Knitting,  Vintage

1940s Joan Crawford Knitted Jumper

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My usual posting, and making, schedule has been interrupted by the arrival of some work. I’ve been working on a local outdoor Shakespeare festival as a wardrobe assistant. So far I’ve mostly been working on Henry V, however this production is set in a WW1 field hospital, making it my 6th WW1 production in 4 years. I’m hoping to update my portfolio with some production shots once they become available but in the mean time enjoy this photo of some of the adorable company I’ve been keeping.

Anyway, back to the 1940s.

Knitting jumpers in the summer feels very strange. But when I came across this book in my local library I was so inspired by this image of Joan Crawford I knew I just had to make this jumper.

Vintage Hollywood Knits by Bill Gibb Cover photo of Joan Crawford

Those shoulder! The wide round collar! I loved it and I knew I had to make it.

I decided to use some Periwinkle Blue acrylic I already had in my stash. Why? Because buying new wool when I already own so much goes against the whole idea of sustainability that I try to practice in every aspect of my life. Yes I know new things are exciting, but do you know what’s even more exciting? Making something new from something I already own.

I also would have liked to make it in something other than acrylic. But the acrylic was bought long before I knew about micro-plastics and started on my sustainable fashion journey. So I will have to settle for knowing this jumper is going to wash really well and hold its shape.

The Finished Jumper


The textured pattern was really simple to knit. Actually it was too simple, not only did I get bored of knitting it quite quickly but I would also zone out and make mistakes and not notice. Very annoying. It is also relatively shapeless and has knitted up much bigger than I expected. Rather than the slim fitting knit that Joan Crawford wears, mine definitely veers towards comfy.

Also, I have NO IDEA how you are supposed to gather that sleeve head into the armhole. I took the decision to pleat mine which creates a really boxy shape which I love. But seriously, the gathers would have been about 2 inches thick and I was not feeling that.

Close up sleeve detail 1940s Knitted Jumper

I did contemplate wearing the jumper and styling some photos, but honestly, it’s just too hot for that. All I can say is roll on the autumn so I can wear this beauty out and show off those sleeves.

What do you think of my second vintage knitted jumper? I’m certainly excited to start on the next one.

Claude x


  • M


    I’ve made this sweater as well and my sleeves were exactly the same size as the armsyce… No gathering needed….. I went back and double checked everything and it’s all good. Maybe there is a bit of weirdness in the scaling between sizes? I have no idea, but I have sent it to my mum to try and figure out. She solves all of my sewing and knitting problems!

    Your finished jumper is gorgeous! Well done. 😀

    • Retro Claude

      How strange? I’ve just looked at the pattern again and can’t spot anything obvious. I’d love to see yours when it’s finished. I hope you figure out what’s happened with your sleeves! Claude x

      • Nadia

        I’m working on this sweater as well and I’m also having trouble with the sleeves. While knitting my first sleeve, I noticed that all of the increases are falling on the same side because the row pattern is an even number. Did that happen to you? Was it an issue for you in the long run?

        • Retro Claude

          Hello! This pattern seems to be causing a lot of trouble for a lot of people! For the sleeves, the instructions I have are:
          13 rib rows, a row of Purl Front and Back increases, Knit 2 rows, then continue in pattern increasing and working into pattern 1 st at each end of 3rd and every following 6th (4th,4th,4th,4th,4th) rows to 77 (83,83,83,87,87) sts. Work straight unitl 21cms from cast on edge ending with WS row.

          Then for the decreases at the top: Dec 1 sts at each end of next and every following 4th row to 69 (75,75,75,79,79) sts. Dec 1 sts at beg of next 26(32,32,32,36,36) rows. 43 sts. Next row: Sl 1, patt to last st, K1. Cast off.

          My sleeves worked okay with these instructions, I’m starting to wonder if there was a misprint in an edition of this pattern. Do these instructions match yours?