A little Vintage Crochet…

Welcome to this blog post where I’ll be looking at some vintage crochet and designs from a different time and era!

Why the interest in vintage crochet? Well I’m currently embarking on crocheting a prom dress for my daughter. Here’s a progress photo taken at the weekend…

Working on the bodice…

To get a flavour of what she would like for her dress we searched online for photos of various crocheted dresses so that she could see the possibilities and see which styles she was drawn to. And in doing this we came across some vintage crochet dress patterns from the 1970s and I suddenly found myself going down a wonderful rabbit hole looking at all the various vintage crocheted dress patterns!

Images taken from my Google search!

There were some gorgeous dresses and to my delight a lot of the patterns are still available to purchase as digital copies from various sellers on Etsy. I simply searched on Etsy for “vintage crochet patterns” and there are plenty available. I purchased the three patterns below from different sellers to give my daughter and I a little inspiration. Of course her prom dress won’t be like any of these dresses… I have my own ideas and she doesn’t necessarily want a vintage look. But looking at how these dresses are constructed and the different stitch patterns used is really inspiring and helpful.

I’m not sure how the selling of vintage patterns as digital copies works with copyright laws… if any of you could enlighten me I’d be interested in finding out more. Obviously it is completely unacceptable for people to sell copies of someone else’s pattern but I’m assuming things are somehow different with these vintage patterns because there are so many available. Having looked at the patterns there is no mention of any specific author or designer within the original patterns and no copyright symbols so I don’t know who the original designers were which is a shame.

I do have an original vintage crochet pattern from 1966 for this two piece suit modelled by the famous model of the time, Twiggy…

Isn’t it fabulous?! This original pattern was given to me by a friend a few years ago.

Interestingly, what I would say about the vintage patterns is that they are very short, concise and basic in the writing style. There are no elaborate explanations, no diagrams or additional photos and of course no accompanying videos! The whole pattern for this suit is pretty much on one page only. Did people find them easy to follow at the time or was it a struggle for some?

Many people associate crochet with the quintessential granny square which was of course huge in the 1970s. As children my brother and I were wrapped in crocheted blankets as soon as we were born and here is a photo of my older brother in 1975… one of my Dutch aunts crocheted the blanket and we still have it today although it has somehow shrunk a little. There must have been some wool content in the yarn which didn’t respond well to a washing machine!

But although I adore the humble granny square, there’s so much more crochet from the 1970s which really does need a look back at!

Intrigued by the vintage patterns I dug out some old vintage crochet books which I already had but haven’t looked in for a while. There’s a Dutch book from 1975 which I bought at a Dutch market a few years ago, an American book from 1981 and a few British ones too…

‘Crochet with Pleasure’ – a vintage Dutch book published in 1975

I even have a small ‘Ladybird’ book published in 1975 which is very vintage… books published by ‘Ladybird’ were prevalent in my own childhood throughout the 1980s. I have very fond memories of my various Ladybird books which included all kinds of stories and how to books. But I didn’t have a crochet one! I purchased this one as a vintage book not long ago…

It has such quaint illustrations…

And very clear and detailed drawings to illustrate how the hook and yarn should be worked…

A sentance in the introduction made me laugh:

“If every page and picture is studied carefully, you will soon find that you can make all the things in the book, for yourself, or as presents for your family and friends.”

They certainly made it sound easy and whilst I always tell people that crochet is much easier than it looks, I’m not sure some people in my beginners crochet classes would appreciate me telling them to study a picture! 😄 💙 That said, I myself did initially learn to crochet from a book… so studying those pictures is actually good advice!

It’s been a real joy to look through these vintage crochet books. What amazing designs and patterns there are…

Some of the designs are so unique, exciting and certainly deserve to be made all over again 45 years later!

And the photos of the authors in some of these vintage books capture a different time entirely! 😁💙

Annie Potter

I was born in the late 70s and was surrounded by crochet as I grew up. This wall hanging hung in my bedroom throughout my childhood and I still have it today, but I only recently noticed that the edging was in fact crocheted. I really was destined to be surrounded by crochet throughout my life!

And of course I’ve shared this before but it’s worth a mention again in this vintage inspired blog post… my mum’s crocheted wedding dress which she made and wore in 1974! Now that’s a spectacular vintage crochet dress indeed!

And there’s the vintage Dutch ‘gehaakte gordijntjes’ (crocheted curtains) which I wrote a blog post about here: https://coastalcrochet.com/2015/09/15/gehaakte-gordijntjes-crocheted-curtains/

So there you go… a little look at some vintage crochet designs. I hope it’s given you a little inspiration or maybe taken you down memory lane… that’s certainly where it took me! 😄

Happy Crocheting Everyone… 💙💙💙

50 comments

  1. Wonderful trip down memory lane. My mum was a big knitter so everything was handmade. At the time I yearned for a “bought” jumper like my friend never realising how awful that must have sounded. My mum taught me to knit, she taught me to sew…knitting always seemed to long a process for me so I turned to sewing and am now a seamstress by training. Now in my spare time I love to crochet as love the principle of only one stitch to worry about!! Thank you for all your lovely patterns, I do so really enjoy doing them no matter how long they take.

  2. Really enjoyed the trip down memory lane too. My mum was a knitter and crocheter amd collected books and magazines about both. These patterns remind me of my childhood in the 60s and 70s surrounded by pattern books and things mum crocheted or knitted for us. Lovely! Really appreciate it now, not so much when I was little and on the beach with crocheted swim wear which got so heavy when wet! 😊

  3. Some of those vintage patterns made me smile. I remember having a poncho as a child made from granny squares. Definitely popular in the 60/70s. Your mother’s wedding dress was lovely. It must of taken hours of work. How long have you got before the prom? I like the colour you have chosen for your daughter’s dress. Looking forward to the photos of the finished article.

  4. The current design copyright laws as we know them only came in to existence in 1988 in the UK – so I guess the vintage patterns aren’t subject to the same restrictions.

    I work from Portuguese patterns and they are really brief, all you get is a diagram showing the pattern repeat, a shape showing suggested sizes, the written pattern for about the first 5 rows and then off you go, work it out for yourself. You get about 10 patterns in one booklet of 4 pages! It’s made a huge difference for me in understanding how to construct pieces.

    I too have the Twiggy pattern! I love it.

  5. Beautiful patterns and photos. My Aunt crochet me a white dress and a sleeveless top in my teens. Which I loved to wear. I have three crochet ponchos that I have still. But not the dress and top anymore. I enjoyed your post. Look forward to seeing the prom dress. 🌺😊

  6. Such lovely memories from looking at these photos of vintage crochet. In 1970 my best friend wore a crochet wedding dress which had a hood, crocheted by her husband’s best mate.
    In 1966 my grandmother made me a crochet dress in white cotton. I wore it to Australia’s iconic Melbourne Cup horse race . As the day wore on my mini dress in shell pattern from under the bust , began to drop to
    Mid knee. My grandmother not deterred, got out a pair of nail scissors from her handbag and proceeded to unpull several rows while we were sitting in the stands. Neatly cut the excess cotton , rolling it into a ball and off we went.😂😂❤️

  7. I can remember my mum used to get a weekly publication called Golden Hands and there was always crochet – she made me a granny square longline waist coat that I loved!!

  8. I had the Twiggy jacket and skirt pattern made up by a friend if my Mothers. It was in red and I loved it. I was about 16 at the time (1968) and had just started crocheting, but wasn’t confident enough to try the pattern myself.
    Patterns in those days were hard to follow, especially for a beginner, so thank goodness for technology and the videos explaining how to crochet today. Thank you for sharing Eleanora and good luck with the prom dress. xx

    1. I crocheted a lot of clothes in the 70s, mostly for children but I remember making a lacy evening coat (with a hood, very romantic I thought) to wear to a special dance. Maxi length was all the rage at that time. I was short of time so it was several inches shorter than I would have liked. Never mind by the time I had walked 400 metres it was trailing on the ground, it had dropped so much. A lesson there, clothes for children are ok in acrylic, cotton is better for adults, when I did my proficiency test in the Scottish WI years later they recommended using crepe yarn for clothes to help with keeping its shape.. I still have the evening coat in a box in the attic. Goodness it must be 50 years old!
      Best wishes for the prom dress.

  9. I was in my teens in the sixties and I longed for a crochet mini dress. Oh how I longed for one! I couldn’t crochet then and my mum couldn’t either. It was much cheaper to knit or crochet or sew your own then. Clothes were expensive. I once saw a beautiful crochet wedding dress from the fifties on display in a craft shop and it was beautiful. Made from a pattern in Womens Weekly. I wonder if it’s still available! Lovely trip down memory lane x

  10. Thank you for sharing. This has brought back lots of memories. I have made several of those pictured including the three you purchased and the twiggy suit which I made in bright pink and lined with fabric. Looking forward to seeing the completed prom dress. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 7 with fine cotton, some patterns were written but mostly charts. I particularly liked Irish crochet patterns. Nowadays I mostly make blankets and wraps or shawls and love learning the new techniques – you can teach an old dog new tricks 🙂 (72 this year)

  11. Brings back memories of when I started crochet in the seventies. Used to make loads of stuff for my two kids & remember making a crochet dress too. Also a pram cover even a bikini. Sadly none of which I have now or any patterns. Didn’t do any for a while then until about 9 years ago when my daughter taught herself to crochet & inspired me to do it again. Have made 2 of your blankets & everyone has said how clever I am but I always say you’re the clever one designing, writing, photographing & videoing. Keep up the lovely work.

  12. I really enjoyed reading your blog today Eleonora and so I had to go and dig out my crochet patterns. I have a Patons Gypsy Vest (which cost 6d (2.5p) which I crochet in the sixties and still have today. It’s a bit tight across the bust now and I think it might have shrunk in the wash (says I!) but I still wear it and I was only talking about it at my Knitter/Natter group on Tuesday. I might take it along with the pattern. It must be well over 50 years old. I have some other vintage patterns as well but sadly did not keep the garments. My Mum was a knitter and she knitted some really lovely sixties patterns which I wore to work. So glad you triggered the memories. I’m sure your design for your daughter’s prom dress will be superb – will look forward to seeing it.

  13. My mother made me two crochet dresses in the late sixties and, though she didn’t know at the time, a friends wedding dress. I still have all her patterns though I can’t see me making myself another crochet dress. The patterns you chose to share with your daughter all look lovely. It will be interesting to see what she decides.

  14. Thank you for such a wonderful and pleasurable topic! Vintage crochet is a personal favorite of mine. A nod to the past and great past feelings. Thank you again 💐

  15. Wow, this have brought back lots of memories. I was taught to crochet in the 60’s by my nan who was a headmistress. I also made the Twiggy suit in pale blue cotton. I crocheted a dress in 4ply (something I would not have dreamt of doing had it been knitted) for a work colleague. She was tall and quite big built. I remember the yoke was crocheted in trs and from under the bust changed to a shell pattern which got larger in size, creating an ‘A’ line shape. The dress was crocheted from under the bust upwards to complete the top, then the shells were worked from under the bust to the bottom. I can remember hanging the dress some inches before the required length to allow for dropping. The good thing was that if it dropped, as worked from bust downwards, it would have been easy to unpick a few rows. I made many crochet items for my daughter from a baby upwards. Little angel tops with crochet smocking on the yoke and all sorts. Happy memories

  16. I love this post so much! I can’t wait to see the dress you make for your daughter’s prom. How precious is that? Both that you are going to make it for her and that she WANTS you to make it for her. I love looking at patterns too for ideas on how to construct my own things. I take a little from here, a little from there, mixed in with my little bit of this or that. It makes it more interesting. 🙂

  17. I learned to crochet at 15 y.o. in 1973 at a slumber party! Six years later a 60+ lady at my work offered to lend me some of her crochet patterns from the 40’s (!) and 50’s ,so many xeroxes later I had a great collection of doily and towel edging patterns…so fun. Thanks for sharing these neato patterns.

  18. What a wonderful look back! I had quite a few Ladybird books as a child and still have a ‘moment’ when I pick one up in a book shop. A crochet wedding dress!!! Amazing, unique and very beautiful. Thank you for that unexpected little trip whilst having my tea break. It certainly put a smile on my face.

  19. I have a bunch of my Mom’s crochet books that I have been meaning to dig into. This has inspired me to start!

  20. Hi, what a great blogpost. I have a few books though printed today are based on vintage crochet patterns. They don’t contain wearables but more household items like coasters, placemats, blankets etc. I made a few of them and love it. Good luck with your daughters dress. Cant wait to see how it turns out and good for her for not going the well travelled ( I.e. store bought) route.

  21. Hello from New Zealand! I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite a while, this is my first time commenting. I love seeing all your lovely makes and look forward to seeing the prom dress. On the topic of vintage patterns, have you discovered the internet archive? It contains a HUGE collection of scanned publications, including vintage patterns. Well worth a browse 🙂

  22. Wow, this was quite a trip down memory lane for me. In late 60s I taught myself how to crochet from a Simplicity pattern. Back then the patterns seemed easier to follow and crocheting became one of my favorite hobbies. Recently I found a renewed interest. Thanks bunches for sharing your Vintage information. I loved your Mum’s wedding dress (beautiful).

  23. I started crocheting after all my 6 children were born. I learned by myself, watching my great auntie. I can copy any pattern 95% of the time. Four years ago I decided to read patterns. I wish I had started earlier. I enjoy crocheting. I have other hobbies but crocheting is my favorite. Lately I started watching UTUBE, they have so many different tutorials one can follow and learn more.

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