Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thrifty Tuesday


Today I went back in time and started to think about my old Home Economics classes.

I don't know about your classes, or if you even took them (girls got Home Ec. and boys got Shop), but mine started in Grade 7. The course was divided in two Food/Cooking and Sewing.

In the food portion we learned how to make a menu, set a table properly (even had to draw place settings for the meal), make shopping list, and serve the meal. It was actually lots of fun. Well except for having to list everything out, find the recipes we were going to use (much easier in the lower grades as the teacher did all of that), draw out the place setting and make sure everything prepared was enough to feed the whole class. Then of course we were graded on the papers we handed in and our performance as head cook and bottle washer.

Sewing class gave me a taste of being able to make something I could actually wear. Our first project was an apron with embroidery. The teacher had all the pattern made for us. We just had to cut it out, do the embroidery, and then sew it up according to the directions she gave us. Our second project in Grade 8 was a wrap skirt with a button. Once again everything was supplied even the fabric (we all made our skirts out of some kind of woven green stuff). Learned how to make a buttonhole, how to hem properly (tiny little stitches) and put interfacing in (back then it was sew in, none of the fusible was available).

I hit Grade 9 and cooking continued in much the same manner, though the meals and treats we made became a bit more complex. It was pretty much the same for the rest of the time I took the class. Some things went over very well, others not so accepted. We learned how to make a menu for a week and poured over fliers to get the best possible deals. Budgeting was a big part of the course as we went along.

Sewing in high school got a bit more complicated. We had to buy our own fabric and got a list of patterns that we were to pick from. Each year a new challenge was added. We had a teacher who would measure the seams to make sure they were exactly 5/8 inches and that the darts on our patterns fit exactly (that is if the pattern had a dart at the bust) and those were measured to make sure they were exactly the same length. Still it was amazing to see how much we all learned and how our skills with a sewing machine grew.

I never realized until a few days ago that the skills I learned there prepared me for what I would face as an adult. 

The cooking classes gave me a background in cooking in a thrifty manner. I still pour over the fliers and make a menu. Only this time instead of for a week mine is made for a month. Sure things sometimes change, but it is usually just exchanging days. By pouring over the fliers I have managed to store enough food ahead that I can do the month and any sale items I buy can be used the next month (especially meat, poultry and fish). I still set a table the way I learned in school. Budgeting is a big part of my thrifty home.

I didn't sew for a very long time after I left high school, but when I became pregnant with my first child I borrowed my mother's sewing machine and made many a maternity top and even one dress. Then when our daughter was born, Harvey bought me a sewing machine as a Christmas gift (could no longer borrow Mom's as we had moved) and I started sewing her clothing. Loved sewing all those little dresses and tops. Our youngest son also got many a home sewn outfit of t-shirt and pants. 

While sewing clothing has taken most of my time I branched into quilts (made from scraps of fabric and fabric cut from old clothing like jeans and woolen skirts), and décor items. I am sure my old home ec. teacher would shudder to see that my seams are not always a true 5/8", but would be happy to see that my darts are always the same length.

Now I can't leave what thrifty things I learned from my Mom. She always used up every bit of food, letting nothing go to waste. Many of the meals I make I learned from her. 

She taught me to knit, and darn socks. How to turn a collar, and how to fix a zipper. 

These are all lessons that have kept me occupied and thrifty over the years. They helped me through financially hard times and during the good time helped us to save for retirement. 

Everybody have a wonderful evening. 

God bless.


  1. This right here, Jackie, is what the kids are missing in school today! Hands down!! ~Andrea xoxo

  2. I think you had a happier school experience than I did when it came to cooking and sewing. My garments were unwearable and the food edible but boring. These days I'm very grateful to t'interweb for all the wonderful things I can learn.

  3. Reading your post brought back happy memories of my own learnings from Home Economics. I have a friend who was a Home Ec teacher and she and I often comment about how we were taught frugality. A good thing to learn!

  4. I was so interested to read about your lessons. In my school you either took cookery, as it was known, or classics. So I never learned to cook or sew but did a lot of Latin! My mum was a brilliant stitcher so I learned a lot from her.

  5. I find it interesting that you had home etc for so many years. We had it just one year and since I had already learned those skills in 4-H it made me wish I could take shop and learn something new. I was glad when eventually the gender assignment to those classes ended but agree totally about how useful the skills are and have been.

  6. I know I took Home Ec for a couple of years, but the most I remember is making some sort of dish once a week in a group activity. I think there was a chapter on setting tables, but I don't recall anything on reviewing flyers.

    In my sewing class we made aprons (apparently that's the standard), and the only other project I recall was a peasant blouse I made with mounds of embroidery. I may have worn it a few times. But I did keep on sewing after high school, making a lot of my own clothes until my daughter was born.

    By Grade 9 we were given a choice, either Home Ec or one of the classes that were originally only offered to the boys. I chose drafting - perhaps I ought to have stayed in Home Ec.

    Take care and stay well!

  7. I had a very similar education here in the UK, but only for a few years in secondary school, until we chose our O'level options and then I don't think I did the sewing or cooking anymore. I don't think you were encouraged to chose the subject if you were considered academic.

    I remember enjoying both classes, but always remember making a pencil skirt from a tricky fabric that I bought myself. Should have been a good lesson, but I've bought difficult fabric for projects since, so I don't think I learned it.

  8. I should add, that I think this was wrong, as I think I would have benefited much more from taking sewing classes, than some of the other subjects I was more or less forced to take.

  9. Here in the UK those lessons were called Domestic Science and we also sewed and baked. Your post is a fantastic and interesting look at lessons for preparation for living.

  10. Your story was much the same as mine, although I don't recall embroidery. I do remember having to make our school uniform dress which was not a good fit.

  11. I despised Home ec. As I grew up in a house where we started to sew and cook very young. I remember learning to knit when I was 5 and we could not go outside until we had knitted 2 inches of a mittens every day. I learned to get it over with fast. My mom or grandmothers always turned the thumbs. I remember my twin and I making full course meals for my father, before we were 12. Sewing was on a treadle machine starting at about 7. I think growing up in a house that was just a generation from the old country made us different. So when home ec came at 7th grade and 8th, I was so frustrated. But I do have to say having you learn to grocery shop was a great thing. We did not learn that. I still turn the collar on my husbands shirts.