Do you think the dusty colors will come back?

A while ago a found these old nine-patch blocks I made from my mom’s fabric scraps sometime around 1987.  I kept them for the sentimental value – some of my first quilt blocks (they’re pretty sloppy – but that’s so charming right? Pre-“wonky”-cool. :)  I also kept them because they’re such a relic of the dusty color pallette that was so popular in the late 80’s.

image here
But I’m starting to wonder if those dusty colors will make a comeback sooner than I thought. (Not that I’nm looking for them – for me dusty colors evoke memories of that dorky pre-teen era of my life). But check out these images I found via Pinterest where the dusty, muted colors are evident.  Succulents (those kind of rubbery plants) are so hot right now, for example. 
Here are a few other images from Design Seeds – a really cool site that plays with color.
I won’t even pretend to be a Design/Style/Trend-setter guru, but I am fascinated by color trends (and sometimes a little bugged – it sometimes feels like a conspiracy by the design world to make us always want new stuff.)  20 years ago who would have thought that we’d all want things that were avacado green, orange, and goldenrod yellow again?  I remember laughing at the orange my grandma had picked to recover her chairs in the 1970’s. Now those same orange chairs are my favorite furnishings in my house! And look at how popular the gray and pink combo is right now. I remember the outfit I carefully picked out for the first day of 4th grade was a gray and pink argyle vest with gray corduroy bermuda shorts. I thought I was hot stuff.
So what is the point of this post? I guess for me it is to keep creating stuff out of the colors that speak to me at the moment (bright primary colors are what I seem most drawn to right now) because I could be surprised when those tastes change again. Which also means I need to use up the fabric I have quick before I want some thing new. 😉


  1. says

    My first quilt work is in these same colors! A couple of the fabrics look identical to mine. I think they will be back but in different combinations – I don't think the pink and blue will return together!

  2. says

    Trust me, there are still plenty of things that should not be avocado green – like the toilet and sink in my guest bathroom!!! 😉 <br /><br />I think you could make the dusty colors of your blocks work, in a brand-new-yet-vintage quilt – if the kids are buying their jeans torn-but-new, who says you can&#39;t sell a quilt that&#39;s vintage-but-finished-yesterday? :)

  3. says

    YES~ they will come back. Home decor and color changes just like fashion. It always repeats itself…but usually with a bit of a twist to make it just a bit different.<br /><br />I have some of those very fabrics! Wow! <br /><br />So I&#39;d say that you could just finish up those squares into something lovely and then when they DO come back into vogue, you&#39;re way ahead of the game!

  4. says

    It isn&#39;t a conspiracy! They do usher in new colors to sell things! And since everything old will be new again, I suppose dusty mauve and cornflower blue will come back too, but I don&#39;t see it happening very soon. :-) Those colors look exactly like our whole house in the 80s.

  5. says

    Everything seems to come back around! And part of me hopes so – half my stash would fit right in! :-)<br />(don&#39;t you love Design Seeds?)

  6. says

    I seriously hope not! I have left yards and yards of cheap 80&#39;s fabric at the local thrift store. That dusty blue and mauve along with all the farm animal decor was big when I was growing up but I don&#39;t think I could stomach it a second time around. <br /><br />I learned my lesson with the raqua trend…just because it is super cute and everybody is doing it doesn&#39;t mean I should.

  7. says

    I agree that whoever sets color trends bugs me! I love color for reasons other than popularity. Its a shame we EVER have to feel a color is outdated.

  8. says

    I love today&#39;s new colors and fabric collections!! <br />However, I still have many of the fabrics I see in your &quot;old squares&quot; in my stash :) I think their muted colors are pretty, soft, and have a dreamy country cottage look. I think they are coming back as I&#39;m seeing hints of them at some of the online fabric stores. I&#39;m thinking of cutting my old softly muted fabrics

  9. says

    I have the same problem! I have a collection of blocks from my mom&#39;s stash and I can&#39;t let go of them, but I don&#39;t know what to do with them! Maybe sash them with some of that lovely, pale gray so popular now? If you come up with anything, let me know. I&#39;ll do the same!

  10. says

    Yes – these colors will come back! I think sashing them with white or grey (or navy/dark turquoisey?) freshens them – instead of a beige calico-y print that you might have used at the time. Maybe a solid linen-color though? <br /><br />Look at those white centers! You are ahead of the game.

  11. says

    I think anything goes. There have been several designers at my quilt guild meetings this year showing scrap quilts. One designer goes to thrift stores and buys used clothing to cut up for quilts and she has several books published. Use what you like. No one has to follow the crowd. Those are the people who usually make the new trends.

  12. says

    So funny. The house I grew up in was completely decorated in dusty pinks and blues! I have a stack of my mother&#39;s 9-patches in the very, very similar prints and colors as yours. All hand-stitched…and not all straight. I keep thinking I&#39;ll sash them and make a top sometime.

  13. says

    Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts did a post yesterday showing a line of fabric coming out in September (Cabbages and Roses, I think) that uses those three same colors–dusty pink, green and blue. so you may be on to something!

  14. says

    I am not a trend setter and barely am awake enough to be a trend watcher but I did notice at Gap that the dusty colors are coming back!! You remember those shorter, pastel plaid, preppy boys shorts? That&#39;s right, they&#39;re there… I&#39;m not a fan of those but I am a fan of the colors and use of colors you posted! That floral arrangement is beautiful!

  15. says

    You know everything that goes around, comes around, so I imagine dusty colors will make a comeback. i had some of the dusty mauve in your blocks. i saw Barbara Walters on the view the other day and her suit had shoulderpads. EEEk!

  16. says

    I totally love how things come around again! The other day I was out with my husband (who&#39;s only known me since 2004) and I asked if he wanted to see what I looked like in the &#39;80s. I pointed out a young gal walking by in an outfit EXACTLY like one I had then. Her hair was even styled the same way. Unbelievable.

  17. says

    The feel of those old blocks kind of reminds me of Fig Tree fabrics. <br /><br />My friend D had her room redecorated in the most awesome peach and sage green, in the late 80s. I was so jealous. <br /><br />I think the muted colors will come back, but I can&#39;t really imagine it. Just like I couldn&#39;t imagine wide jeans coming back in style during the late 80s. Or skinny ones coming back…

  18. says

    Yeah …. they&#39;ll be back. Everything old is new again. <br /><br />I just ordered myself some funky new glasses and just realized they&#39;re the same glasses I had in high school.

  19. says

    Hehe – uh, no – I will never miss the avocado greens and oranges of the 70s! I will be blissfully &quot;unique&quot; if those colors go dominant again in decor. <br /><br />But – I&#39;m wondering *why* the colors have to be in style for you to make a quilt out of your blocks?<br /><br />How totally cool to make a memory quilt for yourself out of them! Throw them together with some Kona solids

  20. says

    I just started watching Mad Men (set in 1960 – at least the 1st season which I&#39;m on) &amp; was just telling my husband how much stuff in thier homes &amp; offices looked &quot;modern&quot; to me &amp; hoe many contemporary quilt palates I was seeing! Hmm … I think I have an idea! ;]

  21. says

    they will work, but they will always whisper &quot;the 80&#39;s&quot; that is OK… but if you piece them on point with gray.. or maybe offset by a Fasset print of flowers they can be beautiful.

  22. says

    &quot;Fresh Picked&quot; is the color scheme in our soon-to-be finished addition. I went with a light peach for the wall color, with blue and white accents. Granted, I did it more out of necessity than choice. We &quot;inherited&quot; a couch from my folks (Ethan Allen circa 1989) and I was unwilling to divert funds to recover it. {grin} That said, I love the peach! I have big, bold colors on

  23. says

    You are going to be so ready when those colors come back in style! I remember when wide-leg pants came back in style and I swore I&#39;d never wear bell-bottoms, but I did! What about the &#39;pegged&#39; pants that we wore rolled up and often pinned? I just bought some like that this week? Sometimes the style looks a little weird to me at first, but then I love it! I&#39;m sure I&#39;ll

  24. says

    Greetings from Tunisia! Just stopped by to enjoy your blog while surfing the net and trying to beat the heat. Your thoughts on changing color styles is provocative–I must be out of it because I still like the &quot;dusty&quot; colors! Great quilt projects and good commentary! Thanks for sharing.<br />best, nadia

  25. says

    I only have about 6 finished blocks so I&#39;m not really looking for anything to do with them. I&#39;m just saving them for the day when my girls think they are &quot;vintage-cool&quot;. lol. <br /><br />For now they just remind me of hanging out with my best friend Allison in her room that was these colors, listening to the Police Greatest Hits, talking about boys and comparing notes on

  26. says

    My mom laughed at me when the 70&#39;s colors started coming back and I fell head over heels for them. But now they&#39;ve grown on her, too…so I&#39;m getting the last laugh. I almost bought a couch at an auction a couple years ago that was GREEN. Not avacado green, but definitely VERY green. And I&quot;m with you – one of my favorite chairs is a goldenrod chair from the 70&#39;s. LOVE it.

  27. says

    It&#39;s guaranteed. As soon as you get rid of something, the colors, style, whatever it is about it, will come back. So please please please don&#39;t get rid of your dusty color palette! I&#39;m not ready yet–although I still have some of the fabric! lol

  28. says

    Maybe I should be embarrassed, but I actually like some of the prints in those blocks. the yellow especially, but I saw a few others. Hold onto those gems, you&#39;ll be happy for whatever reason, someday… xo amy

  29. Anonymous says

    wonderfull reading about your vacation with the relatives was like movie story and the details of . the learning of the pics and place&#39;s their lives. renee

  30. says

    I agree with Debbie and Bette Lou. You will find colors and styles returning. I feel it is a true test of what is really popular and here to stay.

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