Off the Shelf: Vintage McCall

This is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever found in my used bookstore hunts. It’s dirty, ugly, and worn on the outside. But the inside is Art Deco Hollywood glamour. Serious.

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For a mere $2, I get to enjoy this gorgeous book. I say gorgeous, even though it looks pretty ratty on the outside. But the vintage knitting, crochet, embroidery, and cross stitch patterns inside are awesome. It’s a McCall book copyright 1955 and published by Simon and Schuster. My copy is a first printing, which is neat, although the book can’t be worth much in the condition its in. But I’d much rather inherit something well loved than never touched, wouldn’t you?

I’ll focus on the crochet patterns today, but there’s so much more in the book. It’s one of those giant anthologies.

I’m gushing over the patterns, but really what I think is so interesting are the photographs. They’ve got these drop-dead gorgeous women with flawless makeup wearing these impossibly complicated handmade pieces.

I’ll stop talking and just show you.

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Aren’t they wonderfully dramatic?

I mean, the rouged lips, coiffed hair, and cinched waists — I had to explain to my husband that a woman’s body simply does not shape that way unless it’s strapped into a corset.

I think I’m so used to seeing knit and crochet items displayed in a casual way that I couldn’t help becoming smitten by the formality of these photos. And the patterns are something else. It would take me the rest of my life to crochet some of these things.

There are plenty of baby items, too. I like this little hat and mitten set.

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And don’t get me wrong. This is the 50s, so there are plenty of perfectly awful patterns and photographs in the book, too. Here are some examples.

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Yee-ack! Right? Part of me thinks that these photos are terribly unrealistic and fake, but they are too fashionable for me to resist.

The book has a fantastic double-sided blanket pattern that I’m going to have to modify and share sometime soon.

For now, I’m going to put on some dark red lipstick and pretend to be vampy for the rest of the day.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Have you ever crocheted or knitted something from an authentic vintage pattern? How did it turn out? Did you run into any difficulties as far as hook sizes or yarn weight?

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One thought on “Off the Shelf: Vintage McCall

  1. Pingback: Night Before Christmas Reversible Neck Warmer {FREE PATTERN!} | Book People Studio

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