the anti-catalog; and not the Crafts Department either

Well, I thought we were due for another visit to the Crafts Department, and I had in mind making productive use of hole-y cotton tees and runny tights by turning them into hypo-allergenic, non-sectarian vegan festive holiday decorations. Well may you ask – the idea was to create brightly colored vegetable shapes by rolling up some of the strange orange-y pink and off-green tees of the past few seasons, into shapes resembling carrots, turnips and such, add strands of green tees for leafy veggie tops, plump out in places with shredded tights, stitch closed and display in basket away from real food. You did ask, and I may still cover this, but ...

Naturally I got sidetracked, which to my mind is one of the best parts of crafting. For a different project, I've been reading about rationing and making do in England during WW II. On the Home Front, just about everything was rationed, including most kinds of clothing. This meant it was of course more than difficult to buy new things, and many departments of the government were kept busy issuing pamphlets in which they urged people to use what they had, make things over, patch things, re-sew, re-knit, hang in fresh air to avoid mildew and so on. As you might expect, by people they meant women. (In all fairness, I must note that most of the men were busy with fighting the war). Recently, a number of these pamphlets have been re-issued in replica, to help folks round the world cope with a contracting economy, and terrifying reading they are. Kind of the Anti-Catalog.

Anyway, while contemplating some male government official's bright idea that the shabby worn-out bits of Blouse A could be cut away and the remains used to trim up the shabby worn-out bits of Blouse B, I realized that the illustrations of the results of this technique were strangely familiar. Strangely Familiar in the sense of the regular "You Look Familiar, Haven't I Seen You Someplace...."

which is a regular feature on the lovely "Fabulous Florida Mommy" blog and which only goes to show that there is nothing new in fashion. Ever. It also goes to show that you really shouldn't have to pay $298 plus tax and shipping for item 37427 of the JCrew Spring catalog, at least not if you have an economical and thrifty British great-aunt with a capacious attic.

To the left: the 1940 look
the 2011 look , on the right

Update Monday night: as I was putting my catalog and anti-catalog away, I noticed another eerie coincidence, which I reproduce below:

I ♥JCrew shirt, Left, 2010-11

♥-shaped "Dutch-patches," Right, 1940. The patch on the skirt is a pocket.

Did chic-starved English girls rush to decorate themselves by tacking bits of worn-out schmattas on their chests? I have not yet read that anyone actually did this. I have read, and heard, that many used eyebrow pencils up the backs of their legs to fake stocking seams, which gave a much more alluring effect.

Update Wednesday morning: DaniBP, most of the pamphlets, including a doozy on saving fuel, are collected in a book called Make Do and Mend, which I bought from (anglophone side). I also bought a separate pamphlet, also called Make Do and Mend, from (anglophone), the pink one shown above. This is the collection:


  1. WFF they should call you "well said Fred" crack me up every time. Thanks for the smile!

  2. Oh my, laughing hysterically. Envisioning the whole first paragraph, and then the denouement - exactly what I needed a the end of a long day with dishes and vacuuming to look forward to.

  3. I updated the post Monday night - glad you're enjoying!

  4. Haha, that shirt made me think of elementary school heart patches

  5. Excellent! I agree that you are WellSaidFred.

  6. And where did you find these awesome pamphlets?

  7. Hilarious, like always! You should add the shearling coat here, lol.


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