_46277294_frontcoverHave you ever put a thought to how bananas or potatoes could help rescue a pair of battered looking shoes? Or how toothpaste could improve the scratched face of your watch?

All this know-how from the house-holds of the past can be found in Make Do and Mend, a booklet released by department store John Lewis this month. Jasmine Phillips has this review.

Containing thrifty Forties-themed advice, you will find the booklet lurking in the store’s haberdashery department, perfect for a curious vintage lover as well as those just wanting to save a bob or two.

Modelled on the original wartime pamphlets of the same name, the book aims to help people to be economical and practical with the resources they have. Within its pages vintage becomes a way of life as well as a fashion statement.

The frugal home-front facts are compiled from tips originally intended to help families with the constraints of clothes and food rationing and are joined with modernised handy hints put forward by John Lewis workers. The book’s mix of amusing and practical suggestions make a good read even if you don’t plan to put them into practise.

We are given sections from home hints and energy efficiency to fashion fixes and needlework. It suggests rubbing the inside of a banana skin onto leather shoes to act as a polish (don’t forget to buff), using half a raw potato on shoe scuffs, and gently rubbing toothpaste on your watch face to remove scratches.

Some tips are very obvious and are no doubt practised in countless homes already, but many you simply wouldn’t think to try. Although, beware, the freezer becomes a dubious quick fix for a comical amount of things in one chapter!

Interest in these wartime scrimping techniques has soared recently as people are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. “Everyone is very aware of money in the current climate and taking on the forties motto of ‘Make do and mend’ is an effective, interesting and fun way of saving a few pennies”, says haberdashery specialist, Barbara Coley, of SewGood, London.

The book also preserves British heritage as it has fixed into print the expertise of our grandmothers, which is slowly being lost with the changing times. You may question some of the seemingly hair-brained suggestions, but next time you find yourself banana skin in-hand, it can’t hurt to try, surely?

 ‘Make do and mend’ is in John Lewis stores now and is priced at £3

To download a chapter of the book, click here.

2 Responses

  1. DT

    Sounds like a great book and something that would definitely fit in today! Would love to try some of these remedies.