Early on in World War II, people knew that supplies of things were going to be limited. Maybe they had seen the example of Great Britain and how the people there were suffering through shortages of food, fuel, and clothing.
This booklet was published in 1942, during the early days of the United States’ involvement in the war. Published by the Spool Cotton Company, in fifty pages it showed consumers the types of conservation it would take to defeat Japan and Germany. The instructions are practical, but with a touch of whimsy.
There might not be enough cloth to make a new dress, but a fresh white collar of frills might serve the same purpose. There is also a section on trimming hats and making “trifles” such as crochet pockets, necklaces, and buttons.
In a time when having extra garments was a real luxury, many men in uniform had their civilian wardrobes appropriated for other uses. Men’s suits of the late 1930s were baggy, and so there was plenty of fabric to make over into a woman’s suit. My booklet shows four different ways to lay out the pattern to maximize the use of the available fabric.
Here is one suggested layout. It’s a good thing that skirts had gotten to be very narrow. Interestingly, none of the layouts showed pants for women.
Men’s shirts weren’t safe from the scissors either. The cotton fabric not only made good underwear and play clothes for the children, a careful cutter could get enough fabric to make a blouse for herself.
There is also a great emphasis on mending, and there are some interesting but practical solutions to wardrobe problems, everything from adding a band of contrasting fabric on the skirt hem of a growing girl to making a knitted patch.
Yes, the Consumer’s Victory Pledge was a real thing. It was re-printed often in booklets like mine, in magazines, and on posters.
This poster is in the US Archives. Actually, that would be a pretty good pledge to try today.