It's the festive season!

Three vintage craft magazine
So, have you got your tree up, if that's the sort of thing you do? We haven't; I grew up not putting it up till a fortnight before Christmas, so I don't like putting ours up too soon. Also, the cats like climbing around in it and stealing baubles which rapidly becomes annoying. I am starting to feel seasonal though. Because of my December deadline hell, I start shopping in November, so it's all nearly done now. And I've been looking at some more recent vintage craft magazines.

Does that make sense? The 1920s ones to a lot of the 60s are out permanently, but the later 60s and onwards aren't really 'my' time so those ones are in a crate, and the crate was wedged under the bed until recently. We replaced the bed, the crate got shifted to the spare room, and now I've been picking through them. And as it's a month to be generous, I thought I'd share outfits from a couple of December issues with you. Don't say I never give you anything.

Old craft magazines are interesting because they're aimed at a very different demographic to high fashion ones, and as the 60s roll on and women start to get more disposable income and clothing becomes more affordable, more women were buying ready to wear and, dare I say it, the clothes in craft magazines become more suited to older, less fashionable women. Anyway, exhibit A, from 1969. This sort of silhouette was kicking around for most of the decade and I really like the cut and colour (and the brooch, of course), but it would've been starting to look dated by 1969, when at the fashionable end of the market you had the likes of Zandra Rhodes, Ossie Clark and Biba making more flowing garments. One for the mums, not the daughters.
A blonde woman in a green and turquoise brocade shift dress with high round neck
What a difference two years makes! This one's from 1971, and is a completely different festive look. Less stiff, more in keeping with the freer-flowing styles that had been fashionable for a few years. This was something I hadn't seen before that the Woman's Realm Home Sewing And Knitting magazines did: precut fabrics. You chose the colours and size, and they sent you the ready-cut pieces to stitch yourself. While I can see how that speeds the process up, half the joy of home sewing for me is being able to tailor things to fit. With precut pieces you don't get to do that. At least the pattern puts the FAB in fabric. I could picture Ann in a knee-length version! Hell, I'd wear a maxi like this, though Mr Robot would no doubt roll his eyes.
A woman in a long, flowing paisley dress. She is dancing.
Back to 1969, and I'm guessing this was an attempt to get more in tune with the hippie vibe of that time. Compare those soft, full sleeves and gentle velvet to the stiffness of the blue/green dress above.
If there's one thing that can definitely stay in the late 60s/early 70s, it's the tunic-and-flares suit. Now I know there will be someone out there who can pull one of these off, who can make it look fantastic, but they're a rare bird. (Probably Goody. She's usually the person who makes me eat my words about 70s styles.) I'm not even sure it's that practical – unless you really want the whole world to get a good idea of the exact colour and outline of your underwear.
Oh, for the love of bob, NO. At least the crocheted pantsuit has a certain space-hippie appeal. But these straight-legged, long-sleeved, double-knit tunic suits don't even have that. What can I say? They're probably hardwearing. I'm not sure that's a virtue. Given how indestructible synthetics of this period were, there are probably loads of these lurking in landfill somewhere.
There were some beautiful clothes made in this period - I mentioned Ossie Clark and Biba - but clearly that sort of style hadn't filtered down to home sewists. It's always fascinating how our ideas of a time differ from how things really were for ordinary people, as the high fashion, the movies and music videos, are what gets left to history. I'm seeing that in my own lifetime as younger people embrace their idea of 90s style, which is not at all how I remember it! And one thing I will take away from my magazines is this: if I ever do get that time machine, there's no way I'm setting it for 1969.

So... would you dare to try the synthetic pantsuit?


  1. Ooh, I love a peek into vintage magazines! And yes, I'd love that dress in all three colourways, both knee-length and as a maxi! I must admit that I rather like that first dress too. Those pantsuits are quite hilarious, and I don't think they'd look flattering on anyone, but if anyone can pull it off, it must be Goody ;-) xxx

  2. What a nostalgia fest for me, Mim! I was just at the age of independence in 1969 - had left school and worked full time and had some disposable income to spend on clothes. I loved all of your shared outfits and I think the ones I would choose are the maxi dress and the velvet waistcoat and big sleeved blouse; both then and now!

    I had a couple of crochet dresses but never with matching trousers and as for the 1970s pant suits - no, not then and not now. They always remind me of Star Trek...

    Have a good week!

  3. Lovely vintage magazines and I agree with Anne, I'd like to wear those two dresses, even the stiffy first one (and the brooch is fab, as you mentioned!). But I'd also wear the peacock tunic suit, after shortening the tunic, even if I'm not a huge fan of this decade. Am I completely insane?
    And totally agree that Goody can make early 70s look fabulous, she rocks!. ;DD

  4. I'm a sucker for a vintage magazine - Golden Hands being my favourite (I'm biased as Mum used to buy it!)
    I actually had a gold crochet trouser suit exactly like the one pictured but it was too big. The girl who bought it looked amazing. I've got a gold crochet wedding dress which was made from a Golden Hands pattern which I wear - hasn't had an outing for a while, I love it although it catches on everything and I often leave a trail of pens and cutlery in my wake.
    Tree? What tree? When I lived at home we put ours up a week before Xmas and it came down on twelfth Night, always a real one bought from Cannock Chase where a family argument would always ensue as we all liked different ones! xxx

  5. I love that first dress - I would wear it now - but those tunic/pant suits are hideous. Nope, nope, nope. Thanks for this fun peek into your stash, Mim!

  6. I would definitely try one of those pantsuits on if I came across one, because they remind me of Star Trek and I think you could accessorize quite nicely with a phaser and a tricorder, so maybe it could be a fun look for a fancy dress party?! I'd wear those first two dresses in a non fancy dress way, they're both fab in different ways. I absolutely love vintage magazines, I have a stash my Mum has passed on to me that I'm working my way through. Mainly 'Woman', thought there's a hip '60s London-based mag too.


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