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Make do and Mend WWII

December 7, 2012

During WWII everyone was on rations which included rations for clothing and fabric. Make do and Mend make campaigns dominated the 1940s.

To overcome the clothing ration people made their own clothes by re-using material from old clothes, curtains, blankets and furnishing fabrics which were sometimes available. Knitting was very popular, and people were encouraged to knit gloves, socks and scarves to send to the men in the armed forces. Old jumpers were unravelled and re-knitted to create new garments. Resources were scarce and everything was reused and recycled …

With silk and nylon production being diverted to military use for making parachutes and barrage balloons, even stockings were banned. Women turned to applying watered down gravy or weak tea to their legs to dye their skin to look as though they were wearing stockings, the seams were added using eyebrow pencils.

Excerpt from a great article by Lena from Queen of Vintage describing what life was like during those days.

war rations

You can see more about how it worked on the site Britian Since the 1930s

WWII ration instructions

To see more about Ration books go Vintage Sewing

Make do and mend was the government’s motto with books being published, tips in magazines and newspapers, on the radio, and even in special classes which were run in most towns and cities. The British Board of Trade avatar Mrs Sew and Sew, issued advice about basic clothing repairs like darning and patching. “Neat darns, done in good time, can make things last without making them look shabby.”  Wonderful leaflets were distributed to with Make do and Mend suggestions.

Make do and Mend leaflet WWII

You can find some of  the facsimiles of the original publications, which are just as relevant today as they were 60 years ago at ecoterre.



patriotic patches

You can see more on my Pinterest board Mrs Sew and Sew

Here is a great Make do and Mend video from WWII which is also very funny.

Which leads me to my next post The Best of Men’s Shirt Refashions.

“Men lock up your favourite old shirts before you leave home in the morning.”


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