Fun Vintage Crafts That Don’t Feel So Old Fashioned Anymore

Picking up a retro hobby can spark creativity and provide a refreshing contrast to our modern digital world.

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Quilting supplies and a handmade quilt

We’re exploring several long-forgotten vintage crafts that are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. We’ve got retro hobbies, Victorian hobbies, crafts from thousands of years ago, and more. For each, we’ll share a brief history, provide a list of essentials to get started, and offer advice on how to dive in. So, grab a cup of tea and get comfortable. Let’s get started picking your next favorite pastime.

1
Macramé

History

Originating as an art form in the 13th-century Arabian world, Macramé found its way across the globe through trade routes. Sailors embraced the craft, using it to decorate items aboard their ships, from bottles to parts of the ship itself.

In the 1970s, Macramé became synonymous with boho-chic decor, featuring everything from wall hangings to plant hangers. Today, this ancient craft has found a new generation of enthusiasts, with its intricate knots and patterns offering a meditative and creative outlet.

What You Need

  • Macramé cord
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • A dowel, curtain rod, or stick for mounting

Quick Tip

When selecting your cord, opt for a quality material that’s both durable and soft to the touch. Cotton is a popular choice for beginners. As for your crafting space, ensure it is well-lit and comfortable, allowing you the freedom to express your creativity.

How to Get Started

You can start by learning the basic knots. A variety of resources, both online and offline, provide step-by-step guides for beginners. Starting with simple projects like friendship bracelets or mini wall hangings can help you grow confident in your abilities. Be mindful of common mistakes such as knotting too tightly or inconsistently—patience and practice are key to mastering this craft.

2
Quilting

History

Quilting has a rich history, with evidence of this craft dating back thousands of years. Originally a practical solution for keeping warm, quilting has evolved into an art form, with patterns and techniques reflecting cultural trends and personal stories. Today, the quilting community is as vibrant as ever, with quilters embracing both traditional designs and contemporary innovation.

What You Need

  • Fabric (100% cotton is typically recommended)
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Quilting ruler
  • Sewing machine and thread

Quick Tip

Choosing quality fabric and taking proper care of it can significantly impact your final piece. Your workspace should be ample and organized, with your tools and materials easily accessible.

How to Get Started

Your first quilting project doesn’t have to be a full-sized quilt. Consider starting with a potholder or placemat to learn the basic skills. Numerous patterns and techniques cater to beginners, and online tutorials can guide you through the process. As with any craft, there can be hurdles, like learning to sew straight seams or mastering the rotary cutter, but with time and practice, you’ll soon find your rhythm.

3
Letterpress Printing

History

Letterpress printing, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century, revolutionized the world by making books more accessible. As a process, it fell out of favor with the advent of digital printing but has experienced a resurgence due to its distinctive, high-quality impressions. Today, it’s highly prized for creating artisanal invitations, greeting cards, and more.

What You Need

  • Letterpress machine
  • Type set or printing plates
  • High-quality paper
  • Ink and brayer
  • Paper cutter

Quick Tip

Select a press that suits your needs and space, and ensure your ink is designed for letterpress for the best results. The right workspace for this craft is well-ventilated and clean to prevent unwanted smudges on your creations.

How to Get Started

To begin your letterpress printing journey, start by understanding how to set up your press and prepare your paper and ink. Practice making prints with simple designs before moving onto more intricate projects. It’s common to face challenges like uneven impressions or misalignments at first, but with practice, you’ll refine your technique and produce stunning pieces.

4
Hand Embroidery

History

Hand embroidery is a craft with ancient roots, boasting a history that spans different cultures around the globe. Once a sign of wealth and status, it evolved into a domestic skill taught to young women. Nowadays, it’s an accessible and versatile craft appreciated for its ability to create both intricate designs and charmingly simple ones.

What You Need

  • Embroidery hoops
  • Embroidery needles
  • Embroidery floss
  • Fabric
  • Scissors

Quick Tip

Choosing a good-quality hoop and needle that’s the right size for your project can make a big difference. Your workspace should be comfortable and well-lit to help you focus on your intricate stitches.

How to Get Started

Your first foray into hand embroidery could start with learning the basic stitches such as running stitch, back stitch, or satin stitch. Simple designs like flowers or letters are perfect for beginners. It’s common to struggle with achieving even stitches and tension at first, but don’t be disheartened—your skills will improve over time.

5
Ceramic Pottery Making

History

Dating back to the Neolithic era, ceramic pottery making is one of humanity’s oldest crafts. Over centuries, it has served various purposes—from utilitarian to decorative and ritualistic. Today, pottery is appreciated both as a relaxing hobby and a means of artistic expression.

What You Need

  • Clay
  • Pottery wheel (optional, for wheel throwing)
  • Kiln (for firing the pottery)
  • Various shaping tools (like a needle tool, wire cutter, and rib tools)
  • Glaze

Quick Tip

It’s crucial to choose the right type of clay for your project and ensure that your workspace is organized and clean to prevent mishaps with your pottery.

How to Get Started

You can start pottery by learning basic techniques such as pinching, coiling, or slab building. For those with access to a pottery wheel, trying out wheel throwing could be exciting. Expect to get your hands dirty and make a few misshapen pots initially, but with time, your ability to shape the clay will improve.

6
Basket Weaving

History

Basket weaving is a craft as old as human civilization itself, providing essential storage and transport solutions for our ancestors. Techniques vary greatly among different cultures, but the fundamental concept remains the same. Today, it is appreciated as a craft that marries functionality with aesthetics.

What You Need

  • Basket weaving reed or other materials like yarn or paper
  • Scissors
  • Water tub (for soaking reeds)
  • Clothespins or clips (to hold reeds in place)

Quick Tip

Choosing good quality reed and keeping them adequately moist during the weaving process is key to a strong, well-formed basket.

How to Get Started

Begin with simple basket shapes before moving on to more intricate designs. Online tutorials and local classes can be immensely helpful. Common challenges for beginners can include maintaining even tension and preventing the reeds from drying out during the weaving process, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

7
Decoupage

History

Decoupage, a craft that involves cutting out pictures and gluing them onto an object before varnishing, has its roots in East Siberian tomb art. From 12th century China to 17th century Europe, it has been enjoyed across centuries and cultures. Today, it’s enjoyed as a versatile way to customize and beautify everyday objects.

What You Need

  • Object to decoupage (like a piece of furniture or a box)
  • Images or decorative paper
  • Decoupage glue
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Paintbrushes
  • Varnish or sealer

Quick Tip

When selecting your supplies, choose a glue and sealer designed specifically for decoupage for the best results. Ensure your crafting space is clean and organized to keep your project free from dust or unwanted smudges.

How to Get Started

Getting started with decoupage involves selecting a simple object and a design that you love. Cut out your images carefully, arrange them on your object, and then apply them using decoupage glue. Once dry, seal your work with varnish. It’s common to encounter issues like bubbles or wrinkles in your paper, but with patience and practice, you’ll learn to smooth these out.

8
Tatting (Handmade Lace)

History

Tatting, a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace, became popular in the early 19th century. The delicate art form was once a favorite pastime of ladies in the Victorian era. (Perhaps I should add it to my Victorian morning routine.) In today’s fast-paced world, tatting remains a soothing craft that yields beautiful, intricate results.

What You Need

  • Tatting shuttle or needle
  • Thread (cotton or linen)
  • Scissors
  • Pattern

Quick Tip

Choose a good quality thread, as it significantly impacts the look and durability of your finished piece. A comfortable, well-lit workspace is crucial for this meticulous craft.

How to Get Started

To get started with tatting, learn the basic knot or “double stitch.” Start with simple patterns before advancing to more intricate designs. Common challenges for beginners include managing thread tension and following patterns, but with perseverance, you’ll soon become proficient at the craft.

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