Wild Kat's favorite is a yellow, gingham, smock-style apron with embroidery on the shoulder ruffles.
Gingham was a very popular fabric choice in the 1950s. Most of these aprons are embellished with embroidery patterns using cross-stitch designs or iron-on transfers.
This half apron is light green gingham with a large, cross-stitched peacock. I received this one as a birthday gift from Kat just a few days ago (yes, I turned 29 again). It features small pleats along the waistband which provide fullness at the hemline but still keep the bulk of gathers off the mid-section. At 29 years old *ahem*, I don't need more bulk in my mid-section.
Since we're talking about the '50s, another popular trend included kitchen motif fabric. Wild Kat's aqua and white apron features vegetables, watering cans and gardening tools...
...while mine is the classic pots and pans. This trend was seen in not only dressmaking fabrics used for aprons, but also in home decorating fabrics for curtains and upholstery as well as wallpaper during the 1950s.
In fact most of my vintage aprons are from the '40s, full-coverage, sturdy, wanna-be Grandma ones. Very often these have oh-so-skinny, eighth inch bias trim to finish the edges. And of course generous pockets to stash clothespins, hankies or Wethers. Pockets are a must for any apron!!
Many of the fabric designs in the 1940s featured meduim-sized flowers. Feed sacks from that era are a great source of vintage fabric from the '30s and '40s. Reportedly, women would send their husbands to the mill with strict orders to pick out feed bags that met their sewing needs, not just nourished the pigs. This was the Mend and Make Do movement at it's finest.
But bib-styled aprons don't have to be strictly utilitarian. Fanciful embroidery and contrast colors can spruce up any standard pattern. Rick rack is a common favorite that spans the decades. Ruffles, fringe and embellishments of any kind are fair game when it comes to aprons.
If you're interested in creating your own themed aprons, take a peek at my blog (Willow Homestead) where I'm hosting an Apron Challenge. Sew one apron per month. I started back in October and while not all of my aprons are vintage (because ladies of the '40s were much to smart to sew an apron out of taffeta), it's been a fun project!
So whatever style catches your eye, vintage aprons are great collectibles, and many of them still have a lot of service left. Their popularity is growing as women discover the practicality and prettiness in this every day, household item.
*DISCLAIMER* The Hometown Victory Girls are neither licensed doctors nor actors portraying doctors, and therefore have no authority with which to make the above claim that wearing an apron, vintage or otherwise, will make said wearer calm or controlled. Most likely you will feel just as irritated with your children and husband as when you walked through the door, but hey, you'll look nicer so it might be worth it.