In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the value of old-fashioned homemaking skills. But these timeless abilities can enhance your daily life and create a warm, inviting atmosphere in your home.
From baking to mastering basic sewing techniques, these tried-and-true practices can save you money, reduce your environmental footprint, and provide a sense of accomplishment. We’ve compiled a large list of homemaking skills, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick one or two of these to take on as a new hobby, and then try out more of the skills as time allows.
Learn to Garden
A garden can provide you with fresh vegetables and is customizable to your needs and land size. Even tending to a small indoor garden can help with stress reduction, provide you with home-grown food or herbs, and benefit your family.
Knowing the basic principles of planting and sowing is essential when starting a garden. Start by researching the right plants for your climate and soil type. It’s best to plant during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun isn’t too harsh.
- Spacing: Give plants enough space to grow. You can consult your seed packets or seedling labels for specific requirements.
- Seeds: Use quality seeds to prevent diseases and low germination. Store your seeds in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Depth: Sow seeds at the appropriate depth to provide ideal conditions for germination. Typically, the depth is about two times the seed’s diameter.
Basic Sewing Skills
Stitching by Hand
Learning to stitch by hand is an essential skill that is incredibly useful for minor repairs and quick fixes. Start by practicing the running stitch, which is the most basic and versatile type of stitch. To make a running stitch:
- Thread a needle and tie a knot at the end of the thread.
- Push the needle through the fabric from the back to the front.
- Move the needle a short distance forward and push it back through the fabric.
- Continue this pattern along the desired length of the stitch.
Practice different hand stitches, such as the backstitch, slipstitch, and whipstitch, to increase your hand-sewing abilities.
Mending clothes is a valuable skill that can save you money and prolong the life of your garments. Here are a few basic methods for common repairs:
- Patching: A patch is a small piece of fabric used to cover a hole or weak spot. Use fabric glue or a whipstitch to secure the patch in place.
- Darning: Darning is a process of weaving threads into the fabric to repair a hole or tear.
- Thread a needle with a matching thread.
- Sew up and down, weaving the thread horizontally across the hole.
- Turn the garment 90 degrees and weave the thread vertically across the hole, creating a woven pattern.
- Cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the hole.
- Apply fabric glue to the patch’s edges and press it against the inside of the garment.
- Use a whipstitch to reinforce the edges, ensuring the patch stays in place.
Sewing on a Button
Knowing how to sew on a button is a simple yet important skill. Follow these steps:
- Prepare – Obtain a similar button, thread your needle with a matching thread color, and knot the end of the thread.
- Position – Place the button on the fabric where it was initially located.
- Stitch – Bring the threaded needle up through one of the buttonholes from the back of the fabric. Thread it back down through the opposite hole, pulling it tight. Repeat this 3-4 times for each hole pairing (2-hole- or 4-hole buttons).
- Secure – Once you have sewn through each hole, bring the needle up one last time, but not through the buttonhole. Wrap the thread around the button a few times to create a shank, allowing the button to move when fastened. Pass the needle through this shank and then through the back of the fabric. Knot and cut the excess thread.
With these basic sewing skills, you’ll be well-equipped to handle most minor clothing repairs and alterations. Keep practicing and experimenting to become even more proficient in homemaker-essential sewing techniques.
Preserving and Canning
Making Jams and Jellies
Jams and jellies are excellent ways to preserve the flavors of your favorite fruits for later use. To make your own, you need ripe fruits, sugar, and pectin. Here’s a summary of the process:
- Wash and prepare your fruits.
- Simmer the fruits with water until they’re soft.
- Mash or puree the fruits to your desired consistency.
- Mix in the sugar and pectin; cook until reaching the proper thickness.
- Pour into sterilized jars and seal.
NOTE: Typical ratios for making jams and jellies are 4 cups prepared fruit, 2 cups sugar, and 6 tbsp pectin.
Pickling is an old-fashioned technique used to preserve many types of vegetables. Most pickling recipes use a simple mixture of water, vinegar, and salt, with added spices for flavor variation. The basic steps of pickling are as follows:
- Wash and cut your vegetables.
- Prepare the pickling mixture by combining water (2 cups), vinegar (1 cup), and pickling salt (1 tbsp) in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Pack vegetables tightly into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Pour the hot pickling mixture over the vegetables, ensuring they are fully submerged.
- Seal the jars and process using the water bath canning method, typically 10-15 minutes.
Experiment with spices and herbs to find your favorite flavor combinations.
Canning fruits allows you to enjoy the sweetness and taste of your favorite fruits year-round. To get started, follow these basic canning steps:
- Wash, peel (if needed), and prepare your fruits.
- Cook the fruit in a sugar syrup (optional) or water gently until slightly softened.
- Pack the cooked fruit into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Top off the jars with remaining syrup or water.
- Remove any air bubbles and seal the jars.
- Process the jars in a boiling water bath for the specified time based on the fruit and jar size.
Remember to use a reliable canning guide or recipe to ensure proper canning techniques for a safe final product.
Home Baking Techniques
When it comes to home baking techniques, mastering the art of bread making is a must-do old fashioned homemaking skill. Begin with a simple basic recipe, like a white or whole wheat loaf. Here are some key steps:
- Prepare your ingredients: Measure all the ingredients beforehand, such as flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and oil.
- Knead the dough: Combine the ingredients and knead the dough with your hands or a mixer until it reaches the right consistency.
- Proof and rise: Allow the dough to rest and rise in a warm place, usually for 1-2 hours.
- Shape and second rise: Once risen, shape the dough into a loaf and let it rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Bake: Finally, bake the bread in a preheated oven at a specified temperature, usually around 350-400°F (175-200°C.)
Pie Crust Crafting
A skill that’s sure to impress is making a perfect pie crust from scratch. Follow these steps for a flaky, delicious crust:
- Choose the right fat: Butter, shortening, or a combination of both to balance flavor and flakiness.
- Colder is better: Ensure your ingredients are cold, including the fat, liquid, and even the mixing bowl.
- Cut in fat: Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the fat into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add liquid: Add ice-cold water, a little at a time, and mix until the dough comes together.
- Chill: Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour to help relax the gluten and prevent shrinkage.
- Roll and shape: On a floured surface, roll the dough out and transfer it to your pie dish. Trim and shape the edges.
Elevate your cake game by honing your cake-decorating skills. Here are some basic techniques to get you started:
- Crumb coat: This is a thin layer of frosting applied before the final coat to keep crumbs from showing in the finished cake.
- Piping: Invest in piping tips and bags for creating various shapes and designs with buttercream or royal icing.
- Fondant: Learn how to roll and shape fondant for a smooth, professional-looking finish.
- Flowers: Practice making simple frosting flowers, like roses, using a flower nail and piping tips.
- Writing: Develop steady hands for writing on cakes by practicing on a flat surface first.
With these techniques, your baking skills will shine, and your baked goods will become family favorites in no time.
Keeping a Clean House
Natural Cleaning Solutions
Incorporate natural cleaning solutions into your cleaning routine. Many common household items, like vinegar and baking soda, can work wonders. To make an all-purpose cleaner, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. For tough stains or mildew, apply a paste of water and baking soda with a cloth or sponge. Additionally, here is a short list of other natural cleaners:
- Lemons: great for removing tough stains and unpleasant odors.
- Olive oil: acts as a natural polisher for wood surfaces.
- Hydrogen peroxide: works as an alternative to bleach.
A clutter-free house always looks clean. Establish a system to keep your belongings organized. Here are a few suggestions:
- Designate a place for everything: Find a specific spot for every item, and return items to their place after use.
- Use containers and dividers: – these can help keep your things in order.
- Label: Clearly labeling your storage spaces ensures you quickly find things when needed.
- Declutter regularly: Regularly evaluate your belongings and discard or donate items you no longer need.
Deep Cleaning Strategies
Consistently performing deep cleaning tasks keeps your house in tip-top shape. Create a schedule for tackling these chores:
|Vacuuming & mopping
|Upholstery & carpet cleaning
|Six months – yearly
Remember, maintaining a clean home is a continuous process. By adopting these strategies, you’ll keep your living space in order and create a healthier environment for you and your family.
Knitting and Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting are versatile craft skills that are easier to learn than you might think. To get started, familiarize yourself with the basic stitches:
- You’ll need to know the knit stitch and the purl stitch for knitting.
- For crocheting, focus on the chain stitch, single crochet stitch, and double crochet stitch.
Once you’ve mastered these fundamental stitches, it’s time to explore more advanced techniques, such as increasing, decreasing, and stitch patterns.
When working with yarn, it’s crucial to follow patterns correctly. Patterns provide step-by-step instructions to guide your project. They often include:
- Abbreviations and symbols: K (knit), P (purl), SC (single crochet), DC (double crochet).
- Gauge: a measure of the number of stitches and rows per inch, which ensures your finished piece matches the intended size.
- Materials: the type and weight of yarn and the required needle or hook size.
Understanding patterns is essential for achieving the desired outcome of your knitting or crocheting project.
As you become more proficient in knitting and crocheting, you can create stylish and functional garments, such as sweaters, hats, and more. Here are some valuable tips for creating garments:
- Choose a pattern with clear instructions and a skill level that matches your abilities.
- Select the appropriate materials, including compatible yarn and the correct needle or hook sizes.
- Take accurate measurements to ensure proper fit and adjust the pattern as needed.
- Practice your stitches and techniques, including seaming and finishing touches.
You can create handmade garments worthy of compliments and admiration by honing your knitting and crocheting skills.
Basic Carpentry Skills
To begin your journey into woodworking, you’ll need to acquire some basic carpentry skills. These fundamental abilities ensure that you can safely and effectively work with wood.
- Measuring and marking: Accurate measurements are critical in woodworking. Familiarize yourself with different measuring tools, such as tape measures, rulers, and squares. Learn how to make precise marks using pencils or marking knives.
- Sawing: Knowing how to use different types of saws—hand saws, coping saws, and back saws—is essential. Practice cutting straight lines and curves with these tools.
- Drilling: Master how to drill pilot holes using hand drills, power drills, or brace drills. This skill helps prevent the wood from splitting when you insert screws or nails.
- Joinery: Joinery involves connecting pieces of wood together. Study various woodworking joints, such as dado, dovetail, and mortise-and-tenon joints, and learn how to create them.
Once you’ve grasped basic carpentry techniques, you might want to venture into furniture restoration. This skill allows you to breathe new life into old, worn-out pieces.
Here are some key concepts to understand:
- Sanding: Remove scratches and old finishes by sanding wood surfaces with sandpaper or a power sander. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually work up to finer grits for a smooth finish.
- Wood filler: Use wood filler to patch up dents or gouges in the furniture’s surface. Allow the filler to dry, then sand it until it’s flush with the surrounding wood.
- Painting and staining: Choose the appropriate paint or stain for your project. When painting, apply a primer first to ensure even coverage and durability. For staining, use a pre-stain wood conditioner to prevent blotchiness.
Creating Simple Wood Crafts
Lastly, consider trying your hand at making simple wood crafts. These projects often require minimal materials and can be completed over a weekend.
Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- Wooden coasters: Cut small squares or circles from a piece of hardwood, sand the edges smooth, and apply a finish. Add felt pads to the bottom to prevent scratches on surfaces.
- Picture frames: Create custom frames for your artwork or photographs by cutting and joining lengths of molding in the desired dimensions. Secure the frame corners using glue and nails or wood screws.
- Serving trays: Construct a tray by attaching a flat piece of plywood to four narrow wooden strips, forming a shallow box. Add handles for easy carrying, and customize the surface with paint or decorative paper.
By mastering these woodworking fundamentals, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle various home projects and express your creativity through woodworking.
Budgeting and Saving
Learning budgeting and saving skills is crucial for running a household efficiently. Start by creating a monthly budget and tracking your income and expenses. It’s wise to use a spreadsheet or budgeting app to stay organized. Here are some essential tips:
- Prioritize your expenses: Allocate funds for necessities like housing, utilities, and groceries first.
- Set goals: Whether it’s a vacation, emergency fund, or retirement savings, set short and long-term financial goals.
- Cut down on non-essential expenses: Look for ways to decrease spending on non-essential items or activities.
Meal Planning and Cooking
Planning meals in advance can save time, money, and reduce food waste. It’s also an opportunity to explore and improve your cooking skills. Here are some essential steps for efficient meal planning:
- Assess your pantry: Check your current inventory of non-perishable items and ingredients.
- Plan meals around sales and discounts: Keep track of sales at local grocery stores. Plan meals that can incorporate fresh produce or items on sale.
- Cook in bulk: Preparing meals in large quantities is more cost-effective. You can always freeze leftovers for future consumption.
- Utilize versatile ingredients: Ingredients like rice, pasta, and beans can be used in various dishes, making your meal planning more flexible and budget-friendly.
Remember: Practice cooking from scratch, as it’s often healthier and more cost-effective than pre-packaged or take-out meals.
Energy Efficiency at Home
Adopting energy-efficient practices in your home is another way to save money and reduce your environmental impact. Here are some quick tips for achieving a more energy-efficient home:
- Unplug appliances: Unplug any devices not in use, such as phone chargers, coffee makers, or toasters, to prevent energy waste.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs: Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL alternatives.
- Seal air leaks: Use weatherstripping to seal gaps around your doors, windows, or attic to conserve energy.
- Adjust thermostat settings: Change the thermostat’s settings to a more energy-efficient temperature while you’re away or sleeping. A programmable thermostat can make this process more convenient.
By honing these old-fashioned homemaking skills, you’ll be able to run your household more efficiently and sustainably while also benefiting your personal finances.
Basic Home Repairs
In this section, we’ll go through three essential home repairs that everyone should know: fixing a leaky faucet, unclogging drains, and patching wall holes.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet can lead to water waste and increased utility bills. To fix a leaky faucet, follow these steps:
- Turn off the water supply to the faucet by locating the shutoff valve under the sink and turning it clockwise.
- Remove the faucet handle by unscrewing any visible screws or using a flat-head screwdriver to pry off the handle cap.
- Inspect the cartridge or valve stem for any damage or wear and replace it if necessary.
- Replace the rubber O-ring or seals by gently removing the old ones and installing new ones.
- Reassemble the faucet and turn the water supply back on to test for leaks.
Remember to have a towel and bucket nearby to catch any water spills.
Clogged drains can lead to unpleasant odors and potential damage to your plumbing system. To unclog a drain, try the following methods:
- Manual removal: Remove any visible debris from the drain with a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers.
- Plunger: Fill the sink or tub with a few inches of water, then place the plunger over the drain and push down firmly to create suction. Pull up gently, and repeat until the water drains.
- Drain snake or auger: Insert the snake into the drain and slowly turn the handle clockwise, breaking up and removing the clog. Be careful not to damage your pipes.
Avoid using chemical drain cleaners, which can harm your pipes and the environment.
Patching Wall Holes
Damaged walls can decrease the overall aesthetic of your home. To patch small wall holes, follow these steps:
- Clean the hole by removing loose debris and lightly sanding the edges with fine-grit sandpaper.
- Apply patching compound using a putty knife, filling the hole and smoothing the surface.
- Let the compound dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then lightly sand again to create an even surface.
- If necessary, apply a second layer of compound, repeating the drying and sanding process.
- Prime and paint the repaired area to match the rest of your wall.
You may need to use a patch kit or consult a professional for larger holes.
Performing basic home repairs can save you time and money while keeping your living space in excellent condition.
Candle-making has been a valuable skill for centuries, providing light and warmth in the days before electricity. The process is simple to master, and you can craft your own custom candles using various materials and scents. To begin, prepare the following items:
- Wax (e.g., paraffin, beeswax, soy, or palm)
- Molds or containers
- Double boiler
- Fragrance or essential oils (optional)
- Coloring agents (optional)
First, melt the wax using the double boiler. Once thoroughly melted, add your scent and color, if desired. Secure the wick in the mold or container, then carefully pour the melted wax. Allow the wax to cool and harden. Your homemade candle is now ready to use or give as a gift.
Soap-making is not only an essential homemaking skill, but it also allows for creativity with scents, colors, and additives. There are two primary soap-making methods: cold process and melt and pour. Cold-process soap-making involves mixing oils with lye, while melt-and-pour requires melting a pre-made soap base. Here are the supplies needed for each method:
|Melt & Pour
|Oils (e.g., olive, coconut, castor)
|Melt & pour soap base
|Coloring agents (optional)
|Water or other liquid
Regardless of the method you choose, safety is paramount. Always wear gloves, goggles, and long sleeves, and work in a well-ventilated area. Take your time to learn the process and enjoy creating your own natural, personalized soaps.
Basket weaving is an old fashioned homeamking skill that’s spanned across cultures, producing functional and decorative items. Learning to weave baskets can be a rewarding and mindful pastime. Begin by gathering materials such as:
- Reed or willow
- Basket weaving tools (e.g., shears, awl, tapestry needle)
There are numerous weaving techniques to choose from, such as:
- Rib Construction
Start with a simple design, and you can progress to more intricate patterns as your confidence grows. The key to successful basket weaving is patience and practice. Embrace this age-old craft and bring a touch of handmade beauty to your home.