Make Do and Mend

During World War II, the British government had a fantastic propaganda campaign going. War rationing hit the UK hard, and new clothes were not easy to come by. We need those nylons for the boys on the front!

Well, nobody's under war rationing right now, but the economy isn't showing many signs of getting better any time soon, and I think it's worth revisiting that old campaign to try and re-learn some of the tricks our grandmothers were using to keep themselves in stylish clothes when money and new fabric were scarce.

Once upon a time, I found some scans that someone had made of a Make Do and Mend with pattern diagrams showing how to turn menswear (left behind by those selfsafe boys on the front) into clothes for women and children. Did your husband leave a new suit behind when the war broke out? People were turning pants into skirts long before the jean-skirt-made-from-actual-jeans came into vogue. Perhaps you bought him a pair of brand new striped pajamas just before he left to stick it to Hitler? Those striped pajamas can make you a camisole and a pair of french knickers, or maybe a striped summer dress for your daughter.

I actually managed to put together a pseudo-1940's skirt suit from a pair of dress pants and oversized tweed jacket I bought at Value Village using this little packet. Sadly, I used to move around a lot, and in one of those moves, while I was trying to condense all my worldly possessions down into two suitcases' worth of stuff, I gave that outfit away (along with 8 garbage bags full of other things that probably shouldn't have been gotten rid of).

It looked kind of like this, only not quite as awesome.

I don't know what ever happened to those hefty jpegs I downloaded so many years ago off the Internet. I've never been able to find them again. Probably they're on my parents' computer somewhere. Meanwhile, Make Do and Mend has become a new rallying cry for recessionistas and green fashion advocates everywhere. There are a ton of websites out there dedicated to the idea, with instructions for how to modify your tired old clothes into chic new ones.

You can buy facsimile reproductions of the Ministry for Information's leaflets and ideas on Amazon. You'd be surprised at how much you probably don't know when it comes to preserving textiles. Why would you need to know? We live in a society where darning socks means saying "oh darn" and throwing them in the garbage as soon as they've got a hole in them, as my college roommate used to do.

Whether your motive is financial or environmental (or both), remember -- "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, and do without!"

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...