Although the 1930s was the era of the Great Depression, women’smagazines were full of optimism. Cheery fabrics and colors could be found on new quilt patterns in an attempt to keep creativity alive as homemakers struggled to sew practical items for their families Although quilters were still interested in creating quilts that reminded them of their heritage, they wanted them in happy pastels and lighter colors.
Newspapers also picked up on the surge in quilting and began to feature quilt patterns, as did catalog companies. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, Sears included an exhibit of the winning quilts from their national competition, which had reached women all around the country and netted a response of 24,000 entries.
Pink Fusion, c. 1930 by Sara Morgan
Often referred to as the “Renaissance of Quilting, the 1930s brought a great quilt revival, a result of the hard times of The Great Depression. All across America, activities devoted to the home arts became popular. Quilting groups, shows and newspaper gained popularity, bringing women from California to New England together around their quilting frames. Eleanor Roosevelt's campaign for American Arts and Crafts further helped propel quilting to the forefront of activity. Although times were tough for Americans, quilts of this era were usually bright and cheerful.
What a find! Sara Morgan shares some of her goodies from a very special private collection of vintage swatches she is lucky enough to have acquired for her own stock.
These moons and stars motifs have been reproduced in popular reds, rich burgundys, dark brown, and faded blues from the early-to-mid-19th Century. These small, delicate prints are perfect as fillers with larger patterns or on their own with the appeal of calico-style petites. You’re sure to find them perfect for both vintage reproduction quilts and for projects with contemporary twist.
Dark Chocolate and Lilac, c. 1850 by Sara Morgan
Rich warm browns, subtle lilacs and deep purples make for timeless beauty in this wonderful vintage reproduction collection from Sara Morgan. As was popular in the mid-19th century, the soft florals reflect a sign of the times – elegant prints with strong copper brown accents and finely detailed prints which displayed the strong European influence of the era. The purples of that period were fugitive dyes, often unstable and bleeding onto other fabrics of the quilt, making prints such as these a rare find.
Decorative borders and stylized floral appliqué motifs were indicative of the quilting styles, as were eight-pointed stars. During this period, quilters began to experiment more with piecing patterns and variations.
Wrappers were the casual dresses the women wore for everyday activities. Made to suit the season in either cotton or wool, this comfortable dress was high necked with long sleeves and a free-flowing body. Less fitted than more formal dresses, the wrapper didn’t require hoops, corsets, or bustles, was easy to make, and could easily be adjusted for maternity wear. The style was practical and enduring in popularity and suited women of all ages, including young girls.
As with any dress goods, after the garment was completed, the leftover pieces went into a scrap basket, eventually joining other scraps to make quilts for the family.
Historically, reed pens, quill pens, and dip pens were used with a nib of some sort to be dipped in the ink. The writing instrument that dominated for the longest period in history (over a thousand years) was the quill pen, introduced around 700 A.D.
The quill was a pen made from a bird feather. The strongest quills were those taken from living birds in the spring from the five outer left wing feathers. The left wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used by a right-handed writer. Goose feathers were most common; swan feathers were of a premium grade being scarcer and more expensive. For making fine lines, crow feathers were the best, and then came the feathers of the eagle, owl, hawk and turkey.
We tend to think of quilts from the Civil War era as full of blues, grays, blacks - generally dark colors. These fabrics, reproduced from a quilt of the same name in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum collections, is a cheerful exception. Most of the fabrics in this quilt date back to 1860-1880, although RMQM believes the black ombre may have been a little earlier. The vibrant green color in the small-scale prints was obtained by an overdyeing process popular at that time. The other prints, although typical of the time period, are somewhat rare finds: the dark red with blue and brown, the double pink with machine ground, turkey red with chrome yellow, and brilliant Prussian blue. It is these beautiful fabrics that inspired Blue Hill Fabrics™ to re-create a vintage collection that would appeal to both traditionalists and contemporary quilt artists.
Blue Hill Fabrics™ is pleased to present the first series of new fabric collections born from our alliance with the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. The Ohio Star collection is based on a true gem from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum archives, from the original collection of Lydia Skinner.
Lydia Mitchell was born in Maine, somewhere around 1820, and became the second wife of William Skinner, a mariner who ferried timber harvested in Maine to New Jersey. William was prosperous at the time of their marriage and went on to become quite wealthy. The couple moved to New Jersey and had 12 children. Lydia was an ardent abolitionist, and she was known to have made several quilts that were sold to raise money for the anti-slavery movement and later for the Union Army.
"Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.” Thus starts the novel The House of the Seven Gables written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851. This historic romance, inspired by Hawthorne’s visits to family members who lived in the house, was written the year after Hawthorne penned The Scarlet Letter. This legacy is why the House of the Seven Gables Historic Landmark site exists today, celebrating its 100th Anniversary as a museum dedicated to serving the needs of the community of Salem.