Needlework-y Past

Scroll down all the way, Readers!

Hi there! While sipping tea the other day, it struck me that the mug rug underneath the cup was made 40-plus years ago and so much a part of my daily life, that I was not really seeing it. I picked it up, looked closely as if with new eyes and thought — “yeah, I made that”.  I’m also sharing a couple of needlework items I was obsessed with back in the late 70s and early 80s. There’s crochet, knitting and crewel embroidery involved …… and 1943 Betsy Ross wannabe at the end. Happy Flag Day!

Crocheted Pansy Doily

Back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, I was fascinated by old world needlecraft.  One of the results of that obsession was this pansy edged doily, made with cotton crochet thread. I loved the result, and still own this piece, which is in daily use.  The pattern was in a little magazine called “Workbasket” (I think); and it was literally a small size magazine – about 5×7 inches or thereabouts.  My pansy doily is a well-travelled part of the household, coming along with each move.

Crocheted Dress

My then-little girl wore this dress on her third birthday — that would be 1978 and yes, I am aging myself because I AM aging for real.  It got passed down to other little girls in the family and into oblivion. It did have a good run, though.  I’m not sure where I got the pattern, but it’s also made with cotton crochet.

Knitted Cardigan

I knitted this in the early 1980s, followed a pattern from McCalls Needlework and Craft magazine, which I was obsessed with. It was knitted exactly as featured in the magazine, with the same ombre blue boucle wool yarn bought at a large craft store called Leewards – does anyone remember Leewards?   This coat/cardigan has also travelled the world, and still comes out from hibernation every winter.  It got a good run in the infamous Texas Freeze of February 2021. During that historic freeze this old friend kept me warm, layered with at least three more pieces of clothing.

Garden Crewel Embroidery

Another project featured in McCall’s needlework and Crafts. Again, in the early 1980s, I followed the thread color recommendations exactly to recreate the magazine picture.  In 2021 it looks a bit garish, but I am emotionally attached to the piece now. It’s staying on my wall forever.

Happy Flag Day! (I call it Betsy Ross Day)

The cutest Betsy Ross wannabe in 1943. I wonder who she is?

Yesterday, June 14, was “Flag Day” and I happened to remember this mint condition Better Homes and Gardens issue in my collection of old magazines, circa 1943. That year, my mother was a teenager in India. I keep thinking that cute cover model is probably over 80 years old now — if she’s still with us. Who is she and where is she from? Did she have a good life? I have so many questions….

And, we come to the end of a short post, but I really wanted to share a bit of my non-garment-sewing past with you and there’s more where that came from. Heh.  Come on, tell us about some of your long ago needlework items that are still around and in daily use.

Have a good summer, friends! Until next time,


15 thoughts on “Needlework-y Past

  1. .I do have some things that I have crocheted, sewn, hooked over the years, but my most prized possessions are doilies, tablecloths, and runners crocheted, tatted, embroidered by my mother and grandmother. I use them everywhere. On backs of chairs, on furniture. I bring mixed doilies out in spring and sprinkle them down the center of my table. I have them framed, and hanging over a dowel behind my platters in my pantry. Seeing them everyday brings memories of Mom and Grandma each day and lifts my spirits.
    Thanks for the lovely post.


    1. Donna, what lovely ideas to display your heirloom linen! I must remember to display my doilies spread down the table.


  2. That lovely crochet and the sweet birthday dress on your precious little girl!! And is that a Holly Hobby cake? I love it!! And that freeze in February!! The irony was not lost on me that my ancestors toughed out decades of freezing weather as early settlers in Texas and here I was freezing in my suburban home!! It’s the reason I took up knitting again. .Are you near Houston? The local Half Price Books has quite a collection of McCall’s Needlework and Crafts from the 1970’s. .I try to stick to the knitting magazines, but I am always tempted. .


    1. Yes, Melinda, that’s a Holly Hobby cake (of course, I made the cake. Lol. ) My little girl is now in her 40s and a career woman. The second little girl had not yet made an appearance when the above picture was taken. Wow, your ancestors were early Texas settlers? I love family histories. I live in the Katy area.


  3. Hi Samina!
    Thank you for this nostalgic post and ‘expose’ of your other (than sewing) well-developed hand-craft skills!!! All of the items you shared clearly demonstrate excellence.

    I have numerous items from my Italian mother-in-law (who would be ~97 years old if still alive) that remind me of your cotton doily: she attended a couture-level sewing course at age 16 in Turin, Italy, and sewed custom garments professionally while raising 2 boys. She left behind numerous hand towels with elaborate embroidery and hand-worked embellishment, monogrammed napkin & hankie sets, elaborate doilies, etc. I have yet to wash them all, but it is an impressive collection (that I have no idea what to do with ;-(

    Your daughter’s lovely dress reminds me strongly of the special tennis dress that our live-in housekeeper (really a second mom to me) crocheted for my mom to wear for tournaments. I still have it, washed and stored. It is super elegant. The only problem is that it would grow a great deal when damp; my mom would come home from winning a tournament, and her dress would be many inches longer! Bernice taught me to knit when I was ~7 years old: we made a bonnet and 4 booties for my cat, ‘worn’ exactly once, for about 5 seconds!

    I am happy to see the fabulous condition of your knit cardigan: all of the effort is clearly worth it, when the garment has such a long and useful life.

    Thanks for enabling my “needlework-y memories”!


    1. Joan!! That is quite a collection from your mother-in-law! And she was trained in haute couture? I wish I had known her — unlikely as it was. Hahaha.


    1. We-e-elll. I’m looking at it with new eyes everyday. It IS a cozy picture, though — by which I mean I want to go live in that garden, 🙂


  4. So many skills. Adorable little girl and sweet dress. I am very impressed that you made things from so long ago that are still in use, and still look great! I remember when I sent away for a mushroom crewel kit in the 70s – it’s not still around, ha. I cross stitched a stamped dresser scarf in the 70s, not in use. Then my craftiness lay dormant for decades. I know I have some LeeWards craft books; after reading your post I’m going to take a look at them again. I collected vintage needlework and craft magazines from thrift stores in the 00s decade before I ran out of room.

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