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July 31, 2012

This IS Your Granny’s Crafting! Chair Sets Edition

By Betty Crafter


Today’s craft is DEFINITELY a granny craft. Chair sets from a 1945 crochet pamphlet. These seem to have been left firmly in the true granny craft category. I have never seen a chair set on the furniture of any of my friends, even the most die hard vintage purists.

I guess I really don’t even understand the purpose of a chair set. To keep the furniture from getting dirty in heavy use areas? Seems like a white doily would show a lot more dirt than the dark upholstery fabric, but what do I know?

Am I missing something? All I know is Mr. Crafter would swiftly and loudly nix any chair set aspirations I had, even if I wanted some. They are decidedly feminine, for sure. And not just feminine, pretty granny-like.

So what do you think? Granny craft better left in the past, or are chair sets an authentic, pretty finishing touch to your midcentury decor? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

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19 Responses to This IS Your Granny’s Crafting! Chair Sets Edition

  1. letthemwin Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 11:00 am

    If I were home I could send a pic of the spots on a couple of my current chairs that these chair sets would have prevented. Mr G would also nix anything remotely granny looking on our easy chairs.

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      letthemwin, there’s got to be a good solution besides shampooing the couch that will be husband approved!

  2. RetroRuth Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I have some chair sets that were made by my grandmother, and I REALLY want to use them, but I am in the same boat as you. Tom would never let that go!!

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Yep, Ruth, even my granny square afghan is pushing it! 🙂

  3. Silvercat Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I think the idea is that you can take it off the chair and launder it, which is rather easier than cleaning the chair…

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Good point Silvercat! Much easier than shampooing the couch…

  4. SusanD Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I remember seeing them on the furniture of ladies in my grandmother’s generation, who probably would have been in their late forties and early fifties in 1947. The purpose was to protect the areas of the furniture that received the most use with something decorative and easily laundered. Unfortunately, many women in the next generation discarded these items for something much less attractive and much less comfortable – plastic slipcovers.

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Ooohh Susan, I think I’d prefer the chair sets to plastic slipcovers! Although as a vintage dealer, I LOVE finding furniture that has had plastic slipcovers on it through the years b/c it’s in perfect condition!

  5. Sara In AZ Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I guess the way we are going here – seems like none of our furniture will have arms soon! 🙂 We just got another vintage couch (with no arms this time) and our other couch only has one arm – so we’d have no where to put them!

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Sara, I hear ya! Armless couches are definitely a trend that has survived the times! I have a couple as well.

  6. Andrea Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I am another one echoing the sentiment that they were most likely to prevent wear on the most worn areas. However, looking at these gave me a thought – I am thinking they would lose a lot of the granny look if they weren’t white. If you made them out of say a black crochet cotton, for example – I think that would make them look a lot less granny. I guess they wouldn’t look quite as “authentic”, but could be interesting!

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Andrea, I was thinking something similar! I was actually thinking a multicolor one, kind of like a granny square, might be kind of cute. Great minds think alike! 🙂

  7. clotho98 Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    The covering on the back of the chair is called an antimacassar. It was meant to protect the chair from all manner of hair oil (called Macassar oil) and “greasy kid stuff” that people used back in the day. I can remember people still using them when I was a kid (1960s). I have patterns for them dating back into the mid-1800s. Making a set for myself is on my list of things to do, but in the meantime, I’ve been known to substitute regular doilies.

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      cloth098, please send us pics when you do get some made for yourself! We’d love to see!

  8. Laura Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    My Great Aunt was a dedicated user of “doily sets” as she called them. In fact, I can’t recall a single stick of furniture in her house that didn’t have one of these across the back.

    A lot of men in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s used a lot of products in their hair–Brylcreem, Vitalis, stuff like that. Some of that stuff was greasy–my Grandma said it used to drive her crazy with the collars of shirts, bedsheets and upholstery, and THAT was the main reason ladies used these chair sets. Sheets and shirts could be laundered, armchairs could not!

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Laura, that is a great point. I dated a couple of pompadour-having boys in my day and I tell you what – my fine thin hair always looked like total crap b/c of all the pomade that would inevitably get into my own hair. I can imagine the grossness it would inflict on furniture!

  9. Amanda Reply

    July 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    My grandmother had these on her furniture that were actually crocheted by her grandmother! As others have mentioned, these doilies are meant to keep the furniture clean, since people used to be a lot dirtier back then. And cleaning doilies was a lot easier than cleaning furniture.

    Design-wise, they are OK. But I always found these doilies to be annoying whenever I sat on my grandmother’s furniture. Maybe it was because I was a fidgety kid, but the doilies always wanted to slip off the furniture, so you’re constantly having to re-arrange them or put them back on.

    • Betty Crafter Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Amanda, I wonder if they pinned them on or something? Cause that constant re-positioning would drive me batty!!

      • Julie Reply

        July 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm

        They did pin them on sometimes with straight pins.

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