For years, the author of How to Sew a Button never needed to know how to sew a button. After all, as a senior staff writer at SELF magazine, Erin Bried interviews celebrities around the globe, and her every mundane need—from a mani-pedi to house-cleaning, laundry and meals—is taken care of by people who are paid to do so. Gradually, however, came the realization that through neglect, her practical life skills had dwindled to nil. She found herself afflicted with a classic case of domestic incompetence. Sensing rightly that she was far from alone, she wrote this guide to help the similarly challenged.
Her argument is that all of us are capable of making a decent pie crust, doing our own nails, hanging a picture and hemming a pair of trousers, and that surely we’d feel better if we tried. Why farm out daily details to specialists if we can take care of them ourselves? We’d save money and self-respect. And it isn’t as if we have to do it all, all the time. The goal is to know how to do a few crucial things here and there, and to know when to ask for help. If you can roast a chicken, unclog a toilet, iron a shirt, balance a checkbook, introduce people, swaddle a baby and keep houseplants alive, you qualify as a Domestic Goddess by any reasonable standards.
And standards are kept reasonable by the influence of a unique panel of experts behind each of the many topics. The author interviewed 10 grandmothers who survived the Great Depression with a “make do or do without” attitude, and whose collective wisdom weeds the necessary from the nonsense. Readers are honorary heirs to these balabustas (Yiddish for masterful homemakers), and can approach each gentle lesson as the need arises.
Combating domestic illiteracy one button at a time, How to Sew a Button is a refreshing take on DIY and self-care, valuable for women at any stage of life.
Joanna Brichetto uses her grandmother’s old sewing box regularly.