Make Do and Mend

miniature basket with knitting
© F H Powell 2008

During these uncertain economic times that are sweeping the globe it’s well to remember that this is not the first period of ‘hard times’ we have had to endure. Those old enough to remember the Second World War will recall rationing in Britain. This applied to food, petrol and from 1st June 1941 clothing. Clothing was rationed like other items via coupons, an annual ration being equivalent to a single complete set of clothing. In order to reduce the demand for textiles shop bought clothes were made from the least amount of material possible and non essential items like pockets were restricted and others like trouser turn ups for men were removed altogether. Ladies were restricted to a 2-inch/5cm heel height too.

People were encouraged to make do and mend. Skirts were fashioned from old curtains and old pullovers unpicked to create new or to be used to darn socks. A common practice for women was to rub gravy browning on their legs and draw a line down the backs of their legs, often with eyebrow pencil, to give the impression of a stocking seem.

British women were the back bone of the made do and mend ethos. Eligible men were away at the war and women were employed in factories etc as well as keeping the remaining family fed and clothed. In towns and villages the local Women’s Institute became the centre for exchange of ideas of how to recycle old garments. Patching of old clothes was encouraged. A Board of Trade leaflet at the time said, ‘A neatly patched garment is something to be proud of these days. To discard clothes that are not completely worn out is as unpatriotic as to waste good food.’ Jumpers and socks often had strange colour schemes (such as the parts concealed by the shoe did not match the other sock or even the top of the pair of socks). Some clothes may have had a patchwork appearance from the darns or odd colours being used up. We have a 1:12th scale knitting pattern for a striped child’s jumper, which you could knit in many different colours. We also have knitting patterns for various blouse ‘fronts’, which were blouses or jumpers with only the front knitted the back being absent or made of net, in order to save wool.

miniature knitting
© F H Powell 2008

As and idea for your dolls house why not reflect those austere times again? We have knitting baskets, needlework basket and knitted patchwork bed covers available from our web shop, plus for a special touch why not add a 1:12th scale pattern for a lingerie kit laid out on a silk parachute panel.

Kit from Buttercup Miniatures
© F H Powell 2008