Now, there’s a phrase heard rarely if at all nowadays. It means cover the topic completely but don’t focus on the details too much.
A Mother Hubbard dress is one without a defined waist. It hangs from the shoulders and is given shape by the belt or apron over the dress. This means it is roomy, cool, requires less tailoring and labor than a fitted dress (and fewer fasteners), and allows for expansion and contraction. I once read a fashion historian jokingly refer to the style as “a mainland Victorian mumu.”
In rural and western America (but I repeat myself . . .) dresses like this served as every-day wear. They tended to be made of sturdy material and could be washed without fear of damaging the fabric or trim. This was what women wore around the house and farm, with an apron or duster over it as appropriate.
To “Mother Hubbard” something meant to cover it completely but not in detail. Just like the dress did. Yes, the name of the dress came from the nursery rhyme, probably because older women and working-class women tended to favor the style first. I suspect you will rarely, if ever, hear “to Mother Hubbard” used as a verb any more. Just like you’ll never, ever hear the recommendation I got about doing a flight review: “Make it like a skirt. Long enough to cover all the important things, but short enough to keep it interesting.”
Very true, and good for any sort of classroom presentation, but, ah, er, um, probably not the best phrase to use in today’s legal atmosphere. SIGH.