Make Do and Mend


Hey folks. Did any of you catch that BBC TV series called ‘Back in time for the weekend‘? I stumbled across it while I was resting in bed one day. I was lying under my hand made patchwork quilt (made a few years ago from fabric scraps) while I darning my favourite and very worn out cardigan.97130802-944a-4641-b6bd-1beeca97573b I found the whole series really fascinating; a family of four living in London underwent an experiment to live in each era from the 1950′s right through to the 90′s.

They lived one year each day over the course of a summer; their home was completely transformed at the beginning of each ‘decade’ to look in keeping with each era. And that was fun to watch in itself; with each new decade came new wallpaper and furnishings that made me laugh out loud in recognition, especially the psychedelic prints of my 70′s childhood!

They also dressed according to the right styles, played the family roles they would have played and were introduced to each new piece of technology as it would have emerged in this time-lapsed version of reality.

What became apparent over the course of the decades, was that the 50′s was a very austere time, where women slaved all day, every day, with household chores such as hand-washing, cleaning, mending and cooking from scratch. And as time went on, new technology liberated women from this drudgery, such as the arrival of the washing machine. This created the opportunity for women to work outside the home and for more leisure time in general.

But by the 80′s technology was developing so fast that their shed was filling up with old obsolete electrical goods, and their leisure time was dominated more and more with electrical entertainment.

9875fffd-ff77-423e-a944-597042f543aeIn the 50′s women might have spent their evenings sitting and darning a cardigan, or sewing up the hem on a dress. And men might have spent a Saturday afternoon making a new table. But by the 80′s and 90′s it was just easier to replace items with cheap new imports. Capitalism was in full swing and we were being persuaded by advertising to buy more and more products.

It was really interesting that in their 70′s decade, the family had the most freedom and leisure time together as a family and looked back on that as a golden era. It was a time when children played out in the street together unsupervised, men were more involved in family life because of the 3 day week, and women got to go out to work. It was a time of low-tech fun and they also got to go on a camping holiday together.

The final episode was about where we are now and what the future might bring for the British family. It was expected that there would now be a backlash against the consumerist ideal of past eras, and people would search for ways to make do and mend things once again. This was partly to do with rising awareness about how our consumer habits were having a detrimental effect on the environment, and partly to do with people being more conscious of cost since the recession hit.

I found an article that seems to echo this message – The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again. Apparently mending and repairing is now a huge growth industry in need of people with those skills.

89ce847e-defd-4aeb-8f3a-193c0c2b9bdcOf course you guys are probably already mending your clothes and reusing and repurposing things, but I find it interesting that it’s becoming mainstream and has now gained more value there. I think people nowadays are more likely to buy one item of quality that will last them years and can be repaired, than something that’s cheap and poor quality – and quickly replaceable.

Maybe even, a darned cardigan has a kind of ‘make do and mend sheik’ to it these days? Will we wear our mended, darned and patched clothes with pride? I’m certainly glad that I can carry on wearing my favourite cardigan, now without big holes in the elbows and without ragged cuffs!

By the way I’m now on Instagram so check me out here.


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