This pretty brooch is from the 1940s. It is made from a kit sold through a magazine in America.  I have been unable to track down which magazine.

The back of this example is covered in leather and has been finished extremely neatly.  I have over the years seen other examples where the back has not been covered at all and once, I’ve seen it covered in a pretty floral chintz fabric.  The bead work on the front also varies depending on the skill of the crafter.  Clearly the person making my brooch was both talented and careful.  Sometimes there are gaps between the beads.

During WWII clothes were rationed in the UK and women were encouraged to reuse and refashion wherever possible.

The ‘Make Do and Mend’ pamphlet was issued by the British Ministry of Information.  It aimed to provide women with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish.  Readers were advised to create pretty ‘decorative patches’ to cover holes in warn garments; unpick old jumpers to re-knit chic alternatives. My grandmother, an expert seamstress, unpicked a man’s three-piece suit and made herself a complete tweed skirt and jacket suit.

Making things at home to supplement one’s wardrobe was not confined to periods of conflict and rationing.  It was a regular pastime for many women.

Australia Home Journal 1st February 1954, advertising three dress patterns inside the magazine (left) & Woman’s Weekly 18th October 1982 advertising knitting patterns (right)


And it wasn’t only clothes and fashion accessories that could be made, other handicrafts were available in kit form.  I found this wonderful 1940s advert from the American Home Craft for a Pen Set Kit.


Magazines are still available today for a wide range of hobbies and interests, from the traditional sewing, knitting, quilting to beading, scrapbooking, cardmaking, model building; the list is endless.  They often come with a free gift or kit of some sort; in the January 2019 ‘Inside Crochet’ magazine there are some free orange and pink tassels no less!