Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Workwoman's Guide, 1840

I have been discovering Google Books lately. It is amazing what you can find! As I like authors from years gone by, it is not hard to find something interesting.
I did a search on "aprons" and look what I found! A fascinating book from 1840. A sewing book really, on how to sew just about every household item. Curtains, dust cloths, bassinet covers, bed linens, day caps, drawers, petticoats etc... Here is the bit about aprons.
If for common use, aprons are made of white, brown, blue, black, or checked linen, of black stuff, calico, Holland, leather, nankeen, print, or long cloth ; if for better purposes, of cambric muslin, clear, mulled, or jaconet muslin, silk, satinette, satin, &c. The length of the apron is, of course, generally determined by the height of the wearer, and the width, by that of the material, and by the purpose for which it is intended. For working aprons, the width is generally one breadth of a yard wide; for dress aprons, two breadths, one of which is cut in half, and these halfs put one on each side of the whole breadth. If the material should be wide enough, one breadth, of from fourteen to twenty nails, will answer very well.
The simplest kind, and that generally worn by working men, is a yard wide or more, hemmed at the bottom and at the top, with a string run through to tie round the waist. It is thus worn by brewers, &c.

PLATE 11. FIG 12.
May be worn either as a common or as a pretty dress apron, according to the material and trimming. It may be made of silk, coloured muslin, or print. After being properly gathered into the band, two shoulder-straps, in the form of four lappets, are cut out, either pointed, as in A, or rounded, as in B. These lappets may be piped, and either edged with lace or fringe, or left plain. For a full size, the lappet is five nails along the selvage, from D to C, and one nail and three-quarters from C to B. The two straps are sewed together at C, and fastened with a bow of ribbon. The lappet is piped all round with a strong cord, to make it wear well.

PLATE 11. FIG. 14.
This is a neat pattern for a housekeeper, cook, or kitchen-maid. The bib is quite plain, and pins to the gown at the corners. The size given in the Plate is suitable for a girl, but the bib should be cut to suit the wearer at once, and not made by guess. The apron is made of check or strong linen.

If you absolutely need to read the rest of the book, here is the link. It is quite fascinating! And goes along with the most resent mini-series I have been watching, Cranford.


  1. that is fun, you never know what you can find on Google!! I can just see the lady's of Cranford wear those aprons !

  2. What a great find! And I like Cranford too. I actually have a little tiny copy of Cranford from the Henry Altemus Publishing Company, part of their Vademecum series. It's from the turn of the (other) century, but half a century after the book you found. I love the 'By A Lady.' :-)

  3. Yea! I love the books on google! I stumbled across this and thought you would like it. Go to slide 15 for the apron portion

  4. I am getting Cranford out of the library. As much as I find google books fasinating, there is nothing like falling asleep over a Real book. :-)

    Thanks for the link Kade! I love the little girls. It was a fun slide show.