Saturday, October 12, 2013

World War II Era Apron Patterns

Back in the day when resources were limited, our foremothers used their creativity and ingenuity to come up with the things that they needed from the things they already had on hand.  These simple yet functional aprons are an example of this "make do or do without" attitude.  These patterns came from a vintage World War II series of craft books.

You'll need to draft the patterns onto larger paper and the very general instructions including measurements and directions are listed here.

These patterns were created for experienced seamstresses who had some sewing skills.

The Frill Apron
This first pattern is a pretty bib apron with ruffles.  It calls for 1-1/2 yards chintz or cotton print fabric and one yard plain fabric 36" wide.

The instructions say:
"For the skirt, cut a piece 27" wide and 23" deep.  Fold lengthwise, as at A (illustration below), then measure down from the top and in from the corners the distance indicated and mark the dots.  Using the dots as a guide, mark the outline of the apron skirt."

Illustration A

The dimensions for the bib are in illustration B (below):

The pocket pattern in illustration C (below):
Illustration C

The instructions for the ties and shoulder straps:  
"The ties are 6" wide and 36" long.  The strip for the belt is 2-1/2" wide.  The shoulder straps are cut 4" wide and then creased through the center."

And for the ruffles:
"The ruffles are cut 6" wide.  The ruffle material before it is gathered should be 2-1/2 times the length of the space it is to fill after gathering.  Use your machine hemmer foot shown here for hemming the ruffles."

Hemmer Foot

Half Aprons
The suggestion for these half aprons was to use unbleached muslin either by-the-yard or back then, flour or feed sacks.

The instructions say:
"The diagram shown here gives you cutting dimensions for the skirt part of a plain little apron; and shows how to shape the waistline.  Belts for half apron are rather wide now -- 2" or 2-1/2" finished.  Ties are generally 4" wide and as long as you like."

The best part about this little project was that ladies were encouraged to have a sewing bee and plan and cut their aprons with a group of friends.  The idea was to trade trimmings and share resources.

Three Aprons Pattern
This is my favorite, three aprons from one length of fabric!

The instructions say:
"You can make your own pattern for this apron with the dimensions in the sketch.  If you are following the trend of using un-dyed materials make the aprons of unbleached muslin, and very gay they will be if you use bright bindings and colorful scraps for the round appliqué flowers and triangle leaves.  The binding will make lattice and finish edges of pockets.  Three aprons may be cut from two yards of 36" fabric with almost no waste."

The cutting diagram: 

If you have some sewing experience you'll find these patterns to be a good guide to get you started.  If you need more guidance in creating an apron, either for yourself or for a gift, visit my shop for some fun, retro full sized paper apron patterns.  The full size paper patterns are ready for use and don't require any drafting.

The vintage pattern books that these patterns came from are full of all kinds of awesome do-it-yourself projects!  These apron patterns will get you started on your own make-do project!


  1. Goodness, this is clever! Thank you for posting it.

  2. Thank you so much for visiting Sentimental Baby -- enjoy!!