Making the Most of Your
Chapter 16 "Clever Sewing Notions"
"She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle."
Sewing is basically a “lost art” in today’s society, but since Scripture tells us the “excellent wife” sews (well actually, she spins her own fabric, then she sews), I feel it must be important or God wouldn’t have mentioned it! If you don’t know how to sew at all, there are certainly women in your church with whom you can get together to learn the basics, like sewing on a button, hemming, mending, and operating a sewing machine. If you do sew, and sew fairly well, take a moment and ask the Lord to use you to help another woman learn, but first, do it in your own home.
Do you have daughters, or sons, who still don’t know how to sew on a button? When a button is lost that article of clothing is worthless. So teaching how to do some basic sewing will benefit everyone. Parents send their children to school to learn so many things that they will never use in their future, but fail to teach them skills like sewing, cooking, cleaning and shopping that will help them all their lives.
For those of you who do sew, let’s talk about some sewing tips that will help you save time and/or money. Most women don’t think they have the time or that it is sometimes cheaper to buy it than sew it. Sometimes that is true; however, when I was left with four small children, the third being a girl, I found that sewing helped me to dress her in the kind of dresses I couldn’t afford at the time. What helped me even more was that I had an outlet or hobby to do that kept my mind and hands busy when I was so terribly fearful of my future.
Tips to Save Time
Scissors. Put your scissors on a piece of elastic and hang them around your neck. I saw this being done at a fabric store by the personnel, and have done this for years! You never lose them. Do this for your crafts and if you plan to do a lot of gift-wrapping, like at Christmas time. It saves you so much time when you don’t have to search for your scissors that have gotten under fabric or wrapping paper.
Pincushion. Use a wrist pincushion. You’ll never end up at the sewing machine or ironing board without pins. It’s even worse if they’re hidden under a piece of material. (These first two tips cut my sewing time in half!)
Cutting patterns. Cut many patterns on one particular day, while you’re all set up on the table or floor. Cut right over the V—then, go back and snip a quarter inch into each of the V’s. This also saves time.
Patterns. Use the same pattern over and over. You’ll know it so well it will cut down on the time of following the directions. You may even find short cuts to your pattern. Using different prints, solids, plaids and stripes, as well as various buttons and collars, will give each item a different look.
For patterns that you will use over and over again, make a pattern from a remnant of fabric. I did this for my daughter’s dress pattern. It not only was easier to reuse than the thin paper pattern, it also did not require using pins to keep it in place for cutting! I was able to pass that pattern down and used it for my next two daughters.
Facings. Don’t use the facings, instead line it—it is so much quicker! Just cut out the yoke of the garment doubled. You simply sew it around the neck and sleeves, turn and press! Using a different fabric print also adds to the look of your finished creation; this is what top designers do. They may use a totally different print and fabric, like hot pink with tiny polka dots in blue denim just to make it pop.
An entire child’s wardrobe: Make a wardrobe for your toddler. Make two to four blouses or shirt in different styles (round collar, square collar, sailor collar, ruffle collar), then make different dresses or jumpsuits in various colors and slight pattern changes. This saved me so much money (when I didn’t have any!) and got my children constant smiles of affection from strangers! The dresses I made for my oldest daughter actually went down through her two younger sisters and to my grand nieces!!
Bibs. Make and use bibs for little children (my four-year-olds still wore them when eating). This will save time with laundry and with having to buy new clothes! I also bought Battenburg collars at Walmart in the fabric section for about five dollars, and use them with my daughters when we’d go out to eat. For my sons I made squared collars that were lined to go over their little rompers that not only saved their clothing, but also dressed up what they were wearing!
The first bib I made was from a remnant from a Christening gown I made with an old white towel for the backing. I also had some left over wide lace to go around the outside, and a wide satin ribbon for the ties. As I said before, each of my daughters wore this as a bib, but that’s not all. When they turned about three years old, they would use it as a fancy apron when playing dress up! We still have that bib today in our memory chest. Was that thing anointed or what??
Tips for Saving Money
Buying patterns. Buy only one pattern for your boys and one for your girls. Make sure they have size variations (open the pattern before you buy it and look inside to see). I make a fabric pattern by cutting out the size I need on another piece of fabric I don’t want. When you lay your fabric pattern on your good fabric, it will not need pins to hold it while you cut.
Lining. Use your unwanted white sheets for lining. You can also find white sheets at yard sales or at thrift stores, or use a complementing fabric to line. Also remember to use different fabric as a contrast: stripes inside your floral print are a nice combination. Keep your scraps of fabric for this purpose. Just lay what you have on top of your material to find a winning combination.
Buying fabric. Buy the fabric when it is a dollar a yard, no more than two dollars. You’ll find fabric all over town this cheap if you look. When you need to sew something, check in your box of fabric first before rushing off to the store.
Avoid trendy. Buy the classic fabrics rather than the trendy. Also do this with your patterns. Then, the clothes can be passed down to other children without looking out of style.
Buttons can add style to your clothing at an inexpensive price. Many times Walmart has buttons on sale for 10¢ or 25¢ cents a card. Different buttons, different trim, and different lengths of dresses make the clothes look different even though it is the same pattern.
Modest and warm: Make pantaloons for your girls—they are good to dress up an outfit, they are modest, and great for warmth in the winter.
Wear for years. Make your girl’s dresses ballet length. Then, she can wear it the next year at calf length and the final year at the knee.
Teach your daughters to sew. As I said, there is no better way to help your daughters than to teach them skills that will help them when they are married. If you don’t know how to sew, or cook, or do other domestic tasks, then find a woman who can train you and her. The “women’s lib movement” left most of us unable to do simple tasks. This makes us struggle and dread everyday tasks that would be easily done had we learned when we were younger.
For more information on training your daughters (and your sons) for life when they leave home and get married, make sure you read A Wise Woman available for free on our website.
Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett. All of this man’s books are wonderful, but this one is must reading. I kept jumping around this book looking for the quick tips for organizing, but there were none. I finally settled down and read the book from beginning to the end. It was enjoyable and funny, but most importantly, it changed the way I looked at what I owned. The unexpected side effect was that it changed my buying habits (I stopped buying what I didn’t need). Check to see if this book is in your local library. Most bookstores carry it, or they can certainly order it for you.
Side-Tracked Home Executive by Pam Young. After thinking I was the only one using 3x5 cards to organize my daily tasks, someone said, “Oh, you must have read Side-Tracked Home Executive.” It was their book (it’s written by two sisters) that gave me the idea to color code my cards, and showed me how to work monthly chores into my system. It is very funny and well worth reading.
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As an “Older women likewise…teaching what is good, that they may ENCOURAGE the young women…” (Titus 2:3) you will have the opportunity to speak to the younger women who are still single as part of your ministry.