Category Archives: Crafts – Textile

Creche Patterns Suitable for Stitching, I


Today’s post is from another of the vintage Christmas magazines I bought at that great thrift store in Watertown, New York.

The directions are to make these ornaments from the craft-weight aluminum foil, but I think they might actually be more nicely done as embroidery on felt or muslin.

Design by Margreet Akkerman.

[Taken from McCalls’s Christmas Make-It Ideas magazine, vol. VI, 1963]

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Filed under 1963, Antiques/Vintage, Christmas, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Textile, New York, Vintage Christmas, Vintage Magazines

Nativity Quilt Ornament

Design by Mary Ayres

The pattern was on a page with lots of other images, which I edited out. Therefore, the original instructions to enlarge to 200% is probably wrong, unless the intent is to make a wall hanging rather than an ornament.

[Project from Crafts ‘n Things magazine, December 2007; design by Mary Ayres]

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Adoration of the Kings wall hanging

Adoration of the Kings by Antoinette Brinks

This is an attractive, kind of mid-century Christmas decoration that I found in one of my magazines.

A few years ago when we were in Watertown, New York visiting our son and his family, he and I went to a really great thrift store downtown. It was messy, dust was everywhere. However – not only did they have fantastic bargains, they even had a free table – right out on the sidewalk!

I was thrilled to find lots of old craft magazines from the 1950s and 60s for only .50 each. Today’s post was in one of them.

This was before – way before – photocopiers. When a pattern required enlarging, one was supposed to mark off a grid, then draw the pattern off box by box, using the original as a guide. Therefore, it was possible to increase it to any desirable size.

But it was work.

Now, we just slap something on our home copier (something almost unheard of even into the 80s) and set the size for enlargement.

(The instructions look kind of blurry until you click on them for enlargement.)

[This project is taken from the 1965 McCall’s Christmas Make-it Ideas, Vol. VIII magazine.]

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Upcycled Tablet Case

“Goodwill kid’s shirt + bubble wrap + retired flexy plastic cutting board + duct tape, and a little sewing machine action…viola, custom case/sleeve for my tablet.”

Lance, my husband’s nephew, posted his project on Facebook, and with his permission, I share it with you.

Clever fellow.

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Filed under Crafts - Textile, Making Do, Thrift, Using What You Have

Vintage Aprons with Instructions

This 1963 issue is one of several vintage Christmas magazines I bought for .50 each at a thrift shop in Watertown, New York. I had gone there with our older son; it was a really junky store and I probably wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t been with him.

But I am so glad that I did! It was a real treasure trove and the prices were excellent. They even had a table of free books out on the sidewalk.

These are mostly Christmas aprons, but check out that Bongo Music Apron in the upper right corner. Just the thing for a cool, retro party.

(Click on photo to enlarge; resolution with improve if you then click again.)

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Reading Material

As a quick look around our home will tell you, I love to read. Books, magazines, old letters, vintage catalogs (!), clipped articles, and yes, even cereal boxes. When I go to the antique mall or a garage sale, rarely do I buy anything that isn’t printed. Occasionally a pretty dish or a doll. Maybe a vintage article of clothing or old sewing supplies.


More often, my treasure sack contains various types of ephemera: old sewing patterns, a pattern catalog from the 1950s, a 16 Magazine from 1965, Needlecraft Magazine from 1932, a very well-worn elementary reader from the 1930s, a slim WWII volume: This is the Navy, a 1960 Montgomery Ward catalog, the little booklet/catalog that came with Barbie dolls in 1962, an old drama script, a handmade wedding album from the Depression, old high school and college yearbooks, cookbooks, paper dolls (!), school room ephemera (the seasonal cardboard cut-outs that teachers used to decorate their door with). Let’s pause and take a breath. (And yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition. It just didn’t sound right when I used “with which”.)

I just love the printed word.

However, not all printed words.

A few weeks ago Joe and I went to the Grapevine Public Library to see what offerings were in the Friends of the Library nook. These are items which have been donated to them, which they can’t keep and they will let you take them home for a donation to their funds.

One of the employees was re-stocking the shelves and I asked her if they had any donations which were too tattered to put out and that would go straight to the paper recycler. I explained that I like to do paper crafts and find it very difficult to tear up a book to use for projects (and I can never alter one that I liked). I explained the caveat that the books cannot be prurient, even for crafting. Can you just imagine a collaged piece from a Harold Robbins book?! Yikes!

(As a Fawlty Towers fan, I first typed Harold Robinson, then caught myself and corrected it. I think the Waldorf Salad episode was my favorite one.)

Anyway, she said that they had just received a large donation (I’m guessing several hundred books), most of which wouldn’t sell and that I could go into the office and look at them and see if there was anything I liked.


She showed me the Jalna series of books by Mazo de la Roche. The Jalna books were a popular series, the first of which was written in 1927. The lady told me that they would not sell.


Also there was the World War II collection by Winston Churchill, missing one volume.

On and on it went. I ended up with 41 books in my stack, knowing that only a few would end up as craft material. One slightly unpleasant aspect of all of it was the pricing. These were books without a price tag. Buyers are expected to come up with what they think is reasonable and fair. My general rule of thumb is a garage sale price. Magazines are a dime, children’s books and paperbacks a quarter and hardbacks .50 unless in very bad condition. But she wasn’t happy with my offer of $20.00.

Now, before you hit that comment link about how greedy I was, take a deep breath and remember that she considered all of these books unsaleable. They would get nothing for them when sent to the pulp mill. My choices were 39 hardbacks and 2 paperbacks (39 x .50 = $19.50 + .25 +.25 +$20.00). So, I offered her $25.00 and she accepted.

My plans are to read the Jalna series this summer, then perhaps start on the Churchill books this fall (they are huge – over 700 pages each; the usual goal of 1 book per week will collapse with those).

Many of the others are simply old novels. Maybe I’ll read them and then be willing to tear out the pages. But maybe not.


Three of them were old looking and when I read the titles I thought, “Surely I won’t mind tearing these up.”

Then we got them home and I really looked at them (I didn’t spend the time to look them over carefully while at the library).

One of belongs in a genealogy department because it’s an 1886 list of Illinois Civil War veterans, which includes their dates of service and promotions. Scratch this one from the scrap heap.


The next one is an 1898 volume called “The Lives of the Saints”. Even though we aren’t Catholic, a saint is a saint and my husband is particularly interested in St. Theresa of Avila, who is chapter one. Scratch this one from the scrap heap.


The last really old looking one was called the Illinois Blue Book, 1933-34. It was a state government book published in 1933. Alright! Here was one that I could use! A lot of cool looking photos of state officials and lists of government projects … and then right in the center is this gorgeous section of photos and drawings of the “Century of Progress Exposition 1833 – 1933, Held at Chicago, May 27 to Nov. 12, 1933”.

Argggghhhh!

And ebay? Ebay?? Someone save me from ebay. (However, I just got the bid on the most fantastic bundle of 1965 and 1967 Seventeen magazines. I’ll share the photos with you later.)

*Updated May 26, 2013

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1932 Fashions

Pattern Number 3334

Patterns one could order from the 1932 Needlecraft magazine, February issue.

All patterns were 15 cents.

The Latest Fashion Book could be ordered for 10 cents, postpaid.

I’m not an accomplished seamstress (to say the least) but to me, these don’t look easy to sew.

My mother was not only accomplished at sewing, she learned the hard way.

She was 18 years old in 1932 and her parents bought her 2 new dresses each year. She sewed the rest of her wardrobe and told me that she also sewed her mother’s dresses.

This was done on a treadle sewing machine since she never lived in a house with electricity (or running water) until she moved away from home in 1937. In fact, all those clothes were scrubbed on a washboard with water drawn from the cistern, then heated (usually in an iron pot over an outdoor fire). The clothes were then hung out to dry and pressed with an iron which had been heated on the wood stove.

A far cry from our modern wash and wear cheap clothes. Clothing was a real investment in time and effort. The fabric was thicker and substantially made. It wore well and long.

Some of the clothing above in the pictures from the magazine remind me of the suit that Claudette Colbert wore on her journey with Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night”. Very nice outfit. Tasteful and practical for traveling.

(In fact, up until about 1970, there were clothes that were designed especially for traveling.)

I heartily encourage you to watch Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”, (1934).

It won 5 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Writing, Adaptation

It is an absolute joy to watch.

Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1930s, Ephemera, Family, Fashion, Movies, Needlecrafts, Vintage Magazines