Learning from History- Part 1

Recently, I had to get new siding and windows for my house. That is a much more expensive up-date then I had originally anticipated.  Saving money to be able to pay for the siding will become a very important consideration especially in the upcoming months (years?).  I know that owning my own home is a very large investment and the siding and windows were very necessary and important investment in my home.

But another significant investment is clothing.   With today’s world of fast fashion, clothing is looked at as disposable.  Even though I sew, I probably still have that mind set.  However, I will have to put forth a more contentious effort of making what I have last longer and reducing cost.  Strategic sewing will help reduce cost like sewing bras (there will be a significant savings).  But, what I really need to focus on is making what I have last; especially those items I don’t really make right now like sweaters or pants.  The only age I know where this was essential is World War 2.  There are probably others, but those time periods didn’t advertise it as heavily or put out as much public information.

In the end, I may only end up with learning how to mend as the only applicable to my life option from this little excursion to the 1940s.  However, there may be other ideas that I can apply to my life to hopefully help me with the care of clothing.  Also, I may expand this effort to other areas of my home and blog it here in case anyone is looking for ideas.  I will start with Ministry of Information’s 1943 leaflet Make Do and Mend.

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This post will only cover the To Make Clothes Last Longer sections: “Tips on Taking Care of Clothes”, “How to Store Clothes”, and “The Moth Menace”. First off, my overall impression from this section is planning and organizing is key.  So it may be worth my time and money to invest a little here in organization while I still can so that I have the basics.  As of right now, my closet probably falls under the category of being a mess.  It would probably give a 1940’s housewife a heart attack.  I thought about putting a picture of my closet in the post, but in the end it just felt too personal and unsafe thing to do.

I understand that a typical 1940’s housewife may not have the option as I do to right now of investing in organization, but hopefully it will end up being money well spent.

“Tips on Taking Care of Clothes” is probably the most useful part right now from the three. The one I never really thought about was mend your clothes before washing.  I don’t always make time to mend something so I will often throw it in the wash; so it can be clean while it is waiting to be mended.  Tip three was don’t throw your clothes in a heap.  I will have to try to work on this one.  Right now, I will admit I am very guilty of putting clothes in a pile on the dresser and putting them away later when there are more items.

Tip five was removing stains when they occur and tip eight is never let any clothing get really dirty. Usually for my clothing, I just pre-treat then put the item in the hamper.  Another helpful hint was using clean white blotting paper and an iron to get out grease stains.  Right now, if a stain doesn’t come out after wash (usually grease related), I soak the item in Oxy-clean.  An iron and blotting paper may be gentler on the fabric.

The last tip was using dress shields. After a quick look on the internet, it looks like most of the dress shields ready available now are adhesive based.  I honestly am not sure if the adhesive would pull fibers out of the fabric and cause wear and tear on the fabric.  If that happens then you are looking at having to mend wherever the adhesive is at.  This tip may just be obsolete based on our modern convenience society or require more searching.

“How to Store Clothes” stresses that you need to make sure everything is clean before storing it, do not store in a damp place, and tacking down features like pleats, pockets and plackets.  The other tips included storing clothes uses newspaper to protect the clothing from creasing when it is folded or hung which don’t make much sense to me.  Wouldn’t ink from the paper get onto the clothing and ruin them?  I know that there are occasions where ink gets on my hands when I am folding up the newspaper for Lala’s litter pan.

“The Moth Menace” section kind of made me wonder if I really don’t realize that I have moths ruining my clothes or that moths just don’t live in Kansas. I keep envisioning an army of moths waiting for the 1940’s housewife to close the wardrobe door before they invade.  As I have severe allergies, I cannot follow the recommendation of airing your clothing out in the sunlight outdoors.  It also recommends cleaning out and scrubbing the closet and drawers.  Make Do and Mend doesn’t give exact guidelines on how often to scrub down closets/ drawers, but going off the first bullet, is it supposed to be once a month when you air your clothing outdoors in the sunlight?  Only the second tip was very useful as it gives a general description of moth grubs and eggs plus how to remove them from clothing.  Overall, this section wasn’t as helpful for me and I may look more towards modern methods of moth control.

Before moving on to the next section, I will need to look into some more organization for my closet, modern means of moth prevention, making a laundry folding aid ( I will try to post how I made it), and a general closet clean out.

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