Friday, August 19, 2011

Sewing for the Family & Home

There is so much information online about being prepared in case of
natural or other disasters, including the current economic mess our
nation is facing. Stocking up on food, garden seed, herb seeds, water,
cash in case you cannot get to a bank, being out of debt, the list goes
on and on. There is one area that I rarely have seen your family in the economic hard times.

There has been a returning to the basics in so many areas of our lives
lately and the old style home crafts are not being overlooked. Women
are learning to be frugal in making their household products and more.
In our Grandmothers' time, they didn't go to the store and spend a
percentage of their budget on cleaning products. Instead, they made
their own. The homemade cleaners were every bit as effective as what we
can find in the stores today, but were without the heavy chemicals.
Today, you can find numerous websites with recipes for making your own
cleaners, soaps, fabric softeners, mouthwash, and much more. I used to
make them on a regular basis, but like many today, I started going for
the convenience of buying instead of making my own. I have started
making my cleaners again. Most contain the same ingredients: water,
baking soda, and other ingredients that most people carry in their
pantry at home. The only store-bought cleaners/chemicals that I have to
buy are borax, ammonia, and a cheap dollar store bottle of liquid dish
soap. I do have a recipe for homemade liquid dish soap but it still
requires buying a liquid soap base. I am currently looking for a
homemade version that I can make myself. There are 2 areas though that
really hang people up when you suggest that they learn them:
Crochet/Knitting and Sewing.

Crochet & Knitting are two home crafts of old that are making a major
come back among those wanting to be less reliant on stores. While it
provides a way to make clothing and other items for your family, it can
generate a little extra income also. Blankets, winter gear, socks, and
much more are made with crochet & knitting. One item in particular that
can be knitted or crocheted is dish cloths/wash cloths. These simple and
fast to make items make great items to sell at craft bazaars. One
things that makes them very appealing is that they are inexpensive to
make so you can sell them for very little and still turn a profit.

Sewing for the family & home is a hobby to some, but a lost art to many.
One of the things I often suggest to women who ask what skills they
should learn before making the leap from urban dwelling to a more
homestead life is that of sewing. I am taking it a step further and
suggesting that there be a consideration for an Amish way of thinking.
In the Amish society, the women sew all or most of the clothing their
family wears. Sound daunting? It doesn't have to be. The one thing
that they do right is to limit the number of patterns that they use.
They have basic pant, vest, and shirt patterns for the boys & men,
usually a button front shirt and broadfall pants. The girls and women
wear a specific style of dress, a slip, and for some they also sew
underclothing for their family. By limiting the number of styles that
they make and not following the trend of changing styles each season,
the women are able to master the construction of the clothing. I am not
saying all should dress as the Amish. I am only giving this as a
illustration. How many of us who do sew clothing have a tendency to
gather many styles, yet we readily admit that we ourselves have a single
favorite style that we wear the most. Instead of buying many styles of
patterns, why not buy the style you and your family enjoys most and use
fabric selection as a way to make it dressy or not. Even the most basic
of dress patterns can look very relaxed in one fabric, but be made very
nice for an evening out just by using a different style of fabric. I
have seen within the Mennonite & Amish communities that a cape dress in
a plain solid colored cloth used by the Old Order Amish can look very
different just by using a poly-cotton blend floral fabric in bright
colors like some Mennonite women wear. It is the same pattern, but the
fabric selection alone makes a huge difference in the finished dress.
Such as it is with all sewing. A very functional work pant can be made
to look like a dress pant depending on the material used. With this in
mind, I am sorting through my patterns. I am picking out only one for
each clothing item (pant, shirt, dress, etc) for my family. To make the
patterns last longer, I am getting newsprint from the newspaper office
where they sell end rolls very cheaply. I'll trace the patterns onto
the newsprint in the size I need to use as my working copy. If it is a
pattern that I will be using a lot, I will take it to Mardel's Christian
Book store where I can laminate the pieces very cheaply. This will make
a very sturdy pattern to work from that won't tear or fray. The
original pattern will be filed away. I am blessed in that Abbie's and
my patterns all come in a wide range of sizes in a single packet. For
Abbie, her dress pattern contains sizes 4-12. If the pattern comes in
more than one size range, buy it on sale and get one of each size
range. This will assure that when your child out grows the pattern and
you need the next size range, you won't find the pattern no longer in print.

Choosing patterns for the home can be done in a similar way. Choose one
packet for the kitchen/dining room items and vary it with fabric.
Often, you may find a curtain pattern in the packet that with
alterations to the length & width, can be used in other rooms of the
home. Bedding and other linens are the same. Choose one pattern that
can be used to serve as many of your needs as possible. If it is a
pattern that is a single size, such as a pattern for a quilt, consider
backing the pattern with iron-on lightweight fusible interfacing to make
the pattern more sturdy for lots of uses.

The next question of course is the storage of the patterns that have
been backed or laminated. Use a long container like those that roll
under a bed, or use clothespins to hold the pattern pieces together on a
hanger. You can also put a small hole through the pieces to hang them
with safety pins onto a hanger.

What this all comes down to is being just one more way that we can be
good stewards of our resources and talents. We can also build our
confidence and skill in making the clothing and household items, whether
sewn, crocheted, or knitted, and become proficient enough to sell items
that we make. One extra blessing in building our skill be narrowing our
focus to a few styles is that as we become more experienced in making
the items, we will work more quickly and have time to focus on our
family and our faith.