This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Apron. The apron dates far back. Ever since over first parents ages and ages ago sewed fig leaves into aprons to conceal their nakedness, this style of garment has been a la mode. The Greeks and Romans were famous for their richly embroidered aprons. In the time of Queen Charlotte of England, Beau Brummel showed his dislike to them by deliberately removing the apron of a duchess and flinging it behind a sofa at a ball; and Mary, Queen of Scots, history asserts, left behind her when she was beheaded nearly one hundred aprons of various hues and fashions. An English illustration made in the 13th century shows a blacksmith at work in an apron similar in shape to that still worn by men of that class. At that time they were known under the name of "barm-skins." The exact origin of the word apron is unsettled, although it is supposed to be derived from the French naperon, a large cloth, whence also our word napkin, a small cloth. We call them by many names now, the fig leaves of Adam and Eve having developed by slow degrees into a valuable series of pin-a-fores, suitable for the infant in arms, or the man and woman to whom labor is the natural result having come into existence.