Make do and mend
Part 2 of 3
By the end of 1942 rationing was really beginning to bite. The majority of able bodied men and boys had gone away with no certainty that they would ever return.
Vast quantities of material were eaten up by the war effort and what was available was generally of middling quality and expensive in terms of ration point requirements.
There were still clothes available through the higher end stores and the more expensive, even pre-war tailors and outfitters, that clothes could be bought from but it was off ration and as stocks diminished they were not being replaced.
As the clothing shortage continued a ‘Make Do And Mend‘ policy was adopted by the government to encourage women to recycle anything and everything. Sheets could become shirts, an old blanket could become a dressing gown, curtains could become a jacket or coat, curtain lining could be turned into shirts, blouses or underwear.
It became ‘Patriotic’ to have patches on your clothing, something to be proud of. Wasting any kind of material was akin to wasting food
Old clothing became a valuable commodity. If it could be cleaned up and repaired it was ideal, especially if it could pass from sibling to sibling when out-grown.
Older mens clothing, left behind by husbands and brothers, could be converted. A pair of long trousers, with a little judicious tailoring, could become two pairs of boys shorts while the barely soiled back of a shirt could be made into a boy’s shirt.
At a pinch a man’s jacket could be re-tailored to fit a woman or be handed over to the Womens Land Army as work clothing. It became cheaper to buy a length of cloth for around half-a-crown (2/6 or 12-and-a-half pence) a yard from the markets and make clothing rather than to buy ready-made.
With the drafting of women into the factories and other manual work, overalls and dungarees became daily wear. That eased the pressure on more presentable clothing while a head-scarf could cover the hair so that daily washing was not an absolute necessity, saving on shampoo!
Any old clothing of no further use to it’s owners was collected by the Red Cross, the Women’s Institute, Scout and Guide groups and many parish charities for supply to those unfortunates who had lost everything in the bombing.
As make-up became more scarce, charcoal could be powdered and mixed to a paste with water could become an acceptable eye-liner. Soap and refined lard, mixed with a little scented talcum powder, became a passable face cream, while coloured chalks could be powdered and mixed into numerous shades for face powder. To help the morale of both sexes there was no rationing on lipstick!