Dab-smack in the center of the back of an Amish woman’s dress, at the waist, is a tiny, half-moon shaped piece of material. A “leppli,” it is called.

When Mom was about eight, my grandma started adding a “leppli” onto her dresses. Mom was peeved because grandma insisted on topstitching the “leppli.” The topstitching made it a “shtepp leppli,” and only the plainest Amish had a “shtepp leppli.” When Mom was finally old enough to sew her own dresses, she decided to be fancy and did not topstitch her “leppli.” I promise you I am not making this up.

Years ago, a modest lady’s dress had an extra piece of material on the back, starting at the waist and covering her backside. The piece gave her an added layer of modesty when she bent over to do something. Over the years, this extra piece gradually got smaller and smaller and smaller, and today all that’s left of it is the tiny half-moon.

It obviously does not fulfill its original intent, but every Amish woman faithfully sews one onto all of her dresses. A plain Amish woman will likely have a bigger “leppli.” Some chic young girls have tiny little ones. The size does not matter. The important thing is to not leave go of the “leppli!”