by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, August 2009: John Lewis is publishing a modern reworking of the classic war-time pamphlet, “Make Do and Mend”, with all tips provided by its own employees. Partners past and present have collaborated on the booklet, which is packed with money-saving advice.

The booklet will be available in all stores from the beginning of September.

The guide is being launched as households continue to think about consumption in a new way.

The original “Make Do & Mend” was a pamphlet that first published in 1943, when food and clothes were rationed in the Second World War.

The new version of Make Do and Mend has been brought firmly into the 21st century, incorporating advice on the maintenance and use of gadgets and appliances alongside more traditional household hints and tips and money-saving advice for the home.

Many of the tips are geared towards prolonging the life of furniture, electrical equipment and clothes.

The “Make Do & Mend” booklet by the John Lewis Partnership is the culmination of a six-month consultation involving all 28,000 Partners as well as retirees, some of whom were working in John Lewis stores at the time that the original pamphlet was issued.

John Lewis Managing Director Andy Street said: “We have for now become a nation doing our best to weave thrift with quality on a daily basis, and this guide is designed to help households to get the very best out of what they have.

Our lives are far more complicated than they were in the 1940s and we’ve forgotten some of the basic principles that can save a lot of time and unnecessary expense”.

He added: “We’re witnessing a reawakening of interest in traditional skills, including creating and maintaining things, and this is best evidenced in the strong performance in our haberdashery departments. Whatever the timing of the recovery, we believe that there has been a sea change in our attitudes towards possessions and for that reason this updated booklet is perfectly timed.”

When John Lewis' Managing Director Andy Street said that “our lives are far more complicated than they were in the 1940s and we’ve forgotten some of the basic principles that can save a lot of time and unnecessary expense” he is so correct and that is just the problem, also with out throwaway society as it is.

Year on year haberdashery sales are up 17% at John Lewis, with fabric sales having their strongest year in five years. Yarns are up 9%, wool up 9%, craft materials up 36%, buttons up 37% and sewing machines up 30%, with John Lewis own brand sewing machines up 75%. Sewing box sales are up 75% year on year and sewing kits are up 25%.

The new guide is divided into seven sections: Home Truths; Energy Efficient Know-how; Fashion Fixes; Laundry Day; Rescue, Repair and Reinvent and Pins and Needles. Many unexpected miracle products emerge in the new pamphlet, including toothpaste, egg shells, banana skins, WD40, rice, glycerine, potatoes, bicarbonate of soda, baby oil and fabric dye.

WD40 has many more uses, some of which the pamphlet mentions, and others are those of cleaning glass jars (and other surfaces) of the glue residue resultant from the labels.

Isobel McKenzie-Price, Editor, Ideal Home, said: "John Lewis Partners have unlocked a treasure-trove of wisdom from generations of resourceful Brits.

We’ve always known how to find clever ways of solving life’s little dilemmas, and this booklet celebrates our ingenuity, resourcefulness and downright common sense.

The ideas inside are as relevant today as they were when our grandmothers had to make do and mend, back in the days of rationing and digging for victory."

Christine Kasoulis, Head of Product Development at John Lewis said: “It has been a fascinating exercise sifting through the advice that we have received from partners and putting it to the test in our product testing lab. The booklet that we are publishing only really scratches - or should I say polishes - the surface.”

She added: “We’ve breathed new life into the original version to create a modern guide full of money-saving and sometimes counter-intuitive tips. How many people, for instance, know how to correctly match the size of their TV to their sitting room, that toothpaste is great for cleaning jewelery or that a couple of grains of rice in a salt cellar will keep the salt flowing smoothly? Being creative and careful is great fun and delivers a real sense of achievement.”

To support the revival of the make do and mend mindset, John Lewis is also offering a range of Make Do and Mend classes in its stores nationwide. Subjects include dressmaking, bag making, knitting and sewing and details on courses can be found on the John Lewis website.

All proceeds from the sale of Make Do and Mend 2009 will go to the John Lewis Foundation. The Foundation has been set up to fund charitable acts designed to benefit those communities, both in the UK and overseas, that create products supplied to John Lewis stores.

Limited quantities of the publication will be available at all John Lewis stores from September 1st, 2009.

Fittingly, content from this 21st century version will also be available for download from and via a free subscription to a dedicated Twitter feed,, which will deliver regular bursts of advice condensed to 140 characters.

A suggestion might be to make the entire booklet available for download from the John Lewis website, for instance. This way the book could be greener still.

A selection of tips from the guide

  • Shine up shoes with the inside of a banana skin, allow to dry and then buff off with a soft cloth.

  • A plastic bag melted onto the side of a hot toaster or hob can be cleaned off with nail-polish remover. Make sure the appliance is switched off and has cooled down. Not suitable for use on plastic appliances.

  • Make sure the cooling elements on the back of your fridge are free of dust; it prevents them from releasing heat properly.

  • Give faded jeans a new lease of life with a denim-blue dye made for use in the washing machine (also works on black jeans). To remove residual dye from your washing machine run a hot cycle with a cup of bleach.

  • The trend for big TVs ignores the fact that room size and screen size work together to create optimum viewing conditions; save resources and money with the following guide:

  • Get into the habit of doing a nightly charger check; unplug them from the wall after use or they’ll keep drawing electricity, regardless of whether your gadget is attached or not.

  • Reinvigorate badly scuffed leather shoes by rubbing with half a raw potato. Then wipe clean and polish as usual.

  • Don't try to rub away lily pollen if it brushes onto clothing; instead, dab very gently with Sellotape to lift the powder away, then position it in direct sunlight for a few hours; more often than not, the pollen stain will completely disappear.

The John Lewis Partnership - The John Lewis Partnership operates 27 department stores across the UK,, 213 Waitrose supermarkets and, a direct services company. The business has an annual turnover of over £6.9bn. It is the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership where all 69,000 staff are Partners in the business.

© 2009