More Vintage Macrame Genius (you know you wanted it)

21 Sep 2011


I've been saving up some more awesome 1970's macrame pictures from the stash of books Sandra sent me, plus a new book Barbara was kind enough to send. I love giving this kind of stuff a good home.

As I mentioned earlier, I just love macrame books from this era because this was the absolute pinnacle of macrame. It was as dominant in the craft industry as scrapbooking is today. And that dominance led to a big need for new and unusual projects, and that let to some pure crafting-insanity brilliance.


Let's start with a few garments – they're my favorite form of macrame nutty. Definitely, a cheerful gal's gotta have a snazzy set of hand-knotted suspenders. Can't you see yourself running into her at the local food co-op? And she always remembers your dog's name.


The great thing about long, long fringe is that, if you find yourself stuck someplace with nothing to do, you can always continue macrame-ing your own poncho.


My favorite detail here is the neckerchief. Doesn't this strike you as the wearable equivalent of those wooden-beaded seat covers you sometimes see in taxis?


From here, let's move on to home decor. I think my house needs a macrame toilet paper dispenser. Especially one dripping with bells – that'll prevent too much paper-wasting!


…Meanwhile, while seated, you can enjoy the sight of this towel holder. Consider that 34" finished length for a moment. That's a towel rack with presence, my friends.


To me, this is a magnum opus of macrame. Seriously - the engineering involved in fitting four plant holders into that curtain? Wow. And the hanging spice rack and utensil holder are perfectly coordinated. After cooking a splendid whole-foods meal, you can peer out this window and wonder what's going on next door. Why did Janet and Chrissy let that Jack Tripper move in, anyway?


You may have seen macrame room dividers before, but have you seen them festooned with tiny round mirrors? I kid you not, the materials list for this project calls for 1,000 half-inch mirrors. Won't you take me to Funky Town?

(Big bonus points for the mirrored pedestal in the background!)


No macrame book in the universe would be complete without about 30 or 40 plant hanger designs. Seriously, I have hundreds of pictures of these things in my macrame book collection. And I remember them hanging in homes when I was growing up - I even remember making some myself.

Then IKEA came along and put everything on tasteful plant stands. The bastards.


…Of course, why have a mere plant stand when you could have a macrame extravaganza that houses a glass shelf and a side table?! The finished length of this bad-boy: 83". You could probably house some birds in the top part.


Bientennial eagle, FTW!! I love that they give you directions for a naturally-hued one as well, so you can make the switch on New Year's Day, 1977.


The eyes. They follow me everywhere.


There seems to be a certain sadness about the name.

My biggest question is, do you think scrapbooking will look this wonderfully crazy to us in 40 years?



This is hilarious. And it made my day, which was especially awful today. Thankyouthankyou!

Well sometimes I wonder if all those scrapbook pages with little contrived photo ops - shot for the sake of using a pumpkin sticker or panda bear paper - will start to look rather stilted. Like the high school graduation shots of yesteryear with pearls and uniform stoles...

Perhaps there'll be a website for all of those 40 years hence. :-)

OMG. Macrame moose head FTW! The closest I have is a human head/mask thing, as shown here:

Man! Looking back, I could make a whole category here for vintage macrame posts.

This reminded me of a rather silly website I saw the other day...

An organisation dedicated to saving, rehabilitating & reviving the macrame owl!

OMG, that site is awesome! Thanks so much for the link, Trekky - that totally made my day!

Oh my....,.

Can I get instructions of the Garden Curtain? I love it and want to make one for my home.

Well, since the design isn't my original work, I don't feel comfortable giving it away. But the book is called "Macrame With Purpose, and it was published by Gaylemot Publishing in 1977. If you periodically search eBay or, I'm sure a copy will pop up somewhere. Sorry!

Thanks, Sister Diane! Love these old pics, as I actually remember them from my young adulthood. My macrame hanger finally wore out, some 35 years later. @Laura - gosh, I love that thing, too! Imagine how cool that would look now, a little more updated, but very cool!

my mom had this book! how odd to see it after so many years. Our house use to be full of plant holders of all sizes, wonder what happened to them?...

I wonder what happened to the plant hangers, too! They were EVERYWHERE when I was growing up.

My favorite is the first one. I am so distracted by the rest of her outfit and the goofy smile I almost didn't see the awesome suspenders. LOL!

What a sensational collection! I'm torn between the man vest and hanging garden curtain myself... Oh the hours that must have gone into those creations. Great post, I collect vintage craft patterns in Astralia, my favorite 70s piece to date is a man poncho... Or moncho as I like to call it. We will absolutely cringe at scrapbooking someday but it jstgoes to show that there's always been a need for accessible crafts. Things that everyone can participate in without needing advanced skills.

HAHA! Monchos FTW!! It does amaze me... macrame was far from an easy craft in many ways... keeping all those strands straight and managing the tension, remembering all those knots. Incredible to me that it had the dominance in craft it had.

I seriously laughed out loud 2 seconds ago. Stinkeroo, hahaaheehee! Sorry there is sadness but also joy if that's possible.

Now the plant-holder curtain. The plant-holder curtain (or whatever it's called) takes the cake. Like WOW man. Just WOW. I want one. Can you make me one? You have the plans!!!!!!!

I'll get right on that! Looks like it only takes about 7,000 hours and enough cord to stretch between your house and mine. :-)

I actually made the owl in the first picture for my mom, probably in 1976 the year my daughter was born. Took it off the wall in March this year when she went into a nursing home. Sometimes only moms can appreciate our art! Funny, now that I'm making quilts my sisters are more interested.

Oh, I hope that owl has a good home now. My Mom harbors examples of my funny old art, too.

This is... impressive. For lack of a better word! I'm sure we had at least a macrame planter at home when I was a kid, I don't know if my mother made it or if it was a gift.

Oh, and by the way, I generally remember dogs' names. And cats'. (I'm sure you're totally surprised to learn it, right?). But *please*, don't make me wear that to go to Whole Foods ;).

I think you could TOTALLY rock that look, personally. :-)

I'm just wondering if you made and wore something like this to a con, could you pass yourself off as a time-traveler cosplay? 8)

Wow, it would sure be worth a try, wouldn't it?

Hi Diane
Talk about bringing back memories, alas I was never very good at macrame. I wonder if this craft will ever come back into vogue?
I would say yes to your question. I do think in 40 years time (BTW I won't be here) that scrapbooking will look as wonderfully crazy.

Imagine what all the birds and moustache crafts will look like then!

Holy moly! This is amazing! I could look through vintage craft books and magazines all day long and never get tired of them. I recently scored some old craft magazines and there was an ad for a macrame book & it had a macrame baby door swing - NO.KIDDING. Blew my mind.

And I agree - I am stunned we don't see more macrame in thrift stores or estate sales. Where has all the macrame gone!?

I think "Where Has All the Macrame Gone?" is an old protestors' song from the 60's. Your collection is mind-blowing. And groovy. I'm just surprised that macrame is so popular in haute couture these past few years!

Annika! How lovely to hear from you on this post!

Anyone who wants to see how macrame transitioned to the modern day should take a peek at Annika's book, Micro Macrame:

...Can you please put a tiny little plant hanger in your next book? :-)

after seeing that beautify micro macrame, i'm inspired to make some doll house sized plant hangers and what not. fantastic!

OMG, you're an Inspiration Machine today, Katherine! Now I want to make a 1970's dollhouse. Can you imagine all the fun possibilities there? A tiny granny square afghan would be a must.

Ah the memories!!! We had plant hangers, and wall hangings - never a vest, though. Overachievers!!! My neighbors were making macrame replacements for their lawn chair seats just last summer!

Ooh, that's an awesome use! Those chairs would easily still be around long enough to appear in a craft book 40 years from now. :-)

I do remember the "Macrame" days and still have quite a few pattern books. I can remember making hanging tables in white for baby shower gifts, hanging planters, jewelry and even a hammock!!

Love love love this! I still love macrame, although I haven't done any in a while. Someone just recently asked me to teach them how. I'm going to figure out a design for something similar to that garden curtain - I have a pass through between my kitchen and living room and it would be perfect there! (ps I still have a few of my mom's macrame books from the 70s)!!!

I want to see pictures when it's all done, Cyn! Will it contain small potted plants, then?

I bet I still have the books and supplies! I was into this big time and made tons of plant hangers and other stuff. Loved those T pins..I wonder where they are...Found one of the hangers one day, and just said 'ugh' and could not get myself to use it. I think it was mainly the polyester rope/twine. Today, I think using very fine, maybe silk cord, would interest me. I would cover something small...a checkbook, make a purse, etc. It still fascinates me as a form of art.

There was an iPod cover in an old issue of CRAFT that used that finer cord - it was really cool. The thing I miss most is all the gigantic wooden beads. :-) They doubled as cat toys so nicely!

Do I remember it? I had that book! A birthday present to my ex-husband was one of those hanging side tables. I love it that you posted with this particular book. BTW, my best friend made the vest for herself.

Well that took me I'm going to lay down. That curtain was so epic it made my head explode.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I love macrame:) I used to make purses and wall hangings back in the 70s, and have made a plant hanger as recently as 2001. I even had a hanging table very similar to that one!

I love vintage craft books too. I collect crochet magazines and love to work the patterns. The photos are icing:)

You can do some cute things with those knots that don't look that. I wish I had some of my macrame projects on my blog, but it has been years since I've done it. My mom learned while she was pregnant with me and taught me as a kid. So I missed all of the 70's influence (being 30).

I still love macrame- have a bunch of plant hangers still in use and recently had a great discovery when I found a macrame diaper holder and a macrame mobile in my mother's hope chest! you can bet we are making good use of them in the baby's nursery.

Macrame diaper holder... my head just exploded a little from that! The mobile idea has my wheels turning...

I made and used a diaper holder for two of my three children. It held a box of diapers at the bottom. I loved it! I think I still have all my pattern books hidden away in a closet. Excuse me, I have to go dig them out now.....

My sister was an amazing macrame(r). I remember so many hangers, wall hangings and even a gorgeous double door curtain. I wish I could remember how to do it. Wonder if she can...???

I remember those days!!!! We had to learn Macrame in Art Class in 6th grade! I also remember going in the craft store & finding all those craft books/booklets! I didn't get into it much. I DON'T think scrapbooking will look like this in 40 years!!!! Scrapbooking has something to it that seems more "classic" than macrame! THAT'S FOR SURE!!!!!! LOL

Diane - How did you know I was thinking of creating some plant holder/earrings... :)

As for your 1970's dollhouse, I can make the shag carpeting out of punchneedle embroidery!

That reminds me, sometime in the late 70's I had a latch hook rug kit that was an image from the Lascaux cave was truly truly cool.

Lordy... that has got to be one of the ten coolest crafts of all time. Seriously. I just love the 70's.

3 cheers for macrame! I'm glad I'm not the only person who "appreciates" it! (Soooo want that eagle, btw.) :D

I'm pretty sure that macrame window curtain is actually a portal to Narnia.
I once got a 70's macrame pamphlet because the cover showed a magnificent curtain with all sorts of loops and fiddlybits only to discover the instructions for that curtain were missing. So I had to reverse engineer the pattern and it ended up being a design for a choker.