Home Sewing Notions: Button-hole Elastic

Figure 1.--Here is an illustration of button-hole elastic that was (and still is) commerically available in both the United States and Germany (and doubtless elsewhere too).

Elastic webbing with buttonholes at even intervals was a standard product of American notion counters. Buttonhole elastic is just what the name suggests. It is sttanfard elasticized tape or webbing, but with buttonholes woven along the center of the elastic. These buttonholes run at interbals along the length of the elastic.


Home sewers sew buttonhole elastic inside a waistband. It can be used in both garments the home sewer is sewing from scratch or added to harments that the mother has purchased commercially.


Button-hole elastic is most commonly used in the waistband of garments. In women's garments it was often used in the back, allowing unsightly gaps to be pulled in. It was widely used in various kinds of female underwear. It is useful in maternity clothes as the garmehnt can be let out as the baby grows. It is also commonly used in children's garments. Others can easily let out of the waistband without having to buy a new garment as children grow. They were used in both skirts or the trousers of young boys so that blouse buttons could be attached to them. Here there were country differences. In Germany mothers made hose supporters for their children out of such products. The elastic was simply cut to the correct length for supporting long stockings. A button-hole at the top of the strap was fastened to a button on the Leibchen or stocking shirt (Strumpfhalterhemd), the German underwaist underwaist, and a button-hole at the bottom was fastened to a Washchknopf (laundry button) sewn onto the stocking top. If the boy was small or the elasticity of the strap somewhat worn, the stocking would be buttoned one or two slots from the bottom of the strap, thus leaving a little flap with unused button-holes at the bottom. This is what we see in the image you thought was "complicated". Of course commercial hose supporters, which were also used, had no button-holes and didn't require buttons on the stockings. Commercial hose supporters have a rubber button and wire loop for attachment to the stocking top and can be adjusted for proper length by a buckle on the supporter itself. I don't think American mothers used this kind of elastic for children's supporters because ready-made supporters such as Velvet Grip and Hickory were so widely available and so cheap. There wouldn't be much of a saving and extra work would be required. But in Germany, where American style hose supporters were less common and took a bit longer to come into fashion, the elastic with buttonholes was an established tradition, especially in rural areas. Mothers could make Leibchen by hand and use the elastic with button holes as an element in their home-made garments. We read, however, that in better healed German families mothers bought commercially manufactured Leibchen with American-style hose supporters (with rubber button and wire loop clasps) already attached. By the late 1940s and 1950s German children who wore long stockings seem to have been mostly equipped with modern, commercial-style supporters that didn't require the sewing of buttons on stockings.


Buttonhole elastic can be purchased at fabric stores in the notions department.


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Created: 3:53 AM 6/4/2010
Last updated: 3:53 AM 6/4/2010