Friday, February 12, 2016

A Peek Inside: Vintage Ric-Rac Gingham Apron

Kelly was wondering about a how-to on the pretty vintage ric-rac gingham apron shown in Miss Abigail's valentine set. She admired the vintage flair and thought it might be simple enough to make with a little direction. I didn't sew this apron, so I don't have a pattern to share. I thought I could at least take a few close up pictures and explain how I think one could re-create it.

This apron was actually a gift from one of the older ladies in the Stanley Homemaker's Club, of which Abigail and I are members. The Homemaker's Club was officially formed in 1942 as part of the old County Extension club program. We are no longer formally affiliated, but rather meet twice a month for tea and conversation. I love our "show & tell" meetings especially. Abigail was born into the club when most of the ladies were already grandmas and they spoil her flagrantly! Peggy is in her 80's now and this was once her apron, reportedly hand-made by a member of her family. It is probably between 45 to 60 years old. Gingham was especially popular in the 1950's as a domestic fabric. Aprons were often made with gingham and embellished with cross-stitch embroidery and ric-rac.

The half-apron is sewn on a machine, but the bottom hem and the ric-rac are sewn by hand. It is 35-inches wide and 20-inches long, with a deep 3-inch hem. Three rows of medium black ric-rac are offset with two rows of baby black ric-rac. You can see a tutorial of the technique used to apply the ric-rac in this tutorial I wrote about ric-rac pillowcases.

The body of the apron is not gathered to a waistband, but rather has four (.75-inch deep) pleats which narrows the waist to 20 inches. A simple rectangular facing (2.75 x 20-inches) finishes the back and creates a waistband for the apron. The pleats are about 3-inches tall. More ric-rack is applied to the waistband.

The ties measure 2.5 x 27 inches (narrowly hemmed) with the end turned up and tacked into a point. They are attached underneath the facing.

Finally, a pocket, measuring 5.5-inches wide by 5-inches deep is sewn on the right hand side of the apron. It is attached 3-inches down from the bottom of the waistband and 6.25-inches in from the right side hem. Because of the pleats, I'm sure the pocket was attached before the pleats were sewn.

 I agree with Kelly - the apron is darling, and could be re-created with just a little experience with sewing. I'm so pleased that Abigail has this in her hope chest, both to remember Peggy and to dress up a little when she feels like it.

P.S. Please remember that the measurements are finished measurements. One would need to add allowances for seams and hems.

BTW - How do you think ric-rac should be spelled? Rick-rack?


  1. Hello! :) I found your blog when one of the ladies in our Knitty Meetup mentioned your fabulous "fat crochet" hot pad. You do beautiful work; Miss Abigail is so lucky!

    I think gingham is gaining in popularity again. Or perhaps it's just me who loves it so much. :) Rainbow gingham is a thing to make me smile. I've always seen rickrack as one word, no hyphens. All get the meaning across!

  2. Welcome Rosey. Thanks for the kind words. I agree that gingham is enjoying a bit of a come-back. I learned how to hand sew on gingham because it is so easy to follow the pattern. Wright's brand calls this wavy trim Rick Rack and so does Webster's dictionary, but the labels used to say Ric Rac. I've also seen it spelled that way in some antique patterns. I find the various spellings so interesting. And the more I say it to myself, it begins to sound a little silly and I wonder where the term ever came from in the first place.

  3. Kelley here! Thanks so much for sharing the details of this delightful piece! Even the underside is flawless! I'm eagerly challenged to make a half-apron like this for myself and for gift-giving. What fun!


    1. My pleasure Kelley. Good luck with your project!

  4. The pleats are a cute alternative to gathers. Nice color combination. Is gingham still available? I thought it was getting hard to find 15-20 years ago, but I haven't been in a fabric store in a really long time.

    1. Kiyoko, I can easily find gingham in Albuquerque & Santa Fe. Most common is the poly/cotton blend, but I still run into 100% cotton occasionally. I do like the pleats as opposed to gathers - the apron is still full and drapes pretty, but isn't as poufy as if it were gathered.


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