I have so, so many heroes in historical costuming; from the very first Janet Arnold book I bought in the 1980s, through hundreds of costume curators and costume makers who share their knowledge so willingly, through to Leimomi the Dreamstress herself, who through the HSF/M and her thoughtful and well-researched blog posts inspires and challenges so many of us.
I also have historical heroes, although my interest in history focuses on the everyday and the ‘ordinary’ more so than the rich and famous.
My plain linen apron is a working garment inspired by the millions of ordinary women in history who worked day in, day out, in household work, family care, agricultural work, textiles work, and factory work.
It’s also inspired, in part, by Leimomi’s Fortnight in 1916; which challenged me to think more about a deeper engagement with costume and how I might explore that further. I’m not planning to do a week in 1916, or in 1816/17, anytime soon. Even next year’s Jane Austen Festival Australia, wonderful though it will be, won’t be a weekend entirely in 1817, although I expect to help out in the kitchen for some meals. I wanted to make an apron (or two) for that – and as I can be a klutz at times, I wanted it to cover a decent amount of the front of my dresses.
Hand sewn button holes and shell buttons close the back:
The Challenge: #10 – Heroes: A linen apron, honouring all the women who have worked behind the scenes through history to care for others
Material: White linen IL019 from fabrics-store.com – approx 1 metre from stash
Pattern: drafted myself
Notions: Gutermann 100% cotton thread; Aurifil 100% cotton thread; two shell buttons
How historically accurate is it? Entirely handsewn, including the buttonholes. The shape is historically accurate, although the particular style seems more often made in black taffeta than white linen. I wanted a working apron, though, not a lady’s apron, and black taffeta is better suited to protecting the dress from stray needlework threads than from household dust.
Hours to complete: I didn’t count.
First worn: Only for photos
Total cost: Linen from stash, about1 metre, $15 worth (including postage from US)