Thursday, 20 September 2012

Make do and mend

The Women's Institute is turning out to be everything that I hoped it would be. The knitting and stitching circle is a twice monthly treat, I have met so many fascinating and incredible women, made new friends and last night Judi Knight kindly shared her wealth of knowledge with our Jubilee WI. Dressed in a pinny, with ritzy victory rolls, Judi was a master at the art of public speaking. She clearly had a passion for Make do and mend but there was no glamorization of the WW2 Home Front fashions. The thought provoking talk made me once again question why our world today has become such a 'throw away' society. I would not do well living in a time where food and clothing were rationed however I can't help wondering whether having whatever we like at our disposal makes us forget not only how truly lucky we are but stops us really appreciating what we do have. I am all for the War on Want and hope that my thrifty and make do and mend fascination is not part of a passing fad but an inherited genetic makeup bestowed upon me by my Grandmother.

 I loved my Grandmother dearly and had an enormous amount of admiration for her Make do and mend attitude. She is pictured above with her elder sister and was married at the start of the Second World War. Just as Judi Knight explained last night, fabric was scarce during the war and rationed, making it practically impossible to come by oodles of white finery to fashion into a traditional wedding dress. Instead many women choose to invest their clothing tokens on a well made and good quality skirt suit that could be worn well beyond that special day.

 I don't have a copy of the photo of my Grandma on her wedding day but I remember it clearly. It was a simple snapshot and my grandmother was wearing an incredibly stylish skirt suit. She was a seamstress by trade and I used to spend hour upon hour in her sewing room. She explained to me about the importance of quality fabric, tailoring and the cut of the clothing. When I was a growing up, she always wore a smart tailored skirt and made all of her own suits. She would be flabbergasted by the amount that today's bride spends on her wedding dress.

I remember my Grandma darning and patching linen for a local hotel. There was always a large pile of beautifully thick and luxurious sheets, pillowcases, tableclothes and napkins in her sewing room. I wonder if hotels still get the holes in their linen darned or whether worn sheets are just another casualty of the disposal world in which we now live. I'm very pleased to say that my own wedding dress was handmade by my mother and lined with an old linen tablecloth that she was given as a wedding present.

Thank you kindly to Judi Knight for her completely brilliant and fabulous talk. I adored the idea of fair isle knitting being a way to use up scraps of wool and will endeavor to give it a whirl. She has inspired me to move even further away from the high street and its relations with sweatshops and exploitation and closer to the handmade, thrifted and my favourite of all, Vintage!

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  1. Would love to see a photo of you in your wedding dress!

    1. I will have to dig one out although I am not sure that there is a very good picture of the actual dress though

  2. Excellent piece as always. Well done, so glad you are enjoying WI, Emma xx

    1. Thank you Emma, I really do enjoy, you ladies are doing a brilliant job x


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