Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: World War II DIY

Wartime Wednesday: World War II DIY

During the 1920s a large number of women set aside their sewing machines in favor of affordable ready-made clothing. The industry boomed, and little girls stopped learning how to sew.

Then came World War II when the War Production Board issued Regulation L-85 rationing natural fibers because domestic supplies of wool, cotton, linen, rayon, silk, and nylon were diverted to the military for uniforms and supplies (tents, parachutes, etc.) To save on fabric, the War Production Board even regulated style, limited color choices, and restricting skirt length and the fullness of pants. Cuffs were prohibited, and dresses were limited to one and ¾ yards of fabric. The number of ration stamps needed for clothing was high, and people were limited on how many items they could purchase per year.

The result? It was now considered patriotic to sew. Women dragged out their sewing machines and taught their little girls how to “make do and mend.”

Patched clothing became a fad, and women would piece together garments from remnants, mixing and matching colors and patterns. Feedsacks were popular sources for aprons, dresses, and children’s play clothes. House wives would swap with friends so each woman would have enough matching sacks to create an outfit. The pattern industry boomed. Hollywood Pattern Company put a star on the upper left corner of their envelope to indicate the pattern complied with Regulation L-85. Reminiscent of pioneer times, women cut down their cast off adult clothing to make garments for their children. There were even patterns for making slippers.

Women also used their sewing skills to support the war effort directly. Projects were created and raffled to raise funds for organizations such as the Red Cross. Items were also knitted and sewn for military members as well as victims of war-torn countries. One newspaper article touts the work done by a volunteer group in Texas that created 446 woolen garments, twenty-eight knitted garments, and two quilts.

My mother is an excellent seamstress, and now an avid quilter. She made nearly everything my sister and I wore as well as our bedspreads, curtains, and chair covers. Me? I gave away a pair of pants rather than re-attach the button that had fallen off.

How about you? Do you sew or shop for your clothes?


Midwife Pia Hertz and her mother Sabine have been delivering babies long before the Nazis came to power. Now, the Third Reich has implemented mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution. Is Pia’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man?

Despite the agony of the injury at the Battle of Drøbak Sound that took his arm, Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army. He returns to Berlin and discovers Jews are being deported by the thousands. When he realizes the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. 

Inspired by the biblical story of Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who saved Jewish babies during Pharaoh’s reign, Love’s Belief shows how one person’s actions can change the world.

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  1. Even in the late 50s my mother made me some play dresses out of flour sacks. The flour companies had long before started packaging flour in percale cotton in colorful prints. Our family was large and we went through a lot of flour. One flour sack could make a little girl's top, 2 could make a dress. She also made me shorts to go with the tops. Very pretty outfits. Yes, I learned to sew and made a lot of my own clothes for a long time, including my own little girl's outfits.

  2. I guess I must've missed this era.
    I've my grandparents talk about this but that's all

    1. I missed the era too, but heard it talked about.

  3. I wish I knew more about World War II rationing while my grandmother was alive. I would have enjoyed having a discussion with her regarding wartime rationing.
    My grandmother and mother sewed a lot of our clothes. I never did learn how to sew.

    1. I missed the opportunity to talk to most of my grandparents too, but I was fortunate to get some stories from my dad's mom before she passed.