I needed to add a couple aprons to may collection anyway, so in addition to reading over Liz Clark's info on aprons, I turned to The Workwoman's Guide to freshen up my knowledge.
The Workwoman says (page 76, and Plate 11, Images 1-16):
If for common use, aprons are made of white, brown, blue, black, or checked linen, of black stuff, calico, Holland, leather, nankeen, print, or long cloth; if for better purposes, of cambric muslin, clear, mulled, or jaconet muslin, silk, satinette, satin, &c. The length of the apron is, of course, generally determined by the height of the wearer, and the width, by that of the material, and by the purpose for which it is intended. For working aprons, the width is generally one breadth of a yard wide; for dress aprons, two breadths, one of which is cut in half, and these halfs put one on each side of the whole breadth. If the material should be wide enough, one breadth, of from fourteen to twenty nails [31.5 - 45"], will answer very well.
So, sounds like about anything goes!
A few basics from Plate 11:
A Simple Shape
This is a simple shape, and the one most in use. It is either plaited [pleated] or gathered into the band, which is about a nail deep [2.25"]. These aprons are usually worn by all servants and women while at work. Blue, check, and brown linen are most used for scouring and cleaning; white linen, Holland, and print, for less dirty employments. Ladies wear them of silk or muslin, with or without pockets.
This is a pretty apron, often worn by girls from eight to sixteen or eighteen years of age. The bib is made of the proper size to fit in front, between the shoulders of the wearer, coming down in a slope to the waist. These bibs may be plain, or they are ornamented with tucks or folds, either upright or length-wise. The shoulder-strap may be of the same material, or of tape or ribbon. The apron is gathered evenly, or plaited so as to reach to A on each side, which is situated exactly between the bottom of the bib and the shoulder-strap behind.
A Cooking Apron
This is a neat pattern for a housekeeper, cook, or kitchen-maid. The bib is quite plain, and pins to the gown at the corners. The size given in the Plate is suitable for a girl, but the bib should be cut to suit the wearer at once, and not made by guess. The apron is made of check or strong linen.
These vary very much, some being laid on the apron as in Fig. 3, 4, and 6; others put on at the back, a slit being made in the apron to correspond with the place of the pockets. These last are made as in Fig. P, from a long double piece, which, being sewed up, is cut diagonally or crosswise, from A to B, and forms two pockets, the part cut being sewed to the slit of the apron. The whole length of the narrow piece, before it is cut, is six nails [13.5"], and the width, when double, two nails [4.5"]. The slit in the apron is neatly hemmed, and a trimming of ribbon or silk put round it, with a bow at the bottom, or a fringe and tassels.
In Fig. 3 the pocket is a piece of two nails and a half deep and five nails wide. This piece is plaited in regular folds at the top to a lining of only two nails and a half deep, and the same width. The bottom is fulled nearly to a point in small folds, and the lining, being turned in to the same shape, is sewed to it with a piping. The pocket is then stitched firmly on to the apron, and trimmed according to fancy. One or three small bows are put on the pocket.
In Fig. 4 the pocket is cut in the shape of a heart, and put plainly on the apron. It is about two nails and three-quarters wide, and two nails and a half deep. The pocket is piped or trimmed with edging.
In Fig. 6 the pocket is particularly neat and pretty, being made of folds of the same material as the apron, with a coloured piping all round it, and three bows the same colour as the piping.My next post: Ideas on making aprons fast using modern methods.