Saturday, 25 October 2014

1940s Fashion - Make-Do and Mend

I have just spent some of the morning at the Imperial War Museum in London. My son is going to monthly mathematics classes nearby, so my daughter and I had some time to kill. We decided to concentrate on just one small part of the museum, which was based on a real family of 10 children, their home and their experiences in World War II. We found it fascinating, partly because the family eventually moved out from central to London to the part where we live.

Clothes during World War II were typically utility clothes. They featured squared shoulders, narrow hips, and skirts that ended just below the knee. Tailored suits were the dominant form of utility fashion. Material was in short supply, and women were encouraged to make-do and mend. 

You are probably not surprised that when we got to the museum shop I was drawn to these postcards reproducing wartime propaganda posters. I am very much drawn to this idea, or as we would call it recycling, so am going to put the postcards up in my sewing room.

Women were also encouraged to knit socks for the troops. 

In a corner of one of the display cases was this sweet little needlecase, which I photographed because I thought it might be fun to try to reproduce it.

If you keep watching my blog, there will be a second part to this post on 1940s fashion.


  1. The clothes from the 1940s could have been taken right out of my mother's closet...the one she had when I was a child. I loved going into her closet and exploring the clothes, and even trying them on. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I'm so fascinated by that period in history. I think it's because my parents and grandparents lived through World War II and I was fortunate to hear all of their stories. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us. Have a great day!

  3. I love old postcards. Fab vintage dress too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a fascinating exhibit! I'd love to see this. I recently read a book that takes place in the English countryside during WWII (War Brides by Helen Bryan), and "Make Do and Mend" was mentioned many times. You might enjoy the story.
    Sandy @Texas Twang

  5. I still think "make do and mend" is a great idea. I guess because I was born just as the war ended, my parents always practiced that. When I was first married, I mended my husbands work socks. I don't any more, but I know how! :) What fun additions to you sewing room the vintage post cards will make.

  6. This is a wonderful post and it, too, reminded me of my mother's clothes. I still have a jacket of hers that I saved and has the broad shoulders and narrow waist. I use to wear it back in the nineties but now my waist has expanded and I can't button it. It's still in good condition! They just don't make clothes like that anymore. Also, thank you for visiting my post on the rope covered glass and your lovely comments. I enjoyed making the little lavender flowers and you wouldn't believe how easy they were to make. I should be posting a how-to at the end of this week. Btw, your knitting is absolutely adorable!