It’s that time of year – the Christmas season. As a child I can remember all the wonderful smells in my grandmother’s kitchen. On Thanksgiving it was turkey and pumpkin pie. On Christmas it was the sweet smell of gingerbread and cinnamon. On New Year’s Eve, there was the tomato sauce simmering all day for the polenta that night.
With those aromatic memories comes a vision of my grandmother in her apron.
In the 1950’s, women always wore aprons, as it was the post-war symbol for family and domesticity. It was a way to protect their clothing and was an essential part of doing housework. It served many other purposes including drying children’s tears, bringing eggs and garden vegetables and fruits inside, carrying firewood, waving it to signal the men in the field that dinner was ready, potholders and even as a dust cloth giving the furniture a quick swipe on the way to answer the door when unexpected company arrived.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s as women found work outside the home, the apron also “moved out.” That lasted well into the 21st century.
But today aprons are coming back. Both men and women wear them due to modern cultural factors such as cooking for pleasure rather than a chore or act of subordination, and a number of cooking and creative craft shows where the hosts use aprons as a professional accessory. Aprons have become not only practical, but also fashionable and sentimental. In fact many find that the routine of putting on their apron before starting work or a project can be somewhat ceremonial, as it prepares them mentally as well as physically for the task.
“I feel more creative when I wear it,” said Katie Seeley, referring to her apron. “I can’t start cleaning or cooking unless I wear it.”
There is one special lady who has been sewing and selling aprons made from beautiful fabrics.
Edna Kotrola is a dress designer and tailor. She was apprenticed in Scotland as a tailor. When her daughter, Heidi Hart opened her shop, Pure Hart Soap, Kotrola started working there, making aprons.
Since she didn’t like to just sit all day, and needed something to do, Kotrola set up her sewing machine in the back area of the shop and started making aprons.
“I work in her shop every day. What am I going to do? Just sit?” said Kotrola. “I have always worked with fabric.”
When she lived in Delaware, Kotrola founded “Quilts for Comfort” where she made and donated quilts to children and adults in need of comfort.
“I had a quilt bee every week at a different location and I never knew who would come,” said Kotrola.
She brought everything that was needed – sewing machines, pre-cut kits that she had cut herself and all the tools.
“The only things the participants had to bring was food to share,” said Kotrola.
They made 35 to 50 quilts every week. In July 2015 they delivered their 10,000th quilt.
Today, Kotrola makes lots and lots of beautiful aprons. She chooses so many different fabric colors and prints. She calls them “Aprons with Personality.”
“Sometimes people ask for specific fabric,” said Kotrola. “I’m always looking for fabric.”
Kotrola sets up at local events with her daughter. Her aprons are also for sale at
A Stroll Down Memory Lane on Main Street in Galeton and at her daughter’s shop just west of Wellsboro. For more information email email@example.com.
“I bought one of these aprons three years ago,” said Seeley. “And I wear it every day.”
It’s that time of year. And like my grandmother, before I start my pumpkin pie, I put on my apron.