Great Depression patterns + scraps: a perfect pair (+ sale!)

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Detail of Jeweled Wedding Ring quiltThe first 1930s reproduction fabrics appeared in the late 1980s. Within 10 years, they were seemingly everywhere, along with authentic 1930s patterns to use them in. Even now, many fabric companies include a ’30s collection in each season’s new line. That means that quite a few of you have a ’30s stash to be proud of!

The prints of the ’30s were simpler and less stylized than their predecessors, and their colors were sweet and sunny. They were meant to be uplifting at a time when folks really needed a reason to smile.

As cheerful as they are on their own, 1930s prints seem to be happiest when they’re tossed together in a scrappy design. It’s like a party in a quilt!

Some blocks and quilts showcase your scraps even better than others do. These beauties from Treasures from the ’30s by Nancy Mahoney let you really mix it up. Nancy designed her quilts using authentic Great Depression patterns (see insets, lower right).

Bride's Quilt Whirling Fans quilt
“Bride’s Quilt” and “Whirling Fans” from Treasures from the ’30s

Rose and Trellis quilt Beginner's Luck quilt
“Rose and Trellis” and “Beginner’s Luck” from
Treasures from the ’30s

You’ll find more scrappy 1930s quilts in Quilt Revival by Nancy Mahoney.

From Quilt Revival
“Treasure Chest,” “Flying Kites,” and “Shadow Star” from Quilt Revival

Sisters Kay Connors and Karen Earlywine were introduced to quilts by their grandmother. They fell in love with the mix of colorful prints and bright solids in 1930s quilts. Their book Link to the ‘30s includes these fantastic patterns and more, all based on authentic designs.

Quilts from Link to the 30s
“Chain Link,” “Stars in the Attic,” and “Double Windmill” from Link to the ’30s

Is appliqué your thing? Nancy Mahoney selected outstanding examples from her collection of ’30s patterns for her book Applique Quilt Revival.

From Applique Quilt Revival
“Tulip Patch,” “House on a Hill,” and “Bunny Hop” from Appliqué Quilt Revival


Which of these movies from the 1930s describes your ’30s stash: You Can’t Take It with You (my stash exceeds my life expectations), Gone with the Wind (been there, done that), or Modern Times (sorry, ’30s prints don’t float my boat)? Tell us in the comments.

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34 Comments (leave a comment)

  • You Can’t Take It with You definitely describes my 30’s stash. 30’s fabrics just give me a happy feeling.

    —Joan Furrey on May 25, 2015
  • Actually I don’t any of those fit my 30’s stash at all I’m more of "Catch Me If You Can" as I don’t have very many at all and would to procure some from from my friend who is the "You Can’t Take It With You" camp.

    Tricia Morrison-Stork on May 25, 2015
  • I adore 30’s fabric. You can’t take it with you would describe me the best!! These quilts you have introduced are gorgeous…..cannot wait to buy buy buy

    —Beth McConnell on May 25, 2015
  • I want to be in the "Can’t take it with you" camp. I’ve always loved ’30s prints….just never bought any…..until this spring! Now I am in the "got a good start" group. Funny thing, when I told my 25 year old daughter, she "adores ’30s prints and has always wanted one and…". She already has 3 quilts picked out for me to make. BUT a couple of the patterns are on the modern quilt side. It’s true….’30s prints go with everything.

    —DebMac on May 25, 2015
  • You can’t take it with you is definitely my thing. I love the 30’s fabrics.

    —Patricia Roberts on May 25, 2015
  • The 30s fabrics in my stash are more "When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day" … mostly blues and yellows, and probably more like blenders than prima donnas. I mostly use them to play with the bolder, stronger fabrics rather than be on their own, whether in traditional blocks or in my own designs. I like "Chain Link" and "Stars in the Attic" designs shown above.

    —Jane on May 25, 2015
  • I’m afraid I belong to the "can’t take it with me" group! Poor kids when they have to clean up after me when I am gone! But before I go, I will cut as much of the fabric as I can just to leave them guessing what I meant to do with it! They already have me pegged as "demented by fabric"!

    —Bev Gunn on May 25, 2015
  • Modern Times – however, I will need a 30’s stash eventually because my husband wants me to remake his Grandmothers Dresden Plate quilt that he inherited. Plus I LOVE the Applique Quilt Revival book!

    —Judy F on May 25, 2015
  • Gone With the Wind.

    —Jill Hicks on May 25, 2015
  • I have so many scraps, I even put some in fancy jars and label them as precious fabrics an give as gifts to friends…So, "You can’t take it with you" would be my favorite show of the 30’s…I love 30’s fabrics…and am working on a King size Dresden plate 30’s quilt, have 1/4 of it completed!

    —Jeanette S on May 25, 2015
  • "Can’t take it with you."

    —carol on May 25, 2015
  • I think 30’s fabrics are great! But, my stash is devoid of any and all, sorry to say.

    —Diana O on May 25, 2015
  • Modern Times, but not overly big and wild that reminds me of 1970.

    —Linda Christianson on May 25, 2015
  • What a fun question! My stash reminds me of "You can’t take it with you" since it is overflowing with 30’s fabrics, and several patterns stashed with the chosen fabrics, too. LOL

    Snoodles on May 25, 2015
  • You Can’t Take it With You … translation If I could live until I depleted my stash to zero, I’d be 250 years old when I died.

    —Maggie Fitz on May 25, 2015
  • Definitely "You Can’t Take It With You"!

    —Joni Clark on May 25, 2015
  • Modern times is my stash,But I am looking into finishing/repairing a quilt made by my grandmother. She passed away in 1955 but I do not remember her quilting (sadly)and want to find the right fsbric to fill in some missing pieces that have disintagrated and replace the old sheet backing. It had a cotton batting fill which also fell apart.

    —ELIZAJANE on May 25, 2015
  • You Can’t Take It With You! I didn’t think I had a stash – then reality set in. LOL. HOW does that happen??

    —Rose D. on May 26, 2015
  • Definitely "You Can’t Take it With You!"

    —LaVonne on May 26, 2015
  • I fit into the Modern Times category, but my best quilting buddy loves 30’s and probably fits into the You Can’t Take it with you category.

    —Lynn D in NC on May 27, 2015
  • Yep, Lynn D is correct! My stash fits the "can’t tke it with you" category! Love those 30’s repros!

    —Sandy A in St. Louis on May 27, 2015
  • I probably fit in the Can’t take it with you category but wish I had more 1930’s fabric.

    —Pam on May 27, 2015
  • Looks like most people so far love the 30s prints. Me too! I do have a tote bag full of 30s prints, but my stash has temporarily swallowed them. Wonder where they are?

    —Dot on May 28, 2015
  • Can’t Take it With You fits me to a T

    —pansy girl, on May 29, 2015
  • I’m definitely in the ‘Can’t tke it with you’ category – and happily so

    —Carole-Jayne on May 29, 2015
  • I love the 30s reproduction fabrics and have been collecting them for years! I am a "Can’t Take It With You" gal so must get to my rotary cutter and sewing machine soon!

    —Marge in State College on May 29, 2015
  • "you Can’t Take It With You"

    —Marilyn Logan on May 29, 2015
  • You Can’t Take It With You; because I sew all the time, but keep buying more fabric. It’s like eating potato chips; almost impossible to eat just one! And going into a fabric or quilt shop is feast for the eyes: so many colors, textures, and choices!!

    —Norma on May 29, 2015
  • None of them fit, but I’d love to build my stash. I like the fabrics, and love the House on the Hill pattern.

    —Cindy S on May 29, 2015
  • My movie title would be more like "Great Expectations". I’ve purchased a stash of 30’s prints but I just need to find the right pattern and some time to start using them. Hopefully someday…………..

    —Mary Smith on May 29, 2015
  • You can’t take it with you – I grew up with feed sack dish towels (my mother still uses them!) and my stash of 30s prints is comforting and reminiscent of my childhood.

    —Donna M on May 29, 2015
  • Actually, I have acquired almost enough 30’s fabric to make a quilt. The pattern is very simple and should be easy to put together and brighten up my guest room.

    —Linda Towers on May 29, 2015
  • I made a "Churn Dash" quilt using the 30’s material. It was a wedding present for my granddaughter. Also from scraps made a pillow to match.
    Love the 30’s materials. Am going to make a scrap quilt using my scraps.

    Marion on May 30, 2015
  • Personally I’m a ModernTimes kinda gal, but I have good friends who adore these prints and quilts, so my stash has some. They do add some happiness to baby quilts even with a modern take.

    —DA Furr on June 2, 2015

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