I presume much like the rest of you reading this when I first learned to use knives in the kitchen I learned to cut away from myself to lessen the risk of injury. It was more than a little startling when I first learned the cordwainer’s (shoe making) craft to find the opposite was true: Much of the work involves sharpened implements that are directed toward the body. Hoping to keep all my organs and appendages unscathed by the slip of a sharpened tool I figured a little preventative maintenance was in order. I bought a standard apron made of canvas. But it just wasn’t right. In short order I found shortcomings and pitfalls:
- The neck strap that supports the bib – I found it remarkably uncomfortable.
- The apron strings had to be tied which meant they also had to be untied. If tied at the back and I sat back it would dig into my back. If drawn to the front to tie it got in my way.
- The apron extended to just above the knee – that was cool. But much of the work I do requires me to sit down. That span of fabric across my legs was awkward.
- An apron made of canvas is robust – but it’s no protection against a sharpened knife.I researched several unique styles then melded them together to create my own apron – an apron that you will find me wearing anytime I am doing leather work. In fact in the shoe making and accessories classes I teach at Los Angeles Trade Technical College the first project that every student completes is this apron.
- Made of 3-ounce/1.2mm leather (about the thickness of a dime – two layers of which your Baby Lock sewing machine can manage with little effort) the apron is far from bullet-proof. However it provides a bit more protection than a regular textile.
- The neck strap and apron strings are continuous and adjustable. The straps cross the back and are supported between the shoulder blades by a “strap keeper.”
- Below the crotch level (referred to as the “fork” in the tailoring trade) the apron is separated into two panels.
- Though I hesitate to say “one size fits all ” this particular apron fits “most.” Some students shorten the waist. None found it necessary to adjust the size side-to-side – though it can be easily done if needed. (Suggestions for simple alterations follow.)
Check out Russell's video on the project below.