Thursday, 17 July 2014

Red Apron

I hadn't settled on what I was going to do for the Under $10 challenge for a while, but with the countdown to Raglan marching away, it made sense to combine my to-do list with the challenge. I had wanted a new apron for some time, because even though there's one or two extant short aprons out there, in every picture I've seen, Italian aprons are worn as full length, and I just couldn't get over the wrongness in my head, so a full length apron was called for.

Aprons were a common accessory for the Italian woman, with very fine linen aprons for ladies such as the narrow, finely embroidered apron worn in the 1534 Portrait of a Young Woman by Parmigianino, and well preserved extant examples still available in museums today, such as these two lace and embroidered examples, from the as seen on the Realm of Venus and the Met museum sites respectively.

That said, while I want some day to have an apron as fine as the example above, a piece so elaborate would never fit come in under $10.  Thankfully, while the plainer aprons may have been worked into rags leaving us with no extant pieces, there's plenty of examples of plainer garments in art and plenty of examples available by Vincenzo Campi, such as The Fruit Seller, 1580, and Kitchen Scene, 1580-1590. 

Now, when I started this, I had planned to use my heavier white linen, but it went hiding and my red linen came to hand instead. Fair enough, as above, there's still plenty of precendent for coloured aprons in Italy. I decided to make a fairly wide apron, like the ones at appear in the pictures above, so I could make a workhorse of it. But it was when I was studying a detail from the kitchen scene above that I noticed something interesting.

The lady with the blue apron, bending over; there's not just one tie for the apron as we see in most extant examples, there two, to ensure the apron is held in place around her hips. I thought it a brilliant idea to stop a stray wind from catching the apron on furniture and pulling it completely out of the way and allowing the dress to be soiled. For someone as routinely clumsy as I, this was a must have!

The pictures of the finished item were kindly taken by milady Sela, but you'll have the excuse the modern clothes under the apron. The apron sits above ankle height, so it'll finish above the hem of most of my kirtles.

You may notice I chose to make up my ties, fingerloop woven linen thread as it happens, in two different colours. As I mentioned the clumsiness, this is to make sure I always tie the pairs of ties together right, and don't end up with a tangled mess at the end of the night. Ok, less likely to end up with a tangled mess. Or I can just make some more. 

The Challenge: HSF #13: Under $10
Fabric: : Red linen
Pattern: None really, just a simple rectangle of fabric with a rolled hem, and the bottom hem cut on the selvage to reduce sewing. 
Year: Anywhere in the 16th century
Notions: Cotton thread for sewing and linen thread for the closures.
How historically accurate is it? 95%.
Hours to complete: I think it was about 2 hours sewing, with another 30-40 minutes for the cord making.
First worn: Just for the pictures, but it'll be getting a lot of wear at the upcoming week long event.
Total cost: The linen cost only €4.50, and I used less than a metre, so that combined with the cotton and linen threads brings in the total at about €6.25 (or $8.45 for the sake of the challenge).

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