From the Australian Women’s Weekly, February 1940 –
Tag Archives: vintage fashion
We hear a lot about ‘Make do and Mend’ during Wartime, especially when clothing rationing was in effect, but maybe you haven’t heard about sewing bees. Quilting Bees were popular in America in the early 1800’s, as a way for women to meet others and tackle large quilts that would be cumbersome by themselves. They provided socialization, friendship, wisdom and sharing of supplies and tools, and basically involved a group of women getting together and sewing.
The first mention I have found of a wartime Sewing Bee is in this article from December 1939 –Red Cross Sewing Bees see to become popular in Australia. Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) was probably the one who began to make Sewing Bees popular in England and Australia during the War, forming a Red Cross Sewing Bee for the women of the royal household at the palace each week from as early as November 1939. You can also watch a little video her Great Sewing Bee of 1939 here.
This article from the American Woman’s Weekly in March 1942 is a little different, as rationing is not really mentioned, and the ladies are sewing more for themselves than the troops, but it is interesting to ‘see’ these ladies in action at their sewing bee.
Sewing Bees are obviously meant to be a cooperative event. There is a recent British TV show called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ which is a reality TV contest type show, which to me loses the point of sewing bees, but you can watch it here.
Have you joined a Sewing Bee or thought of doing so? Tips for joining an online sewing bee can be found here.
More January fashions, this time from 1940, and Summer in Australia. The war had only been going a few months at this stage and long and full skirts are still popular.Fasjion patterns are still being sold for the making of new garments, still using quite a bit of fabric. I love the school tunics! Frocks for maids (teenagers) and children – love the check playsuit
I think it’s a great 50s style dress, and a wonderful foile for that stunning fascinator. It’s also quite demure, which made a nice change from many of the dresses on show – do we really need to see bosoms in daylight Girls?
Back during WWII, a sleeveless dress would not have been considered demure. Sleeves were either long or just above elbow length. Hats were either pillbox small or large brimmed, and fascinators were strictly evening attire. In 1940, “frocks were subtly flattering.”
Girls may have bought a new outfit for the Cup, but it would be a daytime dress or suit that they could wear again and again. Hats were often simple ones tricked up at home with netting, ribbon and feathers. Not many women would have spent a weeks wages on a hat or fascinator.
Many girls would have made their own dress – or got there mum to make it! These patterns from 1940 could be made and worn to the races.
Good on Emily and her mum for bringing home dress making into the news!
Coco Chanel always believed a suit to be the best investment a woman could make. I would love a nice suit, but here in North Queensland the jacket is only worn when the air-con is too cold, or in the middle of winter. I am planning a trip down south in Autumn, though, so I may invest! I am tossing up between a 40s style suit from UK small business HeyDay Vintage, and a 50s style suit from Aussie company Bombshell Vintage (who also does make to order). In the meantime, here is some suit advice from February 1942 –
Do your thoughts turn to fashion at the end of the year? “What will we be wearing next year”, or “what can I do to spruce up my wardrobe”? During the war years women planned their wardrobes ahead, making what they needed, improving last years models where they could. Here are some ideas from December 1941.
- Lipstick refills to conserve vital metals, 1942 (thewartimewoman.wordpress.com)
During the war fabric was rationed in Australia as well as in the war zone – it was needed ‘for our boys’ – silk for parachutes, drill for uniforms and wool for overcoats. Women not only ‘made do and mended’, they became creative in using the bits and pieces of fabric they had to make new garments, with with patchwork, or in creations like these.
Australian Women’s Weekly, October 1942