Make It Do, or Do Without

Use it up, make it do or do without. That was the saying during the Great Depression. I have always been captivated with that saying and the people that lived through the Depression. They were strong people to have to live through the dust bowl, banks closing and never knowing where your next meal was going to come from. Women of that era never threw anything away. From scraps of food to scraps of fabric. They saved everything. I had a friend years ago that told me she saved buttons like her mother used to. She would sew shirts and she just might need one of those buttons. I used to wonder why would you go through the hassle of sewing a shirt when you could go to the thrift shop and buy one cheaper than making one.

Years later I found an afghan hidden in my closet. I forgot all about it. It was one that I used to take a nap with when I was little. There was a little old lady named Alice that was a friend with my grandmother and she was always at my grandmothers house when I stayed there after school.  I would wait for one of my parents to pick me up and usually while I waited I fell asleep. I was only in kindergarten so I was tired by the end of the day. Anyway I remember Alice covering me up with the blanky. It was warm and I always cuddled with it. I remember her face and I always thought that she was so kind. She had that touch. Years later I remember that she passed away and I am not sure if my grandmother gave me the blanky or she gave it to my mom who then gave it to me. I do remember looking at the blanky and thinking that she made it all by hand. The time it must have taken her to make it made me realize that she must have either enjoyed knitting or really needed a blanket so she made one from all of her scraps of yarn.


I look at it now and realize that I need to do some repair work on it. There are a few holes and some stitching is coming undone. It is not fancy but it reminds me of a simpler time. A time when women made do with whatever they had on hand to make things that they needed for their family. I am sure that they would have rathered had the money to go and buy what they needed, but I feel that they left a legacy that will never be replaced. I actually crocheted an afghan with leftover yarn one time. I don’t do fancy stitches but it didn’t turn out too bad. It was something to throw over yourself to take the chill off.

My mother in law gave me a quilt that her mom had made. Grandma made it out of scraps of material from her old dresses. Grandma was one of those ladies that was so sweet. When my mom in law gave me that, I treasured it. It doesn’t look like the new style quilts that people make now. It isn’t fancy but I love it! It was made with loving hands and just like Alice, I am sure that she took pride in her work.


When I put it on our bed to take the picture, I didn’t realize that it was so heavy. I usually leave it on a quilt rack with two other quilts in our bedroom. I might leave it on our bed for awhile. It has been so cold lately I could just feel the warmth laying underneath it. I think that is what Grandma would have wanted. She was want us to use it and not just look at it. Crawling in bed everynight and feeling the quilt as I pull it back will remind me of her and how hard she worked.

Both Grandma and Alice lived through the Great Depression. They were tough but yet they were ladies. They knew that they had to use it up, make it do or do without. They took pride in their work and now there work lives on. I can only hope that these kind of traditions will live on even in our throw away society. There are a few of us that might keep that tradition going.




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