Monday, 20 June 2011

Homage to a well-loved apron

My beloved apron - its last outing
I love putting on my apron: it feels like an active, physical signal to my brain that I am about to lose myself in the warmth of some baking or cooking. As the loop goes over my head and the ties are wrapped around my waist, I have come to realise that I feel a sense of relaxation and relief washing over me that for an hour or two I am about to immerse myself in, floury worksurfaces; sugary, vanilla scents; and then, if the children are home, requests to help; or the arrival of a small face beside me asking what I'm making; and then the satisfying feeling of there having been a beginning, middle and an end when the lid is finally pressed down on a tin full of flapjacks or a lasagne is carried over to a table of hungry mouths.

My apron ceases to just be any old apron when I have baked so many memories from the last five years into its fibres.The cotton is soft and old from being washed so frequently and it drapes with so little starchiness that often I'll find that I'm still wearing it several hours after the oven has been turned off and the cooling racks cleared away without having noticed. Its simple geometic black and white print goes with everything and makes me long for some kind of weird apron dress to come into fashion so that I can wear one over my jeans the entire time. 

But there's a flipside to all of this. There's a scene in the film of Roald Dahl's 'Matilda' where Bruce Bogtrotter is made to eat a cake the size of large footstool in a school assembly as punishment for stealing a slither of the headmistress's own cake. When the headmistress asks for the cake to be brought in she tells him that 'Cooky' has baked something special for him. The school cook appears stage right with the enormous cake, as the headmistress tells Bruce that Cooky has put her 'sweat and blood into making this cake' for him and that he must eat every last crumb of it. Cooky is an intentionally repulsive character: waddling and greasy, wearing an apron so stained that when the headmistress says that she has put her sweat and blood into making the cake you know that this statement is a literal, rather than a metaphorical, one. Anyway, I had come to feel like Cooky in my beloved black and white apron. No amount of stain removers could hide the evidence of having cooked with wild, splattering abandon on so many occassions. I worried that the children would inexplicably go off their food and only reveal to me months later, wasted and thin, that the apron was just too off-putting; or that my husband would start dreading coming home to find his grubby-looking wife in the kitchen again; and even that it was no longer fit to answer the door in and that a flurry of de-aproning must be carried out as I hurtled down the hall toward the door.


And so I have made a new one. I traced around my old one to make an identical pattern for it. It's made from Amy Butler interior decor weight cotton that I've had in my drawer for a few years and the neck loop is made from some beautifully soft webbing that I found in there too. The first time that I put it on it felt all wrong. But then I realised it was because I had been thinking too much and so tied the straps at the back, like an apron should be. However, I realised that when I don't think, I put the apron over my head and make a double fold in the fabric at the waist, before tying the straps around and fastening them at the front on my left hand side. Does anyone else do this weird fold thing at the waist? I have no idea where I've got it from or why I do it, but it somehow makes the apron feel right and perhaps brings the waist line and straps up to wear they rest most comfortably (so perhaps it's a short person thing? Maybe those with longer torsos wouldn't do this?).


Do you have an apron attachment? Or do you have something of a multiple apron wardrobe that stops this from happening? Does the apron that you're wearing affect the mood or flavour of what you make? I'm wondering whether I would cook in an entirely different way were my apron to be bright red with vibrant flowers.

Florence x

21 comments:

  1. I totally do the double fold thing too! I am also a bit of a shortie... Lovely new apron though!

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  2. Sometimes, I think if I boiled my apron, it would make a particularly nourishing broth (like the idea of stone soup).

    And you should be in Japan. Florence. All self respecting housewives wear their aprons out and about whilst doing their shopping or running their errands. Taking pride in the pinny!

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  3. I love your new apron and wish you many happy hours of use!

    Matilda!
    Yes! I remember Cookie - UGH!
    She turned me off dirty, stained aprons for life.
    I now have a rotating selection of aprons, and am constantly using the "perfect parts" of the older ones to make other kitchen stuff, like little table mats, oven mits, play aprons for kids, and most importantly of all, painting/gardening aprons if they are sturdy enough.
    Most of the stains land around the hip/torso area with me, so there is usually a good piece of material from the hip down to make tea cloths out of to cover the baking as it cools.


    It's another way of preserving the memories!

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  4. yes i most definitely do the double fold thing with my cath kidston apron.
    i personally like to cook in different aprons for different purposes. baking requires a different apron to cooking in my opinion. my cooking apron doesn't get half as much use as my baking one because i loathe cooking. but baking ... hmmm now that i can't resist doing!

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  5. Hurrah! That's so good to find that so many others feel compelled to double their apron over too.

    Ali - that's so exciting to find that is a normal thing in Japan, so there is a chance that it could catch on! And yes, upsettingly, I think a tasty broth could be made from mine too...

    I like your repurposing ideas Jemajo - and yes, maybe that would feel easier than throwing it out altogether.

    Memory Laines - I love the idea of having one for baking and one for cooking - I love doing both, but you're right, they do have such a different feel to them, that I now think that they may indeed require different aprons.

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  6. I'm tall-ish and long bodied and I don't do the double fold but I recognise the urge to tie at the front. Anything else would be wrong. But, if I am tying an apron on one of the girls, it feels so right to wrap her in it and tie a huge bow at the back.

    Enjoy your new apron and all the meals it brings. What happened to the old one?

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  7. I have three aprons (admitted in almost a whisper of shame...) and even so, having seen yours, I'm thinking about making another...

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  8. I do the double fold thing (although tied at the back). I think its leftover from baking as a kid and wearing my mother's apron. I badly need to make a new apron or three - everyone in our house (including the two-year-old) shares one stained white apron that I think came from a boot fair years ago.

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  9. I don't do the double fold thing (I am 5'10") but I always double the strings around teh back and tie them in the front. I don't like the baggy feeling I get otherwise if I don't.

    I love the fabric for your new apron

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  10. Oooo do you know, I just had to involve myself in this pinny talk (suprisingly)!!! I love pinnies, everyone should have one and look and feel fab in them. Mine are probably the most glam items in my wardrobe. I have four, and love them all. I am sure that this number will increase as I often find myself slightly reluctant to put them up for sale in my shop...some just don't make it there!! I never double fold my ties but I guess that is a style thing as I did when I wore a simple apron style ( a really awful red stripe butchers one!). Yes, time for a pinny revolution...wear your pinnies with pride ladies!!!!

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  11. I do the double fold thing, I think it is a throwback from when I used to wear my mother's or granny's aprons (as a previous poster has said). I am also a shortie though so normal bought aprons don't tie up anywhere near my waist. I ought to make my own perfect sized apron one day, I've done them for the children so it's only fair I have my own too.

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  12. Love your new apron. Although I aspire to be a domestic goddess I'm afraid I'm far from it - although still trying. My husband bought me my beautiful apron for my birthday when we found out I was expecting our first child. I told him I couldn't be a good mummy without a good apron. It's more like a dress than an apron really. It's kinda 50's style and made from Amy Butler fabric. He got it off etsy. I love love love it, the only problem is that I'd rather spoil and stain my clothes than my apron!

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  13. I'm short and fold my apron at the waist, too. And I, too, would quite happily wear my apron all day over my jeans (and frequently do! heehee).

    Love the new one!

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  14. I am 5'10" and dont remember the last time I hitched anything up! I dont do aprons...partly due to having 2 little boys so my clothes are never clean for long!, but also the memories of my mum with her pvc aprons which always seemed to be a little bit melted at the waist- the kitchen was small but I dont think she had to stand quite so close! Aprons associaie with the smell of melted plastic!

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  15. Twistedhazel21 June 2011 13:45

    I totally do the fold and tie at the front thing too. I did it for years with my work apron, so much so that it has a weird faded fold line in it, and felt wrong, wrong, wrong if put on "normally". I have a new apron-less job now and don't feel that ready to go feeling you get from putting on a pinny!

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  16. Ooooh... I love my apron... it's filthy, but I love it so.

    I got mine in a charity shop a couple of years ago, it's of a very simple construction but the fabric is lovely, all english garden flowers and butterflys. I saw the apron hanging in the shop when it was closed whilst out for a run, and before I had pressed myself against the glass I knew I would be back for it first thing the next day.

    I wear mine pretty much all day every day.

    Ah, aprons... good work on bringing a new one into the world!

    x

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  17. love the new apron. now I know what to do with my broken old baby. trace and create!

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  18. I love aprons and have a collection! Some secondhand finds that always make me wonder who wore them before, and some new ones i've made. I really like your new one and hope it wears well.

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  19. In her book 'Home Comforts' Cheryl Mendelson says you need 2-3 aprons in the kitchen - a good excuse to get some more of your stash out on show, I'd say. Plus each one should last longer if you have a few. Have you ever had one where the ties and neck strap are one continuous piece, threaded through? Makes for a very good fit, I find - but you do need a separate loop for hanging it up by or it travels down the strap and ends up on the floor.

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  20. I do the double fold and tie at the front thing - I'm average height (5'6) but I have a large apron that I bought from a catering supply shop purposely so that I could do the double fold tie at the front thing. Sadly it is getting a bit old now.

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  21. Yes I do the double fold thing too, otherwise I am sure it would be nearly on the floor!lol I am currently looking at fabrics to make myself an apron, the last one was purchased but I am looking forward to making one, possibly with a cupcake design print.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x