Fashion on the Ration!
What is Fashion on the Ration?
The Fashion on the Ration (FOTR) challenge is my attempt to spend one year shopping and sewing within the British wartime clothing ration imposed in 1941.
How does it work?
I’ve allotted myself 66 clothing “coupons” — the 1941 ration for each man, woman and child in Britain. Like the original, my ration will have to last me one year — from January 23, 2010 to January 22, 2011. Armed with my ration, my stash, period tips and techniques and modern style advice, I will upgrade my everyday wardrobe while sewing a wartime mini-wardrobe from vintage patterns and style sources.
What items will be rationed?
The same things that were rationed in 1941 — new ready-made clothes and shoes, most fabric, and thrifted clothes and shoes above a certain price threshold.
Sample coupon values for some common garments:
- Skirt, non-wool — 4 coupons
- Wool or wool-blend trousers — 8 coupons
- Dress, non-wool — 7 coupons
- Stockings — 3 coupons
- Pair of boots or shoes — 5 coupons
- Fabric, non-wool, 44″ wide — 2.5 coupons per yard
What’s not on the ration?
Goods that were unrationed at the time and, because I want to keep my friends, anything bought or made for others.
Some goods exempt from rationing in 1941:
- Blackout material
- Bias binding
Will you cheat?
Hopefully not. There were numerous perfectly legitimate ways of coping with clothing rationing — from thrifting to sewing with unconventional fabrics to raiding your boyfriend’s closet. In extremis, I may resort to the black market option by “buying” extra coupons at the rate of a £5 donation to charity per coupon. A little fiddling is, after all, 100% authentic!
- Coupons remaining on January 22, 2011: 7.5
- Simplicity 3935: the sabotage skirt (1940s pattern)
- Simplicity 4817: the 99 Barrage Balloons blouse (1940s pattern)
- Hot Patterns 1011: the Red Tree skirt (modern pattern)
- Bestway 19665: the jitterbug dress (1940s pattern)
- Simplicity/EvaDress 3322: those high lonesome pants (1940s pattern)
- Burda 7866: the Revenge top (modern pattern)
- Self-drafted: the joy of suck skirt
- McCall’s 9087: the Alain’s psychedelic breakfast dress (1960s pattern)
- Burda 7517: the curtains dress (modern pattern)
- Various refashions
- Black knee-high boots from Duo, 5 coupons
- Cherry-red vintage 1940s heels from Fraulein Marlene, 5 coupons
- 2.75 yards of cotton pique from Fashion Fabrics Club, 9 coupons
- 1.75 yards of cotton/viscose twill from Cloth House, 6 coupons
- Skinny jeans from 7 for All Mankind, 5 coupons
- Sleeveless cotton top from Anthropologie, 2 coupons
- Cashmere cardigan from Brora, 5 coupons
- 2 metres of bamboo jersey from Eco Earth Fabrics, 7 coupons
- Go-everywhere boots from Cole Haan, 5 coupons
- Green pashmina, 2 coupons
- 3 metres of silk noil, 7.5 coupons