White or dark aprons were a component of the festive Schwalm costume for women. Here you will learn a little bit about the dark aprons; the white aprons will be the subject of a separate article.
The dark aprons were simple and unfussy in appearance and style.
The bottom edge of the apron fell just above of the bottom edges of the skirt, and the sweep of the apron was about half that of the skirts.
Schwalm women had aprons that were black and dark blue with either a polished or matte finish. The aprons with a dull finish were worn in mourning. On Sundays the shiny linen aprons were worn. For celebrations and holidays extra shiny satin aprons were preferred. Fabric with a satin weave created a high gloss finish on the front side and a matte finish on the back.
To special celebrations, such as weddings, the women wore the röserische (moire) aprons. The fabric of these aprons underwent an additional process to get this special rose pattern. Mostly these aprons were made from linen, as the image below shows.
Röserische aprons made from satin were rare.
Often dark blue aprons were worn on black skirts and vice versa.
The aprons had a length of about 55–60 cm and a width of about 145–152 cm. Most of the weaving looms of the Schwalm region were made for narrower widths. So, the aprons were mostly made with two strips of fabric with a seam in the middle.
At the waistline, the middle section of the apron was flat for about 16 cm. To the left and to the right of this section, the apron was gathered with tiny pleats. Short sections on both sides were again left flat. In this way, the apron could spread over the width of the skirts without adding too much bulk over the belly. The aprons’ waistband was small and was closed in the back with a hook and eye.
The pleats were laid carefully and evenly and were usually secured with several rows of Running stitches, sometimes also with Back stitches.
The hems of the aprons were up to 15 cm deep. The deep hem added weight to the aprons creating an attractive drape on top of the skirts.
Of course the dark and unfussy aprons got a variety of decorations. Silk bands, small apron bands, and the apron corners with their blaze of colour ensured that there was always splendor. But I will dedicate separate articles to all these decorative elements of the festive Schwalm costume for women – I hope you will look forward to them.