Homemade - sewing my household linens

19 October 2021

I don't work nearly as hard as my mother or grandma, or, no doubt, their grandmothers. I'm fortunate to have appliances that make housework easier so because I know that and always have a fragment of it in my mind, I don't complain about housework. But I don't go overboard with appliances either. I don't have an air fryer or coffee machine or thermomix, I have a good fridge and freezer, both ten years old but energy efficient and still working well. I have an excellent self-cleaning oven, an induction cook top, a microwave, stick blender, hand beater, food processor, mini processor for processing nuts and small vegetables, stick vacuum cleaner, excellent washing machine and dryer. All these appliances are the best quality we could afford at the time, they were bought with cash, are energy efficient and they give me the extraordinary gift of time. Time to do what I want to do instead of house work.






Today, as well as my regular work, I made four more 'paper' towels by modifying two towels I made a while ago. I was using the big towels as tea towels but I have those very absorbent Ikea tea towels and I love them. So in a continued effort to cut back on paper towels, I'm using flannel towels instead. They're doing the job well and just need a hot wash in Di-San to remove grease spots. I do a batch of them at the end of the week - dish cloths, 'paper' towels, muslin straining cloths and usually a tea towel or two. They soak overnight and are ready the next morning to hang out to dry. Easy. Mostly though, the dishcloths and tea towels go in the regular wash along with the towels.


This week, premium flannelette 147 cm is six dollars a metre at Spotlight. That is what I used and it's working better than I thought it would. If you're not in Australia, just buy lightweight cotton flannel from your local fabric shop. If you decide to try this, cut your cloths to the size you want and either hem them on the sewing machine or overlock them if you have an overlocker. As a guide, my cloths are 35cm x 35cm and the paper towels are 45cm x 35 cm.



Very early in my simple life I realised that sewing, mending, knitting and homemade gifts would play a big part in what I do in my home. I'd never been interested in crafts before, although my mother did try to teach me when I was at school. I didn't have the capacity to understand the significance of them then. Now I know that making these household linens helps the environment, gives me better quality and I save money.  I am a slow learner sometimes. 

16 comments

  1. Julie from MooroolbarkOctober 19, 2021 10:37 pm

    Hello Rhonda. It was most interesting reading your comments about appliances and household linens. I am a great fan of flannelette for my dusting and cleaning purposes. I always take the view of a job well done when the evidence of the cleaning is collected on my dampened cleaning cloths. As for kitchen appliances I relate to all you mentioned. I am a great fan of my stick blender as I make home made soups regularly as store portions in my freezer. The blender is making some groaning sounds after being dedicated to the job for at least 15 years so it is on my wish list for Christmas.
    I am having a quiet week this week. A little holiday with only doing the necessary for last couple of days. What I have found most rewarding is spending time re reading all your October blogs. There was so much of interest for me and I valued reading your favourite meals and preparations in the Oct. 6th edition. My favourite cookbook that I resource is my 2nd edition - 1974 of Cookery The Australian Way by Shirley Cameron and Suzanne Russell. It is now in its 7th edition. A trusty favourite that was purchased when I was in my Home Economics class at about 14 years of age. I also have the CWA cookbooks too. Trusty and Timeless recipes.
    Tomorrow I have my day planned with a picnic in the local park with my son and grandchildren. It is now allowed for fully vaccinated people as we are. It has been such a long time since we have had this special time together and a sunny day of 23 is forecast.
    It is nice to have a little holiday from the everyday but tasks will be tackled with gusto come Thursday with my renewed spirit. Happy Days Rhonda and Hanno. Julie xx

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    1. I bet you're looking forward to Friday, Julie. Have fun when the doors swing open. 😎 There are some good books there. The old cook books seem to be the best.

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  2. WOW, first comment! I've repurposed several things as cleaning cloths. When my husband was participating in corporate sports, they'd give out these little towels with emblems printed on them. They're the kind of thing you might drape around your neck when you're sweating, about the size of fingertip towels. Those have been repurposed for cleaning or as separators between pans in the kitchen. I've also taken old small hand towels, as they've aged, and used them for cleaning or for hand towels in the laundry room. Just to distinguish them, I fold over a corner and stitch the corner down, to make them easier to identify in the wash, and I don't have to think about whether they go back in the closet for use in the bathrooms. Some older towels I've cut down and hemmed.

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    1. I repurpose old cloths and clothing for my general cleaning rags. The white cloths are all for the kitchen. It's a great way to use old fabric in your home. Thanks for the comment, Iris.

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  3. I was always very academic and hopeless at home economics and textiles when I was at school, but I enjoyed crafting in my spare time and 'having a go'. Now, 40 years after leaving, I sometimes wonder if my old teachers would be pleased or amazed to see me cooking from scratch, preserving my home grown fruit and vegetables, sewing things for the home and putting on my thinking cap to design systems that work specifically for us. I regard you as a wise and patient teacher, Rhonda and I have been very happy to learn what you have to teach. X

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    1. Thanks Tracy. I'm not sure about wise and patient, maybe stubborn and refusing to give up is a better description. 😉

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  4. I love the way you live Rhonda ...we live the same way. I made a bread bag back when you posted the original post and I'm very happy with it (thank you for the idea). I have sewn since I was about 13 years old and don't know how people cope without doing it. Apart from the constant little mending jobs, I must have saved a fortune when making various bed linens, curtains, kitchen cloths, baby items and odds and ends of clothing (now Grandbaby items).

    I made a beautiful pieced linen shawl yesterday from various scraps of linen, for arm covering in summer ... Happy days.

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    1. We're in the minority, Maggie, most people don't sew. But hopefully Covid will be watershed moment for a lot of people and they'll change the way they live as we move forward.

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  5. My list of appliances is almost like yours, Rhonda, except for the microwave. When we eat leftovers, I often think a microwave would be useful, but I have a very small kitchen without much counter space. May I ask what you use your microwave for?
    Hilde in Germany

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    1. I use it mainly for heating things up, Hilde. I store Gracie's homemade food in the fridge so I warm that before she eats it. Hanno warms milk for his cereal. I heat up leftovers and soup.

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  6. Isn't it wonderful to be a maker of home, Rhonda? I had an RN license for many many years but my favorite "career" and "profession" was and has always been the position as keeper-of-home. We are very much sisters in that way. ~Andrea xoxoxo

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  7. My mother tried to teach me to sew in my teens and I made one project--a skirt I still own and wear, actually--and decided it was not my idea of fun. Ohhhhh, I look back on that with a bit of chagrin. I could have learned so much. My mother still sews and now I do as well, but I've had to fumble through and figure out a lot of it along the way. Oh well. I still got there in the end. It is such a remarkable skill, too. I love mending especially.

    Thanks for making me reflect on the ease and abundance of my life, once again, Rhonda.

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  8. I use flannel rags, too. I cut up an old Lanz of Salzburg nightgown to make them. Your tablecloth is so pretty! Homemaking is a very rewarding art. I love hearing about your cleaning; it inspires me to get my housework done.

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  9. I still find fresh inspiration reading your blog all these years after discovering it.
    Have a wonderful weekend. xx

    Madeleine

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  10. Hi Rhonda,

    What a lovely table cloth you have made. reminds me of a doona cover I would like to one day make.
    I am back to working 4 days a week (education based) and am limited in what I can achieve around our home. But I have decided what I do manage to get through is enough. We have a roof over our heads, comfy beds to sleep in and amazing food on the table each night. Our children go to amazing schools and we have both remained employed throughout the Greater Sydney lockdown. We are incredibly lucky.

    For rags, I ripped up hubby's old flannelette shirts once they become too thin, too ripped and torn. I save the buttons and use the cuffs and collars for plant ties.

    Stay safe,
    Vicky

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  11. Hi Rhonda - I was like you as a teen - I was surrounded (and still am) with incredibly talented, creative women, but decided that wasn't for me. However, times change and I wish I had paid attention to those early sewing lessons. I still struggle with cutting and sewing straight lines. But I buy patterns and fabric and fall in love with the idea of making my own clothing. One day perhaps when I can get my head around it all. There is something very satisfying about washed linen drying on a line! Curious to know what mop heads you use? Mine is a decade old and barely has any threads left! Take care and have a lovely Sunday

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