Regular readers may know that I have a sizeable collection of vintage needlecrafts books. (I’m using the Etsy definition of vintage, which includes anything at least 20 years old.) I currently have over 50 vintage books, e-books, and magazines in my collection.
I love looking through older needlecrafts books. While the very old pattern books can be hard to follow because the authors assume a high level of familiarity with construction techniques, shaping, etc., for those of us who like to modify patterns or design our own projects, these books can be an endless source of inspiration. And my inner sociologist is often amazed (or amused) by the cultural snapshot vintage needlecrafts books can provide.
I would love to share my passion for vintage books with my readers, but if I’ve learned one thing since I started blogging, it’s not to over commit. So I make no promises that I’ll review a vintage needlecrafts book each week in 2013, but I certainly will highlight no more than one a week ;).
To kick off this series, I’d like to share my favorite sources for vintage needlecrafts books and e-books on the cheap. (I’ve yet to come across a steady source of vintage magazines, but would love to hear your suggestions in the comments.)
Free e-books and patterns
- Antique Pattern Library includes scanned books and leaflets in the public domain.
- Free Vintage Crochet and Free Vintage Knitting have many public domain patterns posted on the websites, and some can be purchased as PDFs.
- Google Books includes thousands of free and public domain needlecrafts books. (Here’s a sample search: crochet.)
- Internet Archive text search includes millions of free and public domain books. Some are in Kindle or ePUB formats in addition to PDF.
- Knit Heaven is a website with free patterns from several different needlecrafts posted.
- Totally Free Crochet Patterns has an awesome collection of public domain crochet patterns.
Low cost options
- Amazon is a great source for vintage books, but the price range is very broad. Sometimes you will find out-of-print books selling for hundreds of dollars and other times you will find a treasure for $0.01 plus the cost of shipping. I generally search for specific titles, often discovered through Crochet Concupiscence (especially her series on 1970s crochet designers) or Crochetbug. I’ve also found a lot of free vintage e-books for my Kindle.
- I periodically search Etsy for vintage pattern books. I find it too difficult to investigate whether or not the seller has the right to sell vintage PDF patterns, so I only buy physical copies.
- Half.com is another interesting source for vintage needlecrafts books. You can sort your search by publication date in both directions, so the oldest books will appear first. It is now owned by eBay, so you can easily search there, too. Like Amazon, there can be a wide spread in prices.
- Library sales and thrift shops sometimes have great vintage finds for low prices.
- PaperBackSwap is a website where you swap books. You earn points for each book you mail to another user and can use those points to “buy” books from other members. Essentially, you pay the cost of shipping a book media mail. I’ve gotten a lot of vintage books here, and even if a book isn’t listed, you can add it to your wishlist so you’re contacted as soon as a member offers it for sale.