In Sew For Victory

Sew For Victory – finding your fabric

Finding fabric that’s appropriate for your 1940’s garment is probably easier than you might think! Especially when you consider how many fabrics they had available in the 40’s that we still have available today.

Here’s a list of some of the fabrics you would have been able to buy in the 1940’s:
Rayon (rayon silk, rayon taffeta, rayon jersey knit etc), Cotton, Broadcloth, Lawn, Voile, Dotted Swiss, Poplin, Pique, Batiste, Chambray, Linen, Seersucker, Wool, Corduroy, Flannel, Denim, and more!

So what fabric didn’t they have?! Well, Polyester. Definitely no polyester or “plastic-y” fabrics available for home sewing in the 40’s! However, if you find a polyester blend that you think is perfect for recreating your 40’s look, I won’t tell anyone 😉

What kinds of prints?
You’ll be safe with most stripes, polkadots, plaids, solids, gingham, and certain prints.

I mentioned before that almost every cotton print that Denyse Schmidt has come out with (especially her collections for Jo-Ann Fabrics) is 40’s inspired! Mood Fabrics has a great selection of Rayon blend knits and wovens, and I also recommend and Hawthorne Threads for selection and service.

(**Revised Addition- Thank you Kristine of Kitsch N Sink for this reminding me of this site for vintage fabrics!**)

And now for some inspiration!











(all photos from Sears, Roebuck and Co 1941 Spring Catalog via

Awesome stuff, huh? Now if we could only find fabric for $0.19 a yard still! Haha! Even though fabric prices have gone way up, we can still be thrifty and Make Do And Mend! Download that Jo-Ann’s Coupon App for your smart phone, and double check your yardage before buying fabric 😉

What fabrics are you thinking of for your Sew For Victory garment?


Stay tuned for more info on War Time Fashions vs The New Look, and how to find your size and prep your patterns for sewing!


Check out all the Sew For Victory posts here in case you missed one! It’s not too late to join in!

  • Prajith S

    Majestic Textile Your Printed fabric expert !We are a textile printing company base in China, we have been in textile printing business more than 15 years. Our principles are: good quality, best service, be honesty !We have our own digital print design studio that we can come up with new prints every week.,100% polyester digital printed crepe fabric. This print can be printed in any other digital printed crepe fabrics you like. To do printed crepe fabric minimum 100m

  • Excellent post about fabrics. thanks for share this.

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  • I bought a hot pink and white seersucker gingham and now I’m thinking it’s too colorful and bold for 40s? Can anyone help? My pattern is mail order 1940’s and suggested pink gingham but I assume light pink.

    • It’s a common misconception that 40’s colors were drab and subdued. I have a 40’s catalog photo of a suit that’s bright fuchsia and navy color block! They didn’t have neon florescent colors back then, but they definitely had bright colors 🙂

      • whew! i saw this fabric and fell in love 🙂 it’s not neon so i should be good it sounds. just hot pink and pretty and perfect for summer weather. now i just have to hurry up and sew my heart out!

  • Jessica Cangiano

    The 40s positively excelled at florals! I love checks, polka dots, plaid, gingham and most other 40s patterns, too, but nothing steals my breath away quite like an amazing 40s floral print.

    ♥ Jessica

  • ZoeLivana

    I love the ad about polka dots, especially since I made a blue polka dot dress recently.
    (blogged at

  • Melanie Montgomery

    I recently discovered while searching for fabric for the Wearing History Smooth Sailing blouse. They are all blouse weight cotton, and the prints are so darn cute!

  • Brigid

    I am going to be using a plaid homespun for my dress, though I have two different color schemes to chose from… I think I will post a picture of the two to see which one you all think would be most appropriate for the dress I’ll be making.
    Such a fun post!

  • I unexpectedly ended up making a pair of those Simplicity repro trousers in this fabric that I had from my stash. It feels kind of like wool and looks a lot like denim, but I’m not sure what it actually is. I got it for $1.50/yd at Wal-mart and it was labeled “Value Assorted Fabric”. Lol, whatever it is, it makes a pretty good pair of pants.

  • I’ll be using a grey, polka dot lawn for my 1940’s dress, very drapey and lovely. I sew with polka dots all the time so I’m thrilled to see that they’re perfectly appropriate for 1940’s styles! x

  • I have hauled some cottons and a piece of linen from my stash. Thinking of adding a silk spotty piece too… Time will tell! 🙂

  • I just bought fabric for my jumper dress. I intended to use a marine corduroy I had in my stash but unfortunately I don’t have enough. Then I searched in multiple (both online and real) shops but couldn’t find the right color. Instead I found this lovely curdory with printed flowers. I’m not sure that was available in the 40s, but i really really love it and I think it’s perfect for this sewing project!