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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Make Do and Mend

Yesterday I bought a great British magazine called Selvedge. It's not new but I had never seen it before as it is quite expensive and I guess a lot of newsagents here don't bother to stock it. The issue I bought was No 32 and it has some great articles in it about textile use/creation during World War II. One such article explores the role of embroidery in wartime from the homefront - where it served to calm nerves, boost morale, extend the lives of clothes and provide 'a happy outlet for my love of finish and gracious living' (Eustace Woods) - to the prisoner of war camps in Singapore where it served a very different function being used by Day Joyce as a 'hand-steadying, mind-employing, secret thought recorder'.

Another article explores the trade in luxury goods that continued throughout the War for those who could afford it. Companies such as Burberry, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason offered things such as torches and pocket flasks made of silver and crocodile skin to make your night in the Anderson shelter more comfortable while Saville Row tailors kept officers in bespoke suits and formal outfits. One company even offered a silk-lined, calf leather, gold-buckled gas mask in place of the cardboard ones issued by the government. It's hard to fathom why anyone would believe that they needed one of these either to keep up appearances or to increase their chances of survival in a bombing raid isn't it? Some things money just can't buy.

If you would like to find out more about the whole 'make do and mend' ethos you should check out Mrs Sew & Sew a blog created by the Imperial War Museum in London. Sadly Mrs Sew & Sew seems to have stopped blogging but it still worth a look for the interesting posts and links.


  1. Hi Caz, thankyou for leaving such an encouraging message on my blog! It really made my day. Your blog is gorgeous, and I love the make do and mend ethos. Shall check out Mrs Sew and Sew.
    Andrea (cloudbusting)

  2. Thanks Andrea. I meant what I said!