The April challenge for the HSM15 is War and Peace. The extremes of conflict or long periods of peacetime can both influence what people wear, so for this month we have to make something that shows either the effect of war or peace. My chosen period is WWII
A little bit of info about WWII fashion and rationing.
Whilst food rationing had been in place since 1940, the imposition of clothing rationing was not announced until 1 June 1941. With Great Britain effectively cut off from all supplies from Europe and a greatly diminished supply route from the USA, rationing sought to ensure a more equal distribution of what was available. Each kind of clothing was allocated a 'points' value, which was based on how much fabric it took to make and how much labour went into its manufacture. For example, a wool dress took 11 coupons compared to 2 for a pair of stockings or 8 for a pair of men's trousers. Each adult had an allowance of 66 points to last a year, but as war production increased in the run up to D Day, the allocation shrank to just 24 during 1945-6. Customers had to plan how they would use their points very carefully, and the government constantly reminded the population of the complex and difficult choices they had to make to make their clothes last.
|Photo credit Wikipedia|
As well as rationing the number of clothes people could buy, the actual designs of garments were governed by strict rules. The Making of Civilian Clothing (restriction orders) was passed in 1942; this forbade the wasteful cutting of clothes and set strictly enforced limits that tailors, dressmakers and home sewers, had to abide by. The restrictions were extensive for example, a dress could have no more than 2 pockets, 5 buttons, 6 seams in the skirt and only 2 inverted or box pleats, or 4 knife pleats. No unnecessary ornamentation or decoration was allowed.
|Utility Suit designed by Inc Soc.1942|
Collection of the V & A.
|Photo credit Imperial War Museum|
Ok, so that's quite a lot of background info on rationing! As you can tell I find this period of fashion history somewhat fascinating. I have always been in awe of the women of this period such as my Nan, who maintained their own style with such creativity and ingenuity. I wanted to make something that one of them might have actually made and worn so decided to use an actual pattern that was available during in 1942. I first saw the pattern (pictured left) in one of my many costume history books -The 1940's Lookbook by Mike Brown. As with so many period publications you can now find a copy of the original online. This pattern is available to download from Etsy here for the bargain price of £2.08. It's really very simple to follow and I made mine entirely from scraps of felt I had left over from my hat making, so definitely coupon friendly! I'm not quite sure exactly what I am going to use them for, possibly a brooch as suggested in the pattern, but I rather like them on the boater I used as a background in the pictures. Either way I am very pleased with how they turned out and will definitely be making some more.