30s Style Crochet Patterns: The Best Vintage Designs!

The history of crochet is a bit scattered and undecided amongst historians, but there are traces of crochet reaching as far back as ancient times. Crochet became a life source for the Irish during the Potato Famine in the 1800s, and from this point on is where we begin seeing its functionality on a broader scale.

By the 1930s, crochet was used widely by housewives at home across Europe and North America. Women were creating clothing for functionality but also for style, as well as many decorative crochet items for the household.

During the 30s, crochet patterns began to emerge and were published for distribution among crafters. So let’s take a look back and see which vintage crochet patterns are still around today to be made and enjoyed!

1930s Cotton Thread Crochet In Lace and Filet

The general trend in crochet at this time was to work in mercerized cotton thread using small crochet hooks. Lace crochet and filet crochet were popular techniques throughout the 1930s.

Textured stitches like popcorns and bobbles began to appear occasionally, starting in 1937. Some of the most popular things to crochet (although certainly not the only things) were:

  • Edgings
  • Home decor items like doilies and table runners
  • Children’s wearables
  • College-age women’s garments
  • Garments that combine knitting and crochet
  • Accessories sets, such as a matching hat and purse
  • Religious crochet patterns (although these only emerged in 1939)

Fun Crochet Facts: My Favorite 1930s Crochet Finds

Here were my favorite things that I discovered in my research about 1930s crochet:

– In 1930, British poet/author Ruth Manning-Sanders published The Crochet Woman: A Novel, one of her first full-length novels. Bella Crochet explains that The Crochet Woman is an evil queen who uses her crochet work to cast spells!

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– Crochet was mentioned in passing in a variety of fiction stories published in newspapers and magazines throughout the 1930s and it was also mentioned in the diaries of Anais Nin.

The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
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11/30/2023 07:14 pm GMT

– I was especially interested in a passing reference to crochet in a 1931 book called Dancing Gods; Indian Ceremonials of New Mexico and Arizona, which described a man by saying: “The man’s heavy shoulders were outlined in crochet lace over red flannel, and his flat-topped hat rested on his hair in a queue.”

I have often wondered about crochet in Native American cultures and haven’t been able to find much information, so this reference caught my attention.

– The Great Depression brought around a new reason to use crochet – upcycling. There are many patterns, crocheted or otherwise, for making rag rugs, much like this vintage pattern book: Grandmother Clark’s How to Make Handmade Crocheted Rag Rugs 1933.

Grandmother Clark's How to Make Hand made Crocheted Rag Rugs Book No. 24
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– Finding literature and patterns for crochet certainly wasn’t unheard of by the mid-1930s. There were publications such as The Needlewoman, a magazine that covered crochet as well as the other needle arts, that were accessible to the public.

– Other magazines of the times included NeedleCraft, Workbasket, and Knitting and Home Crafts. Mentions of crochet also sometimes found their way into other popular 1930s magazines, including LIFE and Popular Science.

Crochet News from the 1930s

  • In 1930, a Senate tariff rate was approved to charge one-half cent on every 100 yards of crochet, knitting, and embroidery thread.
  • In 1930, a news article mentioned that yards and yards of crochet were used to beautifully decorate rooms for the needy.
  • In 1931, there was a mention of crochet clubs or meetings. And we still have them today!
  • In 1932, a woman committed suicide after several unsuccessful attempts, including one in which she stabbed herself in the heart with a crochet hook. She was the mother of a child who murdered someone and couldn’t live with the guilt.
  • Also, in 1932, an article noted that many women bought a lot of yarn so they could knit and crochet at the start of The Depression, but with the years dragging on they were no longer so gung ho about it and that yarn (or “wool” as the article actually calls it) is now just sitting there wasting away. However, another article says that college girls are crocheting their own wearables so it’s hard to say what the full story was.
  • Several 1933 newspapers, such as the Boston Globe, had a “household advice” section that would frequently offer crochet suggestions, such as using a crochet chain to sew the ends of a curtain together.
  • In 1933, The Bonnaz Embroidery Workers Union, an affiliate of the International Ladies Garment Workers, had a 100% response rate to its call for a strike, so 15000 needleworkers went on strike.
  • In 1934, there was a news article mentioning that a woman was learning to crochet from an inmate in a prison, which I loved reading about since prison crochet can be so beneficial for inmates today.
  • Harry Haberman, described as “the tatting bartender who lifts a barrel of beer without batting an eye,” also seemed to crochet at work in 1935.
  • It was mentioned in 1937 that then-11-year-old Princess Elizabeth would usually knit or crochet with her sister after lunch each day.
  • Crochet contests were held at various state fairs. The National Needlecraft Bureau launched its first crochet contest in either 1937 or 1938.
  • The 11/5/38 issue of The Montreal Gazette shared information about a crochet beader job that earned $15 per week.
  • One book says “It is estimated that every third Swedish woman knitted, crocheted, or sewed clothing for the Finnish troops” during the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940.
  • The World’s Fair was in 1939 and had lots of crochet doilies made to honor it.

A Little About 1930s Crochet Designers

Some of the popular crochet designers of this time included Mary Card and Anna Valerie. They were submitting designs around this time to various places, such as the Ladies Home Journal magazine.

However, it’s difficult to know if the names that we see on old vintage crochet patterns are actually really names. It was apparently common to use just a few pen names for patterns that were actually produced by dozens of different anonymous crochet designers.

One crochet designer I was able to find some info on was Anne Champe Orr, who started producing various needlework designs in 1915.

She didn’t limit herself to crochet designs; she created designs in knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, lacemaking (including tatting), quilting, and rug making. She actually originally started by self-publishing these patterns, and she was eventually hired by a number of different companies and publications.

Want to know a strange fun fact about her? She actually wasn’t a needleworker herself! Orr passed away in 1946, but there was a huge revival of her work in the 70s and 80s when several reprint publications came out aggregating and sharing her designs.

I also learned that Anny Blatt was a knitwear designer of the time who also had some crochet designs. Her work was popular with some of the elite women of the decade and is still around and prevalent today.

1930s Crochet Books, Booklets and Patterns

There is such a range of books, booklets, pamphlets, newspaper prints and other ways to circulate patterns in the 1930's.  

Many thread manufacturers would publish a collection of pattern books or pamphlets they would distribute for free, much like online yarn stores do today. 

Here is a roundup of 30 crochet patterns and pattern books from the 30's.

8 thoughts on “30s Style Crochet Patterns: The Best Vintage Designs!”

  1. This is so interesting, thanks for taking the time to share. I love history and crochet, so this is real eye and mind candy! I really enjoyed reading this. :-)))

  2. Thank you for collecting and posting all of this great stuff from the ’30s. I dearly love antique crochet and patterns, having learned how to crochet using cotton thread and a fiddly little steel hook (no one told me it was supposed to be hard so I wasn’t intimidated in the slightest). I don’t comment often but love reading all your posts.

  3. Your posts is absolutely wonderful. So much valuable information. Thank you for sharing. I was trying to find out when they first used cotton to crochet ladies gloves and discovered all of this!

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