The opening salvo of 2018 here in the Northern Adirondacks brought a wicked combination of snow and bitter cold wind. However, I've not allowed that to dampen my enthusiasm for the new feature here on the Out of the Parc Blog. Classics in the Parc will take us on our own journey into the past of fiber arts through the eyes of the publishers of some of the magazines of the time. Today, McCall's Needlework Fall-Winter 1957. Below you see a well worn and stained (and a bit musty) copy of the magazine given to me by family members. These are a treasure trove of interesting articles, and patterns. Together we'll see what has made a come back... and what skills have disappeared in the mists of time. Welcome to my first installment!
I guess the first thing that caught my eye about this magazine is that it only cost $.50! Fifty cents? Amazing. There are literally dozens of features, articles, and patterns. This magazine would cost quite a bit more if it were produced today. (yes there are still plenty of ads, publishing hasn't changed that much LOL)
There are a couple of fun items in this magazine. The "Did You Know" article written by Nan Comstock, and the "Show Us How You Did It With Snaps" a compilation of snapshots sent in by readers. The "Did You Know" article gathers little tidbits of news from around the United States. For instance October 12-19 would have been the "National Knit-It-Yourself Week" and that the Museum of Contemporary Crafts which opened in September 1956 (now renamed, I believe, to the Museum of Arts and Design) was enjoying outstanding popularity. Check out the museum here: madmuseum.org/about/museum-history Some crafts clearly stand the test of time.
"Show Us How You Did It With Snaps" is sort of the early "Ravelry". People would send in their best snapshots of work they completed to the editors for a chance to have their photos featured in the magazine (Imagine going through all the snapshots sent into a major magazine!) Some things are still very popular, shawls, embroidered curtains, and geometric shapes afghans. (see slideshow) :)
The patterns on display in the McCall's needlework magazines were very cleverly displayed. Some were free patterns and some were patterns that could be purchased through McCalls. It was a little frustrating for me as I looked through the more recently published magazines because there were knitted patterns I loved but of course were no longer available. After an email exchange with the current owners of McCalls I learned that no one knows who owns the copyright to the old magazines, the patterns, or where one would find the old patterns. They suggested a perusal through ebay or etsy to see if I could find the patterns for resale. Kind of fun but then, suddenly, and without warning I find that hours have flown by and all I've done is surf the web. (and get dry eyes) LOL I curtailed that activity. However, 1957 was chock full of timeless classics which are still in vogue today. (See the slideshow of pictures from the magazine!)
As trends go the Fall-Winter 1957 McCall's Needlework magazine was a study in contrasts. From the more modern look of "The Lived In Room", a feature about DIY decorating a college dorm room with a "young outlook" (yes that's how it reads), to the Dowry Quilt and the Carriage Wear features; this magazine neatly combined the up and coming fashions of the 60's with the conservative look of the 50's. Home economics with a twist. The photo spread for the teen sweaters is decorated with pictures of girls with test tubes and microscopes. The patterns for men's sweaters feature crisp cables and a light meter for a modern camera. Tablecloths that are embroidered to match dishes. (a new thing apparently) Infants, toddlers, children, toys, and home decor all transitioning to a the "new looks" for the 1960's. (Though I'm sure no one could have envisioned fur vests, bohemian shirts, bi-colored tights, or micro-mini skirts on grown women, beaded headbands, or the cubist bus featured on the Partridge family)
The one trend in this magazine that has resurfaced is the knit dress. Called "Slim Knits" in the magazine, knitted or crocheted dresses with a pencil skirt has come back into style. Names like "French Connection" have designed chic sweater dresses that women in the late 1950's created for themselves! Schott NYC created sweaters for men with sharp cables similar to those patterns available in the 1957 Fall-Winter McCall's needlework.. The editors of McCall's Needlework were on the cusp of fashion. (as you'll see in upcoming editions of Classics in the Parc)
If you'd like to create some of your own vintage projects with a modern twist there are some websites where you can find vintage patterns reproduced. For instance check out grandmotherspatternbook.com/?page_id=3586 I think this is a great website to get started on your own vintage journey!
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.