A Snapshot in Time - 1930s Signature Quilt

Ruby's Signature Quilt ca. 1931 
Photo courtesy of Katherine N.
I am so excited to share with you some of the fabrics from this fabulous 1931 signature quilt owned by my long-time best friend Katherine. The quilt originally belonged to her grandmother, Ruby, who was from Kansas, where the quilt was made. The quilt was made for Ruby's 16th birthday, possibly her graduation, and includes embroidered signatures of brothers, sisters, parents, school teachers, and friends of Ruby. It's a wonderful piece of family history for Katherine's family.

What I love about this quilt, besides all the cool, embroidered signatures, are the fabric prints - which are what I wanted to showcase. What a great snapshot of fabric from the time! When I want to learn about the fashions of a particular time period, I think the hardest part is wrapping your head around what was in style for the types of fabric and prints, and understanding the ebb and flow of fashion through the decades. It's hard keeping it all straight! I am so happy Katherine agreed to let me share these wonderful fabrics from her heirloom quilt.

I think there are about 45 different fabrics used in the quilt, and I show most of them down below except for a few gingham checks which are pretty basic and still around today. You'll see I used a penny on each fabric to give a good sense of the size of the prints.

This yellow, green, and red one is my absolute favorite!



Aren't these amazing? There are so many delicious prints. From these examples here, we can see that the late 1920s to early 1930s cotton prints were characterized by small sized prints, florals, geometric designs, foreground shapes with different textured backgrounds, and a softer color palette. Red is about the brightest color, and many of these are earth tones. Collectively, these are a great way to study what was popular at the time.

Quilts & fabrics in general are a great way to preserve history. I talked with an owner of a lovely antique mall in Ellicott City, Maryland, who told me of her mother's quilt that she made at the start of WWII. For every new thing that happened in the war she made a new square, so the whole quilt is a fabric documentation of the war! Isn't that fabulous! I would love to be able to see it.

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot in time for 1930s cotton prints. A big thanks to Katherine for her willingness to share her incredible heirloom quilt!


  1. I was sure I'd posted a comment! This quilt is amazing. I love the close-up pictures of those fabulous prints. What a treasure!


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