Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Making Do and Pinching Pennies

     The housewives of  yesteryear really knew how to pinch pennies.  I've always thought I could make a dollar stretch but those ladies make me look like a high-roller.  They really knew the true meaning of the term "make-do".
        For example, I love old linens and always have; however, as an antique dealer, I have a fresh appreciation of the Depression Era women.  
       Such thoughts were going through my mind the other day as I was ironing some vintage linens, readying them to go into the shops.  

     "Red work" embroidery, as on this table cover, was very popular in the late 1800s because the red embroidery thread, unlike other colors, was known to hold color.  The ladies decorated almost everything in their homes with embroidery, sometimes purchasing embroidery patterns but more often would copy or trace drawings from their children's books.  
     They embroidered dish towels, chair cushions, pillow cases - you get the idea.
     As colored embroidery thread became more reliable, their work became more colorful.  But, I digress:  We were talking about how thrifty these housewives were.
     A beautiful tablecloth was something to swoon over and was left out for daily use.  As the fabrics started to wear, patches were carefully and neatly sewn onto the cloth.  As the items became too frayed or worn to use, the cloth was then cut for re-use as another life.

     Oftentimes the lady would add a little fringe of crochet and convert a piece of the tablecloth to say, a doily or a pillowcase.   

     Sometimes larger items were simply monogrammed and hemmed and Mama's tablecloth would also become a dishtowel. 

      This was but a part of every day life, making do and pinching pennies.
       So, when I scrubbed this vintage tablecloth a bit too hard and the sun's rays did their part to further disintegrate part of it while it was outside drying...

     I knew I had to honor its history by somehow saving what is left of it and turn it into another useful item.  Any ideas?  (It remains folded in my laundry room)

      And that, my modern day readers, is only a small part of where the term "make do" came from.