Sunday, 20 September 2009

make do and mend

I found a book called MAKE DO AND MEND this week that is  full of reproductions of the official Second World War instructions for keeping your family and home afloat on war rations!  ISBN no is 978-1-84317-265-9 published by Michael O'Mara Books Limited. 

Its a nostalgic collection of propaganda leaflets that were published by the Government of the day and made available to millions of British people during the Second World War to help them make the most of fuel, clothing and household shortages.  

I have been really fascinated and amused by all the advice they gave about repairing, recycling and reusing .... all good advice that interestingly enough is so very relevant today.  Advice such as ...

"keep the lids on your saucepans .. this is most important. It takes 15% less gas to bring food to the boil in a covered pan ...."  


"your cup of tea ... rationing has cut down on those cups of tea. Which means that this in itself has cut down on the fuel problem. Nevertheless, you can still make tea in the economical way. For example, never boil more water than is needed. A half-filled kettle comes to the boil in less time than a full one - an thus saves time as well as fuel .."

then there are practical tips on washing ...

"mend all holes and tears before washing .... a stitch in time will be appreciated"

(I wondered how many of us actually mend holes at all  today? )

and on unpicking clothing to refashion and make something new to wear 

" How to unpick :  Take off buttons, snaps, etc.. unpick collar, cuffs , trimmings, etc.. Take out sleeves and any linings, let down hem and unpick large main seams, take off seam bindings, let out pleats, gathers or darts. Always pull out stitching threads as you unpick, and unpick "neatening" of turnings to preserve their full width. This often makes the difference between skimping the new garment and getting the new pattern pieces cut with room to spare".

Well I bet NOT many people do this anymore. I used to think taking old clothing to the charity shop was better suited to my lifestyle.  I HAVE unpicked things to use the material to make quilts but I use the term 'unpick' very loosely -- generally I rotary cut the bit of fabric I want and leave the seams intact because its not worth the effort. I suspect I am not the only person who feels like this too. With raising mountains of 'waste' clothing around the world charity shops are no longer requesting clothing anymore. My local oxfam for example only takes books now. Cheap imports have created and continue to fuel huge clothing surplus's. Its cheaper to buy a new t-shirt now than to wash it!  and talking of cheap ......I had a quick crawl around the market yesterday and found a bag stall selling really nice designer looking bags. There was a great messenger bag I really liked and it was only a tenner.  I was so tempted to buy it but stopped myself.  The stall holder would probably have got it wholesale for a fiver which meant after you took the materials out of that the poor person making it maybe got paid 50p!  Its about time the government did something to stop all these cheap imports. I know it great if you cant afford much but overall its just not healthy for anyone!

well anyway I could get on that soap box for some while  but I wont ....

This book is pretty good and if you get the chance to see it it is worth a read if for no other reason than to see what millions of people HAD to do, not just for the period we were at war but many years afterwards until rationing ceased. I am lucky to have been born well past that time, but its a shame the principals that were employed then because they had too were so quickly forgotten in a new generation. 

By the way ... my boots giveaway finishes tonight. I've been a tad disappointed that more people haven't taken part .... are they really soooo gross? 


BilboWaggins said...

GREAT post Tracey, perhaps if recession has a good side it is to make people aware of the possibilities of living in this way and re-using stuff rather than running off and buying more.

Definitely one to add to my Amazon shopping basket, thank you.

Make Do and Mend Online said...

Hi, Thanks for you comment in our forum. Our shops are trying to promote the message of Make Do and Mend (hence the name of the shops) and on the tips page of our site we give advice on how to make your clothes last for longer.

We've also got a copy of that book and a lot of it is still relevant today - particularily during the credit crunch.

BTW love the mini quilt!