A blast from the past: looking through a vintage Cross Stitcher magazine

While I was out shopping last week, I came across a bundle of old (very old!) Cross Stitcher magazines from 1994 and 1995. I got 8 of them for £3 in a charity shop, and was very pleased with myself.

Vintage 1

When I got home, I sat down with a cup of tea to have a browse through. This is the first one I read, from 1994. It’s amazing how much things have changed since then! The magazine has quite different designs in it from the type that they now feature. There are more detailed designs in the old magazine, and things like the review of kits and charts on one theme (Christmas themes, in this particular issue) cover 26 items! I think that these days, there are far fewer options available to stitchers (in the UK at least), so reviews tend to be far briefer now. The emphasis on ‘country’ themes was clear, too, which isn’t popular much these days.

It may be my imagination, but the paper quality seemed to be better then – more glossy – and the number of pages was greater than now. It is also noticeable that there aren’t many ‘filler pages’ – double-page spreads offering reduced rates for annual subscriptions, and so on.

The articles are very interesting. I liked this one on computer design software, which was quite a new thing back in 1994. They compared four different software programs, varying in price from £32 to £399!! Think how much £399 was worth back in 1994!

Vintage 3

There is a funny paragraph in the computer charting article, which explains what a mouse is for, for those who don’t know:

“Almost everything is done using the mouse (in a computing context a ‘mouse’ is a device that you push around your desk in order to move a pointer around the screen. It has one or more buttons which you ‘click’ to make things happen).”

Another article is about the cross stitch designer Jo Verso, who, at that time, was really well known for her modern ‘sampler type’ small designs, available in book format. Jo was just starting to offer weekend courses, and the writer of the article attended her first one.

Vintage 2

The pages of adverts at the back of the magazine were interesting for two reasons. The first is that there were so many people advertising – both high street shops, and individual designers. Most were offering catalogues available by post, with payment by cheque or with stamps. No websites at all. That seems really strange now. Some people just *described* their designs (no pictures!), and expected you to send off your money based just on that! Also, it’s very obvious from the picture below that the advert pages were all in black and white, as colour printing was expensive, so was saved for the main section of the magazine.  I noted as well that an awful lot of the shops that advertised in 1994 are no longer in existence. And that’s not just because new ones have replaced them – in the UK, it’s now very hard to find an embroidery shop at all, never mind a good one.

Vintage 4

Still, it gave me a couple of hours of nostalgic pleasure to read through the old issue of Cross Stitcher again. And I’ve still got another seven issues to read  🙂


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11 thoughts on “A blast from the past: looking through a vintage Cross Stitcher magazine”

  1. Really interesting. I still have some old magazines, but hardly ever look at them. Now I only get Classic Inspirations regularly.

  2. This made me smile, I can imagine how much you will enjoy reading those magazines. I have an extensive collection of Mary Hickmott’s New Stitches magazine (I gradually collected all the back issues) and it is a real pleasure to re-read them and follow some of the designs. I know exactly what you mean about the adverts, it is astonishing to see the changes over the last 20 years … and yes, they can be quite funny! Even though technology has moved on so much though, the stitching advice never really dates! 🙂

  3. You are so right! Many of the older magazines and much more detailed designs. The newer ones are just same old, same old. If I see another Teddy Bear, snowman, or cat I will scream.
    Unfortunately, some of the best, like The Needleworker, which was bought out by Piecework and turned into a knitting/crocheting magazine, and the OLD Cross Stitch and Country Crafts and Treasures in Needlework are now defunct. Even New Stitches lacks the detail and variety it used to have.

    1. New Stitches, as a magazine, stopped in December of 2014, I think. It’s run as a blog and mail order business only, by Mary Hickmott now, so you can still access new designs, but not buy the magazine any more, unfortunately. Pity, as I used to like that one!!

  4. I used to buy Cross Stitcher quite regularly back then. I think it’s only a few years ago, not over 20 LOL.
    I think the variety of techniques was much wider then although the type of designs were rather dated. They were not so afraid of evenweave, sometimes the cover kits came with evenweave. Now the UK mags seem to think anything other than 14 count aida is daring!
    I do enjoy getting some of my older magazines out for a browse now. I also remember sending off an SAE for the Mirabilia catalogue!

  5. I must go look through my old copies. I have them from the first issue for about 20 years. I got bored with it years ago and tired of the same old Marie Barber designs. All I get now is the annual Holiday Ornament issue.
    Miss the other old magazines, still have quite a few of those too.

  6. The stitching was also more accessible – not so many speciality threads that are hard to find and expensive!

    1. I think that’s more a problem for people in the USA – in the UK, mot designs are sold as kits rather than charts, with all the materials provided. But yes, speciality threads can be expensive, although they are lovely to work with.

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