Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Flemish 16th century apron

To complete my Brugel-outfit I needed an apron. Research done on paintings by Brugel, Aersten and Bueckelear (all 16th century Flemish/Dutch painters) show simple aprons made by a string around the waist and some fabric tucked in that piece of string. Knowing my self, that wasn't an option for me, thus I made my own version which looks ok when wearing it and I don't have to pull the fabric back very now and then. To get the right shape I made it like this:
First I made a rectangle, aproximately 60x80 cm (plus seamallowance), in the picture it is my first one, which I didn't hem all the way around. Stupid of me since I wash my garments in the washing machine and by now its serverly frayed. So if you want to make one, start by hemming the whole rectangle! I use a whipstitch, but use whatever seam you usually use when hemming.

Then cut out the upperpart, mine is the full width of the linen-fabric I used, more or less 150 cm (you do want it quite long to be able to knot it in your back) and 8-10 cm wide. I then sewed it to the rectangle, but leaving 15 cms of the rectangle on both sides. When this is done, fold the long piece, first in the middle and the fold in the seam-allowances on both sides, giving you a piece that is 3-4 cm wide. I opted for this method since the seam connecting the two pieces will be inside the long part, thus giving it a smooth look and a durable seam, also it is then possible to wear the apron inside out if necessary.

I used the sewing machine to sew the two pieces together, the rest is done by hand. It does help if you iron the long piece when you fold it, since the folds will stay almost without pinning, one of the best things with linen in my opinion.
(My green Brugel-dress, worn with a Tudor-shirt since the correct shirt was dirty.)

My research includes quite a lot of paintings, but these in particular;
A detail from Pieter Brugel the elder's "Children's games", 1559-60.
A detail from Pieter Brugel the elder's "The wedding dance in open air", 1566. I am actually planning to make both headwear and the blck partlet fron this one in the future too!

Feel free to ask if there is anything wrong with my description!


  1. Hi Mylia! i am a speech and drama student and i have to portray Mrs.Fipps in The Boy With The Cart so i have been asked to sew an apron so do you think that this block will fit me??????

  2. I have no idea what that is, when does it take place?