Places to Go for Vintage Inspiration


So you are all in a vintage frame of mind this morning? Me too! It’s been just awesome to see the response to our Revive A Vintage Contest. To be honest I was a little worried that it would flop and no one would enter.* But now that I don’t have to stress over that, let’s  start a list of places that you can find some vintage to inspire your project.

Ladies’ Visiting Toilette - April 1895 issue of The Delineator magazine
Ladies’ Visiting Toilette (1895)

(The clickable image above will take you to a wonderful blog, The Old Design Shop. I subscribe to them and they send me a lovely and free vintage graphic once a day.  Its like a gift in my inbox.)

Where to go for vintage patterns? There are TONS of sources out there.

If you fancy the Victorian to Edwardian eras, the definitive source is Weldon’s Practical Needlework. These were magazines/leaflets published between 1885 and 1915. Interweave bought the rights and now publishes all of Weldon’s as a box set. If you have or all of this set nevereverever lend it to a fellow crafter. You won’t be getting it back. I’m just saying.

But… I like free and I like more than just turn of the century. (I like it ALL!). So I’ve put together a list of online places you can go and waste hours and hours browsing for that perfect vintage pattern that the world must see resurrected.

The Antique Pattern Library is my absolute favorite. They provide whole books / leaflets in downloadable pdfs in every category you can imagine. Dive right in!

The University of Arizona maintains On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics. Its definitely more high-brow than the Antique Pattern Library. There you will find patterns mixed in with essays, historical papers, encyclopedias… and so much more.

The Subversive Femme is a blogger who specializes in recreating vintage wear. I’d say she is mostly into 30’s and 40’s style but she throws in a zinger now and then. She has patterns scanned right from the old pattern books, her original designs, tutorials, and links to other vintage enthusiasts. Yep. I’m a fan and a reader of this blog.

The Vintage Pattern Files has tons of downloadable patterns organized by decade. They include knits, crochet, sewing, and stuff that I can’t even begin to describe. Like this. This absolute gem was posted just yesterday!

1960s Crochet - Spangled Helmets


There is Free Vintage Crochet which has patterns from the romantic to the ultra kitsch to the downright weird. The collection has over 2000 patterns, all of them downloadable. Its well indexed and categorized, unlike so many other vintage crochet collections. If you follow the Roving Crafters tumblr account you may find something familiar. Jess LOVES to make tumblr posts from this collection.

I’ll end with Project Gutenberg, the very first provider of free electronic books. Here is their shelf for Needlework which holds 14 titles including


* By ” a little worried” I mean a complete ball of nerves. The night before I felt like a little kid worried that no one would come to their birthday party. Thanks so much for coming to play!

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3 Comments on "Places to Go for Vintage Inspiration"

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My mother, in fact most of the mothers when I was small, had a bathing cap that looked like that spangled helmet.
I never understood the bathing cap. It trapped water instead of keeping your hair dry.


Yesterday I spent HOURS looking at pictures and patterns and pictures OF patterns from the Dawn of Knitting Time. Well, mostly from late-19th and early 20th-century sources. For me, the difficulty is going to be choosing a project that is both do-able and wear-able. There are lots of either/or, but I am taking a hard line for hitting both those targets! What fun this is…thanks for hosting such an imaginative contest! 🙂
quinn on rav


It can be so hard to find the age of Tablet Weaving patterns! I am so glad I got “Techniques of Tablet Weaving” by Collingwood for our anniversary, it had some great ideas!