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Try Your Hand at a 1970s Craft

Crochet and macramé are hip again and showing up in unexpected ways

A woman crocheting

Alamy

Crocheting can be a fun craft to do by yourself or in a group setting.

En español | Some of the most popular handmade decor and fashion trends of the 1970s are back — updated to fit today’s aesthetic. “I think we’re in a general ‘makers movement,’ ” says Dayna Isom Johnson, trend expert for the e-commerce crafting site Etsy.

“Younger people, older people — everyone wants to do something with their hands again. People are craving something special,” says Isom Johnson, who is also a judge on the new NBC television show Making It, a competition series for makers that's hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. “They want something unique that can’t be found anywhere else.”

Isom Johnson attributes the resurgence of crafts like macramé and crochet to the modern bohemian trend. Handmade (and handmade-looking) pieces can be purchased online or in stores; or you can learn these crafts yourself with the help of DIY kits and online tutorials. “People are craving that time when you could show off something you made and feel proud,” she adds.

Here are some of today’s hottest decor trends from the 1970s that have been brought back to life.


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A homemade wall decoration hanging above a bed.

AARON BENGOCHEA

A macramé decoration hanging above a bed enhances an otherwise plain wall.

Macramé

Think of the knotted craft macramé, and you likely have visions of white, ropy wall hangings and plant holders. “You’re still seeing wall hangings and plant holders but now in a refreshed way,” Isom Johnson says. “I have a wall hanging in my house that is replacing a headboard. That wasn’t being done in the ’70s, but it’s a trend that’s happening now.”

The resurrected craft is popping up in all manner of home decor and furniture: swinging chairs, benches, table runners. You might even spot some at your child or grandchild’s wedding — draped over the backs of chairs, as photo booth backdrops, even as part of the altar regalia.  

The macramé of today has been reimagined beyond just beige or white: Think ombré effect (fading from one hue of a color to another) and bright, vibrant dyes. These days, materials are more varied than standard brown jute: There's packing twine, cotton rope, hemp, or even jersey (as in T-shirt material).

“I really enjoy making macramé and coming up with new designs and ideas to make them unique,” says Natasha Vahk,  owner of Etsy’s Creative Chic Shop, based in Spokane, Wash. “My newest wall hanging is on a piece of thick rubber pipe with artificial greens inside.”

And the new take on this old craft is resonating. Compared with last year, Etsy has seen searches for macramé increase by 16 percent. Those who are feeling nostalgic — or want to pick up the hobby for the first time — can find thousands of how-to videos on YouTube or order DIY kits from sites such as ModernMacrame.com or Etsy.

Rattan

In the 1970s, entire furniture sets made of rattan (woven using the stems of palm fronds) were commonplace in beach-house living rooms and porches. Nowadays, rattan functions as more of an accessory piece — even for fashion. “You’re seeing it in so many categories across the spectrum — in handbags and earrings, but also mirrors, chairs and other furniture,” says Isom Johnson, who says searches for rattan on Etsy have spiked by 160 percent. “Rattan is certainly something that could be learned by the average crafter, but it takes precision and intricate weaving skills.”

Crochet

“Crochet is still going strong,” says Isom Johnson, pointing to the 1.2 million search results for crochet on Etsy alone. “Pillows and blankets can feature crocheted fringe and pom-pom design, light fixtures are updated with brightly colored crocheted hoods, and popular motifs like crocheted cactuses are used as fun decor inspiration.”

At sites such as B.hooked Crochet, crafters can find free patterns for all types of crocheted items — from whimsical gear for the grandbabies (ice cream swirl hats and stuffed animals) to grocery bags and blankets. There are even crochet podcasts available, such as the Crochet Circle and Power Purls.  

Terrazzo

Dating back centuries, marble-flecked terrazzo surfaces enjoyed great popularity as floors and backsplashes in schools and hospitals of the 1970s. Now the look is back. “In its revival, you find terrazzo has exploded across all categories,” Isom Johnson says. “The speckled effect is mimicked on wallpaper, journals and artwork of all kinds. It’s gorgeous and really fresh.”

You can learn to make your own terrazzo-inspired products on sites like Hunker and YouTube. 

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