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Aprons Return to the Kitchen

Updated on January 19, 2016
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Apron Rennaissance

Donna Reed wore an apron. Mrs. Cleaver wore an apron. All of the best TV moms of the classic 1960s sit-coms wore aprons. Even pin-up girls wore aprons — and little else. What is it about the humble apron that is so intriguing, so feminine, and so sexy while at the same time being so practical?

Whether you long for a practical bib apron with straps or a half apron with ruffles there is an apron for you. Aprons for men, aprons for women, and aprons for children abound on the internet and in brick and mortar stores across the country. They are being snapped up in the thrift and antique shops, too. Aprons seem to be returning to the kitchen in droves.

Image is via Stitch Through Time.
Image is via Stitch Through Time. | Source

Vintage Aprons

Vintage aprons hold a special place in people's hearts. They are often beautiful whether they are the everyday variety or made for a hostessing occasion. An apron conjures nostalgic thoughts of country kitchens, apple pie, and warm biscuits, fresh from the oven.

Not surprisingly, many people are collecting these vintage aprons. They tend to be inexpensive, and can be displayed in a number of creative ways:

  • Hanging on hooks or pegs
  • Used as valences in the kitchen
  • Make an indoor clothesline against a wall and use the aprons as décor
  • Hang on a doorknob
  • Sew into a plastic bag holder
  • Use your imagination!

Stylish Aprons for the Mid-Century Homemaker

Aprons were at their stylish peak during the 40s and 50s. Prior to that they were a mostly utilitarian garment but during those years a homemaker often had one apron for working in the kitchen and one for actually serving the food. It was a sign that she was an experienced homemaker, could afford more than one apron, and good at her job.

Aprons and Women's Lib

By the 60s aprons began to be seen as a symbol of the oppression of women and were relegated to chefs and men at the grill. Women began wiping their hands on their comfy jeans, and the towel that was on the counter or conveniently tucked into a back pocket. For most people aprons were passe.

21st Century Popularity

In the past few years the resurgence of the popularity of aprons has been amazing. Maybe it is the desire to relive the graciousness and comfort of the American Dream of the mid century. Maybe it is because aprons are a great way to protect clothing. Maybe it is because they are just so darn cute!

Taking Care of Vintage Aprons

Vintage aprons should be hand washed in mild soap and hung to dry away from direct sunlight. Stains can be rubbed with a little lemon juice and then the apron left in the sun to dry. Rinse well and wash as suggested.

As far as being collectible, you can find vintage aprons all over the internet. eBay is one place that they can be inexpensively purchased:

Not Just Vintage Aprons

It isn't just vintage aprons that are being sought, though.

Aprons of all types are popular now. Funny aprons with humorous sayings, canvas aprons for men, and aprons for the Easy Bake Oven crowd. There are many cottage businesses that are providing aprons as fast as their sewing machines can go.

When you are choosing an apron consider how you cook and what your needs are. If you do a lot of baking then a full bib apron of a long wearing fabric like canvas is probably the best type for you. If you are cooking simple foods than a cut half apron may be what you are after.

Men who wear aprons when barbecuing often like the full canvas apron with funny sayings. These make great gifts for Father's Day!

Finding Modern Aprons with a Retro Feel

Jessie Steele is a company that has made aprons made in retro styles and patterns their specialty. The aprons have cute motifs like cupcakes and hearts. Polka dots mixed with other patterns are also popular. The aprons are made in several styles, including both full and half aprons, with ruffles and without.

Flirty Aprons are made with high quality materials and in fun designs. There is often a mixture of patterns and colors that make them all kinds of fun to wear.

Stitch Through Time creates vintage inspired aprons, too. The patterns include special fabrics for holidays.

Etsy is another great place to find cute aprons. When you buy from sellers on Etsy you are supporting work at home moms and cottage industries. The aprons vary in design and pattern but you may have to wait a while for delivery because they are made by hand.

Make a Denim Apron

Sew Your Own:Free Patterns for Aprons

Another way to get aprons is to sew them. You can use either vintage inspired fabric or any good quality cotton fabric. If you like the idea of upcycling try making your aprons from men's patterned shirts from the thrift store. You may be able to make an entire apron from a $1 shirt. Vintage table cloths, tea towels, and kitchen curtains are all good ways to get vintage fabric, too.

All of the big pattern companies make patterns for aprons of all styles. You can also find free apron patterns online:

Check for Quality

Whether you are collecting vintage aprons or wearing vintage inspired aprons, owning them can be a lot of fun.

When buying any aprons always check the seams and the quality of the fabric. When you are unable to do so, for example when you buy online, be sure that you thoroughly understand the return policy of the seller. Using Paypal can benefit because if there is something wrong with the item you can dispute the payment.

Enjoy these colorful reminders of a simpler era!


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    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 4 years ago


      Love this hub.

      I sometimes wear an apron. My little granddaughters, (with the help of their mom of course haha) made me one a couple years ago. And I love to sew, so am thinking of making myself one also. Thanks for the useful information and links, and for this well-written hub!

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      Hope aprons catch on WorldWide, they look so homely.

      Great hub and voted up.

    • texasgirlfw profile image

      texasgirlfw 5 years ago

      Good hub. Very entertaining and I am always looking for aprons.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

      Love aprons! Great pictures:)

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the great post..Nice

    • carolp profile image

      Carolina 6 years ago from Switzerland

      I always have aprons in my kitchen. I can't cook without wearing one. Thinking of buying new sexy aprons after reading your hub. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Web Hosting 6 years ago

      Truly the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly.

    • profile image

      Apron 6 years ago

      Your hub is really great and I love to wear colorful aprons and love the above collection of aprons..:)

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Wonderful hub which has the best pics of apron that best suits all purpose you want to use it for.

    • profile image

      Marie Smith 6 years ago

      I love aprons! My mother never wears one--but she doesn't really ever cook. My mother in law always wore an apron. I started wearing aprons after ruining way too many of my favorite tops. Carrots seem the worst for staining.

    • profile image

      Bethany Culpepper 6 years ago

      Funny! I collect vintage aprons. Love them

    • profile image

      Makita MAC700 6 years ago

      i have plenty of them with me , but they just keep hanging out there and i miss them most of time. wish i could use them some day

    • profile image

      kitchen island designs 6 years ago

      I also have a clothes pin bag that my granny made before she passed away. I have also made one of those that I use when hanging clothes on the line to dry. I look forward to more postings on your hub.

    • Mokibobolink profile image

      Mokibobolink 6 years ago from Southern California

      So funny that I've been thinking about getting an apron after moving into a new place with a nice, big kitchen that has inspired me to really cook. An apron seemed like the next step. LOL. Thanks for the info!

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 7 years ago from Malaysia

      A refreshing and original writing. I like your topics, new and interesting for me. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Mary 7 years ago

      The day I got married I started wearing aprons and that is probably, because I love to cook. I always get very massy in the kitchen. It protects my cloth from stains. Also handy for wiping your hands, when they get sticky from cooing with grease and suggar. Why I love aprons so much is that all my aprons have handy nifty pockets.

    • profile image

      KellyEngaldo 7 years ago

      I love aprons! Thank you!

    • scanzin profile image

      scanzin 7 years ago from Not Spcified

      Very informative content. I can see you put a lot of thought and hard work into creating your hub. Hope it pays of for you.

    • Gift Experts profile image

      Gift Experts 8 years ago

      Very useful ideas...


    • MrsEmmaLee profile image

      MrsEmmaLee 9 years ago from West Central Georgia

      Wonderful Hub, thank you! Like a few comments before me, I too collect aprons, have for years. And I actually use them too. Your hub made me sit here and think of exactly why though.. what is it about this humble garment? I do feel more in control in the kitchen, though an apron also makes me feel more comfy in the kitchen. I feel sexy in an apron, (and at 50, trust me I have plenty on beneath it), but there's something about an apron.. my husband sneaking up behind me... MMmmm.. well, guess I have something else to think about now... thanks again Marye ~wink~

      Wishing love and laughter

    • Holly Hobbie profile image

      Holly Hobbie 9 years ago from Rural Eastern Kentucky

      I love your hub. I made about five aprons for family members at Christmas. I used an apron that my granny wore as a pattern. They were a big hit with my aunts. I love preserving family history and heritage. I also have a clothes pin bag that my granny made before she passed away. I have also made one of those that I use when hanging clothes on the line to dry. I look forward to more postings on your hub.

      Holly Hobbie

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

      My grandmother wore an apron everyday. Got up at 5:00 every morning. Had sausage,biscuits and gravy every morning and lived to be 100. Enjoyed your hub.

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 9 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      I DIG aprons! This is cool, although I think that apron-making girl could have done better than a string for a waist tie. Even the seam of the jeans would be nicer.

    • Cailin Gallagher profile image

      Cailin Gallagher 9 years ago from New England

      Super article. I wrote a short story hub entitled "The Apron"! They symbolize so much for women, both positive and negative. I think they are just darling. I collect vintage aprons.

    • HubSub Urban Mom profile image

      HubSub Urban Mom 9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I inherited some of my grandma's aprons and you're right about them being stylish -- her aprons are from the 40's and 50's and they are totally cool. My kids used to play house with them. They are priceless as far as I'm concerned and will be handed down to my daughters. (I myself have never used an apron, but sometimes after a stint in my kitchen before a party I look down and wish I did!) Very nice article, pics and video!

    • Blogger Mom profile image

      Blogger Mom 9 years ago from Northeast, US

      Great hub - I enjoy wearing my apron. I think it makes me feel more in control in the kitchen...more sure of myself, or something. ;) - Deb

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

      What a cute Hub and a great idea! My mother-in-law wouldn't have been caught dead in the kitchen without an apron. I still have a couple of her aprons I refuse to get rid of. Personally, I have never used one, but probably should! lol

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Unusual topic. My aprons are all utility models! Thanks for an entertaining hub.

    • dutch84 profile image

      dutch84 9 years ago

      i just did a "suit and tie" hub...

      I swear I wasn't copying your fashion editorial idea!

      ...just a coincidence.

      By the way, great article!