An Edwardian Apron How-To

With the pinafore apron as good as finished, I am now taking a moment to tell you some more about its make-up. Since there do not seem to be that many Edwardian pinafore patterns around, this post will provide a brief mini-tutorial. Perhaps it will inspire some of you to create your own, very pretty, pinafore apron. :)

Well, let us start off with the original diagrams and pattern instructions from “Buch der Wäsche” by Brigitta Hochfelden (c.1900). For the sleeveless pinafore, there are three different pattern pieces altogether, which are each to be cut on fold: The apron body, to be cut twice from the fashion fabric; a yoke front and a yoke back piece, which are each cut once from the fashion fabric, and once from the lining. Furthermore, you need to make an 1 1/3″ (4 cm) wide apron belt that reaches about one and a half times around your waist.

The three pattern diagrams and original sewing instructions from “Buch der Wäsche” (Number XXIII, starting on the bottom left).

[Note: Originally, the pinafore had four pattern pieces. But since our modern fabrics are often wider than the original period fabrics, the side gore piece, labeled “C”, can be included into the apron’s body pattern piece.]

The book suggests to use blue, striped Madapolam cotton for the pinafore. This is a very dense, yet light, cotton with an equal count of warp and weft threads. In some respects it is similar to batiste fabrics, only with the advantage of being sturdier and somewhat stain-proof.
(So,why did we invent plastic-coated apron fabrics again?)

Instead of the Madapolam, I made my pinafore from blue-and-white striped cotton shirting. For everything, I needed a little bit less than 2 1/2 yards of 55″ (145 cm) wide fabric. For the yoke lining, I used an 11″ (approx. 28 cm) piece of white cotton canvas.

When drafting and cutting out the pattern pieces, I felt very brave and drew the apron body straight onto my ironed and folded fashion fabric. Luckily for me, this went very well (whew!). I have already shown you a photo of this little stunt’s outcome earlier this month. But here it is again:

The pinafore’s body piece after cutting out.

For the belt and trimmings, the original instructions call for “0.25 m [80 cm wide] of colored applique fabric” and a 1 cm wide ornamental band to finish the hems on the shoulder trims. Another thing that is different here, is that the fashion fabric is used to line the yoke and a different, plain piece of cotton is used for the outside. But, since I wanted to be especially practical for the “Practicality” challenge, I made both the yoke and the belt from self fabric. The scrap piece used for the belt was 6 1/3″ (16 cm) wide, before I quartered it and sewed it up along one of the long edges.

I made the shoulder trims from two scraps of doubled cotton voile. According to the book, each of these trims is to be 60 cm long and 10 cm wide. To fit into the top of the pinafore’s armholes, the trim is then gathered down to about 30 cm lengths. Since I opted for a knife-pleated trim instead, I started out with two 90 cm long pieces.

The knife-pleated, 30 cm long shoulder trim.

To make up the apron, I first sewed together the apron’s two body pieces at the sides. Since the body is unlined, I used French seams for this step. Technically, you could also flat-fell them for a sturdier finish. Next, I gathered up the body’s two top edges.

In another step, I put together the yoke shell and the yoke linings at the shoulders. They were then attached to each other, wrong sides together, with a seam running around the yoke’s neckline. After trimming away the excess fabric and snipping the corners, I turned the yoke right side out. All around the outer yoke, I folded under the raw edges by about 2/3″ (1.5 cm).

I then attached the pleated trims to the lining, right sides facing. To the bottom edges of the yoke lining, I attached the gathered apron body, this time with the insides facing each other. All the raw edges were ironed into the yoke and covered with the outer yoke’s folded edges.After finishing that step, all that was left to do, was to finish the bottom half of the pinafore’s armholes with bias tape.This is what the apron looked like at this stage:

The pinafore after assembly.

With all the edges finished, I attached the belt at waist level, near the right side seam. When it is wrapped around the front and back from there, the closure rests near the apron’s left front edge, just like in the sketch I shared in my previous post. Here is a picture with the belt, just before hemming the pinafore’s bottom edge. In the photo, you can see the belt’s placement. I will add a pictures with the closed belt once the apron is completely done. For the closure, I used a single sturdy steel hook-and-eye. :)

The belt attached near the right side seam.

And, in under 1000 words of blogging, the Edwardian pinafore is already put together. If you like, you can add a pocket near the right thigh. As of yet, I am not quite sure if I want to add a pocket to mine. But we will see, once I put up the challenge post… ;)

Hopefully, my little how-to post will help you to make your very own 1900s pinafore apron. If you have any further questions, about the make-up or the diagrams, please ask away. I will see you again soon. Until then, I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Much love, Nessa

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2 thoughts on “An Edwardian Apron How-To

  1. Nessa says:

    Thank you, Mimi! I haven’t looked at it like this before. Now, there is a good pretext to watch Sense and Sensibility again. Perhaps it will inspire me to make a matching Regency-era apron. :)

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