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How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew
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How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  622 ratings  ·  122 reviews
“Waste not, want not” with this guide to saving money, taking heart, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Nowadays, many of us “outsource” basic tasks. Food is instant, ready-made, and processed with unhealthy additives. Dry cleaners press shirts, delivery guys bring pizza, gardeners tend flowers, and, yes, tailors sew on those pesky buttons. But life can be much simp
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Paperback, 278 pages
Published December 15th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,649)
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Jenn Estepp
i'm pretty sure that i heard about this book in an issue of real simple magazine. and, if i hadn't than i should have because it's a lot like reading real simple, only not as good. i.e. a few bits of "oo, fab idea" nestled amidst lots of painfully obvious bits that you should've learned in elementary school. and, everything was just so random and simplified - although written in a tone which i think was supposed to be snarky and fun, sort "you go girl!;" only instead of being snarky and fun, it ...more
Mike
Aug 29, 2013 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone

I’m sure (and I’ll check once I’ve written this review) that I “discovered” this do-it-yourself guide via one of my Goodreads friends. I probably did not read a synopsis of it, so I was unaware that it was written as girl-to-girl advice. Nonetheless, I stuck it out cover-to-cover as most of the topics are of equal use to all genders.

I was fortunate enough to know both of my Grandmothers (plus one Great-Grandmother) and like those whose wisdom is ensconced in this book they had their own special
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Emilie
I expected to like this book much more than I did. I really agree on the overall premise. I think we could learn a lot and utilize our resources much better if we took a cue from the older generations. I know many women who can't sew a button.

One of the issues is with the writing style which is forcefully cheeky. Sometimes you find this forced humor funny and other times, annoying. Also, the book is peppered with illustrations of various retro women engaging in the tasks being explained, but wh
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Elizabeth
What a handy, humorous little reference guide to the traditional wisdom of capable women! I love this book, and it has already helped me get out a few stains (from spilling things on my clothes).

This book has everything from choosing produce, ironing things properly, growing an herb garden, dealing with difficult neighbors, to spending a romantic date night at home without having to shell out money for an expensive restaurant dinner, and much in between - all written in such a way as to give yo
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Mollie *scoutrmom*
Oct 22, 2010 Mollie *scoutrmom* rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I love the tone of this book, what might have been a dry how-to manual is brimming with humor. For instance, a recipe on page three calls for "1 egg (beaten but not conquered)". Step two begins with, "Did that take you forever?" Step four instructs, "Pop a few blueberries into your mouth...."

Instructions for preparing a chicken include these words of wisdom, "If you're temporarily grossed out, there's no kind way to say this: Get over yourself." and these words of encouragement, "It's hard to cl
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Alethea
This was one of those faintly aggrivating books that don't quite get the balance right between interesting information and witty voice. I think perhaps I'm not the best target audience, as I already know much of what's included; it seems to be rather a graduation-gift type book. I was really hoping for something with a little more substance--since there's some neat things to be learned from the grandmothers who survived the depression and World War Two and the Cold War and the Sixties and...
P.Sannie
Feb 06, 2010 P.Sannie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to P.Sannie by: Tracie
Shelves: non-fiction
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars because there are a lot of helpful tips. There are a lot of nifty little tricks that I never knew about, like using vinegar and baking soda for everything with cleaning, or how to clean an oven properly.

However, Erin Bried writes with a bit too much familiarity; it's almost as if she is writing the book as tips to her friends. I can understand the appeal, but the little interjections got annoying at some points. I also think she is writing it for a poli
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Sophie
I agree with some of the other reviewers that this was a neat idea, but it could have been executed a bit better. For starters I would have loved more diagrams - some things like knitting, hemming, and folding a fitted sheet really deserved pictures.

Content-wise there were highs and lows, in my opinion. I wasn't expecting such a substantial cooking section... I kinda figured anyone looking to make a pie would buy a cookbook. Also the author mentioned pilling on sweaters in the introduction, but
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Alice
I like the idea of this book a lot, and some of the helpful info in the last half helped it earn the last star, but overall I wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be. For one thing, many of the tasks chosen seemed to speak to an audience of helpless people. On the other hand, though, too many of the tasks are things that really can't/shouldn't be explained without pictures in a few pages or less (see: brewing beer, knitting, butchery, among others). If someone really didn't know how to do these th ...more
Catrina
A cute and quirky book to get you thinking about knowledge that is being lost with modern conveniences. As some people commented, it is far from being an end-all in cooking, sewing, or socializing; more like dipping one's toes into a pond of tradition. I personally found the sections about canning, darning and gardening especially helpful. And though this isn't a book most people consume whole, I nibbled at it all the way through, piece by piece, for some light night time reading. Can't wait to ...more
Dara
I liked the concept of this book, but not the execution. Instructions are either ludicrously simple (how to shop locally: join a CSA or shop at the farmer's market. REALLY????!?? Also explained: how to plan a weekly menu (instructions: pick recipes for 7 days (seriously, that's in there))) or useless without pictures or more detailed instructions (I have absolutely no clue what the "how to darn a sock" instructions were describing).
Carol
Ummm really? I guess if you work in New York for a magazine you don't know how to do anything except hail cabs? Most people I know can do most of the things in this book, but I do live in a small town so maybe it's different. I was hoping for some more obscure skills that Grandma knew, these seem more like basic life skills.
Sarah
Erin Bried complied some great skills in a easy to read format. My favorite tips were about cleaning....I think I still have the nesting urge. And I'm impressed with all that my mother passed on to me. Being self-sufficiet is so empowering.
Angel
Some gems in the book, mostly in the cleaning section, though the rest was intuitive and definitely written in a tone that was so over the top that it got grating within a few pages of starting the book.
Kristin
While I absolutely love the premise, the tone grated on me and I had to quit after 5 minutes.
Liz Estacio
I think this is particularly useful for someone like me who didn't have a mother or grandmother to teach me things like how to treat a stain or how to remove rust and other little neat tricks around the house. Even for someone who did have a mom around, my cousin who I passed my copy of the book to was excited to have it. I told her it helped me a ton in the house especially now that I'm going to be a wife and someday a mother. She found it amazing when I showed her how to do things around the h ...more
Ami
Aug 19, 2012 Ami rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
A neat concept, but it felt sort of random & cobbled together. Bried interviewed several grandmothers about their childhoods during the Great Depression & writes 1-5ish page "how-tos" about skills people used to have in those days. Some helpful stuff, like how to actually sew a button, how to fold a fitted sheet (although her YouTube demonstration is much easier to follow), and how to clean an oven door (with vinegar, what else?). Still, it sort of falls in the cracks between being utili ...more
Anna
In reading the author's introduction and the profiles of the grandmothers she consulted I felt excited to learn new things. However, I was soon disappointed. Many of the tips involve basic life skill that would be terrifying to contemplate people making it to adulthood without knowing, like how to make your bed or balance your checkbook. Other things that might actually be lost knowledge are given short shrift. Bried wants to commit to this cutesy format of condensing the knowledge to a series o ...more
Relyn
I really like the idea behind the book. The author lives in New York City and works for Conde Naste. She talks about how she realized that people were increasingly dependent on others and couldn't do many basic things for themselves. She talked about this as a negative thing, especially in light of our current economy. So, as a journalist, she set out to discover How To. It's pretty interesting.

I think the interdependence is more pronounced in a city. Here in rural mid-America, most people I kn
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Marigold
(No, not the e-book, I have the paperback, but this is what my cover looks like!) Mostly, I really like the concept, but only "like" the book itself. Some of these "how to's" are things that are painfully obvious, & some I will never need (at least I hope not)! Still - loads of fun - love the grandma stories in the beginning of the book. I actually feel like I missed out on a lot of this "home ec" kind of stuff. Grandma #1 died when I was 3; Grandma #2 lived far away & I only saw her eve ...more
Cinnamon
I want to write a longer review on my blog about this, but I have to say I found this a very interesting read. And I've tried a few of the tips and tricks in here that I didn't know and I'm quite content with how they worked and will use them going forward. I do think my technique for roasting a chicken is better than the one she gives here, but otherwise I don't have any complaints about the processes she describes.

I like the bios of the grandmothers and wish there was a little more of their vo
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Heather
This is a handy little book on how to do basic domestic tasks that elude a lot of young women today. As you can tell from the picture, the book has a cute & charming cover and is written in much the same way. It's chock full of interesting how-to's and the author adds her own humor and personal anecdotes along the way.

How to Sew a Button covers such tasks as how to plant a garden, make compost and can your garden yummies. How to sew a button, darn a sock, tie a tie and hem your pants. How to
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Shirley
I guess this book is ok and it is good to know basic skills but there is a reason why we don't do all those things anymore bc modern women usually work full time and thee things take a lot of time. while I enjoy sewing and cooking, I enjoy sleep more. I get the point but I feel that this is part of the societal pressure for women to be breadwinners and Pinterest moms and master chefs and organic gardeners and run 5ks in our spare time.
Carolyn McBride
How to Hand-Wash Dishes...Really? Even a busy 20-something in NY ought to know how to do that! "Squirt some dish soap onto a rag..." Know how long your dish soap is going to last? I am a big believer in doing for oneself, it's how I was raised. I picked up the book to learn helpful home-type stuff I might not know, and sometimes it's a good book for that. Like when it teaches us how to sharpen a knife with a steel. But how to wash dishes? C'mon! Get real! How to Make Dandelion Wine is something ...more
Amanda
Agree with other reviewers about "interesting title, lacking in execution." A mishmash of topics, but I would have loved some insight here about how info is passed along, especially between women, and how/why this gets lost. Instead, it was either no-brainers, easily Google-able, and the new-to-me stuff was so skimmed over that I'd rather go find an in-depth book on whatever subject.
Bea Bolinger
Seriously? I had such high hopes for this one and honestly considered not finishing it with just five or six pages left. It drags on and most of her step by step instructions really need illustrations to be comprehendible. But I still like the message of learning and doing for ourselves. Learn to sew a button on, learn to make bread, learn to balance your checkbook - just use a better "how to get started" self-help book then this one, unless of course you really do need to be talked down-to beca ...more
Vicki
I knew how to do most of the things in this book. What I didn't know, I felt comfortable figuring out for myself. So, the point of this, for me, for the most part, was not reference. It was all the tone. You know what it's like when you have a cool older lady in your life? Maybe your grandma, maybe your aunt, maybe a neighbor? It's like this book was written by all of them together. My grandmas are gone, as are all of my great aunts now. They sometimes told me how to do things. I know how to gar ...more
Dianna
If you don't want someone telling you to take your "vities" or take good care of your "ticker," this book isn't for you.

If you already know how to sew on a button, roast a chicken, etc., this book isn't for you. Most of the things explained here are quite simple and some are just plain obvious.

If you would like to know how to knit a scarf, darn a sock, etc., this book isn't for you. The descriptions aren't specific enough for me to feel like I could actually do those things after reading the boo
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Michelle
This book is organized into chapters on various household topics. It contains tips and tricks on doing some basic household tasks yourself on a minimum budget. The tip providers are women who have lived through challenging economic times and figured out how to make do with what you have. While I did find some jewels, a lot of the tips were things I already knew, but at my age (early 40's) I think I have learned a thing or two along the way. This would be a great book for someone in their twentie ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: request to correct page count: ISBN 9780345518750 1 13 Sep 16, 2013 11:06PM  
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