Monday, 27 August 2012

Latest vintage magazine finds.

When I go out and about I am always on the lookout for charity shops, antique centres, vintage fairs and quirky little places where I might find some treasure! Most often I look on my own as the people I am with tend not to have the same capacity or desire to sift through piles of 'junk' - as they see it! So each to their own, I have a very happy time! In the Lake District last week I stumbled across a mini treasure trove. I expected my week to be full of walking, looking at beautiful mountains and trying various tea and cake establishments. All of that happened too, but the randomness of my find added to the delight of finding it! I think I let out a little squeal when I found a pile of Needlewoman magazines from the 1930s and some Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazines from the 1950s.

I love old craft magazines for a variety of reasons. Obviously they are a marvellous source of patterns for garments from past eras. Most of them have knitting patterns and I have found some beautiful jumpers and cardigans to put on my list of things to make. I like seeing the ideas for household items, it gives a real sense of what a period home would have looked like. Sometimes I am amazed at the array of embroidered tablecloths, chair backs, table runners, place mats, napkins, stools, firescreens and pictures. I wonder how anyone had time to produce such things. I enjoy the physical feel of something old in my hands. I like to think about the previous owner - what did they make out of it?, what did they wear?, where did they live?, what was their house like?, what have they lived through? I particularly like the connection that is made when the magazine has a surname and address on the back, for a subscription delivery.

The following pictures are of the front cover of each of the magazines, starting with the oldest. From these alone I think that you get a real feel for the wealth of needlecraft projects contained within, from embroidery to crochet to tapestry to knitting to cross stitch to applique.

Highlights the free transfer available in this issue,
featuring 'four lovely little flower sprays arranged in a
surrounding border of single Forget-Me-Not
flowers'. The suggested use is for a drawing room or
boudoir blotter cover.

This cover features the design for a cushion that
is part of a garden tea set. Other ideas in the set are
a firescreen, a pouffe, a tea cosy, a chair back and
a table runner.

A bowl or roses in cross stitch - 'a beautiful theme in
a favourite stitch, rich and luxurious to behold'.

An embroidered wall panel.

An applique market scene.

The most beautiful cable and fair isle peplum jumper.

An applique bowl full of silk embroidered anemones.

'Like all good traditional designs, Jacobean embroidery is
very pleasing to every generation and it is perfectly
suitable in our modern home'.

A firescreen featuring a 'distinctive design with a quiet
blending of colour reminiscent of the English designs
of the Regency period'.

An autumnal luncheon set of six, featuring oak, elm,
mountain ash, beech, chestnut and sycamore leaves.

An embroidered Kentish scene.

Cross stitch design for chair and settee backs.

Embroidered spring posy tablecloth.

Alpine beauty picture - to 'retain your happy holiday
These magazines have an interesting background. Needlecraft was first published in 1904 by Manchester School of Embroidery. In October 1907 it had a change of title to Needlecraft Practical Journal. In 1940 this title amalgamated with The Needlewoman magazine. This had been running since 1919 and continued until 1940. At this point the title became Needlewoman and Needlecraft. It changed back to Needlewoman in 1970 and then was incorporated into Stitchcraft magazine in 1977. Throughout all its name changes the magazine continued to feature a huge array of needlecraft patterns, tips and ideas. The magazines also changed size, particularly during the Second World War to account for paper shortages.


  1. Great finds! I love old magazines too, sometimes the adverts are the best bits I think. You've just prompted me to write a post about this great book I picked up in Todmorden Market for a quid called "Everything Within". From the twenties I think, with, among many other topics, a load of needlework & crafting instructions.
    (On a separate, librarianly note, it is bloody irritating when journals keep changing their titles! Plays havoc with your serials control. tut tut.)

  2. Thanks! I love the sound of 'Everything Within', hope to see a post about the needlework and crafts on your blog soon. Heading to have a look there. I agree about the adverts, infact have a half written piece on some on the go!