The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Make Vintage Crochet Any Size You Want

Table with the same crochet edging in three sizes: large, medium, and small. Each one shows the hook used and the text reads: Make Your Crochet Project Any Size You Want.
Don’t let suggested threads or yarns hold you back.

Lots of crafters these days find themselves caught up in creating things the perfect way. With the perfect yarn. In the perfect color. In other words, so that it looks exactly like the original item. Today I bring you words of wisdom from the past: you can make vintage crochet any size you want!

It’s true that many vintage instruction books called for a particular thread, or a particular yarn. But others didn’t. It all depended upon the sponsor –– who paid for the publication of the book or magazine. If you page through an old copy of The Delineator, for instance, you will see that only Butterick patterns are advertised. That’s because the Butterick Publishing Company created The Delineator for the express purpose of showing off the lastest fashion and for selling patterns.

The same is true for many of the crochet and knitting instruction books that were published. J&P Coats, Clark’s, and Corticelli all published instruction books. These companies also made and sold cotton or silk thread. They realized, like companies today, that if no patterns are available to use the threads or yarn, very few will buy them.

Vintage independent designers give you freedom

However, you can find independent vintage patterns. They usually live in the needlework magazines that paid designers for their work and depended upon subscriber and advertising income. In those articles you will find phrases like “make this design according to your needs” and “match your hook to your thread size.” If the reader needed a design that would fit on a table, then making it in a fine thread made sense. If, on the other hand, the worker wanted a bed spread, coarser thread and a larger crochet hook or knitting needles would get them there.

Closeup of three crochet edgings done in three different size threads. A crochet hook rests on each edging, showing the size differences.
The edgings up close and personal.

Here, I took a favorite design from a 1925 periodical and created it in three different sizes. I crocheted the top edging in Sugar ‘n Cream cotton worsted weight yarn and a 5 mm (H/8) hook. It’s usually used to make toys and dishcloths. I made the middle edging in Aunt Lydia’s size 10 (1.3mm) crochet cotton and a size 7 (1.65 mm) steel hook. The bottom edging I crocheted from a Greek size 50 thread and a size 10 steel hook. You’ll find the pattern for this edging in my blog post Five Great Vintage Crochet Edgings. It’s Edging 4. If you want to know general thread-to-hook sizes, check this crochet hook size chart from DMC. Scroll about halfway down to find it.

If you need an edging for a heavy curtain, a bedspread, an afghan, or a shelf, the top design would be perfect. On the other hand, if you recreate a Twenties dress and need a long trim to go down one side from neck to hem, the second size would work well. And finally, if you wanted a deep edging for a handkerchief, something to trim underclothes, or even to dresss up a child’s dress or shirt hem, you could use the finest version shown. See? You can make vintage crochet any size you want.