Domestic Science, otherwise known as Home Arts and Crafts.

8 Jan 2008


Somewhere between October 1966 when M.H.G.S embroidered and hemmed this linen cloth so beautifully and 1972 when I started High School, Domestic Science changed to Home Arts and Crafts, otherwise known as HAC.

We embroidered our name in chain stitch on a pre-made calico apron and learned to cook scones and tea cakes.
We learned how to line a garbage bin with newspaper and light a gas oven by lighting a match and thrusting our terrified arms and sometimes heads into ancient gas stoves.
We made sample books of various types of hand and machine sewing and were not allowed to use the backstitch on the sewing machine until the second half of the year.
We made ourselves a pretty little cotton nightdress and then moved on to a skirt and beyond.


When my sons started high school they did one year of a subject known as Home economics and learned to make pizzas and chocolate slice and made a cushion cover using a sewing machine, even inserting a zipper on their first project and definitely using backstitch and definitely not using any hand sewing.

I did sewing and cooking for two years and then just sewing for another two. Over the four years the emphasis of the course changed from skills to run a household to sewing in terms of fashion.

I found this lovely linen cloth last week at the op shop.
M.H.G.S. didn't ever embroider her cloth so I'm planning on giving it a try.
It's a large square cloth so I'll have to carefully consider what to decorate it with.

I have always wanted to be good at embroidery, known to my Grannie as Fancywork.
I can do simple stitcheries using outline stitch, backstitch, chain stitch, lazy daisy and French knots.
My satin stitch is abysmal and I tend to be a bit messy.
My Grannie was brilliant and my Aunt Maisie is pretty good too.
Any tips for successful fancy work would be gratefully accepted.


It has been a day of gentle home arts and crafts today.
I have been feeling a little weary and have been bolstered by several cups of tea.
I had a lovely chat with the mother of one of Kate's friend's who came to visit.
We have only been on hello terms before but now I find out that she is a keen home seamstress and knitter, loves cooking and baking and has a vegetable and fruit garden that makes her family of five almost self sufficient.
They also have cows and sheep for meat as well as hens for eggs.
What a great discovery.


My apron from the apron swap arrived today. Ingvild had been very busy with family business before Christmas so we organised a later swap. Ingvild is only 16 I think and this apron is truly magnificent. It is decorated with baskets of apples which are machine embroidered. it is a marvellous weight being made from linen with a weighted lower band and a beautiful, comfortable wide waistband.

It is beautiful!


Kate has been more active today, tootling around between rests and on the lookout for food. Her appetite is returning.


15 Responses to “Domestic Science, otherwise known as Home Arts and Crafts.”

  1. I couldn't take Home Ec.. our teacher was ill the 3 years I could've taken it. I would've loved to. :P

  2. We had Home Economics where we first learned to fry an egg. I loved it and sewed a cordoroy skirt and vest. My Grandmother taught Home Ec. and used to have me for a week each summer to learn how to make pie crusts and sew (her way!).

  3. I wasn't interested in Home Economics all my life until I had a family...Now I am trying to catch up. I am trying to learn and teach them along the way...It's a slow process!

  4. I too am attempting to improve my embroidery skills. I have a few links that have helped me.
    This stitch directory with photos by Sharon b.
    Video Tutorials
    Free Patterns

    I hope that helps. :-)

    Michele - who nearly FLUNKED Home Ec because the pair of shorts she made looked more like underwear! But I'm trying to make up for lost time now!

  5. In the late 1960's in the US our classes were called Home Ec and the first project we did was to hand sew an apron. Then we were allowed to sew on the machines and we made rice-stuffed frogs. I was never the neatest and had to take out so many seams the fabric would get weak. In cooking we got to make whole dinners from the appetizers to the desserts, but we only had 2 stoves so that was always interesting!! The classes were always girls only, the boys took shop classes.

  6. I loved this post, Jenny. Thank you for the walk down memory lane. I wonder what happened to MHGS.

    Ingvild has done lovely work on the apron. It's very pretty.

  7. I loved this post, Jenny. Thank you for the walk down memory lane. I wonder what happened to MHGS.

    Ingvild has done lovely work on the apron. It's very pretty.

  8. I also started high school in 1972 and did Home Ec(in Victoria). We had 2 teachers, one for cooking and one for sewing although I don't remember anything I made. LOL
    I also did woodwork, metalwork and stained glass making. I think my high school was quite progressive.
    Really enjoyed this post.

  9. I am glad that Kate is feeling better and getting her appetite back.

    I started highschool in 1982 (in NSW) and then it was Home science in the junior years and Food Technology in years 11 and 12. Textiles and Design was the 'sewing' side of things.


  10. So sorry to hear about Kate but glad to see she is making a good recovery. Home Economics was Domestic Science for us and I seem to remember alternating cookery with needlecraft by the term, but my memory might have grown dim!

  11. Parents and relatives actively discouraged me from doing Home Ec. and Secretarial Studies. Interestingly, all the jobs I've had in my life have made me develop, and use those skills! I didn't meet their expectations but, with the passage of time, I'm pleased that I didn't.
    Very pleased that Kate has recovered well - scary stuff.
    Beautiful photos of father and son Warms the cockles of my heart.
    Catching up on your blog is a catch-up of your lovely, lyrical photos.

  12. Not proclaiming to be an expert but if u want some help with embrodiery, just let me know. My Gran taught me (and id love to show u some of her work!!!) and my designs dont show all i really know!!!

  13. Have you seen any of the embroidery books by Judith Baker Montano? They have really helped me learn quite a few stitches. Here are the titles:

    Elegant Stitches and The Crazy Quilt Handbook.

    She has a wonderful website with other titles listed. You should be able to find it through a google search. While you may not be interested in crazy quilting they use all kinds of embroidery to embellish. She is said to be the "Queen" of crazy quilting, and I think she has made many trips to Australia to teach.

    Hope this helps!


  14. In eighth grade--too many years ago to mention, I took home economics, taking one marking period of cooking and one marking period of sewing. Although I really loved it, there was no time available for me to take this subject in high school. I never have stopped sewing or cooking, however.

    When my daughters went to the university, instead of studying "Home Economics," the name was changed to Family and Consumer Science! Unfortunately, many of the colleges/universities are dropping Home Ec/Family and Consumer Science as a major.

    Sweet Post. I am glad your daughter is recovering nicely!

  15. And by the time I was in high school in 1994 there was no such class! So I got zero sewing, cooking, or any such instruction at school. Bitter much?


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.