Collecting Vintage Crochet Patterns

By Emilee Gettle – 13 Comments

I have a secret love for vintage patterns. I can spot them aisles away in flea markets and antique stores. Their creased covers and penciled in notations from years ago give them such a sweet, homey appeal. I not only love the patterns, some of which are elegant and others rather funky, but also the fun illustrations throughout.

I can spend hours flipping through their dogeared pages laughing at the crocheted bikinis and cooing over the sweet baby layettes. It just goes to prove that crochet has kept the hands of women busy for many years turning a skein of yarn into innovative pieces of functional art, and at times funny finished projects.

Do you collect vintage patterns? If so, what is the most absurd or elegant pattern you’ve found?

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  1. Hind says:

    Vintage patterns have a charm of their own,and for elderly women like me,they bring back a lot of memories.Even if one cannot follow their instructions completely,they can often be remodelled to fit a more contemporary style.

  2. Maria says:

    I have a stack of patterns and books from my Grandmother’s attic, I haven’t yet looked through them all .

  3. nancy says:

    I love vintage patterns also! I’ve found one for a snood,but have yet to make it been busy crocheting toys for the grandbabies.

  4. Bethintx1 says:

    I have a fairly large collection of antique & vintage patterns. I think the 60’s & 70’s had some of the funkiest patterns. One is a gold & white dinner suit. It was a floor length skirt with a matching shell & jacket…using light weight yarn. The top and jacket would do for today, but the skirt is not suitable for today. If it was made a shorter length and with thread, then it might.

  5. Barb says:

    A friend gave me a full-sized pattern for a filet crochet WW I “dough-boy”, as well as a pattern for an American flag emblazoned with an eagle.

  6. Heidi says:

    I learned on thread so vintage patterns are easy peasy lemon squeezy. if you know your basic stiches you can read them all.

  7. John Hablinski says:

    Your definition of vintage patterns seems to be a little different than mine. However one look at the shining youthful visage as seen in your emails probably explains the reason. I did get a chuckle when you mentioned bikinis. When I hear the term vintage I’m thinking late 1800s through the mid 20th century and though I believe the bikini did make its debut in the period following WWII when I get a vision of vintage mentally I’m thinking of items with buttons beginning at the throat, and continuing down to the ankle. Thinking about the term vintage though I am reminded that the last time I could with any accuracy identify the make and model of car by sight would have been sometime in the early to mid 70’s. In a similar vein, sometime around that same era was the last time I could count on being able to repair virtually any problem on a vehicle. After that time the number of repairs to cars and trucks the average owner could carry out began to dwindle rapidly, until today one can change the oil, but not much else without at least an associate’s degree. I realize this has gone a bit off topic for a crochet site, but vintage is only vintage in the eye of the beholder.
    I’ll leave with this, because I found it of interest. I have a copy; I guess you might call it vintage, the cover art screams the ‘70s, of a much older work. The title is The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by Th. De Dillmont. My copy was published in 1975, as the 6th printing of a new 1972 copyright. I think it was originally published in the 1880s, my volume doesn’t say, and though I know I have found the date previously online I couldn’t find it today.
    The language is rather stilted and confusing for a modern reader, but I plugged a paragraph or two into the Bing Translator along with a request to translate from something similar old crochet to current crochet and hit the button. It worked! I didn’t go any farther, maybe because I was shocked. I don’t recall the exact wording I used, and it was done on my old computer, and I’ve been too lazy to transfer the files. Play around with it, you might be surprised too.

  8. Deb says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I collect what I consider to be vintage patterns as well. The crochet group I belong to has a pattern exchange and that’s what I would request. Some of the older ladies would send me patterns they had been holding on to for decades.
    The most beautiful pattern would have to be a baby’s Christening outfit, complete with gown, coat, booties, hat and shawl. Then in later years when the child is married,you can remove a few stitches to turn the hat into a hankie for the bride.

    It would be impossible to pick the oddest one, so many made me say, hmmm…?

  9. Laurel says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I collect vintage patterns as well. Most of mine are printed off the internet. I also have a photo copy of a complete vintage pattern book from the early 1900’s that I purchased from a vintage crochet site. I have not found vintage patterns at sales but look for some of the older crochet books in used book stores. You know the great out of print crochet books that you wish would be reprinted so they would be available to everyone again. My favorites are clothing items for myself. I am always looking for those – especially the late 1800’s thru the early nineteen hundreds.

  10. […] I mentioned in one of my previous posts, collecting vintage crochet patterns, I also love to find the finished heirlooms. It simply amazes me at how cheap you can purchase a […]

  11. kristi says:

    Hello Rachel never have done this before but I need some help as one of the bloggers stated somethings bring back memories. I have a friend who is going to start Chemo and I told her I would crochet her a laghan to take with her and she responded that when she was little her Mom had a crochet pineapple bed jacket or cape she said it had no sleeves and that ladies wore these> I can find a pattern for one does anyone know where to look????

  12. John Hablinski says:

    Kristi, this is a link to a group who seem to be dedicated to looking for patterns such as you seek. Give them a shot. John [email protected]

  13. D. Powell says:

    Vintage to me is 20-100 years old. Antique is a pattern over a hundred years old. Sometimes I rank vintage and antique by how the instructions read. If the instructions assumes you know the basics of crochet, like what thread sizes goes with which hooks, and picots etc, I call these antique. If the pattern use asterisks, I call these patterns vintage.
    I have a special love for them all.

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