Home Quilting 101 And Now You’re Going to Want to Make a Crazy Quilt!

And Now You’re Going to Want to Make a Crazy Quilt!

by Beth Cooper

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the popularity of quilting continued to grow, and new styles and techniques emerged. Crazy quilts, for example, were made up of irregularly shaped pieces of fabric sewn together in a haphazard fashion. These quilts were often embellished with embroidery, lace, and other decorative elements, and they became a popular way for women to showcase their creativity and artistic skills.

Spectatular!! This woolen crazy quilt was made by Edna Force Davis, Fairfax county, Virginia, 1897.
Patches are embellished with embroidery and every seam is covered with decorative stitching.
(Textile Collection, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Image #263526)

Crazy quilts are a type of quilt that emerged in the late 19th century and were popular through the early 20th century. They are known for their irregular, asymmetrical designs and the use of a wide variety of fabrics, colors, and embellishments.

The name “crazy quilt” comes from the fact that the quilts often appear to be “crazy” or chaotic, with no clear pattern or order. However, the design of the quilt is often carefully planned and executed, with each piece of fabric and each embellishment chosen deliberately to create a cohesive overall effect.

This pocket guide is an excellent resource on crazy quilting.
You can find it on Missouri Star Quilt Co., or by clicking here!

The origins of crazy quilting are somewhat uncertain, but it is believed to have developed in response to the Victorian-era obsession with ornamentation and decoration. Crazy quilts were a way for women to showcase their creativity and artistic abilities, while also incorporating fashionable fabrics and trims.

Circa 1877. The top of this quilt is composed of nine pieced blocks surrounded by a black plaid silk border with corner blocks of black moire. The backing is of a maroon satin filled with cotton and machine quilted in a shell pattern. The top is stitched to the backing at wide intervals. The Crazy patches and border are embroidered with both cotton thread and chenille. Some patches are decorated with paint as well as embroidery. (Photo courtesy of The Met, Art Collection.)
A close up view of the same crazy quilt. (Photo courtesy of The Met, Art Collection.)

One of the defining characteristics of crazy quilts is the use of a wide variety of fabrics, often in small pieces. Crazy quilters would collect scraps of fabric from clothing, upholstery, and other sources, and incorporate them into their quilts. The fabrics might be of different colors, textures, and patterns, and might include silk, velvet, lace, and other luxurious materials.

Another hallmark of crazy quilts is the use of embellishments. Crazy quilters would often add embroidery, beading, lace, and other decorative elements to their quilts, creating a richly textured and visually stunning surface.

Want to make a Crazy Quilt? This book by Kathy Seaman Shaw is full of beautiful stitch designs. You’ll love it! Find it here.

Despite their popularity, crazy quilts fell out of favor in the early 20th century, as the Arts and Crafts movement emphasized simplicity and natural materials. However, they have experienced a resurgence of interest in recent years, as quilters have rediscovered the beauty and complexity of these unique and creative works of art.

Crazy quilts are a fantastic way to use up scrap fabric and to show off your embroidery skills. There’s no better time than the present to start your own crazy quilt!

Love reading about the history of quilting? Find more history articles here.

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10 months ago

I have made 3 crazy quilt wall hangings. When my 2 daughters were finally out of the house and married I still had all their prom, homecoming, fancy party, assorted bridesmaids dresses hanging in closets. I decided it was time to tell each to claim them or I would cut them up and make crazy quilts from them. I had made most of those dresses anyway. The results was stunning. Each got their memories saved and I got one too. It took 2 years from start to finish but very happy with the work I had accomplished.

10 months ago

I’ve read your blog. Honestly, I’ve never read this type of blog before. Appreciate your work and will love to read your incoming articles too.

Judy Bright
Judy Bright
9 months ago

I made a crazy quilt years ago. Family and friends helped gather scraps. I learned some new stitches and improved some I already knew. It was great fun, and the finished projest wasn’t bad eithed. Oh, it was twin size when I finished.

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