I have been collecting aprons for a few years. I’ve always had one or two pretty ones that I’d dig out when my mom was making tamales at Christmas time or when I used to serve up lattes at Troy Café, but ever since my days as Mothra Stewart in the apron-wearing band Stay at Home Bomb, my love for this useful little accessory has grown steadily. A few years back I began scouring thrift stores for vintage aprons and recently I’ve started sewing my own. They’re relatively easy for a beginning seamstress like me. A simple waist apron requires that you be able to sew a few straight seams and that’s all, but they can be very feminine and elaborate too.
Stay at Home Bomb
I started sewing about a year and a half ago after having to whip up a poodle skirt for my daughter to wear to a school dance. After a little success with that I started making bags, simple gifts sewn from Mexican oil cloth, homemade dresses and skirts, and worked my way up to a button down shirt. My friends are always gracious and seem to appreciate the things I make for them. I like to think they really like their gift, but I’ve had a nagging doubt that makes me wonder if they’re just being polite and they’re secretly rolling their eyes when I gift them with yet another homemade treasure.
This weekend I decided to put myself to the test. I wanted to see if my aprons were something that only I and my friends would like or if they could appeal to impartial shoppers. My friend Angie came out to visit me from California with the intention of joining me in our very first craft fair. We gathered up a bunch of aprons that we’d sewn over the summer, rigged up a coat rack with a CD holder on top and set up on the street. Phoenix’s art galleries hold openings the First Friday of each month and local crafters set up tables in the vacant lots that dot the downtown art neighborhood. There are usually musicians who set up makeshift stages. There are no fees, no auditions to play; it’s completely DIY so you have to be willing to take charge of everything. Some vendors mooch power from the galleries and shops by running extension cords; a band last night brought their own gas powered generator, some go unplugged. Angie and I took some camping lanterns, but we didn’t need them because we found a good spot under a street light on the busy corner of 5th and Roosevelt.
"Get Your Red-Hot Aprons Here!" The tenacious Angie Skull.
We were so excited all day, ironing our aprons, pricing them, making a cute poster, rigging up the coat rack so that we could hang our aprons. No sooner had we set up our aprons than a huge gust of wind kicked up and knocked our rack of freshly pressed aprons onto the ground. We picked them up dusted them off, but the wind wouldn’t let up. Our apron poster fell over about a hundred times, our rack and all the aprons fell over 3 more times and we were seriously bumming thinking that we would have to take turns holding up the rack all night. When my husband and daughter showed up with sandbags they’d “borrowed” from a construction site. We weighted the coat rack down so that it would teeter in the wind but not fall over without giving us a chance to catch it.
Our mood improved after that but we still had to hover pretty close to our stuff. The up side of that was that we heard everything people said about our work and it was all complimentary. The downside is that we behaved like preschool mothers on the first day of school, not because we were worried about our aprons but we didn’t want to have an unsuspecting shopper get knocked over by an avalanche of aprons. I think we scared the customers away. After a couple of near accidents, Angie and I really did end up having to take turns holding up the rack. It was demoralizing. I was ready to pack the stuff up and give up, but Angie, who is one of the stubbornest people I know, insisted that we stay. After a while a large parade of zombies passed by. About fifty or sixty people dressed like something out of Night of the Living Dead walked through the crowd, all of them in character. Not one was smiling or chatting with a friend. That cheered me up, as zombies always do. A few minutes later, a group of people dressed in very fine and elaborate Ghostbuster outfits rushed by on their way to solve a case. A local roller derby outfit, The Coffin Draggers were there selling sweets to raise money for their team. How could I be bummed?
After three and a half hours, Angie had sold three aprons and I’d sold one. I had told myself that I’d be happy if I sold even one apron, but the one I sold was to a friend, so I proved nothing. I did learn lots of things my first craft fair. I learned that I should iron my aprons the night before, that I should check the weather report and most importantly, that I have friends who appreciate (and even pay for) my homemade goods just because they’re my friends. That is the sweetest lesson of all.
Click on my Flickr badge in the blog margin to see some more of my homemade aprons.