When you think of aprons, the first thing that comes to mind is a cooking apron. However, cooking is not the only use for this garment. Many service jobs and industry professionals also need to use aprons.
There are aprons for chefs, waiters, potters, welders, painters, etc. Basically, anyone that works with a lot of tools and work on projects that can get a bit messy can benefit from wearing an apron.
Because of their versatile use, aprons can be made from a wide variety of materials that range from lightweight and natural to heavy-duty. Whether you’re protecting your clothes from stains or protecting yourself from harsh chemicals or burns, it’s important to pick the right material.
What is the best fabric for aprons? The best fabrics for aprons will vary from light and breathable to heavyweight and heavy-duty, depending on what you use it for. Popular fabric options include cotton, canvas, leather, nylon, and vinyl.
In this article, we will walk you through the best types of fabric for aprons to help you consider your next purchase.
What to Know Before Buying Fabric For Aprons
Before buying your fabric, you will first need to know your apron’s purpose. Each garment will need different fabrics for different functions, from hoodies to kimonos. Knowing how you’ll use the apron will help you select the type of fabric with suitable properties.
Each type of fabric below will have its pros and cons, so depending on the requirements of your work, you can select the appropriate materials accordingly.
For example, if you need an apron for the kitchen, you will need something light and breathable but still protect you from the heat (and sometimes open flames). If you don’t frequently work with water, you don’t need to get a water-resistant fabric. In that case, canvas or cotton would do the job well.
On the other hand, if you need a work apron for pottery or welding, you will need something heat and flame resistant. Thick materials like canvas or leather would protect you from the open flames and any hazardous materials. Other materials may be flammable, and you definitely want to avoid that when working with high heat.
If you are a painter, you want something flexible and light that can hold your tools and protect you from the mess. You don’t need physical protection; you really just need something to protect your clothes. Canvas or even cotton would be perfect in that situation.
Waiters and baristas may also benefit from cotton aprons. Since cotton is very light, breathable, and can absorb sweat really well, waiters who need to be on their feet for an extended period will love the lightness and flexibility of cotton aprons.
If you work with water a lot and want something waterproof, synthetic materials like nylon or vinyl are some popular fabrics for aprons. These materials are bulkier and will trap heat inside it but will protect you from getting wet.
Best Fabrics For Aprons
Now that we’ve covered some common uses for aprons, we can match some of those tasks with some popular apron fabrics. Depending on the purpose of the apron, you can select a suitable material from the list below.
Let’s get started!
Cotton is a jack-of-all-trades of fabric. It is lightweight, flexible, and breathable which would make the perfect apron for cooking or baking.
If you work at a coffee shop or bakery, cotton would be a perfect material for aprons. Because the fabric absorbs sweat really well and feels quite comfortable against the skin, it allows you to run around all day without feeling the extra layer of fabric.
One misconception about cotton is that some people think it can be quite thin and even a bit flimsy. On the contrary, cotton is a highly versatile fabric that comes in a wide range of thickness and textures – you can even find jeans that are made of 100 percent cotton!
If you want to make cotton aprons, it’s best to select a thicker fabric to add structure to your apron. A thicker fabric would also do a better job protecting you from all the “accidents” that can happen in the kitchen. Since the fabric is quite breathable, you can feel cooled and airy even while working with the high heat of the oven.
The only minus point of cotton is that it is not waterproof; in fact, it would soak up water quite quickly. Therefore, we don’t recommend this material if you need to do a lot of washing and cleaning, because it may not work very well!
This James Thompson 100% cotton canvas fabric is a great option if you want to combine all the benefits of cotton with the sturdy construction of canvas fabric.
Canvas is a strong and durable woven fabric that is highly versatile, and it definitely belongs on the list of the best materials for aprons. Canvas refers to the type of weave construction that makes up the fabric, but canvas is often made from cotton, cotton blend, polyester, or even linen.
Since it is a thick and heavy-duty material, it is best suited for heavy-duty jobs. This material is quite heavy and structured, but it will protect you really well. If you are a chef, a potter, or a painter, a canvas apron is what you will need to put on before starting your day at work.
Canvas is water-resistant, which is an amazing quality that cotton doesn’t have. Thanks to this ability, canvas is the preferred material for most occupations. If you are a painter or chef, for example, a canvas apron can protect you from the heat as well as the mess.
One minus point is that canvas tends to be quite thick and heavy, so people who need to be on the move a lot, like waiters or even some baristas, may not love this material. You can find a thinner canvas that is less heavy, however, but it may not protect you as well if you are working with harsher materials.
If you love all the great qualities of canvas fabric, check out this polyester canvas fabric from Mybecca.
Leather is probably the most heavy-duty material on this list, and it will definitely offer the most protection. Leather is a great material for work aprons simply because it is fire resistant. If you work with open flames on a regular basis, like welders or glass blowers often do, then a leather apron is a must-have in your kit.
Leather is also a thick and heavy-duty material that’s water and stain-resistant, so it would be amazing for all types of heavy-duty tasks. Leather is very durable, so you won’t have to worry about damaging it at all when you work.
Leather will last in your toolkit for a long time. Cleaning it is quite easy since it doesn’t absorb any kind of liquid or oil, so you just have to wipe it down, and it should be as clean as new.
However, leather tends to be quite heavy and very warm to wear. It can be a bit cumbersome to walk around wearing a leather apron, so if your job only exposes you to a mild amount of heat and water, then you should opt for a more flexible material like canvas.
If you love the great qualities of leather but want to go vegan, here’s a great option for faux leather fabric that offers similar features.
Nylon is a great water-resistant fabric that is regularly used in aprons. Nylon is a thick and heavy fabric that is highly durable, offering protection if your job tends to get very messy. Nylon can be waterproof, so it is regularly used for industrial aprons.
Nylon is commonly used in sportswear because it is a stretchy material. Compared to other waterproof materials like leather or vinyl, nylon is definitely more comfortable to wear.
We recommend using a nylon apron if you want protection against water, paint, or mild chemicals. It will do an amazing job without being too demanding.
Check out this heavy-duty nylon canvas from Plastex, which is quite thick and will offer great protection while you work.
Vinyl is recommended if you work with water because it is very water-resistant; water will just bounce off the fabric!
Because of this ability, you will find that it is highly durable and can help you through almost every type of mess – whether you are working with water, oils, or chemicals.
One thing that not a lot of people know about vinyl is that it is flame retardant, which means that if flame touches the vinyl, the flame won’t be able to spread and will be extinguished right away. This feature makes it extra safe if you have to work with open flames or in hazardous environments.
Just like leather, vinyl is super easy to clean and can be wiped with just a damp cloth, especially if you are just working with water. You won’t have to spend any time on maintenance to keep the material fresh and new.
One thing about vinyl is that it is not very breathable – it will trap heat inside and make you extra stuffy. Some people don’t love this feeling because it won’t even let your sweat dry. This disadvantage is commonly seen in most waterproof materials, so it is not surprising. However, the amazing protection it offers should outweigh this disadvantage.
If you are convinced this fabric is for you, check out this vinyl fabric from Plastex, which is quite thick and durable. This fabric would make an amazing shop apron for your everyday use.
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