A cafe au lait-colored Singer sewing machine sits on the far side of Lynn Dee Humphrey’s kitchen table.
The machine has been in her family for four generations, passed down along the female line, and it is with that sewing machine that Humphrey has built her homegrown business, Aprons 2 Die 4.
But seven years ago, tragedy struck. Her sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and Humphrey moved back to take care of her, remarried and stayed.
In Salt Lake City, Humphrey had managed a wholesale operation, but didn’t have a personal source of income in Tuolumne County, which became a problem when her 22-year-old daughter announced her intention to go to mission and ministry school.
“Usually, when people make that decision, you send out letters to family and friends for help, but I didn’t want to do that,” Humphrey said.
She had noticed aprons making a comeback, she said, and thought that it looked like something she could do.
Humphrey already had a background in sewing through her mother and grandmother. She put the talent to good use, and began producing apron after apron.
The aprons are reversible, with two different patterns of fabric. They are machine washable, with an adjustable neck and extra-long belt that can be tied in front or in back, depending on your preference.
Humphrey seeks out materials that inspire her from fabric stores, estate sales or thrift stores. She collects buttons, and uses the things she finds to piece together original works of art.
“That’s the fun part for me,” she said. “That’s where the creativity comes in.”
Humphrey has made about 100 aprons so far. She recently began selling online at www.aprons2tie4.etsy.com, and made her first international sale in April.
She makes aprons for all ages, and has begun making matching pairs for dads and children as well as mothers and children.
“Aprons are nostalgic,” she said. “That’s why people are drawn to them now. We live in a busy, crazy world.”
A full-size apron runs for $35, and a children’s apron sells for $20. She accepts custom orders.
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Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties