#MyrtleMondays: Crafts for Victorian Kids

Well, another week, another harebrained craft project afoot at ecb’s house! Until there’s actual progress to share, let’s take a peek at the crafting life of young 19th century Makers.

When I was small, I looked forward every month to the crafts section of Highlights magazine. Things were no different in the Victorian era. Publications like The Girl’s Own Paper and St. Nicholas Magazine¬†catered to young readers and featured projects they could make themselves.

This knitter seems very focused on her work (circa 1860s)

What activities were popular for young Victorians? Well, many of the same ones we enjoy today, like…


See more of this 1880s child’s scrapbook here. This young scrapbooker had a great knack for composition.

Decoupage! Long before our elder sisters (well, your aunts) were ModPodging magazine scraps to wooden purses, Victorian kids were adorning every surface they could find with the leftover scraps from their scrapbooks.

19th century decoupage trunk

Read more about the history of decoupage here.

All kinds of needlework: knitting, embroidery, needlepoint, and more. If Victorians could stick a sharp object in it, it was fair game.

The Girl’s Own Paper featured this crazy quilt block in 1894. Read more about the crazy for crazy quilts here.¬†(I rather fancy the notion of recreating this block.)

Judging from the extant pieces, needlepoint slippers were a popular gift all throughout the 19th century, and magazines featured patterns to make them.

Child’s bunny slippers, circa 1850-1860

Here’s a gorgeous pattern for men’s slippers–just what your dad wants for Father’s Day (if you start now, you probably have time to finish them)!

The Young Ladies Journal was a popular 19th century British lifestyle magazine for teens.


Taxidermy! No, really. When I was taking Museum Studies in college, I remember my museum director telling me that taxidermy was a popular pastime for Young Ladies of Quality. That tidbit has stuck with me ever since, although I’ve not found confirmation to share with you. However, an article in The Boy’s Own Paper from 1890 entitled “The Young Taxidermist” explains the process of preserving and mounting natural history specimens in quite some detail.

“A Case of Sea-Birds” Boy’s Own Paper 1890

And the Molly Brown House Museum has a fascinating profile of American taxidermist and natural historian Martha Maxwell, which gives scientific, historical, and cultural context to 19th century taxidermy. The preservation process of the era used highly toxic chemicals like arsenic, which is probably at least one of the reasons you don’t see more kids doing taxidermy today.

So, the next time you’re facing down a boring weekend or scrambling for the perfect gift idea, look no further than back in time for your next entertaining project. (Maybe not the taxidermy.)

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