it was the 70’s

You know how you can look back at photos from the 1950’s or the 1980’s and just tell from a glance when they were taken? I mean, tiny waists and bullet bras are an easy indicator of the New Look “Mad Men” era 1950’s, right? And bell-bottom pants are a dead give-away for the 1970’s. (Personally, I had a killer pair of purple bell-bottoms with silver studs running up the side seams. And a pair of plaid bell-bottoms too, now that I think about it.)

Well, have you ever noticed how different decades have their own “look”, even in printed quilting cotton fabrics? I was rooting around in my mom’s scrap bin during a trip home and came across all these swatches from my childhood. They bring back memories for me. So many of these fabrics became dresses for me and my sisters. And to me these prints all scream “1976” or thereabouts. The little calico florals and the color palettes together say it all.

I think about this a lot. (Not sure why, but I do. Maybe because I’ve been around sewing for so many years now?) In the past decade or so we’ve seen the trend toward the really traditional Asian-influenced prints, the batik trend (which seems to be on its way out, yes?), and what else? I can’t remember without digging through my Mom’s scrap bin, I guess. But what is the trend for this decade? Designer prints? Lots of vibrant color? Both?

I think it’s fun to see trends change, but I don’t keep a lot of scraps around. We generate so many scraps in our studio that we quickly run out of space, and with such severe budget cuts in the school system I’ve found many art teachers who are thrilled to receive a box of scraps whenever we need to clear out some space. So I may never have a bin of old scraps for S to sort through. But I’m curious to see where printed fabrics go next: what color palettes and themes will define each decade.

Have you seen any themes recently in your own purchases or interests?




  1. Wow. That last purple print at the bottom looks really familiar. 🙂

    I loved this post. My mom was sewing for my sisters and I during the same time. I remember those clothes and the fabrics so well…

  2. karmela

    fabric is like fashion, the trends come and go quickly. i think that ikat fabrics are very in right now. i’m totally into them!

  3. db

    OK – I have yardage form 6 of those swatches upstairs right now! My daughter’s Raggedy Ann doll is dressed in the royal blue flowers in the first batch! Am I really that old?!?! 🙁 Thanks for the walk down memory lane

  4. Teri

    LOL! I have 3 of those printss in my stash. I’m one of THOSE moms!

  5. Emily P

    Holly Hobbie “patchwork” prints? Still luv ’em…

  6. I have a new love for fabric. I really like the duck fabric at Hobby Lobby.

    Ha, Last night I was looking at some older fabric scraps from something my Mom made 20 years ago. I love fabric trends..

  7. Addie

    I remember struggling to find fabrics that I considered fashionable when my mom and I sewed dresses for me as a child and teen. Now with the faster production model, multiple collections per year, and the attention to runway fashion that fabric designers have I see a lot of the same trends across fashion. Right now I see lots of color: orange, grey, pink, aqua; handmade floral patterns; ethnic inspired graphic prints; sixties influences, and simplified line drawing type prints with nature themes. All my sewing inspiration starts with fabric in some way.

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