Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Check Apron Widths?


This past weekend, I gave a short presentation on Aprons and Handkerchiefs at the Hive.  A lot of the info was pulled from this blog, one of the reasons I write it!

For everyday aprons the survival rate is practically nil, so few of these well worn, practical garments survive.  So the everyday apron that I discussed was the blue check apron in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg, Accession # 1999-265

Made of blue and white linen check and dated 1776 with small white silk lettering.  But I always have a question and this one arises from the advertisements for apron checks in newspapers.


Newport Mercury, Jan 2, 1764

How wide are "apron width checks"?  Why list it apart?   The ad lists  3/4 wide checks, and 7/8 wide checks.  My math (poor as you will see) makes the 3/4 wide- 27 inches and the 7/8 wide -31.5 inches wide.  So what is apron width?

This apron is 55 inches wide, made up of two panels.

Here is my math error, in the program I divided 55 by 2 and got 22.5.  WRONG!  It is 27.5 and no one caught it, but I did in the end so all is well in apron land.

The fun fact stuff; Sharon B. was in the audience and pointed out the apron in Fitting and Proper, was also blue check linen.  It is 27.5 inches wide, butt seamed, and I believe the CW apron is also butt seamed.  So now I have two extremely similar aprons with the same width selvedge to selvedge.  Not a big sample to base a theory, but  I am going to do so anyway. With this second source, safely advising widths of check aprons to be at least 54 inches wide (as our modern fabrics will dictate).

Both aprons have narrow self fabric waistbands and figured tape ties.



Newport Mercury, July 7, 1764
So are these figured tapes the "Apron Tapes" in the reference?  For now I am going to say yes, having seen these kind of tapes also used on pockets.




10 comments:

  1. Dear Hallie,

    By figured tape ties, do you mean a colored pattern or a white-one white pattern?

    Any idea how heavy the thread is on the tape, and even some idea of the number of warp threads?

    Assume the tapes are linen thread?

    Am asking because I am learning to use a tape loom and am wanting to make tapes for the petticoat and apron on my ensemble. I can get handspun linen thread from Fort Boonesborough's little store here in KY.

    If you aren't sure of the answer, any ideas where to look? I thought of the Pennsylvania clothing book but that's so German-community oriented that am not sure it's representative.

    Thanks kindly,

    Natalie

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    1. Natalie, the figured tapes that I have seen have colored threads in the pattern and a check board type pattern with stripes on either side. I am sure there are a plethora of patterns that could be used. I will keep my eye out for a closeup image for you.

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  2. Dear Hallie,
    Thank you so much! Can visualize the checkerboard pattern: a nice, light-hearted touch for apron strings! Would love it you found a close-up...I've searched without luck so far but it's likely am not looking in the best places.
    Very best indeed,
    Natalie

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  3. Hallie, do you know what the finished waist and length measurements are on this apron? Thanks for a great talk on Sunday at the Hive!

    ~Ruth

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    1. Ruth, the apron is 55 wide by 40 long. I don't know the width of the waistband.

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  4. Nordiska museet in Sweden has six, or so, apron from the late 18th century. They are all made up from 2 panels, but though the museum list the size of the printed pattern and sometimes the width of the hem, they do not tell us the width of the panels. You will find all of them here:

    http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/search?query=f%C3%B6rkl%C3%A4de&rows=24&sort_by=&page=1&from_year=1700&to_year=1799&js=1

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    1. Thank you Isis, the aprons are lovely. A blog post for the future as well. I wish I could read the text.

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    2. I could translate it for you if you are interested. :)

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  5. Very interesting! Instructions for Cutting Out Apparel for the Poor (1789) specifies that aprons for women should be

    "Made of Check [...], called yard and half wide, but measures one yard one quarter and a nail only"

    The instructions say you need one yard and a nail of check, so the apron is obviously made from one single length, and thus a good candidate for "apron width". Note that the nominal width of 1½ yd equals two lengths of 3/4 yd wide fabric joined together (although the true width was 36+9+2,25=47,5" - about 10 % less).

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    1. These small details keep adding to our foundation of how wide our aprons should be!

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