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anecdote selv high in the “Beauty for Duty” and “Looking Lovely for His Leave” campaigns. As Juliet Gardner points out in The 1940s House, "the previously untapped – or at least unpublicised resourcefulness of British women, and their educators, was truly awe-inspiring: slippers from felt hats, skirts from their husband's trousers, buttons from string, dressing gowns from candlewick bedspreads; sandals from old shoes with the toe cut out." Women delighted in creating underwear from the parachute silk of shot down German fighter pilots – even though it chafed. Much sewing was done in the cupboard under the stairs or out in the Anderson shelter to steady nerves.

The Imperial War Museum holds a comfort blanket stitched by Mrs Ness, who lived in Scotland but had a little granddaughter, Jan, living in “hell-fire comer”, Kent. Its profusion of delightfully animated, sensitively worked images resound with love and humour, mixed with a bracing Scottish common sense. The blanket declares itself to be “For my Darling” and a parrot says “Hello Jan, pull up your socks.”

Lilian Dring's ‘Thriftcraft’ series for schools gave witty and entertaining designs using scrap materials, aimed to foster children's creativity in the face of destruction and shortages. The Embroiderers’ Guild, in a centre of concentrated bombing, moved their collection out of London and made a valiant attempt to keep on supporting members, advising them how to adapt to the emergency conditions, and even enlisting Queen Mary as an example of an undeterred embroiderer. They were forced to cease their publications and activities in 1941, but resumed with their jubilant issue of Embroideryin 1945. The first article was “A Message to All Who Helped with Work for our Sick Prisoners-of-War”. It stated, “We now know without question that... the psychologically healing power of embroidery has been obvious to doctors and nurses and to the patients themselves.”

For those endeavouring to study embroidery during the War, not only did they have disrupted travel, blackouts and the difficulties of hours spent working in air-raid shelters but also the rationing of luxury materials such as metal threads, beads and sequins. Yet, using unravelled woollen garments, jute, string, tailor’s canvas and Poster, Advertising Archive

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