The Search for the Perfect
Gardening Apron

Perhaps because I’m a notorious mess whenever I do anything, I’m obsessed with aprons. I have a kitchen drawer filled with all sorts of kitchen aprons—vintage, even older vintage (antique), modern, Japanese, and Mennonite. The Mennonite one is my favorite. My friend Ida Burkholder, who is Mennonite, and I designed it together, and she made it of organic white canvas trimmed with red.

But that apron’s for cooking. I’m still searching for the best one for gardening, and I have a very specific, particular list of design must-haves. I’ll share it with you in the hopes that one of you out there knows where it is and can help me find it. (Either that or I’ll ask Ida to make it for me.)

First, it can’t tie behind the neck. I feel so miserable and tense and claustrophobic when something ties behind my neck that I might be dangerous with my Japanese weeding knife. I don’t know why this is, although every masseuse has said I carry all my tension in my neck. I can’t wear a halter bathing suit, either. The straps of my favorite cooking apron, described above, go comfortably over the shoulders and cross in back. Mennonite women wear them for everything, including cooking and gardening, because that’s just what they do. The apron is lovely. I simply don’t understand why all aprons aren’t made to that design. I know there are a lot of half-aprons out there, and there is a place for them, but if I’m out for a serious day of gardening, I want full-frontal coverage and I don’t want to be strangled in the process.

Second, the waist ties have to be long enough to wrap around and tie in front. Again, this could just be my particular ideal, but I find that an apron that can tie around my whole waist (with the work of tying right out front where you can reach it) solves three problems:

• When you sit down to relax, you don’t lean back into a knot.

• A full wraparound tie holds the apron in place better when you are doing strenuous activities like lifting heavy pots or rocks.

• It’s just plain easier to tie.

Third, one word: pockets! Lots of pockets. My perfect gardening apron has one pocket for plastic trash, one pocket for compostable trash (it recycles!), one pocket for my cellphone/camera, and at least one pocket for my tools of the day—usually a Japanese weeding knife and a pruner. I’d also like another pocket big enough to stuff my gloves in so I don’t lose them when I take them off to do something. I think some sort of holster would add a nice touch, too! Perhaps a holster for my knife! And a few extra pockets just in case…. (You never know what you’ll find or might need when you are out working in the garden.

Fourth, my ideal apron would be organic. I’m an organic gardener, so why wouldn’t I want an apron made from organic fabric? Seriously, I think an organic, heavy-duty canvas or even waxed-canvas apron would be just divine. It’s got to be washable, since it’s going to get dirty. And it’s got to be sturdy enough to withstand knife jabs and rose thorns and kids pulling on it to get my attention because I am so fixated on gardening that maybe I’ve forgotten to feed them.

Have I forgotten anything? Maybe. As you can tell, this is no prissy-missy frilly decorative apron, but an apron that can last for a long time, through thick and thin and all weather! But seriously, people, this is what I think about. When I’m in meetings and I have a thoughtful but perhaps vaguely distant look on my face, I’m likely thinking about the perfect gardening apron. And I’ll find it. One day…


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18 Responses to The Search for the Perfect
Gardening Apron

  1. Dana B says:

    Yes! I have that same apron and I love it! :)

  2. Karla says:

    Please share if you find one for gardening. I would love one!

  3. Erna says:

    I can make you an Apron if you want to help design it

  4. James Early says:

    What I use is an old apron that paper boys used to wear when they sold papers. It is not a bib apron. It has three pockets across the front. It works okay, but if I were to redesign it, I would make the pockets deeper and maybe add some loops so I could carry some hand tools.

    No, I don’t have the perfect solution. Do guys want something different from gals? I would not want a bib apron, for example.

  5. Donna in Delaware says:

    I desperately need one of those aprons too! I am even browsing websites. Maybe I’ll run into one when I am overseas in a few months.

  6. Lea Karlssen says:

    As a serious gardener and a dress-maker, I’m taking on the challenge to design and get what you are looking for onto the market. I’m looking for more wish list items from more gardeners. Don’t know if one apron can do it all, so it might become a line.

  7. Bev says:

    I love it. It should have adjustable shoulder straps so us shorties don’t have to keep pulling them back onto our shoulders. And it should have buttons on either side of mid- waist where a plastic square can be added to keep the moisture off the apron during certain chores.

  8. Vickey says:

    I’m dreaming of the same apron!

    @Bev – love your idea for the waterproofing accessory.

    Until I find my dream apron, I improvised by taking a sturdy cotton duck chefs apron, folding half the bottom front panel up & running straight seams along the left & right outside edges, and a couple in the middle, to create 3 large pockets.

    A 4th advantage to kitchen aprons that ties in front – I can tuck a hand towel over the ties in front, to make drying/wiping my hands off that much quicker. During canning or other intensive sessions, I swap out towels as they become wet or soiled.

  9. Vickey says:

    (correction: “kitchen aprons that *tie* in front”.) :(

  10. Barbara says:

    That’s exactly the gardening apron I’ve been searching for and I’d considered making one myself, if I found the right fabric. Let us know when you find it – sounds like there’s a market for it.

  11. I have been making aprons using vintage linens as the pockets for several years. I’m going to make a gardening apron, or several, until I have it right, with your specs. What size are you, s-m-l? Stand by. :)

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  13. Gayle Martin says:

    Take a look at the Roo apron………………think you will love it!

  14. Joanne Osburn says:

    Loved your article and am interested in creating/sewing an apron just like you would like because I would like it too.

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