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Vintage Crafts: Bringing Back the Old Favorites

Susan BerryRecently I visited a craft store to get inspired. While I was browsing I noticed beads, jewelry making aisles, scrapbooking aisles, but where were the needlework crafts?

My grandmother crocheted intricate lacy doilies and bureau scarfs. She made arm rest covers and lacy tablecloths.

My aunt made lovely needlepoint gifts for many of us in the family.


Another aunt used to hand sew aprons out of whimsical materials trimmed in lace and ruffles. She also made all her own curtains, equal to any that could be purchased at the finest stores.


When you think about these vintage crafts, you may ask yourself why would they take the time to make such items? Or an even better question might be, where did they find the time to do these crafts?

My grandmother used her crochet talent as her “me time,” and even though she would often give her beautiful doilies as gifts, it was still the time she relaxed and rested. Back then they did not have television, or the internet or cell phones. For many years my grandmother didn't even have a radio. She would just sit and crochet while chatting with family members or waiting for dinner to cook.

The vintage crafts were a form of relaxation but also a time to express creativity and talent. Many times these crafts were also a necessity if one wanted to decorate their home or complete their desired décor. My aunt told me once that had she not made her curtains she would not have had any. Store bought curtains were costly for many families, and so they would purchase material which was less expensive or even use material they may have already had on hand. These were self-sufficient women who made their homes a castle for their families while living on a very modest budget.

Vintage Curtains

Many mothers and grandmothers would pass these talents on to their daughters and granddaughters and so share the gift of creativity, patience, relaxation and beauty.

Today families are rushing, stressed and getting instant gratification from many hobbies that are quick and easy. For me, winter is my favorite time to sit and crochet. I learned to crochet when I was 14 and though I do not seem to have the talent my grandmother had for intricate work, I do enjoy making afghans, mittens, hats and such. Working each individual stitch that when together create a lovely throw or wearable item is very gratifying. I hope to learn needlepoint one day and let each stitch take me back to a simpler, quieter, less hurried time. When you look at a framed needlepoint piece you can almost see the love, patience and relaxation within the picture.

Simpler days, simpler times. Crafts that share love, tradition and talent.

Here are some links to our favorite vintage crafts sites with patterns and ideas.

Vintage Crochet Patterns

Vintage Apron Patterns

Susan Berry is a Horticulturist/Farmer and Homesteader. Susan and her husband Don live on a ¼ acre homestead in Southeastern Massachusetts, aptly named Itzy Bitzy Farm, with their two dogs and twelve hens. Susan raises organically grown heirloom asparagus crowns till established at three years old and raspberry plants to sell to home gardeners, nationwide. You can follow Itzy Bitzy Farm's blog by signing up at

10/10/2013 5:12:21 PM

Hi, Susan, This is Mary from Old dog, new tricks. I like to crochet a little, also, but nothing like my mom. I have quite a stack of her doilies. She said the trick was to keep your handiwork by your chair so you could easily pick it up. If you put it away, you would rarely do it. Nice blog!

10/10/2013 9:22:03 AM

Susan, times have indeed changed. My great grandmother would actually fall asleep crocheting and wake up with a long chain crocheted that would have to be undone. It was the days of card playing instead of TV watching, baking instead of store bought, playing out side instead of Xbox games. Life does travel at a faster pace today. It's very difficult to step back from the cubical world and live a quieter life. A child's activities in today's culture are mostly away from home and cost money. Fortunately, my eight year old grandson that lives with me will choose to play outside with other neighborhood boys over Xbox every time. They slay the dragons, capture the bad guys, and keep the neighborhood safe from alien invasion. The instinct to interact with real people is still in the young generation, it just has to be cultivated. ***** Have a great crafting day.