Collecting Vintage Aprons

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Are you interested in collecting vintage aprons?  This post will give you some tips for buying and finding vintage aprons.

This post was originally published in March 2022 and was updated April 2024. 

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Back Story

Last year, I came across this vintage apron, which was being sold by a fellow vendor at an antique store, and my heart melted on the spot. It had a wispy gauzy look and had the most charming pattern with birds. Perhaps it’s because I associate vintage aprons with homemade pies, jams, or tarts. Perhaps it’s the quaint patterns and images on these aprons. Whatever the reason, these cute little vintage aprons always draw me in.

Collecting Vintage Aprons - birds

I have always thought it would be fun to host a garden party with my best friends and everyone could wear a vintage apron and garden boots. We could all work on planting containers full of herbs for the garden and sip homemade ice tea, while eating lavender tea cake. Of course the cake would be served on a silverplate tea set and we would eat it with silverplate flatware.  Wouldn’t this type of event would be excellent reason to wear a beautiful vintage apron?

Anyway, it made me realize there are many of you who like to collect vintage aprons and would like to know more information about them.  So, today, I intend to share with you what I know.

Collecting Vintage Aprons

There is a wide variety of aprons that were made.  There are full length wrap around aprons, sometimes called a “full apron”.  Pinafore aprons, which are long and cross in the back, are another popular style. There are also aprons that look like artist’s smocks. Of course, there are the tradition half apron which simply ties around your waist.   The vast majority of aprons found were made in the mid-20th century and are the half apron style.  Of course, there are also “vintage-inspired aprons” which are new aprons made to look like those from the 1940s,1950s and 1960s.  

The apron shown below is full length, with a button closure at the neck and pockets sewn onto the sides. It was likely made in the early 1900s.

Collecting Vintage Aprons

The beauty of collecting aprons is that you are helping Mother Earth by ensuring the long term sustainability of a product – the apron- by keeping it out of the landfill.  Hooray for helping Mother Earth and for cultivating a cute collection!

Tip 1: Condition Matters

Try to find aprons that are in excellent condition.  This is more difficult than it sounds.  Aprons by their nature and purpose were a protective garment.  The whole reason for wearing them was to absorb splatters, spills and even to help dry damp hands.  So often, aprons will have stains, spots and even the occasional hole.  Another flaw to look for is rips and/or tears along the seams. Sometimes the apron strings in the back are separating from the rest of the apron.  Similarly, sometimes the pockets are partially torn off the front of the apron.  When you find an apron, inspect it carefully to determine its overall condition. 

Aprons in better condition will be more desirable and hence more collectible. 

Tip 2: You Have to Hunt for Them

You would think that given the popularity of these aprons decades ago, that they would be easy to find.  Well . . . yes and no. Some vintage dealers in antique stores who specialize in finding, cleaning and selling these aprons.  However, if you don’t know someone who specializes in selling vintage aprons, then finding these aprons can be a challenge.  Finding aprons with a unique style means sorting through boxes of vintage linens, looking at all the vintage clothing that is hanging on a rack and generally just being thorough in your search.  I have had good luck finding them at multi-dealer antique shops, at a local thrift store and of course, online.

Collecting Vintage Aprons - smock style

Tip 3: Look for Images not just patterns

Of course, aprons have changed significantly over the decades.  In the 1930s and early 40s, housewives often made aprons out of flour sack fabrics.  These fabrics had tiny prints on them in a repeating pattern.  In the 1960s, aprons tended to include ruffles and the fabrics tend to have bolder prints.  The aprons from the 1970s – definitely look like something from that era.  Think – orange and avocado green aprons.  

Those vintage aprons that have images of animals or flowers tend to be more popular.  Finding an apron that is one uniform color or pattern is a little easier than finding one with images such as flowers or animals.

Some aprons are made from fabric that have images of kitchen items on them.  For example, salt & pepper shakers, coffee sets, or pies and cakes. 

Also, look for aprons that have hand embroidered designs or added sewing notions. For example, the blue smock apron has a charming rick rack adorning the trim of the sleeves and neck. The red gingham apron has some white embroidered patterns on the pocket, waist and hem.

Details of red gingham half apron

Tip 4: Prices

Generally speaking, vintage aprons are affordable. Depending upon the age, condition and character of each apron you will usually spend between $10-$40. If an apron is truly an antique piece, meaning it is at least 100 years old, it will likely cost more. If an apron is from the 1970s, it likely will cost less. Finally, as noted above, condition and design also factor into the price. If an apron is truly unusual, then you should expect to pay more.

Summary

Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some useful information about vintage aprons and perhaps a little inspiration to keep collecting them. Below I rounded up a few aprons currently for sale on Etsy.

Anna Signature Block

Shop Similar Aprons

Below are some similar style aprons available on Etsy.

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. The photos of various vintage aprons are delightful as is the plan for a party with guests in vintage aprons and cowboy boots planting herbs and savoring lavender tea cake, which I’ve never had!

    1. Kathy- I am glad you understand and embrace the idea of the garden party. I almost didn’t include it! Thank you for commenting!

    2. Let me know when you are having said tea party and I will buy my
      Plane ticket 😁 What an adorable apron this is…the birds are SO pretty and I love the colors!!! I came across a purple and white gingham apron with ruffles a few
      Years ago and I’ve always wished I had bought it. Cute post, Anna!

      1. Rachel- you are officially invited to the garden party! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

  2. First off, let me know when you have the tea party! I’ll bring some delicious dessert in an ironstone bowl! Second, I love this apron! Being the fabri-holic I am, anything that includes vintage-style fabrics is my fave. Especially from the era of the 30s and 40s! Pinning!

    1. Cindy you will definitely receive an invite to the party! I am glad that I am not the only fabri-holic. Thanks for commenting and pinning!

    1. That’s very kind of you Jim! I don’t think we will have any pizza egg rolls. I hope that’s ok.

  3. It was so much fun learning about different kinds of aprons, Anna. My Granny wore an apron every time she cooked so this post brought back so many extra special memories. I would love to be at your garden party and wear an apron and eat tea cakes and plant container gardens and sip tea. It feels like the perfect way to celebrate the season and to enjoy an afternoon with good friends. Big hugs, CoCo

  4. Anna, I wish we lived close because I would love to attend a garden party with you!! This post is so lovely and reminds me of my great-grandmother who always wore one when she was working! Thanks, it was fun to learn about vintage aprons!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Donna and for the kind words.
      It would be fun to have tea with you!

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