Friday, 17 April 2009

Slippers and patches

I've made some lovely pamphlets - thought you might like to see them! Apparently, if you "click" on them they'll get bigger...hope that makes sense. We've got advice on patching shirts, how to darn holes and, best of all, how to make your own slippers!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Penny wise

Here in 1943, we have something called a Fuel Saving Scheme – we’re encouraged to switch off our lights when they’re not in use. And the focus isn’t just on our homes; we’re encouraged to turn off lights at work as well. It makes a lot of sense – our boys on the front line need the fuel for battle more than we do for reading.

The museum in 2009 has sent me a list of things that often get left ‘on’ in your time – if you don’t know what any of these are, don’t ask me! I’m just repeating what I’m told. Heaven only knows what a “computer” is, it sounds very confusing! And as for washing machines – they sound wonderful!
  • Computer – the older they are, the more power they use when in standby mode. Turn off your home and office machines when not being used.
  • Printer (often left on standby)
  • Television (often left on standby)
  • Lights (at work and at home. If you’re in an office and don’t have control over the lights, ask management)
  • Phone chargers (they still draw a charge even when the phone isn’t connected)
And here are some other helpful tips:
  • Use energy saving lightbulbs
  • Use a kettle to boil water that’s going to be used on the stove – it takes less time and is more efficient
  • Consider whether you could wear your clothes more often between washes. If they don’t smell and don’t look dirty, think twice! And try to only do full loads.
  • Electricity usually becomes cheaper after 9pm – save jobs like using the washing machine until late in the day. Some washing machines have a timer so their cycle can coincide with the start of the next day.
Hope you find those helpful!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Communal sewing

The lovely people – and they are lovely, trust me! – at the Imperial War Museum have asked me to let you know about a special sewing event taking place there over the next few days. Apparently, if you arrive between 11am and 5pm, from today until Tuesday 14 April (inclusive), there’ll be a communal sewing activity! What fun!

To celebrate, I’ve passed them some of my handy tips and these will be passed on if you can make it.

And it’s completely free to get in!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Don’t be fuelish!

Today I’ve got just one simple idea for saving on fuel. You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating!

Here’s the tip: walk or cycle short distances rather than taking public transport. Not only does this get you fit, and maybe save you money, but it also makes space on the buses and trains for people taking longer journeys. Less people means less need for more vehicles burning fuel.

Also, if, like me, you live in wonderful London, you’re missing all sorts of lovely attractions as you zoom around town in buses or trains. We’ve got so many wonderful buildings, many of which bear closer inspection as they’ve got lovely architectural flourishes around the roof and pillars. Try taking a few different routes between regular destinations and see what you can find!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Top tips for children

Here are two wonderful posters showing what children can do to help the war effort - every little helps! (Click to enlarge)

Monday, 6 April 2009

Make Do And Mend!

I’ve already mentioned the ‘Make Do And Mend’ video in my telegram about Recycling Clothes. Well, here are some more tips!

Try making the most of your existing wardrobe by customizing or adapting clothes to fit current trends, and repair items that are in need of a new button or zip. And if you’re ready to clear your wardrobe, why not organise a clothes-swapping party with your friends? As a last resort, you could see if your local charity shop will take them.

If you’ve got clothes that need mending, make sure you do this before you wash them – washing can often make damage worse.

Don’t throw your clothes down in a heap when you take them off – they’ll last longer if you shake them well and put them straight on hangers, as well as keeping their shape! The thicker and rounder the hanger, the better. Make sure any buttons are done up too, before you put them on the hanger.

Never let clothes get really dirty, as dirt damages the fabric – clean or wash clothes as soon as they get dirty. Dirt attracts moths!

Hope these are helpful – more tips to come!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Five Inches of Water

Hopefully everyone knows how much five inches is! I’m told that the Imperial War Museum in 2009 has an exhibit showing what a home of today looks like, including a bathroom showing a bath with 5” (12cm) of water – it isn’t much! But it’s just enough to get clean I suppose…

Here’s a lovely video that helps explain.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Fishnet girdles and peg bags!

In case you’ve ever wanted to make your own fishnet girdle – and I know I have! – Doreen down the road has dug out this article from Woman Magazine a few years ago, complete with a lovely design for a bag!

Also these instructions for making a lovely peg bag came from a more recent issue of Woman’s Pictorial:

Waste not, want not!

I sent an earlier telegram explaining how we make the most of our scraps (saving them for council pigs). Here’s another Food Flash on the subject:

Monday, 30 March 2009

Recycling your clothes

Keeping clothes looking nice can be hard. Moths love laying their eggs in your clothes when they’re in storage, which can ruin your favorite coat in no time. Plus just through normal wear and tear, holes develop and wool can wear thin – especially where the children are concerned!

But don’t throw away those old clothes just yet – there are ways to get some more wear out of them. If it’s made of wool, you might even be able to unravel the wool back into a ball and make something new. Holes can be fixed. And the Ministry of Supply has made this wonderful little film explaining how to make your clothes go further!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Make your own tea cosy!

One of my neighbours, Doris, enjoys making things out of old material - she cut this article out of Modern Woman magazine, and I thought you might enjoy it!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

We love our council pigs!

Now that we’re on rations and it’s less easy to bring in food from abroad, we’re all very sensitive about waste. It’s more important than ever that we preserve food properly, and even things like potato peelings can be put to good use.

It’s now all the fashion to keep your own hens, chickens and even pigs. And if you don’t have your own animals, you can drop your food waste either at the local ‘pig club’ or drop it in the council pig bin.

The pig clubs are run on a co-operative basis, and they’re a wonderful way to increase the amount of meat available to the community. Even His Majesty King George VI has joined a pig club – it really is all the rage!

I’ve managed to get hold of some photos for you. Below, WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service) salvage workers Kathleen Kent (left) and Winifred Jordan are collecting a pig food bin from outside some houses. They are just about to empty the salvaged kitchen scraps into their trailer. On the side of the trailer is the painting of a cartoon pig, preparing to eat, which is the emblem of the pig food campaign.

Scraps for council pig bins

And in the below photo, members of the East Barnet WVS pig food collection unit watch as a group of Large White pigs enjoy their evening meal, made from the salvaged kitchen scraps they have collected.

Guides visiting pig bins

And here’s one of the local girls giving a helping hand!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Just Add Water!

Adding water, left, right and centre!

You can see more food flashes like this on the "youtube"!

Friday, 20 March 2009


There's been a rationing system for quite some time now. Not sure if you’ve got something similar in 2009, but it’s a big part of our life here. It’s hard figuring out how to keep varied meals on the table, but we can rise to the challenge!

Most adults get this much each week (soldiers and their families get more):
  • Bacon and ham: 4ozs (100g)
  • Meat to the value of 1s.2d (I gather that’s £1.50 in your day). Sausages and offal aren’t included in the ration, but they are difficult to obtain.
  • Butter: 2ozs (50g)
  • Cheese: 2ozs (50g)
  • Margarine: 4ozs (100g)
  • Cooking fat: 4ozs (100g). Sometimes this goes down to 2ozs, though.
  • Milk: 3 pints, sometimes dropping to 2 pints. You can get dried milk as well, though.
  • Sugar: 8ozs (225g)
  • Preserves: 1lb (450g) every two months
  • Tea: 2ozs (50g)
  • Eggs: 1 egg a week, but sometimes there’s a shortage. We get one packet of dried eggs every four weeks.
  • Sweets: 12ozs (350g) every four weeks
It’s amazing what you take for granted until you can’t have as much as you want. Fortunately, the Ministry of Information has created a book called Wise Eating in Wartime which helps us make the most of things.

We’re all short of food, so most people look for other ways to bring in more. I’ve already mentioned an allotment, that’s one good way. There’s a healthy black market and barter system (a not-quite-legal way of getting round rationing!). And Doris, who lives on my street, works at a local restaurant and has been known to smuggle salmon home in her underwear! Honestly, the lengths some people go to...

Growing your own vegetables

The sun’s come out, spring is here, and it’s time to plant some vegetables! It’s much easier than you might think. You don’t need an allotment (although that helps) – you could be growing your own yummy parsnips, carrots and potatoes in a window box or small patch of garden.

Allotments are very popular here. There were 815,000 allotments in the UK in 1939, and they say it’s now 1,400,000 in 1943. Even the Royal Parks and Kensington Gardens are being converted into allotments!

It’s hardly surprising – it’s such a good way to get cheap and tasty food on the table.

The Ministry of Information has put together a wonderful clip showing how to get this done:

Go on, what are you waiting for? And if you’re doing it already, what vegetables are working best for you?

Hello m' dears!

Mrs Sew&Sew here, reporting from the home front in 1943! The nice people at the Imperial War Museum (yes, it's even around in our day) have given me a special typewriter, so I can send you telegrams from here. Don't worry, we've set it up so your replies get sent through to me as well, so feel free to have a chat!

I've got no idea how this technology works, though. It's all a big mystery to me. I just type stuff in here, and it gets sent to 2009. I don't even have to turn a handle. So I might not be able to answer any questions about how all this works, but I'll do my best anyway.

So, a little bit of information about myself. The other women in our street and I spend a lot of time thinking up ways to save money and make the most of our rations and other scarce resources. We've got to – there's a war on, after all! Anyway, someone at the Ministry of Information heard about this, and they've asked me to share our ideas with everyone. So that's what I do. The campaign is called 'Make Do and Mend', and I appear in all sorts of magazines and advice centres.

I've heard there's some kind of problem with the banks in 2009, so maybe some of these ideas will come in handy there too. Do let me know if you have any great ideas I can pass onto my neighbours. Or even if they're not relevant in my time, let me know anyway, and I'll pass them back to all the lovely people in your time.

Oh, one last thing! I've been asked to let you know that the people at the Imperial War Museum have created something called a "Youtube channel" for film. If I find anything interesting here that I think would be good there, I'll ask the Museum if they can add them to my telegrams. All very clever, isn't it?

Right, better go – it's dusk, so all the lights need to be turned off for the blackout. Bye for now!