Friday, January 27, 2006

A Few Opportunities at Home

The home has so many possibilities, it is a wonder that people spend so much time away from it. I just met a woman of moderate means, whose husband, for a hobby, installed a pond in their small yard. Surround by rocks and various shrubs, they spend happy moments in quiet thought and observation at this spot. They also have several bird feeders around the outside of the house, which keeps them busy filling and re-filling. These feeders can be clearly viewed from the windows of the inside of the house, so that the variety of birds can be enjoyed as they eat their lunch or sit in their lounge room. So there they have a little park, and a place to stroll around, with complete privacy.

One of the most useful things a new homemaker can develop is the art of sewing. Don't be scared off by those complicated sewing shows on public broadcasting. All you need to learn are a few basics that will carry you on throughout your home life. Learn the basics of hand-sewing, such as threading the needle, tying the knot, and sewing a seam. Useful for making everything from table cloths and napkins, to curtains, these can later be substituted with basic sewing machine knowledge. Again, all you really need to know is how to sew a seam.

In spite of the many books and programs there are about sewing, I've personally found that the most useful way of developing sewing skill is to use a sewing pattern from the fabric store. These include step-by-step instructions, which, if followed carefully, can help you add to your sewing skills. A lot of things that experts are making a big deal out of now-a-days, such as pin-tucks, ruffles, zippers, button-holes, or collars, are more easily learned from these sewing patterns. They come in brands such as Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and more.

If you start with the home decorating type of sewing, you will get better results the first time you sew. This is because home decor items like cushions and table dressings and tea cozies, usually involve basic shapes of squares and rectangles and simple hems, whereas clothing requires attention to curved areas and different types of folding before sewing.

I think sewing your own clothes is a great beginning for self-reliance. That way, when the styles go wacky and wierd, you can sew up a skirt in the pattern you like, adding a little length or some trim to update the look. When you sew, you don't have to say, "I can't find anything to wear," because all you have to do is buy a pattern and the required amound of fabric, and follow the directions on the paper which is included in the pattern.

Study the pattern first to get an idea of what you will be doing. The best way to do this is to get a cup of soothing tea or your favorite drink, have uplifting music in the background, and read the instructions while reclining in a comfortable chair. Read every part of the pattern envelope and the instruction sheets, including definitions and layout instructions. Then read the step-by-step sewing program.

Another thing that can be done at home is old-fashioned cooking. Eating at home is better for you if you use real, natural foods, as close to their original form as possible. Instead of buying frozen mashed potatoes or frozen cooked rice, get the raw ingredient and learn to cook it yourself. In grocery stores today, there are free recipe cards in the produce section for ways to use all those fresh fruits and vegetables. One might wonder why anyone would bother to cook from raw ingredients when it can be bought so conveniently already prepared. It is because the prepared ingredients can often be inferiror (you didn't pick it yourself or ascertain its freshness or firmness, for example), and is always loaded with extra salts and other things that you can't pronounce. Why not choose it and prepare it yourself so you will know what you are eating, and preserve your health for years to come.

By the way, we'd appreciate it if you wouldn't post on articles that are a year or more old. It is a bother to bring up the old subjects. If you missed the current subjects, it is too late to leave a comment, as I don't have time to dredge up old stuff. So the one who is trying to post about how bad things were in Germany during the era of the castles... Sorry ;-)

A Sweet Remembrance from


Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, you are so right about the sewing. I am a little better than a beginner, although my mother taught me the basics of hand sewing as a child. I thought I would start machine sewing with patterns for doll clothes and discovered it is actually easier to sew clothes in larger sizes. This past Christmas I made pajamas and nightgowns for my husband, myself and my 4 children out of the most beautiful flannel. I really enjoyed it and everyone loved them. It was a very gratifying experience.

I agree with you about sewing your own clothes. The fashions for 8 yo girls are appalling! If I had to rely on the stores, my daughters would have nothing to wear, as I refuse to have them in clothes that make them look, well, like "ladies of the night."

Sewing is as deeply satisfying as cooking, which I dearly love. If only I could get the hang of cleaning and organizing!


Anonymous said...

Oh, I just love this article. I love using my skills that I have to make things easier for my family and of course save money. I have always wanted to put a pond in my 'soon to be garden'. Maybe I will be able to find a place.

Amanda said...

You are definitely right about sewing and cooking! And I love your blog. It's always inspiring to come here.

I'm not a full-time homemaker by any means, although I would love to be. I firmly believe that food should be fresh, unprocessed, and prepared at home. And I find that sewing is essential to running a house on tight budget. I can have a new outfit for $4 (or less) if I make it myself. My husband prefers ready-made clothes, but he's short and stocky, so he always requires alterations. I save a lot of money just by knowing how to cuff pants, adjust waistbands and shorten sleeves.

My husband likes me to watch television with him, and I've converted it into useful time for sewing. (Machine sewing is relegated to times when he's busy elsewhere, but I can work through a lot of the basic stuff by hand: hems, waistbands, mending, ironing, pattern alterations, etc.) I get much more accomplished this way and don't have to feel guilty about wasting my evening.

Thank you again for a wonderful blog!