Checked Aprons in the 18th Century

The Annals of Philadelphia notes, “Very decent women went abroad and to churches with check aprons. I have seen those, who kept their coach in my time to bear them to church, who told me they went on foot with a check apron to the Arch Street Presbyterian meeting in their youth.”

See the descriptions of aprons in runaway advertisements for more references to check aprons.

Additional references to check aprons from English sources in 1772, 1778, 1780, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1792, 1797, 1797, and 1799.

Met 156.4 T31 is a textile sample book from 1771 with fustian samples that resemble some of the checked fabrics used for aprons in the paintings and illustrations. Click on the Additional Images link to view the samples.

(I’ve also added a section with links to online fabric stores where you can shop for check linen for making your own apron.)

Notes on shopping for check linen

The predominant color combination seen on 18th century check aprons is a dark blue check on a white ground. As of this writing, some of the best fabric options available for this general color combination include Burnley & Trowbridge 6006, Burnley & Trowbridge 6032, Liberty Linens 20077, and Wm. Booth WLG 161.

Blue/white is not the only option in the images I’ve found; Marie-Denise and this woman have red checks on their aprons, which resembles Burnley & Trowbridge 6005 and Liberty Linens 20089.

This market girl may have a sheer check apron, resembling Burnley & Trowbridge 5963 or Wm. Booth WLN 638.

Some additional sites to shop for check linen for aprons: