Country Traditions

September 17, 2010

Daily Chores

Filed under: Churning butter, farming, laundry, quilting, sewing, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:55 pm

Mondays – Wash Clothes (by hand in sudsy water, ring it, rinse it, ring it, hang it outside to dry. This took all day.)

Tuesdays – Iron ( Iron everything – shirts, pants, and underwear. There was no permanent press – everything was very wrinkly. This took all day.)

Wednesdays – Mend and work on new sewing projects (She sewed patches onto pants and mended socks. My grandmother sewed all of my mother’s clothes until she reached the middle of high school.)

Thursdays – Cleaning of bedrooms and bathrooms (They only had one car which was normal in those days. Grandpa did the grocery shopping and grandma worked the garden.)

Fridays – Cleaning of living room, dining room and kitchen (Grandma baked every day. She made cinnamon rolls, pies, donuts and cakes from scratch.)

Saturdays – Prepare for Sunday by cooking double meals and giving bathsetc. (Grandma always made hamburgers for dinner on Saturdays because they were fast. Then she focused on the Sunday Roast and sheet cake that they would eat after church.)

Sundays – Day of Rest

Grandma’s life was full and busy as she lovingly cared for her family. She served God by serving her family. She worked with eager hands (Prov. 31:13b), she set about her work vigorously (Prov. 31:17), she watched over the affairs of her household and did not eat the bread of idleness (Prov. 31:27). And the most beautiful part was she feared the Lord (Prov. 31:30).


Housekeeping 1896

Filed under: Churning butter, gardening, laundry, recipes, sewing, soap making — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:50 am
"Good Housekeeping" magazine is one ...

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Posted by Miss KimAugust 16, 2010
From the 19th into the early 20th century the ever increasing number of middle class housewives found that having a “systematic” way with housekeeping details made for more leisure time for the housewife.
“Orderly, systematic work is the great time-saver in housekeeping, as is every other vocation in life.
A written programme, of which the following is suggestive, of the order in which the regular daily work is to be done, kept where it will serve as a constant reminder, will aid greatly in the establishment of habits of method in one’s work :
1. Make the fire ; fill the tea-kettle and reservoirs. Polish the stove, when needed.
2. Dust the kitchen, which should have been left clean and in good order the night before. Wash the hands preparatory to getting breakfast, as it is always essential to have the hands and finger nails clean before handling foods and cooking utensils.
3. Get breakfast.
4. Make any preparations for dinner which may require early attention.
5. Wash dishes, including dish towels; clean sinks, hoppers, and garbage receptacles, if any.
6. Extras. Under this division may be arranged different duties for regular days; as, for example, one day each week may be devoted to extra cleaning of cupboards, reservoirs, ovens, etc.; two other days to washing and cleaning the refrigerator, extra scouring of utensils and faucets, cleaning of lights, woodwork, walls, windows, and cellar, all of which require more or less of the housekeeper’s attention, though not always demanding daily care.
7. Put the kitchen to rights. This should be done after every meal before leaving the kitchen. At the close of the day’s work everything should be left in perfect order.
It is desirable to have the housework so planned that work which must be done regularly each week, as baking, washing, and ironing, shall have its own appointed day arranged as best suits the needs and convenience of the household. There is always a best way of performing even the simplest of household details ; seek out this most advantageous method and save time by employing it.—Mrs. E. E. Kellogg in Good Health.”
~Good Housekeeping Magazine 1896

September 16, 2010

Housework in Late 19th Century America

Filed under: farming, furniture, gardening, outhouse, sewing — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:44 pm
All My Cast Iron

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Housework in Late 19th Century America
By Steven Mintz

Housework in nineteenth century America was harsh physical labor. Preparing even a simple meal was a time and energy consuming chore. Prior to the twentieth century, cooking was performed on a coal or wood burning stove. Unlike an electric or a gas range, which can be turned on with the flick of a single switch, cast iron and steel stoves were exceptionally difficult to use.

Ashes from an old fire had to be removed. Then, paper and kindling had to be set inside the stove, dampers and flues had to be carefully adjusted, and a fire lit. Since there were no thermostats to regulate the stove’s temperature, a woman had to keep an eye on the contraption all day long. Any time the fire slackened, she had to adjust a flue or add more fuel.

Throughout the day, the stove had to be continually fed with new supplies of coal or wood – an average of fifty pounds a day. At least twice a day, the ash box had to be emptied, a task which required a woman to gather ashes and cinders in a grate and then dump them into a pan below. Altogether, a housewife spent four hours every day sifting ashes, adjusting dampers, lighting fires, carrying coal or wood, and rubbing the stove with thick black wax to keep it from rusting.

It was not enough for a housewife to know how to use a cast iron stove. She also had to know how to prepare unprocessed foods for consumption. Prior to the 1890s, there were few factory prepared foods. Shoppers bought poultry that was still alive and then had to kill and pluck the birds. Fish had to have scales removed. Green coffee had to be roasted and ground. Loaves of sugar had to pounded, flour sifted, nuts shelled, and raisins seeded.

Cleaning was an even more arduous task than cooking. The soot and smoke from coal and wood burning stoves blackened walls and dirtied drapes and carpets. Gas and kerosene lamps left smelly deposits of black soot on furniture and curtains. Each day, the lamp’s glass chimneys had to be wiped and wicks trimmed or replaced. Floors had to scrubbed, rugs beaten, and windows washed. While a small minority of well-to-do families could afford to hire a cook at $5 a week, a waitress at $3.50 a week, a laundress at $3.50 a week, and a cleaning woman and a choreman for $1.50 a day, in the overwhelming majority of homes, all household tasks had to be performed by a housewife and her daughters.

Housework in nineteenth century America was a full-time job. Gro Svendsen, a Norwegian immigrant, was astonished by how hard the typical American housewife had to work. As she wrote her parents in l862:

We are told that the women of America have much leisure time but I haven’t yet met any woman who thought so! Here the mistress of the house must do all the work that the cook, the maid and the housekeeper would do in an upper class family at home. Moreover, she must do her work as well as these three together do it in Norway.

Before the end of the nineteenth century, when indoor plumbing became common, chores that involved the use of water were particularly demanding. Well?to?do urban families had piped water or a private cistern, but the overwhelming majority of American families got their water from a hydrant, a pump, a well, or a stream located some distance from their house. The mere job of bringing water into the house was exhausting. According to calculations made in 1886, a typical North Carolina housewife had to carry water from a pump or a well or a spring eight to ten times each day. Washing, boiling and rinsing a single load of laundry used about 50 gallons of water. Over the course of a year she walked 148 miles toting water and carried over 36 tons of water.

Homes without running water also lacked the simplest way to dispose garbage: sinks with drains. This meant that women had to remove dirty dishwater, kitchen slops, and, worst of all, the contents of chamberpots from their house by hand.

Laundry was the household chore that nineteenth century housewives detested most. Rachel Haskell, a Nevada housewife, called it “the Herculean task which women all dread” and “the great domestic dread of the household.”

On Sunday evenings, a housewife soaked clothing in tubs of warm water. When she woke up the next morning, she had to scrub the laundry on a rough washboard and rub it with soap made from lye, which severely irritated her hands. Next, she placed the laundry in big vats of boiling water and stirred the clothes about with a long pole to prevent the clothes from developing yellow spots. Then she lifted the clothes out of the vats with a washstick, rinsed the clothes twice, once in plain water and once with bluing, wrung the clothes out and hung them out to dry. At this point, clothes would be pressed with heavy flatirons and collars would be stiffened with starch.

The last years of the nineteenth century witnessed a revolution in the nature of housework. Beginning in the 1880s, with the invention of the carpet sweeper, a host of new “labor? saving” appliances were introduced. These included the electric iron (1903), the electric vacuum cleaner (1907), and the electric toaster (1912). At the same time, the first processed and canned foods appeared. In the 1870s, H.J. Heinz introduced canned pickles and sauerkraut; in the 1880s, Frano-American Co. introduced the first canned meals; and in the 1890s, Campbell’s sold the first condensed soups. By the 1920s, the urban middle class enjoyed a myriad of new household conveniences, including hot and cold running water, gas stoves, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners.

Yet despite the introduction of electricity, running water, and “labor-saving” household appliances, time spent on housework did not decline. Indeed, the typical full-time housewife today spends just as much time on housework as her grandmother or great-grandmother. In 1924, a typical housewife spent about 52 hours a week in housework. Half a century later, the average full-time housewife devoted 55 hours to housework. A housewife today spends less time cooking and cleaning up after meals, but she spends just as much time as her ancestors on housecleaning and even more time on shopping, household management, laundry, and childcare.

How can this be? The answer lies in a dramatic rise in the standards of cleanliness and childcare expected of a housewife. As early as the 1930s, this change was apparent to a writer in the Ladies Home Journal:

Because we housewives of today have the tools to reach it, we dig every day after the dust that grandmother left to spring cataclysm. If few of us have nine children for a weekly bath, we have two or three for a daily immersion. If our consciences don’t prick us over vacant pie shelves or empty cookie jars, they do over meals in which a vitamin may be omitted or a calorie lacking.

September 14, 2010

How to make table linen

Filed under: sewing — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 12:32 pm
Embroidery in pedrle cotton yarn on cotton-lin...

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Making time: table linen imageAppliqué can transform a plain tablecloth into something stylish, in any design you choose

Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish, and at the same time cover up any stains! You could also use a vintage linen or heavy cotton sheet – I used an embroidered Swiss cotton sheet which was in perfect condition and wonderfully heavy. If you want to start with new fabric, organic cotton sheeting is ideal – it is extra wide, 2.85m/112in., so you can easily buy a piece big enough for even the largest dining table.

What you need

A hand sewing kit
Safety pins
Items to use as circle templates – plates, jars, CDs
Large piece of organic cotton, vintage tablecloth or vintage sheet
Scraps of medium-weight, washable fabrics which don’t fray too much
Embroidery threads

Note: You may prefer to iron lightweight interfacing onto the fabric scraps before cutting them out. It stops the fabrics from fraying and wrinkling

How to make it

Making time: table linen steps 1 & 2 compositeMark any stains with safety pins before covering them up with fabric circles

1. Pre-wash the base fabric and all the scraps you use for this project as you don’t want colours running in the wash. Also use a dye grabber when you wash, to catch any excess. Wash and iron the tablecloth/sheet/fabric. Mark any stains with safety pins so you can easily find them to cover with appliqué. If you are using new fabric, cut to the required size and hem all the edges.

2. Cut circles from medium-weight fabrics in a range of different sizes, from 6-20cm/21/2-8in. I used about 60 for this project. Spread out the cloth and pin the circles in a nice arrangement over the cloth, covering any stains if necessary. Pin in place, again using safety pins.

Making time: table linen step 3 compositeSew around the circle’s edges using either slipstitch or blanket stitch

3. Starting at one side of the cloth, sew the circles down. Sew around the edges of each circle using either slipstitch (a) or blanket stitch (b). Slipstitch is much faster, so it depends how long you are prepared to work on the tablecloth! Tack or use more pins if required and smooth out each circle to ensure it doesn’t wrinkle as you sew. Press when all the appliqués are attached.

It is quick and easy to make vintage linen napkins to match by sewing just a few small circles onto one corner of each napkin.

September 13, 2010

How to Make an Apron

Filed under: sewing — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 2:13 am
Afternoon costume

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A sewing apron should be worn during the sewing class. It not only protects the dress but the pockets are convenient for holding the necessary tools and materials during the work. One pocket should be used for the handkerchief only; the other for such tools and materials as may be used during the work.


Fig. 8. – Sewing Apron

Suitable Material

Materials such as flaxon, dimity, lawn, muslin, cambric, percale, chambray, or any other material may be used. Material 27″ wide works up to better advantage than any other width.


Fig. 9

Required Measurements

The waist measure – the band may be 2″ or 4″ smaller than the waist measure, since the strings are added.

The length – this should be taken when the person is standing. Measure the length from the waist to the finger tips. This will give the length needed for the apron.

Standard Measurements

By standard measurements is meant those measurements which experience has proved are used for the average person.

Waist – 26″.

Length – 18″.

Required Material

To make this apron use 3/4 of a yard of cross-barred material 27″ wide. No. 90 white thread for machine stitching.

No. 9 “between” needles for hand sewing.


1.  Measure 7″ from the selvage on the width of the material and draw a thread. (See Fig. 9.)

2.  Cut off this piece, and use it for the band and the strings. Lay it aside until the body of the apron is finished.


1. Take the body of the apron, which is a piece 27″ by 20″, and on the width (the narrower side) fold a hem which, when finished, is 3/4″ deep.

2.  Crease this well. Pin or baste it down. In loosely woven materials, especially in cross-barred dimity, threads pull very easily. The pulling of a thread assures an even hem.

3.  Stitch this hem by machine, close to the turned-in edge.


1.  From each end of the hem measure 8″ along the selvage and 8″ along the opposite side. Draw a thread. This indicates the depth of the pocket.

2.  Fold this over on the apron so that the hem is on the inside, and crease the fold well.

3.  Divide this into two or three equal sections. Put pins at these dividing points. By means of the dull-edged scissors indicate the lines which are to be stitched.

4.  Stitch the dividing line by machine. On each divided line, make two rows of stitching 1/4″ apart. Start from the bottom of the pocket.

Sides of the Apron

1. Baste each side of the pocket to the side of the apron. Baste with fine thread and very close to the edge.

2. Baste a 1/8″ hem on each side of the apron and stitch it by machine.

Gathering the Apron for the Band

1.  Find the middle of the apron and mark this with a basting thread of a contrasting color.

2.  Make 2 rows of gathering stitches by machine 1/4″ apart. To gather the material by machine, loosen either the top or the lower tension and adjust the machine to the longest possible stitch. The thread which lies the straight-est on the material will be pulled up for the gathers.

Preparing the Band

1.  Take the piece of the apron which was laid aside and cut off a strip 3″ wide for the band.

2.  Make a 1/8″ turn on all four edges and crease it well. If possible, press it with a flat-iron.

3.  Fold the band crosswise and find the center. This will be the center of the front. Mark this with a contrasting thread. Measure 7″ from each side of the center front and mark this also with a contrasting thread.

Putting the Band on the Apron

1. Pin the right side and the center front of the band to the wrong side and the center front of the apron.


Fig. 10. – Detail of Sewing Band on Apron

2.  Pin each side of the band marked with the contrasting threads to each side of the apron.

3.  Draw up the gathering threads of the apron to fit the band.

4.  Divide the fullness so that there is very little in front.

5.  Fasten the gathering threads by twisting them around the pins at each side.

6.  Baste or pin the apron very evenly to the band.

7.  Stitch the apron to the band by machine. Use the creased line of the band as a stitching line.

8.  Crease the seam open between the thumb and forefinger and then press it back on the band.

9.  Next turn the band over on the right side of the apron and pin it so that it covers the first stitching.

10.  Pin the extending portions of the band together.

11.  Do not stitch it until the strings are put on the band.

Stitching the Strings

1.  Take the piece of material 4″ wide which was left from the band and on each one of the long sides make a 1/8″ hem and stitch it by machine.

2.  On the two narrow sides, fold a 3/4″ hem and stitch this by machine.

3.  Cut this piece crosswise into two parts. These are for the strings.

Putting on the Strings

1.  Make two pleats in both unfinished ends. Make these pleats so that they will fit exactly inside the band. Slip the strings into the open side of the band.

2.  Baste the strings to the band very carefully, so that each side will look like one continuous thread.

3. Stitch the band to the apron and stitch the strings into the band. This can all be done in one stitching. Begin at the right side of the apron near the end of the gathering. Stitch all along the gathers and the one extending end of the band. Turn the corner and stitch the string to the band. Stitch this up, down, and up again, so that there will be three rows of stitching. Stitch these close to each other. Next turn the corner and stitch all around the upper edge of the band; then repeat the three stitching strips where the other string joins the band. Finish the remaining stitching on the band. Tie and finish the machine threads carefully.

The seam of the apron may be finished with a feather, a chain, or any other fancy stitch.

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