In middle school, my best friend took a sewing class with her mom. She invited me to go, and for about two years I took the class with her.
My sewing skills are still fairly rudimentary, but I can make clothes for myself and my kids. This sets me apart from many in my generation.
When my grandma was raising a family in the ’40s and ’50s, she did not work outside the home. However, she had plenty of work to keep her busy. She grew a garden and canned the veggies. She had fruit trees on the property and made homemade jam and canned the extra fruit. She sewed clothes for the kids and made home decorations like draperies and blankets. She made every meal from scratch.
My grandpa took care of routine car and equipment maintenance as well as the exterior of the house.
Why We Argue We Don’t Need DIY Skills
Most of us probably had grandparents or great-grandparents like this, but we don’t think their situation applies to our own. After all, we live in a vastly different world.
Easily buy what’s needed. We live in a wonderful time where we can drive to the grocery store and buy almost anything we need. Why spend a day or two picking, prepping, and canning peaches when we can run to the store and buy a few cans? Why sew a dress when there are endless clothing possibilities at our local mall?
Make more money working. Why should we take the time out of our busy days to do things ourselves when we could better use that time making more money? Thanks to side hustles, bringing in extra income has never been so easy.
Why We Do Need DIY Skills
In our dual income society, many of the DIY skills older generations learned have disappeared. We’re used to outsourcing everything. But should we?
Saves money. Learning how to do something yourself can save money. The obvious examples would include things like car oil changes and home repair issues. However, you can also save money in other ways.
I have found that if I shop fabric store sales with a coupon, I can buy material for my daughters to make dresses for much less than I could buy the dresses in the store. Sure, making the dresses takes time, but sewing is a hobby that I enjoy. If it also helps us save money, all the better.
Higher quality. Often, when you do something yourself, you’ll get higher quality because you can control the quality. When I make homemade jam for my family, it’s not so I can save money but so that I can keep artificial colors and flavors out of it, and so I can choose the contents and how much sweetener I want to add.
Self-reliance. Doing something yourself is often just a matter of self-reliance and independence. My husband and I are currently growing a garden in our backyard. Between treating the soil, using a sun shade, and watering, we’re not saving any money versus shopping at the grocery store. However, we are controlling the quality of our food, and we’re being self-reliant. We can simply go to the backyard and pick our veggies when it’s time to make a meal.
Clara Cannucciari of Depression Era Cooking often said that the only reason why her family made it through the Great Depression was because he father planted and kept such a large garden. They were self-reliant.
Unfortunately, today, not many of us can say that.
Do you think it’s important that we and our children learn DIY skills, or do you feel that there are better uses of our time and energy?
Handling things yourself is also satisfying. Our youngest son went off to college this year. He put a new radio in his old car and was delighted to conquer something he never had done before. He watched online videos, asked his friends, and went at it.
Last week, I wrote about how we were friends with a Mennonite community and I wished I listened more from them. Their life is hard (hello, cooking with fire during summer with no AC), but they definitely had a simpler way of life in many respects. I wish I’d learned more about gardening, sewing, and quilting from the experts in my family. Unfortunately, it’s too late now – the experts have all passed.