Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nan's 1940s Wrap Apron

This past winter my Nan (paternal grandmother) had to leave her home and move to an assisted living facility. At that time my dad and uncle offered my sisters and I the opportunity to have a keepsake from her home. Instantly I remembered this apron.

Throughout my childhood and teen years my sisters and I would sometimes spend the weekend with Nan. We had wonderful times going on picnics, visiting the lake and going for long walks. One time during our teen years we decided to clean Nan's house while we visited. As we started to clean Nan went down stairs to her basement and soon brought up aprons for each of us to wear while cleaning. I have always loved aprons and I remember being impressed with the clever design of this wrap apron. It was unlike any other apron I had seen.

This truly is a practical apron design. One tie pulls through a slot on one side and then ties in the back. Your entire outfit remains protected, even the back.
Soon after receiving Nan's apron I began to do a little research and discovered that this apron style was popular in England during World War II. This made sense since Nan is from England and was in her late teens/early 20's during World War II.

Over the years Nan has many times shared with us her experiences of being a young woman throughout the war years. The second in a family of four girls and one boy, Nan worked for Burberry's sewing coats while her older sister was in the RAF during the war years. One story Nan would tell us was how she would collect the scraps of lining fabric at the end of her work day and take them home. She made a tea cozy from the scraps, appliqueing a picture of a cottage and rising sun to the tea cozy. I wish I could have seen it!

Nan has many fond memories of evenings spent with her family. Her mum, sisters and herself would knit or sew while visiting. She also shared stories of her early years of marriage and my dad as a little baby. I remember Nan recounting the deep contentment and satisfaction she felt while knitting a sweater for my dad as she sat beside the fire, and dad was in his bassinet. I have a picture of my dad as a toddler wearing a coat Nan sewed for him.

I am grateful for the many sweet memories I have of spending time with my Nan. At this time she is 94 and her memory is poor, she has a very hard time remembering any of her family.

Here is a picture of Nan taken sometime in the 1940's. Wasn't she beautiful? Nan moved to America in the 1960's when my dad was a little boy. It was a difficult transition to make; she has always spoke of England as home.

P.S. I have made a copy of Nan's apron and it is currently for sale in my shop here.


  1. Oh she is so lovely. What elegance. I wonder what she'd think of the Masterpiece production Home Fires. I watch that inspired by these (albeit fictional) characters that try to continue their lives during WWII in England. I of course gawk at the costumes and now I'll shall have to watch for that apron!

    1. I am sure Nan has watched the program you mentioned. She loves to watch English shows set in the 1940's. : )

    2. Have you read the book Jambusters, the show is from the book & it is so interesting. I read it a while back long before the show was made. xx

  2. Sarah,

    What a lovely memento of your Nan -- and what wonderful memories and stories you have of her, too. She certainly is a beautiful woman (her hair is so glamorous! I'm not a bit jealous... *wink*). Thank you for sharing her with us!


  3. She is a beautiful lady, and you have such wonderful memories to keep with you always.
    I know you will treasure her apron, and it's so nice that you have made a copy of it. :-)
    Anne ♥

  4. What wonderful memories and a wonderful memento! Thank you for sharing your Nan's story. I love hearing them. I believe I have seen this style apron on British show and in pictures. For housework the style makes a lot of sense!

  5. It is very much a War time apron and the style was worn by women all over England. Very practical.

  6. Oh Sarah, what a precious post! My heart was greatly touched by the story of your Nan and how wonderful that you are now making aprons just like the ones she wore. The black one in your shop is stunning!

    Hugs to you!

  7. How blessed you are to have such precious thoughts about your Nan & such a beautiful photo too.
    As soon as I saw the photo of the apron I said to myself it's a thirties/forties wrap around apron & then I read on through your post. Every housewife had one of those aprons at that time in England & now they are very sort after.
    It's such a precious thing for you to have, a treasure to treasure.
    I would love to know what area in England your Nan is from.
    I love seeing all that you have sewn.
    Fondly Michelle

  8. Thank you Michelle! Nan is from Reading, England.

    1. That is about 3 hours from us.
      Enjoy the rest of your day. xx

  9. Absolutely beautiful apron! It's so much more special when it has a story behind it, and a wonderful memory!

  10. What special memories! I really like aprons, and the ones you sell in your shop are beautiful. I admire many of the old-fashioned homemaking skills and projects you post about!

  11. Your Nan is beautiful! And so is this apron and story! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Wonderful keepsake and memories. Your Nan was breathtakingly beautiful!