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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
  • Belts
  • Hats
  • Bias binding
  • Lace

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!

Final tally:

  • Coupons remaining on January 22, 2011: 7.5

Projects completed:

Items bought:

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