Sunday, 14 August 2016

Making Do, and a mystery project

My friend F (of whom more in a future post) volunteers in a charity bookshop in town on Friday mornings, and if I'm around I usually pop in to see her. This must be doing wonders for Oxfam's coffers, as she has developed a sneaky habit of mentioning books she has found in new stock which I just 'might' be interested in (and she's usually right).

This is a recent example of her killer sales technique.

"I saw this, and thought of you" - gets me every time!

This was reissued as a small book by the Imperial War Museum some years ago, but I had never seen an original before. It is a 32-page booklet, with a soft cover of thicker paper. Although the paper is thin, it's far better quality than the paper used for the instruction sheets in some of my 1940s patterns.

The drawing on the next page is just visible at the top

The Make Do and Mend campaign started in 1942, and the booklet was first published the next year. Clearly although the intention was to encourage the public to get as much wear as possible out of their clothes, the information wasn't free; the 3d cover price is 53p / 68 cents in today's money.

Clothing care, mending, laundry, re-use and knitting are all covered

I'm not sure how useful some of the renovation hints actually were. There are a couple of suggestions for re-using garments which are 'worn in front', which in my experience isn't an area which actually gets worn out. In fact, one of the tips for remodelling blouses confirms this.

When the front is the only unworn part

Nowadays there is often an assumption that all women in the past could sew, but the fact that the booklet was published at all suggests that this wasn't the case. I do wonder who it was aimed at; a number of the 'hints' given are things which my grandmothers did as a matter of course. Similarly, the fact that the chapter on washing and ironing hints has to include the advice, 'Never iron stockings', suggests that some women were a little vague on laundry matters. Perhaps they had lost their domestic help to munitions work.

The owner of this booklet seems to have taken its instructions to heart, though. When I'm sewing I often jot down measurements or alterations notes on whatever scrap of paper comes to hand (and then, all too often, lose it), and clearly I'm not alone in this habit. The back cover has been used for planning out some sort of skirt-related project, but sadly I've not been able to work out exactly what. Any ideas?

Waist and hip measurements, and something to do with diagonal folds

Some sort of skirt diagram

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