Linda Holliday's
Excellent Clothespin Bags

Dateline: 18 February 2014

This is the clothespin bag I bought from Linda Holliday.  
It has Classic American clothespins in it.  
Note the heavy wire hanging hook, the inner liner... 
and the nifty pocket.

(click pictures for larger views)

Linda Holliday is a downright talented person. So is her husband, Darren. They have a homestead-based business in Missouri called Well WaterBoy Products, where they make and sell things like the remarkable WaterBuck pump, durable well buckets (one of which I own and blogged about HERE), a pedal-powered PTO, and SolarBuck plans. 

Linda (a.k.a., Mrs. WaterBuck) writes Her own Blog, writes articles for the American Preppers Network, and blogs for Mother Earth News. She is also a cartoonist. And she crafts Homestead Sewn Preps on her White Family Rotary treadle sewing machine (circa 1914). That’s a whole lotta work and creativity!

I happen to own an old White treadle sewing machine myself. I bought it at an estate auction in 1981, back when my wife and I were just-married and living in a little apartment. I had a real interest in old tools—tools that would work if the power went off. Yes, I was thinking about such things way back then. 

The sewing machine had been well cared for and worked perfectly. I used it one winter to make some Teddy bears. And I made little plaid Pendleton shirts for the Teddy bears. I love that sewing machine. It's a mechanical marvel. I haven’t used it in 30 years. It’s packed away in a storage shed. But I digress.

It was a little overcast when I took this picture, but you get the idea.
The bag hangs right on the clothesline. But, as the previous
picture shows, it can also be set on a flat surface. The stiff wire
around the top holds the bag open and the clothespins are accessible.

I decided to buy one of Linda’s clothespin bags for my wife. Linda calls them Granny’s Clothespin Bags because they are modeled after the clothespin bags her mother made when she was little. Linda’s clothespin bags are made using recycled fabrics (like I did with those little Pendleton Teddy bear shirts I made). I think they’re very reasonably priced for a handcrafted product.

The bag arrived and I gave it to Marlene. She looked it over really well and was impressed. In fact, these are Marlene’s exact words (I wrote them down) “Wow. She did a really nice job on this.”  

My wife knows good sewing when she sees it. She told me she learned to sew back when she was around 10 years old. Her mother taught her and then she learned some in home economics class in school (do they still teach sewing in the government schools?). Marlene says that she made a LOT of her own clothes when she was younger. For Christmas of 1976 (the year I was going to school in Vermont) she sewed me a patchwork quilt. That was real special (and I bought her a hope chest that Christmas). She also made me a Frostline sleeping bag to use when I lived in a tent in Vermont during the summer of '77. I sleep in that sleeping bag every winter, under the bed covers (have done so for over 30 years). The zipper doesn’t work anymore so it’s something like a blanket. But I digress, again.

Oh, one more memory... Marlene was in 4H and she sewed different projects for 4H competitions. I was in 4H for a short while too. I remember, before I really knew Marlene, being at a 4H fair where people were bringing in their different projects and putting them on display. Marlene was there with her mother. I was across the room watching her, with interest, if you know what I mean. Later, when she and her mother left the room, I went over and looked at her sewing project. I think there was some sort of cooking project there with her name on it too. I thought to myself.... “hmmm, she sews, she cooks, and she’s cute.” That was powerfully appealing to me. :-)

Anyway, back to Linda Holliday’s excellent clothespin bag.... It is 7” in diameter and 12” tall, with a stiff wire hoop sewn into the top. The wire hoop has a hanging hook. The bag is triple-thick, which is to say, there is a double inner lining. So it’s almost like three clothespin bags sewn together! Then there is that outside pocket—a very nice touch.

By the way, I asked Linda where she learned to sew and she wrote back...

"My mother began teaching me to sew at about age 11 on my great-grandmother's Singer treadle.  Before that, I could only use a needle and thread—until my mother was brave enough to let me sew on her machine.  As I recall, my first project was a Raggedy Ann doll, and I only sewed through my finger once.  
My mother never had an electric sewing machine until she was almost 50.  In my opinion, even with all their fancy stitches, a typical electric sewing machine for home use cannot compare to the strength and reliability of the old treadles."

I suspect that a lot of women reading this can relate to learning to sew from their mother and the superiority of a good treadle sewing machine. I asked Linda if she sewed in home economics class in high school. I figured she probably did because I think it was required (back in the day), though not for boys. Most of the boys took wood-shop. I made a paper towel holder that my mother cherished and used for the rest of her life. Here’s what Linda said about home economics class

"Funny you asked about Home Ec.  Yes, I took the class, and sewing was  my favorite segment.  We lived in the country and my mother didn't drive, so I had to rely on a neighbor woman to go to the fabric store for the materials for our first sewing project -- a smock top.  I bet Marlene remembers those.  They weren't figure-flattering at all.  But I suspect we had to learn to make one because the project offered the opportunity to learn to gather, sew on decorative binding and match seams, etc.  Anyway, my neighbor picked out red rickrack and Raggedy Ann fabric.  The fabric had a white background and then colorful, cartoonish Raggedy Anns all over it.  It would've been cute if I was 6, but I was in high school.  I wore it anyway, and even showed it to my neighbor.  She was quite pleased, as I recall."

My Granny’s Clothespin Bag will hold 100 of my handcrafted Classic American clothespins. They are beefier than the imported, junk clothespins you get from the dollar-store. Linda says the bags will hold a couple hundred of those el-cheapos.

I've been a carpenter most of my life. Hanging tools off my belt is
real convenient for me (and clothespins are tools). So I was
pleased to
discover that I could hang a "Granny's Clothespin Bag" 
on my hip. But I won't be doing this very often because
Marlene tells me I don't  hang clothes right. In fact, it bothers
her to see a load of laundry that I've hung on the line. :-)

Hey, if I was still doing carpentry work, I think I could find some
practical uses for these bags besides just holding clothespins!

I know you shouldn’t leave a clothespin bag outdoors in the weather, but what about when it’s not being used? Linda told me she hangs hers on a hook inside a closet door. I like that... a place for everything, and everything in its place.


A Sad But True Story From Linda Holliday: 

"I stopped in a Walmart recently just to check the quality and price of their clothespin bags. I couldn't find them so I asked an employee, a woman of about 60. She said they no longer carry them. She said customers would ask her, "What's a clothespin bag?"


I'm curious Do any of you reading this sew? Where did you learn to sew? Did you take Home Economics in school? Do you use a treadle sewing machine? 


One last thing. I want to make it clear that I purchased this clothespin bag and I am not getting any money for recommending it here. I just think it’s a real nice handcrafted product and I like to support any entrepreneurial home business that makes real nice down-to-earth products.

And while I’m on this matter of recommendations, I want to let it be known that I have never taken money for any product review or recommendation on this blog unless, that is, you click on a link that takes you to When you do that, and make a purchase, I get a little commission on the sale. If you’re curious, it amounts to around $200 a year.


Cyndi Lewis said...

I do sew but not well. I was a teen in the '80's and recall taking woodshop in Jr. High and avoiding Home Ec. like the plague as I was being brainwashed with feminism. I'm more at home with a thread and needle then an electric sewing machine. I think I might feel okay with a treadle. Technology and I have a love/hate relationship. I am waiting patiently for my husband to build my clothes line. Then I will need a clothes pin bag. My mom always had one and one of my jobs was to hang the laundry out in the summer. I enjoyed it.

Herrick Kimball said...


Have you ever tried sewing on a treadle sewing machine? It is simple and a lot of fun.

As for hanging clothes on the line, I'll bet you know how to do it right (unlike me).

Cyndi Lewis said...

Oh, and I'm mostly self taught by reading books and following instructions. I stick to basic projects and quilts. I wish I had learned as a child but hindsight is 20/20 and I was a stubborn, foolish teen.

Tanya Murray said...

That is really sad about the peg bags no longer being in Walmart but it is a bit the same here too. I made some peg bags for the market but a lot of people don't know what they are for. Just last week Craig and I were having a discussion at the clothes line about the finer points of pegs; timber, springs, plastics and weathering. It didn't move mountains but I'm sure it ignited a little spark and from there more will come I'm sure of it. Here in Australia the classic treadle sewing machine was a Singer and they are still around and in use and working perfectly. The trick now days is to find someone who can still service and understand the old machines.

Anonymous said...

Hi Herrick -

I am a long-time follower of your blog, but not a frequent commenter (in fact, I don't think I've ever commented here). But I thoroughly enjoy your perspective and writings, and find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with your stance and viewpoints expressed -- Your blog is extremely enjoyable and educational reading for me! We are fourth generation farmers, and I've found the learning never stops! But now I digress ...

You asked about home-ec class and sewing -- I learned to sew at age 8 from my mother and grandmother. By the time I reached high school, I sewed pretty much all of my clothing, which was useful, as we were required to wear dresses to my school. Just about all of the girls in my class also sewed. Sadly, home ec was removed from gov't schools in the early 80's. Most girls leave school now with not a clue how to sew, or how to cook either, and most mothers are at their "slave" jobs, so they aren't home to teach them either. Very, very sad.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed sewing. I have a regular electric sewing machine, but several years ago purchased a Singer treadle to use when the power goes out, which out here is frequently. It was surprisingly easy to learn, and now I find that sewing on a treadle is very soothing to me, no matter the project, and I use it often for piecing quilt tops -- even when the power is working! My 12 year old daughter loves to sew on it as well.

I am finding more and more people who ask if I would be willing to sew or mend something for them. Seems like there might be a call for a home sewing business, which fits right into your "family economy" theme of late -- which was excellent reading, by the way. We are of the same mind. We brought my parents here to live with us last year due to their increasing needs, and in spite of others warning that this would never work, we find it to be excellent. Having 3 generations here, helping each other and all working toward the same goals, is very satisfying. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But I digress again ... I guess I've made up for my lack of previous comments here!

Thank you for what you provide here on your blog, Herrick. I limit my online time, and allow myself to only follow 5 or less blogs, and they must be worthwhile reading, or I won't bother. Yours is one of my 5. Thank you!


Granny Miller said...

Herrick -
What a nice clothes pin bag!
Yes indeed I do sew...and sew often. And as a matter of fact I sew on a treadle sewing machine when I sew for pleasure.

Many people who sew professionally will keep a treadle around as a back up. Believe me, the drama of a gown fitting with bride & her mother during a power outage and a wedding 2 days away will take 10 years off your life!!!

My mother got me started sewing as a child and I sewed lots of clothes for my dolls.
Mrs. Striker in 7th grade Home Economics taught me the basics of machine sewing. I am forever grateful to her.

CLL said...

I am 50 and took Home Ec in school. I aced the cooking semester, but when it was time for sewing, I had such a hard time. I have a difficult time seeing how things fit together. I can't work puzzles! :) My Home Ec teacher was so frustrated with me one day, she got in my face and screamed, "You see this gray hair?? IT'S GOT YOUR NAME ON IT!!!!" I was so traumatized I never tried again. :) I can sew on a button bit can't even hem a pair of pants.

Appreciate your blog so much as we walk this agrarian journey.

neca said...

My mom and both grandmothers sewed, and I learned to sew when I was young. I never took home ec in school, but I continue to sew now and thoroughly enjoy it.

My son (who is 19) did take home ec in public school! He didn't really enjoy the sewing part, but loved the cooking segment and is quite the cook. :-)

jennifer said...

Home Ec classes were offered in both my Jr. & Sr. High Schools, but they aren't offered anymore. I also learned to sew and cook in my 4-H club, along with gardening and raising livestock. All these skills have served me well over the years.

I made my own clothes pin bag out of a "onesie" I got at the thrift store for 50-cents. It was so easy, simply make a straight cut above the leg portion and stitch it closed with heavy thread. Then slip it over a hanger, leaving a few of the buttons or snaps undone and there you have it. It hangs on the line, is easy to move around and they are cute.

I think its scandalous that most schools have cancelled important life skills classes to the point that most young people are incapable of taking of themselves. To me this is one of the reasons our country has gone the direction it has - lack of knowledge, lack of understanding about simple things like banking, home budgeting, stretching a meal and living within one's means, lack of cooking skills so they have to eat processed foods or eat out. I'm always stunned at the number of people I meet that don't make dinner, they make reservations. And, it is only perpetuating itself down the generations.

MaryJ said...

Been reading your blog for a while,but first time to comment. Mt first sewing experience was on my grandmother's singer treadle. I took 4 years of home ex and sewing was my favorite part. In high school I sewed prom dresses for friends, and even made brides maid dresses for one friend. Sewed for my children whe they were small, went to work outside the home and did not sew for many years. I have recently retire and have taken up sewing again for my grandchildren, honing my sewing skills again for a possible home based sewing business.

Sheila said...

I first learned to sew when I was about 9-10? and had to take a bus into downtown Wash. DC for summer classes. I did make a pretty nice blouse, however if was actually just a social event for me, and didn't sew again until I was about 12, when I helped my mother make very fancy curtains for our new home. They turned out fantastic. I seldom sew, but used to enjoy it a great deal.
I purchased one of Linda's Clothes Pin Bags, and I love it! It's strong and so cool looking. Mine is like a pair of jeans, and the extra pocket in the front is great too.
I also purchased the Mini Mitt that's used on my cast iron skillet, and they work perfect too. Last are the Pot Holders, They are huge, and Boy do I love them. I will be ordering more of those too.
No question that my/YOUR AMERICAN MADE CLOTHES PINS NOW HAVE A PERFECT HOME, in my new clothes pin bag.
Now all I have to do is finish my clothes pins, and I will be ready for spring.
Your Clothes Pins work wonderful, and I will be ordering more for gifts very soon.

Herrick Kimball said...

Cynthia, Tanya, Sue, Katherine, CCL, neca, Jennifer, Mary & Sheila….

I have really enjoyed reading your comments to this blog post, and my questions!

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been reading your blog for about 2 years now and are so grateful for yours and others like it. To answer your question, I grew up a third generation city kid and never learned how to sew. By then the school system in California had already dropped home ec as a "non-essential class". My grandmother sewed, crocheted, embroidered, knitted, raised chickens, had a wonderful garden and canned a lot. My mother felt that these skills were antiquated and not necessary to learn. Unfortunately, by the time I became interested, her health and sight became poor and I lost access to all that knowledge. Learning as an adult is definitely more challenging, but I am excited to watch as I pass on my limited knowledge to my daughters and seeing them surpass my abilities. It encourages me that these skills can be preserved and passed on. Thank you for passing on your knowledge and encouragement for those of us who are having to start from scratch.


Darren (Green Change) said...

Speaking of innovation and value-adding on your excellent clothespins, how about this idea?

Imagine using one of your clothespins, with an LED light incorporated, to read the Deliberate Agrarian book!