The term “Make do and Mend” originates from 1940’s Britain when rationing was at it’s highest during and even after the Second World War. The expression means to make use of what you already have and to mend and recycle possessions rather than buying new ones.
Postcards, posters, pamphlets and books were printed and given out to encourage the people of Britain to reuse fabrics, fix rips and adapt existing clothing.
Production for everyday wear had dramatically declined during this time as funding the war effort took priority. The government introduced The Utility Clothing Scheme, a system that had strict rules and regulations regarding fabrics and clothing construction. It was a time of austerity, however the “Make do and Mend” movement brought forth a sense of community as well as individuality in style and creativity.
This endearing image of a group of ladies in the 1940’s gathered around a table to sew together, shows solidarity and a community spirit. Sewing in a group brought people together and made it a fun activity where they could bounce ideas off each other, chit chat about their lives and create friendships.
People found innovative ways to create something new from something old and used their imaginations. Women’s skirts were made from old men’s suits and uniforms, and underwear was created from recycled parachute silk.
Making do and mending was a necessity and a way of life in the 1940’s, however it also brought consciousness and people were not wasteful. In today’s society where mass production, cheap labor and excessive buying are very prominent, implementing the “Make do and Mend” methods can do wonders for the economy, your creativity and your bank accounts!
Article written by Mariya Ivanova, January 2017