Vintage Not-So-Crazy Craft Pamphlets

A few weeks ago, Kathy found a fun estate sale on her way to pick me up.  She shopped and bought a few things, and then after getting me, headed right back over so I could have a look.  It was our kind of sale–lots of items priced below a dollar.  The thing that struck us though, was how many crochet craft and clothing pamphlets she owned.  Being that they were 10¢ each, how could we pass them up?  We thought it might be fun to share some with you.

The earliest one was from 1917:

Isn’t it in great condition?  And how can you resist the title–handcraft togs for baby and junior designs?  I particularly liked the baby sweaters; they remind me of a lady’s bed jacket, only tiny.

There is a benefit to owning crochet pamphlets.  You can figure out the approximate age of all of those doilies out there.  A case in point:

We both have a thing for those flower doilies; the problem is finding one NOT done in hideous colors, but they do exist.  After looking more closely at these two pamphlets, I realized that I had one of the cover doilies sitting on a lazy susan in my kitchen:

Just one of those coincidences, but not unexpected considering the number of doilies I own.  Now I know that the doily probably was made after 1949 when this pamphlet was printed.  Don’t you think the daisy colors are much easier to take than this rose:

That green from the 1930’s and 1940’s is so distinctive, and difficult to pair with another color!  I do wish I had one of those little metal coffee pots; it’s a cutie.

The graphics and wording of pamphlets are a large part of the allure.  Plus they are a window into the past; not just the fashions, but what colors were popular, how homes were decorated, and even the conventions of the day, such as wanting to be thought “Modern” through your decorating scheme:

That the lamp shade is so awful; it’s an example of a dumb accessory contributing to stone-age living.  I do, however, like the coffee table cover on the right side of the page.

There are lots of pamphlets with kid’s clothing patterns in them; some of the patterns are even cute!  Sadly, for each cute pattern, there is a much less cute outfit right next door:

The little dress on the left is pretty cute; I find the tweed sweater less cute, although excessively masculine (says so right on the picture).  We have also noticed that most males look pretty uncomfortable posing in crochet or knitted wear.

It isn’t only the male of the species that is tortured in these books:

You tell me which outfit is cuter!  And for that matter, why are they calling a 12 year-old a Sub-Deb?  I’ve never even heard of that term, and why do they have dorky uniforms at such a sensitive time of life?

Looking at the little tea party on the left, you can see the wall paper and furniture.  Those are the details that make pamphlets interesting to us.  We occasionally will come across a big pile of Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, or American Home magazines.  We leaf through them, and buy one or two just to see what the average housewife was thinking, or being told to think about, 50 plus years ago.

I have one more set before we look at a couple of Kathy’s.  I did buy more at that sale, but only because Kathy already had copies of many of the pamphlets.  We love hankies too, so edging pamphlets are near and dear to us:

That pink and black polka-dot hankie looks like something Cha-Cha DeGregorio from Grease would carry in her decolletage.

The pamphlet on the left suggests that you use the lace on your “pretty undies”, while the other pamphlet is perhaps more prosaic with hankie hairpin lace.

Kathy’s craft books go from head to toe:

Headline News is a far more intentionally witty title than most pamphlets manage; I wonder if CNN had to pay them royalties?

God forbid that the 1940’s and 1950’s housewife had plain utilitarian pot holders, hand towels, or pillow cases in the house.  Especially if she had time to sit at the radio or that new-fangled television set:

After voicing my feminist opinion, I have to admit that these are charming.  I hope the housewives of the past got satisfaction out of making the necessities of life fun, or not so fun as the case may be. ( Kathy:  I have to admit to an urge to try my hand at making the penguins.  Stop me before I pick up a crochet hook! )

This slipper pamphlet is unintentionally amusing:

I can’t imagine a “flirtation walk” crocheted sandal, and even a crocheted “majorette boot”  boggles my mind.

Well, that seems like a fair sample of the pamphlets we bought.  The lady of the house was a woman of taste for the most part, so there weren’t too many crazy crafts this time.

We also would like to report that the hardworking fire fighters have gotten our wildfire 85% contained.  Mother Nature cooperated with a couple of showers and a moderation of the high 90’s and low 100 temperatures of last week.  If this was June, we may be in for a wild summer!  Thanks for your concern;  it felt good to have something normal to do like shop and write our blog.

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5 Responses to Vintage Not-So-Crazy Craft Pamphlets

  1. Minx says:

    Sub deb might be something before deb, which is short for debutante. So sub could be the expression for younger girls? Or perhaps sub as in a debutante’s assistant?

    • kathydeb says:

      Beloved Husband looked it up and it is indeed a “pre-debutante”. I’m just not ready to put the idea of having to be a “deb” into a 12 year old’s head. Kids grow up too fast as it is; let them enjoy that last year of childhood is my inclination.

  2. Connie says:

    Now I know where Grandma came up with all the crochet work she did. And after looking closely at the slipper pattern book, I can honestly say that Grandma made all of her grandchildren (even the ones in high school) ‘flirtation sandals’. Mine were blue and white with big pom poms.

    • kathydeb says:

      Wow, did you feel flirtatious in your flirtation walk sandals? If you want to look at the pamphlets for other childhood presents from Grandma, just let us know. ;- )

      • Connie says:

        I didn’t feel flirtacious in the slippers, but I did discover that I could slide quite well on the hardwood floors when I wore them. 🙂

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