Notions | Vintage Sewing

Vintage Notions Identification Help

May 14, 2014

A friend has been going through her grandma’s sewing supplies from the 60s-80s, and passing many of them onto me.  I’ve gotten some great things from her – patterns, about 500 hook-and-eye closures, fabric, seam binding…as well as some notions I cannot place.  I thought I’d post pictures on here to see if anyone can help me figure out what they are.

These little things feel kind of like something you might embroider onto a garment, but there are about 25 of them in a bag and they don’t look like anything someone might want embroidered onto something.  They can be folded in half.

I know the package on the left is collar stays (though they’re kind of long), but I’m not sure about the one on the right.  The white bands are elastic, and the writing is in German.

I’m very confused by these items.  They’re all the same thing, just different lengths and colors.  The packages say “Zig Zag Wire Supports; Braces the fabric, supports the collar flare.”  All of those words make sense…but where and why would you use them?


These packages say “shoulder strap guards; pin-in nylon; snap ends around shoulder strap.”

And finally, these strange things.  They look like buttons, but are made up by threads pulled to the center of the circle.  A friend suggested they might be the buttons you use in the middle of pillows.

The pictures below are items I recognize but have no need for.  If anyone could find a use for any of the items in this post, let me know.  Especially the hook-and-eye closures.  I have enough to last me many, many years.

Thanks for the help!  It’s been fun looking through all those notions and trying to imagine what they might be used for.

  1. The shoulder strap guards, I’m guessing, are the same as lingere snaps. You sew them onto the inside of your shoulders and clip them around your bra strap to stop them from showing.

    1. Yes, Katanya is correct on this one. My tailor used to make them for me, especially for sleeveless tops/dresses…then your bra strap doesn’t slip out & show.

  2. “These packages say “shoulder strap guards; pin-in nylon; snap ends around shoulder strap.”

    Those are little things you sew at the straps or top/shoulder seams that will snap your bra straps out of view. I have some in some of my vintage dresses, and will usually sew something there to do the same thing in my modern dresses!

  3. I can’t identify the little white doo-dads. But I can ID a couple of the other things.

    Long collar stays – maybe the really BIG collars of the 70s. :G: But possibly also some of the larger “fashion” collars on women’s clothing.

    The white elastics: They’re sleeve bands. They can be used on either the biceps or the forearms to hold the sleeves out of the way when working. Popular when sleeves were more voluminous. (I had a metallic bracelet-like version in the 1990’s I used to use when typing.)

    Zig Zag Wire Stays: Gertie has a better description on her blog of their use than I could possibly give –

    Shoulder Strap Guards – Pin-in lingerie strap keepers. Pin them to your clothes, then wrap around your bra & slip straps to keep them from peeking. (I often think my young nieces could use these – but I’m showing my age!)

    No ideas on the little circular thing-a-mabobs.

  4. The zig zag wires help a standing collar to stay firm and upright – think of those Edwardian sheer/lace blouses with high necks. Here is an example of them being used

    You stitch the shoulder strap guards at their centre point to your garment’s shoulder seam and then close the snaps underneath your bra or petticoat strap – it stops the straps slipping down your shoulders.

    The white buttons are probably Dorset Buttons a traditional button style that was common before the rise of machine made buttons in the 19thC. People still make and use them. Maybe these were for use on lingerie?

    The elastic with the clasps might be old bra closures? gives an idea of a 1930’s bra closure using elastic. Or maybe it is suspender elastic?

  5. The elastic with metal sliders could be for making a garter belt or girdle…..showing my age here for sure, lol.

  6. As Chris said, the white elastic things in the first picture are sleeve bands. (Ärmelhalter is German for sleeve holder.)

    1. Used for holding the sleeves up, under a suit-coat, when the sleeves are a little too long and too much cuff would show

  7. White elastics are much the same as men use in their kilt socks to keep them up. You turn the top of the sock down to hide the elastic. I would imagine one needing very similar things for knee lengt hunting or golf trouser/sock combination

  8. I would love to buy a few of the Courreges sew-on logos – please let me know how much you would like for 3 to 5. thanks! Kris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.