1940s Printed Fabrics

Here at The Vintage Pattern Shop, we have a section especially designated to vintage printed fabrics, and this category is devoted to those from the 1940s.

It was during the 1940s that a wide variety of women’s fabrics and patterns were brought to mainstream fashion, especially after the war ended. Rayon was introduced and changed the clothing industry forever as it could be made to look and feel like other expensive fabrics, whilst during the war materials like silk were used more for parachutes and military supplies, making this a rare commodity.

In terms of the prints, polka dots were popular from the 1920s, right through to the 1960s, but in the 1940s the preferred size was small dots. Narrow stripes were also popular, usually coloured on a white background. As floral prints were also popular, sometimes these two patterns combined with flowers wrapped around stripes like vines. Flowers in the 1940s would differ from other eras as they were bold, bright, and more obviously painted than realistic.

Plaid patterns were popular all year round, but especially in winter, including skirts, jumpers and pinafore dresses. Checks were another popular choice, with a classic small check known as gingham with colours over a white background. Lastly, due to the popularity of abstract art, you would also find squiggly lines, interpretations of nature scenes, and paisley prints common in this decade. At The Vintage Pattern Shop, you can use these printed fabrics to create all kinds of clothes straight from the 1940s.