Broom Duster Tutorial: Women Who Make Cents, Workbasket Magazine series January 1978

Women Who Make Cents is a department that appears in The Workbasket and Home Arts Magazine every month. It is an area where the magazine features what women across the country are doing to make money—mostly selling at church bazaars and craft fairs (there was no Etsy in 1978).

This department is the early Pinterest—only back then you literally had to clip (cut) the article out of the magazine and pin/tape/paste it to a corkboard/wall/piece of paper.

In the January 1978 Women Who Make Cents there were five (5) items, now that I’m looking at them again,  there are several I might have chosen that would have been easier…but Hindsight is 20/20. The options:

Calendar Tablecloth or Bedspread
Save calendar towels; sew together to make tablecloth or bedspread. Eight towels will make an average size tablecloth. Fringe may be added if desired. These sell for about $12.00. —Diane Calvert
My thoughts:  #1 Who would want to use a bedspread made of towels—sounds kinda itchy. #2 Do they still make towels with calendars on them (not to mention: why was that a thing)? Apparently, Yes and Yes. #3 Obviously, inflation* the recommended selling price would be: ~$46.

• Decor Plates
Prepare white dinner plates by holding them over a burning candle allowing a thin, even coat of soot to accumulate. Wipe edge of plates that a white frame results. Using a wood splinter or match stick, sketch a design of leaves or wildflowers. To seal design, spray a thin layer of varnish on plate. Let dry thoroughly. These plates resemble steel etchings and sell for $8 to $10.00. —Bobbie Mae Cooley
My thoughts: # I actually thought about trying this…if I could find a white plate at a thrift store (I might still keep looking for one). #2 You have to have some artistic talent to hand-draw nice looking leaves/flowers. #3 Inflated* selling price: ~$31 to $38.

• Handy Hand
Pack an old glove almost full with filling material. Place a metal canning lid on top of stuffing (at cuff) and sew the edge securely, criss-crossing across the lid; glue a screw lid over cuff end. Cover with fabric and decorative braid trim. These can be used to hold rings, pins, car keys, etc. Sell for $2.00. —Betty Nordwall
My thoughts: #1 I love that this is an upcycling project (old glove AND metal canning lid—I have a bunch of these). #2 I don’t get how it would actually be strong enough to hold keys. #3 Inflated* selling price:  ~$8.

• Coasters
Collect twelve jar covers. Paint inside of cover and let dry. Put decals inside covers, and shellac if desired. These sell for $1.50 to $2.00. —Miss L. Madore
My thoughts: #1 Another upcycle project—yeah for upcycling! #2 I feel like this would just be a vessel for holding condensation from cold drinks and if not ‘shellacked’ well would get rusty. #3 Inflated* selling price: ~$5.75 to $8.00.

And the one I chose (drum roll please):

Broom Duster

Sew together two hand towels on three sides, leaving one end open. Sew elastic around open end. (Elastic from discarded panty hose is just about the right size.) Cover will slip over broom to use for dusting in hard-to-reach places. Wash in machine and pack away when not in use. These sell for $3.00 to $3.75. —Helen Williams
My take & thoughts: #1 two hand towels? Were hand towels smaller in the 70’s or were brooms longer? #2 Pantyhose? Do people were pantyhose anymore? Maybe it’s just me. I were tights, pantyhose are something I purchase when I want to waste $3 because I get a hole in those things within 30 seconds of having them on. #3 Inflated* selling price: $11.50 to $14.50.

Sew together two hand towels on three sides, leaving one end open.

I used one kitchen towel, I purchased from a resale shop for 50¢.

Sew elastic around open end. (Elastic from discarded panty hose is just about the right size.)

I used elastic from a pair of stained (and not longer fitting) kids pajama bottoms.

Cover will slip over broom …

…to use for dusting in hard-to-reach places.

The end…

All in all this cost me 50¢ for the towel plus the cost of thread. So, if I thought this was something I could sell for $11.50, then an $11 profit. Not bad, but I don’t think I’m going to make another…although, I do have two children and maybe this is something they could do together! I’d probably have to purchase another broom/dustpan combo set. But that’s a small price to pay to get my kids to clean—and me not to.
I’d only have to sell three (3) broom dusters. 🙂



*Inflation was calculated at:  Inflation is calculated to 2017. I rounded up to nearest quarter or dollar.

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