I’m going to be taking a potentially messy pigments class at Fruits of our Labours (better known as FOOL) a Society for Creative Anachronism event on the May long weekend.
As I’ll be wearing 16th century garb, it struck me that I’ll seriously want to protect my clothes. Which raised the question of aprons.
Almost all the many aprons in 16th century art – and earlier, for that matter – start at the waist and cover the front of the skirt. That’s always puzzled me. I’ve never noticed that splatters and splashes conscientiously restrain themselves to landing below the waist. Surely “women’s work” was just as messy in the middle ages & renaissance as it is now, so where are the full frontal coverage aprons?
I had a faint tickle of memory that I had seen at least one image of such an apron, but I couldn’t pin it down, so I sent out a plea on the marvelous Elizabethan Costume facebook page. The membership came to my rescue with a number of images, including this one.
Then one of the members had the brilliant suggestion that a pair of scoggers (sleeve protectors) might be a good idea as well. A good idea indeed! Thank you, Tracie!
The construction of the apron is guesswork. From the images, it looks like the aprons were made from two rectangles, and the necklines range from a simple casing with a strap threaded through it to many fine gathers anchored down somehow, with a separate strip sewn on as a casing. I suspect the gathers are the back side of smocking. Even using a very sturdy thread, unsupported gathering lines would eventually break, which would make for a truly annoying mending job.
With the width of fabric needed to cover my skirt & leave enough room to walk freely, the simple-casing design would have been ridiculously bunchy & ugly, so I went with the reverse side of smocking. It’s still a serious volume of fabric, but at least it behaves itself!
I did cheat a little with the drawstrings – the visible parts are linen tape, but I spliced a piece of elastic into each one so that I could get the scoggers on & off by myself. With just the linen tape, I’d have to have had someone tie me into them each time!
I also added a few stitches in blue linen embroidery floss on the inside top so that I wouldn’t have to figure out which way is up each time I put them on!
The is is probably the shortest garb project I’ve ever made. Even with doing everything but the long seams by hand – including felling down the apron seam allowances – I got it done in the few odd corners of time available in two very busy weeks!
Yay rectangles, straight seams and one-size-fits-most!