1920s Craft Patterns from the Antique Pattern Library

Detail of page from “Corticelli Yarn Book”, 1922

The Antique Pattern Library is a free online resource for crafts publications from the 1800s (and before) to the mid-1900s. The catalog can be searched by date or by technique, and includes crafts like crochet, knitting, cross-stitch and sewing. The books and pamphlets can be downloaded as PDF files so you can print them for easy reference.

When I found the pattern library I thought of our Big Read book for 2013, The Great Gatsby. The book is set in the 1920s, so I did a quick search through the pattern catalog. The search turned up a variety of books from that decade, but I found 2 that I thought were especially interesting.

“The Egyptian” bag from “Emma Post Barbour’s New Bead Book”, 1924

Emma Post Barbour’s New Bead Book from 1924 has full-color illustrations of beaded bags and purses, along with instructions on how to make them. My favorite is “The Egyptian”. All things Egypt were in vogue after King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922. You could show how up-to-date you were by carrying this stylish beaded bag.

I also liked the Corticelli Yarn Book from 1922. Since you’ll need something to wear with your beaded bag, you can knit or crochet a dress or sweater to complete your look.

Cover of “Corticelli Yarn Book No. 18”, 15 cents, 1922

Want a new hat to go with your new outfit? Check out these instructions for making a 1920s-style cloche in knit or crochet.

When your ensemble is complete, come to the Gallery for the new Art Deco exhibit held in conjunction with the Big Read. The exhibit runs from January 22 – March 10, 2013 and will feature art from the library’s permanent art collection.






Brea Black is the Art Librarian and Book Arts Curator in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. Her favorite thing is to share the wonderful world of artists' books with the community. She also leads the Arts & Crafts team and teaches workshops on bookmaking, altered books, and a variety of crafty topics.

2 thoughts on “1920s Craft Patterns from the Antique Pattern Library

  1. This would be a fun book for Downton Abbey fans, too, as season three just started and it’s now the roaring 20s in Yorkshire’s Grantham estate!

  2. Brea, this is an amazing resource! Thanks for sharing it. I love that patterns can be so universal and timeless. And, as we all know, fashions can fade but often cycle back!

Comments are closed.