Tonight we turn to another piece of Indian made personal kit, this time the sewing kit or ‘hussif’. Unlike its British counterpart this design does not have cotton ties on the outside, merely folding in half:Opening the hussif reveals two pockets, used to hold buttons and thread, a piece of cloth for needles and various markings:The circular Indian acceptance mark is particularly clear, here dating it to January 1943:The cloth for the needles is also faintly stamped, this appears to be dated 1942 and has some sort of manufacturer’s logo, but it is so faint it is hard to read much, i believe it reads ‘AP&CDA: The hussif is made from khaki drill cloth, as used for uniforms and was probably made up from offcuts to reduce waste in wartime. The manufacture of cloth goods in India, such as this hussif, as well as the far more important contracts for army clothing was undertaken in small workshops as well as large factories. The 1946 publication ‘History of the Supply Department’ explained the set up:
Production of clothing as an industry did not exist in India. There was only one Clothing Factory at Shahjehaupur with an average monthly production of 75,000 garments by power-driven machines working under mass production methods. Generally speaking, except for a few good shops in each big city, the requirements of India’s many millions were provided for by what might be, truly called a “cottage industry”. On the outbreak of hostilities, huge demands for garments began to pour in and it became obvious that the Shahjehanpur Factory alone could not cope with the work. The immediate problem appeared to be now to control and bring into maximum production the “cottage industry” referred to above and, what was just as important, how to feed it with raw materials and inspect that it produced…In 1940, and indeed well into 1942, the governing factors in considering nil production expansion proposals were the location of durzies, finding suitable buildings and the urgent necessity to conserve supervisory staff. To control the cutting of enormous quantities of cloth required a degree of skill and training far beyond the capacity of the man who made clothes in the back verandah of one’s bungalow and the main problem of mass production of garments in India, therefore, resolved itself into four minor problems—how to store cloth—to cut it—make it up and inspect the completed garments as economically and quickly as possible. The solution was found in the ‘Cutting Contract Factory’. Under this the ‘main system employed was to cut cloth to proper patterns in the Clothing Factories which were established at Agra, Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, Secunderabad, Lahore, Sialkot and Bombay and issue these for sewing to outside contractors.
Large scale contracts for 300 different items of manufacture were held by some 100 firms throughout India. Each contractor was required to pay a security deposit and effect insurance This system operated to the benefit of durzie population who numbered 80,000 and who lived and worked in the towns and villages of India from Jhelum to Trivandrum and from the 24 Parganas to the city of Bombay. Every yard of raw material and everything fabricated by tailors in this large organisation was not only to be properly accounted for—for which purpose every factory had an officer of the Factory Accounts Staff attached to it—-but also, each item had to be properly approved as fit for service use. Hence at every factory there was an Inspectorate which on behalf of the War Department, inspected every item produced and rejected what was below standard.