MollyGreen.com | Fall on the Homestead | Fall 2016
It seems every classic story starts with, “Once upon a time ….”—and so does mine. I married at eighteen
and was blessed beyond my years because the man I married was (and still is)
a talented, hardworking, do-it-yourselfer!
He purchased seven acres in the country
with money he had invested in his early
teens and built us a home single-handedly while we were engaged.
As a young new wife and keeper of the
home, I loved living on our own country
homestead. While my husband completely provided for all our needs—
paying the bills, buying food and household
goods—there were always little extras we
wanted for fun stuff or hobbies. I was eager to find something I could do to have
“pocket money” for spending on extras.
I loved to stitch and, after making a
personalized cloth activity book for my
little nephew, I thought to myself, I could
sell these! The books could be made from
a minimal amount of materials, pieces of
felt, and fabric scraps. I created patterns
for activity pages, getting ideas from
coloring books, and I added a personalized touch to the covers with my needle
and thread. They took many hours, but I
had a lot of time back then and not much
money to invest. I also started making
simple children’s outfits with cloth appliqué fronts. Once again, coloring books
gave me endless ideas for cute designs for
The adventures began with scraps of
material and a $25 sewing machine. I
started my first home industry by sewing
and creating children’s garments and
cloth activity books. It kept me busy
during the hours my husband was away
at his job. I advertised by getting permission to put samples in daycare centers. I
was on my way! I had great exposure in a
place where moms and grandmas saw my
outfits daily. Scouring textile mill outlet
shops yielded bargains on fabrics and
supplies. By learning English smocking
and French hand-sewing, I began to
create heirloom-style children’s clothes.
After gaining a few loyal and steady
customers, I created the ideas they envi-
sioned and presented them with one-of-
a-kind handmade garments. While not a
huge moneymaker, I had no investment,
no debt, and I was able to earn money for
my piggy bank.
Don’t go into debt. Start small, use what
you have at hand, and do something you
Two years after marrying, I became a
mother! The next few years were a blur of
babies, morning sickness, cloth diapers,
and playpens. Even so, I managed to do
some craft fairs where I had a booth to
showcase my handmade children’s clothing. Creating custom children’s clothing
to dress my own little dears and custom
sewing for other little darlings was fun!
Sewing for others financed sewing for my
own little loves. I learned many sewing
skills by trial and error. When asked to
try something new, I was thrilled to learn
a new technique. If I failed, I would just
try again, working to make it look just
like store-bought. I sketched ideas from
boutiques and children’s stores, recreating my own at home. By this time I had
a houseful of littles and my customers
came to me.
We all have twenty-four hours a day.
We choose what we want to do with
them. Prioritize what is most important.
As the years went by, I had less time for
sewing for others. Our family had grown
and we had nine children around our
table. Our grocery bill was going up!
I discovered I could bake six loaves of
bread per batch using a standard kitchen
mixer. My parents helped me with the
investment of a mixer along with a grain
mill, thus beginning my journey into
becoming a home baker.
While searching for quality bread-mak-ing wheat, I thought buying the wheat
in bulk would get the best price for our
family and we could sell the leftovers.
My husband rolled his eyes at my idea,
but he agreed to put shelves in the big
workshop/barn he had built on our little
homestead. The shelving was free; it was
salvaged from a job my husband had
done. I took a line from the movie Field
of Dreams and kept telling him, “If you
build it, they will come!”
FOUR DECADES LATER MARTHA IS
STILL CREATING ONE-OF-A-KIND
OUTFITS FOR HOMEGROWN BABIES.