1940s Buttons and Trims

February 20, 2013

During WWII many fabrics were rationed, more expensive, and/or harder to find in all regions affected by the war. With women under pressure to conserve resources and Make Do And Mend, smaller readily available embellishments such as buttons and trims, were really encouraged as a way to spruce up old garments and add interest to plain frocks. While America didn’t have it quite so bad, the United Kingdom did see restrictions on button quantity starting in 1942. I love this article about American women and the use of non-priority buttons. How many buttons can you possibly fit on one pair of trousers?? A lot apparently.

Whether you were allowed four buttons or forty, they’re still a great way to add a little something extra to your garments. Just look at these buttons and trims from the 1941 Sears Catalog!




You know I love me some rick rack and bias tape now, so imagine how much my “1940’s past life self” would have been coveting this stuff. I might even have gone as far as to sell my shoe ration coupons on the black market in exchange for more fabric and trims! Haha just kidding. I’m not THAT bad 😉 But ribbons DO solve my problems!

The first thing I noticed when opening my Sew For Victory pattern and reading the instructions was zippers were called “slide fasteners” back then. I thought that was kind of funny! Check out these slide fasteners and other buttons from the 1945 Sears Catalog:



I love those little star shaped buttons! They almost seem too modern, don’t they? Well I’m glad they’re not because I’d love to use them on some 40’s garments in the future.


How fancy are these La Mode buttons from 1944? Very! I love all the florals and rhinestones. Even though you can’t find La Mode brand buttons through a mail order Sears catalog anymore, you can still find them at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

My 1946 dress doesn’t include any buttons sadly, but it does have TWO slide fasteners! I really love buttons and trims an awful lot so my next project will definitely be chock full of as many trims as I can tastefully stuff on it 🙂

Does your Sew For Victory project include buttons? What kind will you pick?