I took a sick day earlier this week and decided that while I was home, I'd tackle a small project that I have had planned for months. We had been discussing checked aprons and stroked gathers in the 18th century sewing group on Facebook so that discussion along with a desire to experiment got my creative juices flowing. I had purchased some handkerchief linen with a checked pattern woven in for the purpose of making an apron so along with my stash of linen tape, I had all that I needed. The discussion of the stroked gathers intrigued me. I had never heard of them though I had seen them before. Upon doing some quick research, I found that the gathers are made by making 2 or 3 parallel rows of even running stitches--usually counting the threads to make sure they are even. Enter the smocking pleater! I bought this handy gadget shortly after Emily was born--probably sometime in 1984. The needles are 1/2 inch apart so I decided to thread 3 of them for 3 rows of gathers.
First I had to compute the size of the apron. I decided to use the full width of fabric which was about 54 inches. I cut it to a length about 3 inches shorter than most of my petticoats. Before running the fabric through the pleater, it must be rolled evenly on a dowel. The checked design on the fabric made it easy to ensure that the fabric was rolled straight.
The fabric is then fed through the gears from back to front while turning the handle on the right.
This is what it looked like right off of the pleater. I had to draw up the threads to the finished length that I wanted and evenly distribute the gathers. I made the top of the apron 1/2 of my waist measurement (measured with stays) so that I could still find my pocket slits.
Then I trimmed the excess fabric from the top.
I pinned one edge of my 1 inch linen tape along the middle gathering thread then whip stitched it down.
Then the linen tape was folded over and stitched on the backside.
The side edges were finished with tiny rolled hems and the bottom was rolled up twice using the lines in the fabric as guides.
Here you can see the edges from the right side.
The top finished.
The finished apron. I don't have any modeled pics but I will update once I do. The finished length is about 3 or 4 inches shorter than my petticoat.
Overall, I'm pleased with the way this turned out. It was a fun little project. I think it will look lovely with the equipage that I purchased from K.Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse!