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Throwback Thursday in Knits: Modern Needlecraft, Winter 1952

Not going to lie—part of the reason I’m doing this series is to force myself to go through pattern books and pamphlets I’ve come to own over the years. There’s a giant legal box about half full of booklets like this one, and I have no idea what’s in there. So thanks for tagging along on my deep cleaning and organizing sessions.

Today’s throwbacks come from Modern Needlecraft‘s seventeenth issue, from Winter of 1952.


As it says right there on the cover, this magazine covers every form of needlecraft you can imagine. It’s pretty heavy on the knitting, but there is something for everyone. It was published by Needlework Publications, Inc., and a cursory Google search brings up nothing, so I’m betting this company is dissolved or part of another company now.

Internal pages are all black and white and features a bunch of tiny-waisted women (what, I’m a bit jealous, sue me). One of the things I find absolutely fascinating is the commentary on fashion of the time. For example, the opening paragraph reads:

The Middy probably has more influence on this year’s fashions than any other single factor. It has changed necklines, hiplines, and silhouette.

If you, like me, are sitting here muttering “…the eff is a middy?!”, I did some research. Links will be at the end of this post!


More Middy-inspired fashions! A knitted suit dress. A. Knitted. Suit. Dress. It’s so sharp looking but the idea of knitting it, and I’m a fairly fast knitter when I can focus, makes me a little cray. But then there’s more knitted dresses!

I realize this is A Thing. I have issues with knitted bottoms though. Like… how are they not going to felt in an unattractive manner in conspicuous places? Have you knit yourself a bottom piece (skirts or shorts or dare I say, a whole dress)?

I really am amazed at the emphasis on fashion in this publication. I feel like they’re almost a forerunner of today’s Vogue Knitting (though they would have been contemporaries, when Vogue Knitting was part of the Butterick Pattern company), with an emphasis on deconstructing ready-to-wear fashion and creating patterns in tune with RTW. Though fashion didn’t shift quite as quickly as it does today, which is good, because HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE TO KNIT THOSE DRESSES.

Look! Batwings have been around forever.

I kind of love this side-button vest. Like, a lot.

But God love you if you don’t fit into one of four sizes. And if their definition of a size 10 differs at all from industry standards. Seriously, I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about today’s pattern sizing. Is their room for improvement? Sure. BUT WHAT IF THIS WAS WHAT YOU HAD TO WORK WITH? We are, generally speaking, blessed.

Also, let’s take a moment to pause on the seven border stitches worked in garter stitch “thruout.”

Let’s not leave other forms of needlework out!

Crochet accessories!

Slippers! And angora caps!

Yes, I’m going to gift my non-existent man a fine-gauge sweater.


Okay these are kind of darling.

Needlepoint for the home!

Mail-order sewing patterns!

And full-color appliques! …advertised in black and white! Because people didn’t generally waste color inks on the interior pages.

A quick peek at what the charts look like—ow.

And finally, a brief look at the advertising, because I find historical advertising to be weirdly fascinating.


Back cover lady is having none of it. NONE.


And yes. That dress was knit.

Further reading!
The Middy, by FuzzyLizzie
The Middy: from Function to Fashion
Middy Dress from Illustrated Fashion Alphabet

Categories: throwback thursday


2 replies

    1. I’d be really curious to know how many patterns/units of yarn they sold based on that advertisement. Thanks! Feel free to come visit me and my magazine stash in person aaaaaaaanytime.

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