Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Library of Dressmaking from the Interwar Period Part 4

3 Comments

This month I’m delving into the chapter entitled “Upkeep of Clothing” in the Women’s Institute library of dressmaking volume. I’m now quite used to the judgemental tone of this book. I definitely feel like a lesser mortal because of my “slovenly ways”. But if I’m going to be judged, I may as well judge myself without reserve and this month I’ve decided to make myself a checklist to compare myself to the “ideal homemaker” in the book.

Mending

The list consists of the suggestions in the book for the proper care of clothing. I’m giving myself a score between 0 and 5, with the highest score awarded when I’ve made an exemplary effort in that area and 0 when I’ve made absolutely none.

Clothes hangers

Here’s the checklist. Do you score any better than me?

Number Description Comments Score
Storage
1 Are clothes hung up in the wardrobe? I’m not too good at keeping my clothes in the wardrobe. I have a massive pile of clothes heaped up on the chair beside my bed and another pile on top of the case carrying my extra duvet. I blame the yo-yo British summers where I often have to change what I’m wearing each day to suit the weather and keep on leaving clothes I’ve worn only once on the chair. 1
2 Do I have enough hangers? Yes I do. They are nearly all wooden and I have even covered one myself. I even possess skirt hangers. Perhaps I could improve by sewing some skirt hooks into my me-made skirts. Anyway, I’m going to give myself a high mark on this. 4.5
3 Is there enough space in the wardrobe so clothes can hang properly Absolutely not. My clothes are way to squashed in and I often need to iron clothes when they come out of the wardrobe as they have got crumpled in there. I really need a big tidy up in there. 2
4 Are moth treatments used? Yes, I have some cedar wood little squares that I put in drawers and some cedar hangings that can be put on the clothes hangers. I’m not sure they are doing their job well though – I spotted lots of eggs in my woollens drawer. I gave the blocks in the woollens drawer a bit of a sand paper the other day and aired the clothes – scarves, gloves and hats. I’ll give myself a middle-range score for this, as I did tackle the woollens drawer, but really need to do the same in the wardrobe. 3
5 Do I air my clothes frequently? Actually, no, but this book is converting me on this score. It has lots of benefits including preventing discoloration, discouraging moths and preventing mould. 0
6 Do I make sure others in the house tidy their clothes away? Mr Steely is a very organised person and he doesn’t have too many clothes. Master Steely is the complete opposite, being very adept at mess, but I think we may have trained him well, as he hangs his coat up and any muddy football gear is shed near the washing machine. 4.5
Mending
7 Are my socks darned? Actually, I have darned a couple of pairs of socks this year. I still haven’t made myself any socks yet, and haven’t bought any in about 3 years, so I have to be very careful with those I do use. I still have some more to darn though. 3
8 Am I up to date with other mending jobs? No, I have a pile of these – including a crotch seem on my grey trousers which needs stitching up again. And yep, those cardigans with the holes in them. Enough said, this work is a priority! 0
9 Are my shoes and boots repaired at the heel? I don’t have many pairs of shoes or boots that can be repaired in this way, but I did get my grey boots repaired recently. I wonder if it is possible to get a whole rubber sole replaced? 2
10 Do I store shoes so that they keep their shape? Well, I don’t use shoe-trees or tissue, so I don’t think I score too well on this front! 0
11 Do I have a well-stocked mending basket? Well, I guess I do have a good sewing kit. Specifically, for mending I do have some darning wool for my socks, but no darner. 4
Wearing clothes responsibly and upkeep
12 Do I roll down tights to put them? Is there any other way to put on tights? 5
13 Do I pull off gloves gently? Yes, generally I do. I think this advice is really for leather gloves and yes I do treat those with care. 5
14 Do I take care to make sure shoes don’t get wet? This is clearly written by someone who doesn’t live in the South West of the UK. I would never venture out the house at all, if I only went out when rain wasn’t forecast. I do have a hierarchy of shoes though and I don’t wear the “best” ones in the rain unless caught unawares. Wet shoes should be dried slowly to prevent cracking, according to the book. I always make sure the shoes are never near a radiator and I leave them to dry without wearing them for a few days. 4
15 Do I polish my shoes? Occasionally – I probably could take better care of them. 1
16 Do I remove stains and spots promptly? Yes I do. I’m usually quite upset when I spill something on my clothes, so I generally try to remove it as soon as possible. 5

My total is 44 out of a possible 80 points. My challenge for the next couple of months is to try to improve on my score and I shall start with organising the wardrobe properly and doing my mending jobs.

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Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

3 thoughts on “Library of Dressmaking from the Interwar Period Part 4

  1. Really interesting post.
    I score well on some things – I’m a keen darner & mender with a well stocked basket including a lovely mushroom. I score very badly on storage – I’ve got a basket with clothes that were only worn for an hour or two – pointless really as they are usually so dusty & crumpled when they are pulled out, that they need a wash…

  2. This is really interesting! Moths are my big thing, but then months go by when I don’ t effectively look after my things. And as for the girls shoes, you an tell it is almost the end of the school year by looking at their shoes, urgh! I like this list ALLOT and need to take note.

    • Yes, it has been useful for me going through this too. I may even give myself an extra point. I managed to sew name labels onto uniform items for next year and mend my grey trousers – result!

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