Sunday, April 8, 2018

Making the 1888 Ladies Kitchen Apron

The Historical Sew Monthly challenge for March? Comfort at home. Make something to wear around the (historical) house. I was stumped on what to make. None of my planned historical sewing projects really fit that theme. The one that could have fit the theme would have been a massive undertaking, which I really didn't have time to do. So, I started brainstorming.

I quickly dismissed most of my ideas as they would either take too much time or require materials I didn't have on hand. Eventually, after considering all my options, I settled on a project. Something quite simple, very practical, and incredibly "homey". An item that I did need in my collection of historical clothing, but I'd never bothered to make for my self. An apron.

Once that was decided, I was faced with another decision - what type of apron would I make? A half apron? A full apron? What fabric would I use? After mulling this over in the back of my mind for a while, and looking at all sorts of pictures on Pinterest, I finally figured it out. 

In my fabric stash I found 4 yards of blue calico, on Pinterest I found an 1888 Ladies Kitchen Apron pattern. So, I put the two together.

The national garment cutter book of diagrams (1888)

Ladies' Kitchen Apron 1888
I pulled out some clear plastic and my 1" gridboard to size up the pattern. That went surprisingly quick and easy!

Once I cut out my pattern, I pinned together the darts and seams. This essentially gave me half a plastic apron, which I proceeded to fit to myself by pinning the center front of the apron to the center front of my shirt and adjusting things as necessary. I cut and pinned the plastic, adding width and length where needed, until that half of an apron fit me reasonably well. 

After that was done, I plunged right in, cut out my fabric, and made my apron. Typically I make mockups of all my historical sewing projects, but I decided the apron was simple enough, it wouldn't be necessary this time. Thankfully, I was mostly right.

I bound the pockets and straps in homemade striped bias binding, sewed the apron together, dressed up in my 1890's clothes, then tried it on.

It fit! Well, almost, the waistband was actually a little too short. Thankfully, that was easy enough to extend, and doesn't affect the functionality of the apron at all.

Now, after only one evening and one afternoon of work, I have an easily washable garment. It's perfect for protecting my less washable historical clothing from dirt and grease while I go about day-to-day activities - and it works for protecting my modern clothes too! While it's not the most exciting of projects, I certainly needed this apron, and this month's challenge was just the push I needed to make it! 

Ladies Kitchen Apron

Challenge: Comfort at Home 

Material: Cotton calico and a striped cotton for making bias tape.

Pattern: Sized up from an image of an 1888 Ladies kitchen apron pattern I found online.

Year: 1888, but I will wear it with my 1890s outfits.

Notions: thread and homemade bias tape.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is accurate, the construction is all by machine, which is fine for this era. The pattern on the fabric is questionable, so let's say 90%

Time: About 5 hours. 2 for patterning, 3 for sewing.

First Worn: 3/31, for pictures.

Cost: All stash, so $0!


  1. It looks so beautiful. Well done.

  2. Hello Alyssa, What a fantastic job you did on your apron project. And what a great match , the fabric and the binding, and those lovely big pockets. Being that I live in dresses, aprons are a must in the home. I like the pinafore style (very much like yours) which is called an "Edwardian" apron, long with full coverage. I am rarely without my apron on. I would have liked a photo from the rear to see how it all fits together. Blessings, Grace.