Doesn’t this book look marvellous?
Make Do And Mend was published in the UK in 1943, by the Ministry of Information, at a time when food and clothes were rationed. The Make Do And Mend slogan summed up British life perfectly: every citizen was permitted one egg a week, a modest cube of cheese and unlimited bread and vegetables. Coupons for clothes were cut from allowance books; enterprising women supplemented these rations with garments cut from curtains, and kohl pencil lines up the backs of their legs, to look like stockings. Their cookware was handed over to be turned into aeroplanes. (And if all this wasn’t bad enough, their towns and cities were being bombed at night.)
The frugal tradition promoted by Make Do and Mend continued beyond the Second World War and into the 1950s, when the Manchester Evening News published Take a Tip : a collection of readers’ money saving titbits.
It’s funny, isn’t it? These little booklets have been hanging around for decades, unwanted and unread, gathering dust in attics and mouldering on charity shop shelves while we’ve been out spending and splurging on overpriced frivolites and cheap tat.
Now that we’re headed for a recession – a Depression, even, if the doomiest of the doom-mongers are to be believed – all these pearls of wisdom are suddenly relevant again. With our financial indexes plummeting, our markets in turmoil and our elected representatives banging heads with one another, this seems as good a time as any to dust off Make Do And Mend and revisit some of our forebears’ handiest household hints.
Here are some of my favourites:
From Make Do And Mend
Don’t waste a whole lemon if you only need a drop. Stick a skewer into the lemon and squeeze out the juice you need. Wrap the lemon in foil and keep it in the fridge.
Mend clothes before washing them as the tear or hole may become unmanageable. Keep a look out for loose buttons and other fastenings and mend at once. Save all tapes, ribbons, buttons, hooks and eyes and keep a well-stocked work basket.
Freeze leftover pieces of cake until you have enough to make a trifle.
Unwrap new soap and store it among towels and bedding. The soap will scent the linen and it will also harden making it last longer.
From Take A Tip
Leave two small dishes or bottles of disinfectant on your kitchen table and the flies will disappear. I have not had one in even during the recent heat-wave.
If you have been to the seaside in brown shoes and had sea water over them the best way to remove the stains is to dissolve a small lump of washing soda in two tablespoonfuls of hot milk.
Apply the solution to the stains by means of a rag, let it dry (a minute or two) and add a second application.
After this has dried, use ordinary shoe polish to clean them. The stains will disappear like magic.
To remove grease stains on fabric, sprinkle good coating of talcum powder over each stain. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then cover it with brown paper.
Press this with a not-too-hot iron and brush off the surplus powder and all the stains have gone.
To clean strawberries, soak them in water to which a teaspoonful of vinegar has been added. It is surprising to see what insects there are hidden in the fruit. Wash in clear water and drain though a sieve.
If the hearthrug wanders, stick the rubber rings from old jam jar lids to the corners and, at intervals along the edges, it will then stay put.
I’d love to know what you make of these! If you would like a second helping of Make Do And Mend (strictly rationed, of course), just tip me the wink..