather working and blacksmithing, aprons are worn as means of protection for the person. (You can ask Firehand about that last one.) Made from leather or heavy duty fire-resistant fabrics, these are meant to protect you from sparks, a slipped carving knife, or accidentally gouging yourself with your awl.

In the simplest terms, the apron was created not long after clothing in order to keep said clothing clean for longer and protection it from damage and you from injury.

Types of Aprons
I think everyone still to this day has a fond memory of a grandmother and her apron.
  • Waist Apron: Covers you from the waist down. Consists of a single piece (or multiple small pieces) shaped in a rectangle that cover the front of your legs and out to normally halfway across your hips.
  • Bib Apron: If you work in retail or food service, this is the one that you will recognize. It covers you from the chest down. For most jobs, the basic bib apron is the pattern and style you're going to end up using the most. 
  • Pinafore: An apron to keep the clothes of playing children clean back when the outdoors were our TVs and game systems. 
  • Tabard: Another type of commonly found apron in today's world. 
  • There are two or three others, however they're not relevant to this article. 

Who Wears Aprons?
  • blacksmiths
  • butchers
  • armor and weapon makers
  • cooks
  • kitchen workers
  • carvers
  • welders
  • furniture makers
  • leather smiths 
  • cobblers
  • tailors
  • jewelers
  • metal forgers (not the same as blacksmiths)
  • fishermen 
  • clock makers
  • homemakers
  • tradesman
  • most artisans 
  • masons
  • gardeners
  • weavers
  • spinners
  • dyers
Have I made my point on this part? Aprons are useful tools.

There's an attitude that you will see pop up in discussions about This is an attitude that tends to make me reach for the cast iron frying pan and wooden spoons.
We are all far too used to the mass availability of materials, and it's made us less careful and less appreciative of our things like our jeans and shirts. There's an attitude of "Why should I have to take care of my clothing, or know how to fix it, or make new clothes, when I can just get new ones?"

Even a non-Hollywood SHTF situation will devastate or force a change in your wardrobe:
  1. Being stranded out of town
  2. Escaping a bad relationship
  3. Theft 
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Severe illness that makes your weight go up or down drastically
  6. Loss of home and belongings due to
    • Fire
    • Flood
    • Volcanic eruptions (don't look at me like that! Close to 50% of the world population have to be ready for it. Just look at recent eruptions in Guatemala, Hawaii and Indonesia)
    • Tornadoes
  7. General Evacuation
Aprons are a way to extend the life of your clothes. It's the simplest garment in the history of the world, second only to the loin cloth. 

I've taken to using one as frequently as I can remember. When I'm cooking, washing dishes, or doing outside things, I'm wearing one. Now that I'm hand-washing our clothing, I need the clothes to stay cleaner longer than before. Heck, my first apron was crocheted. I still have it and still use it.

I started out with just a waist apron and realized I needed to turn it into a bib apron. I also have a regular fabric apron that I made a few mistakes with, one of which being a little too wide on the waist-covering part, overlapping by a good couple of inches in the back. I'm dealing with that because I manged to make it, and even with the mistakes I'm rather proud of myself for it. 

Making Your Own
  1. Decide on what the apron is for ahead of time. This determines your materials and how much you'll need.
  2. Do the opposite of what I did and measure your waist and hip area first  You'll be making your own ties or adding your own snaps to it, so knowing the dimensions will make cutting it to form easier. 
  3. Take your time making it. You might find halfway through it''' work better as a waist apron than a bib, or vice versa.
  4. Don't be afraid to upcycle a shirt or use scraps for it. (Unless you're making one for use with fire related activities -- I'm not sure how you'd be able to make a scrap leather apron)
  5. If you go really crazy and knit or crochet one and make a bib apron, leave the straps around the neck as ties. That's the best thing I've found to deal with the stretching.
The most basic of patterns for an apron is this:

....that's a little too basic, isn't it?  Never fear, the link monster is here:
The number of cheap patterns from all pattern makers for under 5-6 bucks is rather large. If you decide to go with more of a tabard style, try looking for patterns under the secondary term of "Smock ".

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