Today we have lost touch with so many amazing vintage homemaking skills. Now don’t get me wrong I am so grateful for all the wonderful tools that make homemaking a breeze thanks to the modern world, but we have lost the tradition of passing down skills. In todays post we are going to explore some of these lost vintage homemaking skills and learn why you still need them today! I hope you leave inspired to learn a new skill to add to your homemaking toolkit xo
Here are 20 Vintage Homemaking Skills to Learn Today
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1. How To Properly Mend Clothes
To know how to properly mend clothes not only saves your clothes, but it also saves you money. You would be quite shocked at how little we truly need to buy once you learn how to patch up a pair of pants, sew on a button or repair the hole in your socks! I was taught the basics by my family, but I learned how to properly mend using the book Make Do and Mend. It was written during World War Two to encourage women to learn how to mend their clothes as it was essential to be frugal! In my personal homemaking this skill has come in handy at least once a month and has saved us from having to replace the items!
2. How to Decorate Simply
Decorating simply is truly an art! To take a house and make it into a cozy home takes time and practice. There are 5 Tips I would like to share that have helped me learn how to decorate simply:
- Rearrange furniture
- Decorate seasonally using nature its free! Pick wild flowers, a few springs of evergreen, leaves into a garland!
- Slowly add to your home use antique stores, facebook marketplace, hand me downs
- Do not pick 1 style, make it uniquely you
- Pillows and blankets are both practical + can be beautiful decorations! Maybe even try making your own!
3. How to stretch a meal
When times were difficult homemakers of the past knew how to take a little and make a lot. This skill was helpful in all areas, but especially when it came to mealtime! Here are a few of my favourite ways to make a meal stretch:
- Make your meat go longer by mixing it with beans. For example, when I am making tacos I like to add lentils to our ground beef.
- Eat seasonally! Buying seasonally is always more affordable. In the summer time when there is lots of produce I like to buy extra and put it in our freezer for the cooler months.
- Shred your chicken breasts vs. just serving as is! You will find when you shred the meat it lasts longer than serving someone half a chicken breast. Two simple meals we make with our shredded chicken are: chicken salad and bbq pulled chicken sandwiches. Both leave us with leftovers, where in the past when we just made chicken breasts we didn’t have leftovers.
- Eat nose to tail! Each week we cook 1 whole chicken that includes the neck + giblets. I like to roast the chicken and make a lovely giblet gravy. We then save the bones and the next day I make a big batch of bone broth! This has saved us so much money.
A book that has taught me a lot of ways to eat more frugal is called Traditional Meals for the Frugal Family. There are so many tips and delicious recipes in this book!
4. How to Deep Clean
Deep cleaning the house used to be a part of the everyday homemakers schedule. Where 1 deep cleaning task was done each day so the house never got out of hand. Today many are struggling to even make their beds each day as an instagram poll I did earlier this year revealed! Truly ask yourself when was the last time you washed the window screens, properly deep cleaned the shower, cleaned the carpets or washed the trash cans? To learn how to deep clean your house I highly recommended checking out these two blog posts I made
and the resource FlyLady! I personally have learned so much from FlyLady on how to create a system that gets and keeps my house clean!
5. How to Remove Stains
Stains happen to everyone and in the past homemakers had to learn how to remove them because they didn’t have the means to easily replace everything. Today many have forgotten the art of removing stains which has left clothes and furniture looking ratty + has added to the throw away culture!
This vintage homemaking skill has saved my fabric furniture and carpets more times than I can count especially with a little toddler. Currently as I write this I am actually currently getting a stain out of our fabric couch with my Bissell Cleaner.This is my favourite modern stain removing tool that we saved up for, but it is worth its weight in gold!
Before the bissell, my secret weapon for almost every stain is baking soda. All I do is just sprinkle a little on the stain right away to soak up the stain and the odour. Then later that day I will work on scrubbing it out.
6. How to do Needlework
Men and women alike used to know simple needlework. Fishermen used it for their nets and women used it to make clothes, blankets, and other tools. I am so grateful to my mom for passing down the skill of knitting. She truly is one of the quickest and most skilled knitters I know and I still go to her when I am having trouble!
Today I use the skill of knitting in my homemaking to knit scarfs, socks, wash clothes, baby items, and gifts for loved ones. Here is a super simple project I created for beginners: How to Knit Baby Washcloths | Pattern + Tips
Crocheting is another needlework skill that homemakers today can use! One of my homemaking goals this year is to learn how to properly crochet this year as it is more efficient for some projects!
7. How to Bake Bread
This is a skill that anyone can do and it instantly makes your house feel more cozy! Truly is there anything better than the smell of freshly baked bread! The easiest way to start is with a simple dutch oven bread recipe. This is the recipe I first learned how to make bread with from fellow homemaker Jayden from the blog Backroad Bloom.
The next level of bread making is sourdough! In the future I will be posting my personal favourite sourdough recipes, but I have learned so much about sourdough from Lisa at the blog Farmhouse on Boone.
8. How to live Seasonally
It used to be second nature to live seasonally because there really wasn’t a choice! Each new season brought new challenges and new blessings than the last! Spring brought preparing for growing season, summer brought fresh produce + lots more work, fall was harvest, and winter allowed time to slow down + to focus on the inside of the house.
For the homemaker living seasonally actually makes a lot of sense and is quite helpful for cooking, saving money, decorating, cleaning etc. Here are a few simple ways to live more seasonally as a homemaker:
- Eat in season. This will save your family money and make you a more creative cook!
- Try a seasonal simmer pot to make your home smell lovely! This is the one I make in the winter: Winter Stovetop Potpourri
- Decorate with nature its affordable + beautiful! In the spring and summer fill your house with fresh flowers. During the fall collect leaves to make a garland and use pumpkins (after make soup or pie with the pumpkins). In the winter decorate with evergreen branches and dried fruit. Here is how How To Make Dried Orange Ornaments + 3 Ways to Decorate With Them
- Adjust your cleaning routines to the seasons by planning certain deep cleaning activities for each season. For example, wash the window screens in the spring.
9. How to Dry Laundry on the Line
There is nothing that makes laundry more enjoyable more than hanging it out to dry outside. Before there were dryers this was all homemakers had to do laundry and there were some major benefits! When the temperature gets warm enough all of our clothes and bedding are dried outside because it makes them smell so fresh! Plus it saves money, the sun naturally whitens whites and you don’t have to worry about shrinking your clothes! This is the laundry line we use on our fence post because it is retractable!
10. How to Ferment Food
Did you know that fermented foods used to be a part of almost every meal? Fermentation is a simple way to preserve produce, create delicious drinks, and make grains more digestible! It is really simple skill to learn and bless your household with. My number one piece of advice is to start simple with sauerkraut, kombucha or even try my Traditional Banana Bread! The book Nourishing Traditions is my favourite for learning this skill and overall how to cook traditionally.
11. How to Budget
Making every penny count is a vintage skill that credit cards have dangerously threatened. I personally have seen too many people who were never taught money management and instead used credit cards which landed them in some sticky situations.
For the homemaker, this vintage homemaking skill is absolutely essential for running a home! One needs to know how much money they have to know what they can cook, how they can decorate, if they need to make all their cleaning supplies or can buy some… essentially the budget allows the homemaker to know what they need to do to keep the house running within their means.
My mom passed down the skill and the love of budgeting to me, but for those just learning I highly recommend:
- Making a list of every monthly expense you currently have.
- Then compare that list to your current monthly income.
- Begin eliminating unnecessary expenses. In our house we have cancelled almost every subscription because they were not being used and the money could be better used.
- Prioritize paying off debt quickly. See if there is a way to increase your payments by cutting costs somewhere else.
- Create an emergency savings that you only touch for true emergencies ex. losing your job.
We use an app to keep track of every dollar, but if you want to go more vintage and stick to cash my Nana budgeted using mason jars!
12. How to Sew
Learning the vintage skill of sewing will allow you to mend your clothes, make clothes, make decorations, gifts, and more! My Dad taught me to sew by hand and my Nana taught me how to make simple clothes with a sewing machine. Both skills I believe are so important for the homemaker to learn!
When your husbands favourite shirt gets a tear your will be able to fix it. If you want to make your little one matching dresses for them and their dolls you can. If you need to hem the curtains because their are too long you will be able to no problem!
You can learn this skill simply by going to youtube and start with learning how to sew on a button! If you want to sew with a machine this is the one that I have and love! My husband Andrew got it for me for a Mothers Day present two years ago and I still use it so much!!
13. How to Garden
There was once a time when everyone had a garden and would produce a portion of their food for the year. With the creation of the supermarket we lost this vintage skill, but for the homemaker today this is a skill that can take your homemaking to the next level! Plus anyone can do it no matter where you live! Even if all you have is a little herb garden in your kitchen.
Don’t forget about flowers! Learning how to grow is cut flowers allows you to have instant access to beautiful decorations for your home and very lovely gifts!
The best way to learn how to garden is to jump in by starting small so you are not overwhelmed! Make sure you know what zone you are in so you know when to plant and what will grow best in your area.
In our first year of marriage I started with cut flowers in our front yard. Our second year of marriage I added kale and lettuce to our back deck, plus some more flowers. Last year my husband made me garden boxes and I grew peas, kale, lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes. Plus had a huge flower garden in the backyard. This year because we moved across the country I will be experimenting with growing different things, but our garden will be larger than the previous years! I will be updating my garden progress on instagram so stay tuned!
Here are my favourite books to learn more about gardening:
14. How to understand the difference between want and need
Every traditional homemaker must learn the difference between want and need if they wish to bring peace to their home and marriage. When we get caught up in wanting, we miss out on the beauty of being creative as a homemaker to work with what we have and learn new skills to make our homes havens. We also run the risk of spending money on a want and not having any leftover for the needs of the house!
As homemaking is seeing a revival on social media it can be easy to fall into the trap that in order to be a homemaker you need all of these things to fit an aesthetic. But homemaking in and of itself will be completely unique to your households needs. Do not get me wrong I love beautiful things and making our home beautiful, but what I find beautiful and functional for our family may be very different than yours. Plus the way my home is today didn’t happen overnight and there is still a lot of work to do! I truly believe in slowly making your house a home as you can saw in Skill #2!
So make sure you know what your house needs to run and get creative with the rest!
15. How to Preserve Food
Whether it is from your garden or the farmers market preserving the in season harvest provides delicious joys for the home in the winter months! This is a skill that used to be passed down from each generation of homemakers, but it dissolved with the convenience of the grocery store. Ways to preserve food:
- Canning ~ Start with water bath canning then if in the budget you can try pressure canning! Personally I only water bath!
- Freeze dried ~ A more modern method, but very effective in preserving food! This is on our families wish list!
- Freezer. I love making freezer jam and keeping my berries in the freezer for smoothies in the winter!
- Fermenting ~ See Skill #10
16. How to Cut Your Hair
Learning how to cut your hair can save you money and help your family when you can’t get to a hair salon. I had to learn this skill after having one too many disappointing haircuts and paying way too much! Then in 2020 I needed to learn how to cut my husbands hair when all the hairdressers were closed and his hair was driving him crazy! So how do you learn?! I simply watched a few youtube videos to get a basic understanding and then to be quite honest I just jumped in! Hair does grow back and if all you are doing is a trim, which is what I do, then you have nothing to worry about! Just start by taking a little bit off at a time! That way if you mess up its easily fixed.
17. How to make your own Cleaning Supplies
Making your own cleaning supplies not only removes toxins from your house, but it also saves so much money! I have been making my own cleaning supplies since living in my apartment in university and trust me you would be surprised at how much you can clean with just a little baking soda, vinegar, and castile soap! This skill fun to learn because you get to experiment and also allows you to include your children when cleaning the house without worrying what they are getting exposed too!
To start try making my DIY Orange peel vinegar surface cleaner !
18. How to Stock Your Pantry
Homemakers of the past understood that a well stock pantry meant there was always something to eat which lowered worries during the winter months and during emergencies. Since becoming a homemaker I have slowly learned what my husband and I need monthly in our pantry! When I became a mother these needs changed and I needed to add more + different things to our pantry supply! So as you are learning how to stock your pantry always keep in mind that the needs will change with every new season of life! But here are the core basic items to keep in your pantry:
- Dried fruit
- Beans + lentils
- Your families favourite grains ~ ours are oats, buckwheat, and rice.
- Canned tuna
- Formula if you have littles for emergencies (even if you are breastfeeding it is good to keep on hand!)
- An emergency water supply.
19. How to DIY Home Projects
One of my favourite things about being a homemaker is being able to take the time to make our home a handmade home. My home is filled with DIY home projects:
- Handmade decorations
- Knitted blankets
- Quilted pillow cases
- Watercolour paintings
- Furniture made by my husband who has taken up learning the skill of woodworking. He has already made me garden boxes, shelves, our coffee table, the entranceway bench, and he made my board + batten dreams come true!
All of these DIY home projects have made our home uniquely ours and have saved us so much money! The best part is that you get to choose what you want to learn and that will make your home uniquely yours!
20. How to do hospitality on a budget
The last vintage homemaking skill I want to talk about is how to do hospitality on a budget! To make people feel welcome in your home it is really quite simple:
- Keep your home clean + tidy.
- Offer them a warm drink in the winter like tea or if they like coffee try my homemade Vanilla Latte. In the summer offer them a refreshing drink like lemonade. Or simply just offering water!
- If you have the means offer them a little homemade treat too! These are my favourite Gluten Free Sugar Cookies. When I make them I like to make a little extra to store in the freezer for last minute guests!
That is truly all you need! If you want to learn more about cultivating a heart for hospitality I recommend two books The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield and The Lifegiving Table by Sally Clarkson.
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