silk purses

You know how you go to a quilt show or an antique store and you see someone’s lovely unfinished project for sale and you think, “I could do something with that.”  And, you take it out and look at it close and you realize “That’s not worth it.”  And, then you walk around a bit and you wander back past the unfinished project and it’s not there anymore?  Well, I’m the guy that comes along behind you and sees the project and thinks “I can do something with that.” except I don’t take it out and unfold it and I don’t realize it’s too much work and I bring it home.

And, I do my dead level best to turn that sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Well, this is one of those projects.

The outside of the baggie said “Unfinished Apron”. I didn’t open it. I just picked it up because, at the very least, it would make a good addition to my feedsack stash.


Inside was this apron bottom, three points, and edged with a ruffle that had been gathered with a vintage sewing machine ruffler attachment.


It was cute enough, but there wasn’t a finished seam anywhere except the very bottom hem and both sides.  If I’d washed it as it was, it would have turned into a big ball of thread because the fabric is very loosely woven.  There was a second piece of fabric that was going to make a very short apron tie, I guess.  Not much extra fabric there. 

But, I remembered that my neighbor came over in her vintage style apron on Thanksgiving and I complimented it and she shared the whole story about vintage aprons and how they were used by the original wearers as everything from hot pads to dust rags to baby chin wipes, a story I’d heard on Simply Quilts from Nancy Kirk, who I suspect was involved in designing my neighbor’s store bought, very vintage style apron because the stories were so similar.  But, this is a lower half apron and my neighbor likes a bib apron.  Is there enough extra fabric for a bib?

I knew I needed more fabric, and I couldn’t match the gold, so I picked this very dark green.  I even found a matching spool of thread.   


Next, I took enough of the apron apart to give me access to all those unfinished seams and I serged them all.  And, I let the hems out on the sides so I can bind that edge. 

Next, I needed inspiration, so I went to the internet for vintage style apron pictures.  I found this one.


Okay, first of all, I love the apron.  I love the fabrics, I love the cut, I love everything about it.  Especially the gray and yellow fabric.  Perfect for an apron.  I’d love to find that fabric and make an apron for me…course, it wouldn’t be so girly, but that fabric would make a good apron for anyone.

So far, I’ve cut the new ties out of the green and I’ve cut a new bib from the flowery fabric and have attached a binding on three sides of the bib.  I cut the sides at an angle so they can taper to a nice 10” across the chest, but be almost as wide as the skirt at the hip. 

Okay, so it won’t be exactly like the one in the picture, especially since I don’t plan to gather the skirt part, but add a couple of pockets out of leftover fabric, maybe some green ruffles to set them off and a bit of good old fashioned know how and it should be just as cute. 

Unfortunately, it’s taking much longer than it would have if I’d just taken a flat piece of floursack and a pattern and started from scratch. 

But, that’s the beauty of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.  When you’ve spent all the extra time, you’ve turned a bit of fabric, stuffed into a zip top baggie, into something lovely and useful.

So, I’ll keep buying other people’s unfinished projects and using a bit of my own artistry to turn them into something that is finished.

Be well.  Have a great Tuesday.  Lane


One Minnesota Quilter said...

I have quite a few antique sows ears waiting to become silk purses. Can completely understand!

Becky said...

Awesome story and the apron will be awesome when you finish with your special touches! Can't wait to see the finished product!

Anonymous said...

Like you, I love digging for other people's projects. I have a similar apron in a blue print. Looking for a solid to do the binding. I found the yellow/gray fabric in the other apron and sent you an email with the details.

Kath said...

how kind you are Lane, your neighbour will love this!

qltmom9 said...

What a delightful post!