Striving for Victory – Fashion on the Ration and how to save your clothing ration coupons.

Go Through Your Wardrobe - Make-Do and Mend

H and I are bringing a little 1942 into our lives by rationing our clothes, just like they did in World War Two.  I made an error in my last post and allotted us each 66 coupons. However, I didn’t realized that in 1942, the amount was cut to 48 coupons.  Sorry H! Maybe these tips will help keep you make the most of your 48 coupons.

Secondhand

One way women on the home front extended their clothing ration was to shop for second hand goods.  Secondhand goods could be purchased off the ration so long as they cost less than a set amount. If they more than the set amount, then they required the same number of ration coupons as a brand new item.

From: Make do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations

To a couple of Canadian girls in 2018, these prices don’t mean much.  I used an online inflation calculator to figure out the maximum price for each item in 2018 Pounds and an online calculator to convert Pounds to Canadian Dollars.   H and I will be using this chart when determining if we need to turn in any of our ration coupons when shopping at our favorite thrift stores: Second Hand Goods in Canadian 2018 Dollars 

These are my lovely new rubber boots from our local thrift store.  According to my chart, if they had cost more than $24.30, I would have had to surrender 4 coupons.  But they were only $3.00 so no ration coupons were required!

To my eyes, those prices seem more than reasonable as I can find nice articles of clothing for those prices quite easily at my local thrift store.  Prices may be higher in your location or at consignment stores.

 

H pointed out that another source of second hand goods can be found in the closets of your friends and family.  Borrowing clothing is an option – just remember to clean articles before returning them.  One fun way to borrow or swap clothes between friends is to host a Naked Lady party.

Make do and Mend

The “Make do and Mend” campaign is perhaps, one of the most well known conservation campaigns of the second world war. Information on how to restyle old articles of clothing, household linens, and even old parachutes, was published in newspapers, women’s magazines, and in leaflets written by the British Ministry of Information.  Many of the tips are as useful today as they were in 1942. The Sunny Stitcher has pdfs of some of these leaflets and another example can be found here:

One tip was to learn how to mend.  Learning how to sew on a button, darn your socks, fix a zipper, and hem  a pair of pants will save you money while extending the life of your wardrobe.

Another tip that I have used is to use old household linens to make your own clothes.  My new WW2 utility apron was created using a free vintage pattern and a couple of old pillow cases.

Old sheets, along with other household linens. can be recycled into many useful items.

Old sweaters from secondhand stores and your closet are another source of material.  I have frogged sweaters made with high end yarn to crochet more appropriate articles of clothing. A good tutorial for frogging sweaters can be found here:

From: https://moralefiber.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/absolutelyeverything.jpg?w=676&h=965

Personally, I love old tshirts. H is currently working on turning her old tshirts into a rug – I am hoping for a picture when she is done! I like old tshirts because I rely on them as a source of material for hankies, camisoles, and undies.

Sometimes living in 2018 is just a little like living in 1942.

Leave a comment and tell us your tips for making the most of your clothing. Or, post a picture to instagram with the hashtag #strivingforvictory of your make do an mend creations.


If you want to join in, please do! We would love to hear about your experiences. If you have a wartime story to tell, please leave a comment. Stories are an important way to keep the memories of our mothers and grandmothers alive. And one more request, if you enjoy or find value in any of our posts, please consider making a donation to Sheepdog Lodge to support those for whom the horrors of war are not in the past.

 

8 Comments

  1. I do like your apron, what a great use of material!

    I am a bit of a sewing noob myself not having done a lot of it ever.

    I do buy a great deal of clothes and shoes second hand in charity shops and from flea markets. That way you know you will get something unique, you support a charity and you help the environment by reusing, rather than buying new.

    Clothes and t-shirts that are way way past their best are cut up and become rags and dishcloths.

    If I have the will to live this summer I may well take some of Husbands woolen socks and find a guide on YouTube showing me how to darn them, as some have holes in them now I can imagine could be darned easily.

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    1. Thanks Silveryew. I prefer “Finnish darning” to the more common style of darning. I find it works better for me. I think I included it as a hyperlink. If you can’t find it, let me know and I will repost it. If you darn so that all your work is on the right side of the sock, then it will be comfortable enough to wear regardless of what it looks like, which won’t matter so much because its a sock after all and hidden in a shoe. Hang tight, summer will come and living will get a little easier.

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  2. That inflation calculator is a great tool! I have been playing around with it, plugging in my numbers, and found it very accurate to my income/expenditure tracking these last 20 years. It’s really sobering to see it on the screen all official like! No wonder I have been tweaking my budget like mad and still pinching pennies.

    You did a great deal of work bringing that rationing chart up to today’s costs…thanks for that. Checking on what a basic wage was during the war, I realized how costly goods were back then in relation to income.
    Rationing was a real hardship on top of that imbalance. I need to find some figures for food in the US and Canada for that time and see how that plays out price wise for basic food stuffs against the income as well.

    Enjoying this challenge and appreciating all your work.

    Like

  3. I agree, living in 2018 often feels like living in the 1940s. Just goes to show you that being thrifty never goes out of fashion. It just gets a new name.

    I’m currently making another set of 10 undies from old t-shirts. This will be my third set in the last 9 years as they last a long time. The undies that are no longer usable are turned into rugs or rags. I cut off the elastic and will use it in place of twine if I ever need any. I am a big fan of clothing refashion and using sheets for fabric.

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    1. You are an inspiration! One of the reasons I made my first batch of tshirt undies last summer was because I was so disappointed in the quality of the undies I found in the stores. A couple of washes and the elastic would start to come apart or the seams would rip. I’m glad to hear that they will last.

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