I just love old quilts. Early in January, friends from Michigan brought several quilts to Florida with them in their RV so I could have a look. These were nicely-preserved family quilts, so I learned a bit of their history, who made them, when, and so on. This graceful applique Iris quilt was most likely made in the 1930s or 1940s, using a kit. Kit quilts contained a placement design marked on background fabric. The quilter could follow the design lines while appliqueing the elements and quilting the piece. This pretty quilt was sewn by hand, and is nicely made. Some of the blue dots that indicated where quilting lines were to be sewn still remain faintly on the quilt top. Lovely hand embroidery accents the flowers. The Quilt Index is a good source if you are interested in vintage quilts and patterns. Use the Search feature, type in "kit quilts" and you'll see other lovely examples of this type of quilt.
In addition to antique quilts, I like to look over the ephemera of quilting..patterns, newspaper clippings and the like. My friend Deb was given these pamphlets dated 1933 by an antique vendor, and she passed them on to me. From what I've gathered so far, Jane Alan was a columnist for a Chicago newspaper. The year of publication is the same year as the Chicago World's Fair, which featured an exhibit of winners from Sears National Quilt Contest. Newspapers were a source of quilt patterns, and clippings were kept and exchanged by quilting enthusiasts. There's lots more to learn about quilt history here and here.
In the small booklet, Jane Alan refers to "a poll taken in the middlewest" in which the top-five ranked quilt patterns were these: Double Wedding Ring, Grandmothers' Flower Garden, Aster or Friendship Ring, Butterfly and Basket quilts. I'd quote other tidbits from the publications, but the editor in me was distinctly uncomfortable with the 62-word, paragraph-long sentences!