Back in the “old days” I remember seeing these checked aprons and thought they were interesting. When I was a child, I remember my grandmother had one of these and I always wondered how it was done. This is called counterchange smocking and it is done on a grid. You can draw a grid yourself or use a fabric that already has one printed on it, such as gingham checks. The smocking can be done on the straight grain or on the bias of checks with a totally different look. You can pull the corners of the dark colors together or the corners of the white corners together for another different look. There are many possibilities with this technique. It can also be done on stripes or any fabric with a uniform pattern of dots.
Here is an apron, cut on the bias with straight line smocking on the waistband. The smocking is done with matching aqua colored floss. The ties are cut on the straight grain. The pockets are also cut on the bias and smocked into a triangle shape and sewn down with white rick-rack, trimmed in white rick-rack. This was purchased at an antique shop.
This is a close up shot of the pockets. The smocking is done to pull all the white checks together and showing the darker aqua color on the pockets:
This is a black and white check, no rick-rack, counterchange smocking on the waistline consisting of six triangles on the bias. This one also has a triangle shaped pocket and the ties are also cut on the straight grain. The smocking on this apron was done with red floss.
This pocket is smocked on the bias with the black checks pulled together so that the white checks are shown with a ruffle on the top. This apron was also found at an antique store.
This is a larger checked red and white fabric that is also cut on the bias. This apron was made by one of our members, Mary Henderson. She made a full length apron using rick-rack and one pocket. Notice the smocking changes around the waistline to show some of the white checks. The pocket is cut on the straight grain so that it shows up on the bias background.
I’m sure many of our members have other examples of counterchange aprons and we would love to post more pictures of this technique. Our charter member, Bea, has lots of examples of counterchange in a wonderful notebook she has compiled over the years. I was able to find an old uncut McCalls pattern on ebay. Notice the original price was only fifty cents! That is nowhere near what I paid for it. (SIGH) When I saw it, I wanted to buy it so I could try to make one of these aprons. I particularly liked the detail of floss whipped around the rick-rack. Look for future posts to see how it turns out.