Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hostess With the Mostess

Rose Bouquet Hostess Set from Coats & Clark’s Hostess Book, 1956

Today’s reading is from the Book of Hostess, year of our Lords, Coats & Clarks, 1956. Gather, ye heathens. . . Ahem, I mean, ye housewives. Gather round the dining room table, and take heed:

"Since the time of the early settlers, when a hostess was liable to find herself dispensing good food and cheer to neighbors from miles around, Americans have been hospitable people."
Verily, hostessing is your patriotic duty!
"Today’s smart hostess, with all her labor saving devices to assist in the preparation of the meal, has more time than her pioneer ancestress to plan the attractive decoration of her party table."
Yea, though 1950s America is the land of milk and honey, you’re stuck in your suburban prefab home with idle hands just itching to do the devil’s work. But your salvation is close at hand. . . .
"Now, for the discriminating homemaker who likes to be different, we present the newest idea in dining-room décor . . . dainty handmade place mats with matching aprons, that we have christened ‘Hostess Sets.’"
So wash down "Mother’s Little Helper" with your morning gin and tonic, paste a big smile on your face, bring out your best chinaware, and take up the holy cause of ensuring your apron matches your dingy pink placemats.

And if the ladies from the Women’s Missionary Society dare ask “did you forget to make matching napkins?” or “why are we eating soup out of cabbages?” just smite the unbelievers with your giant china onion.

After all, you can always use your new placemats to clean up the unholy mess.
For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Rose Bouquet . . . a happy combination of dainty Irish crocheted lace and sheer organdie . . . perfect for a party luncheon.
Because nothing says “happy” like a dismal gray photo. Then again, Ireland was a wee bit more dismal than happy in 1956.
J. & P. COATS BIG BALL BEST SIX CORD MERCERIZED CROCHET, Art. A. 104, Size 30: 10 balls of No. 65 Beauty Pink, or

CLARK’S BIG BALL MERCERIZED CROCHET, Art. B.34, Size 30: 9 balls of No. 65 Beauty Pink.

Milwards Steel Crochet Hook No. 10.

2 yards of pink organdy, 36 inches wide.

Place Mat measures 12 x 18 inches. Each Motif measures 3 inches square.
If you stare at the close up photo long enough, the lace starts to look like it’s slowly sinking into a quicksand of organdy.
PLACE MAT (Make 4) – First Motif . . . Starting at Center, ch 8. Join with sl st to form ring. 1st rnd: Ch 6, dc in ring, (ch 3, dc in ring) 4 times; ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch of ch-6. 2nd rnd: In each sp around make sc, dc, 7 tr, dc and sc (6 petals). 3rd rnd: *Ch 6, sl st through the back of next sc on next petal. Repeat from * around. Join. 4th rnd: In each loop around make sc, dc, 7 tr, dc and sc (6 petals). Join. 5th rnd: Ch 5, sl st in 3rd ch from hook (picot), * ch 5, make a picot, ch 2, sc in center of next petal (picot loop), make another picot loop having the sc between this and next motif. Repeat from * around. Join (12 picot loops). 6th rnd: Sl st to center of next picot loop, sc in same loop, * make a picot loop, sc in center of next picot loop. Repeat from * around. Join. 7th rnd: Sl st to center of next picot loop, ch 3, 4 dc in same loop, * (ch 7, sc in center of next picot loop) twice; ch 7, 5 dc in next loop. Repeat from * around. Join last ch-7 to 3rd ch of ch-3. 8th rnd: Sc in same place as sl st, sc in next 4 dc, * 7 sc in next 3 loops, sc in next 5 dc. Repeat from * around. Join. 9th rnd: Ch 4, * skip 1 sc, in next sc make (dc, ch 1) twice and dc; (ch 1, skip 1 sc, dc in next sc) 12 times; ch 1. Repeat from * around. Join. 10th rnd: In each sp around make sc, ch 3 and sc. Join and break off.
Obviously the pattern editor has never heard of avoiding large, indigestible blocks of text. Either that, or he really is trying to make housewives crack up under the pressure.
SECOND MOTIF . . . Work as for First Motif until 9 rnds have been completed. 10th rnd: In next sp make sc, ch 3 and sc; sc in next sp, ch 1, sl st in corresponding sp of First Motif, ch 1, sc in same place as last sc on Second Motif, join next 14 ch-3 loops to First Motif as first ch-3 loop was joined. Make 2 more strips like this. Cut a piece of organdy, 12 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches. Roll a hem around all edges. Place strips of motifs on top (see illustration) and sew in place.
Personally, I’m leaning toward the second theory.
APRON . . . Make 4 rows of 7 motifs. Cut a piece of organdy, 19 x 27 inches. Make a 1 3/8-inch hem around 3 sides, mitering corners. Gather top edge to measure 14 inches. With remaining material make waistband and ties and sew in place. Place rows of motifs on top of Apron inside of hems at equal distances apart and sew in place.
Or you could just purchase a plain apron and sew the motifs onto it. Even better, just save yourself the money, forget about all of this hostess sets nonsense, and go to the liquor store.

After all, your friends will appreciate generous servings of 12 year old Irish whiskey far more than a bunch of Irish lace motifs.

Take it from Martha Stewart. Getting soused in a ratty old apron – it’s a good thing.

Click here for the printable pattern.


  1. with the look on her face i'd say this took place in stepford.

  2. She cooks as good as she looks. ;-)

    (Evidently she cooks crazy.)