Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yesteryear - Origin of Crazy Quilts

CQ Brooch by thatOldBlueHouse2

If you search Etsy for 'Crazy Quilting' or 'Crazy Quilt' you will find that there are still crafters that make these lovely creations, but not that many. Mostly the discipline has evolved into small projects, like the one above by since there is a lot of work that goes into the embroidery and piecing.

"What is crazy quilting?" you say. Ruth Finley, in her book OLD PATCHWORK QUILTS, says that the Crazy Quilt is the oldest pattern in American quilts, although there are no examples of crazy quilts known to be made before the 19th Century. Most quilts authorities believe that Crazy Quilting was started because the colonists had to patch bed covers so much that they eventually became hidden under irregular shapes of fabric salvaged from clothing. There was no fabric available, except what was already made into clothing and furniture/furnishing that the colonists brought with them. This made it necessary to use every scrap that they could for patching. Housing what it was then, cold and drafty, made it necessary to patch bed covers to keep out the cold. Over time, these covers took on their patchwork look as the number of patches increased.

Victorian Crazy Quilt from Rocky Mountain Quilts

During the industrial revolution, Crazy Quilts were replaced with machine made blankets, until the Victorian era , when fancy fabrics were used for dress making and every scrap was then used for a crazy quilt for every parlor. It became somewhat of a fad for every home of means to have theirs in the parlor. This was a richer era in the 1870's and 80's, with velvets, and fancy silks which seemed to beg for embellishing. Thus lovely embroidery stitches began to grace the patches. This fad seemed to last about 25 years. During the dust bowl years of the 1930's there seems to be some revival of the discipline for purely frugal purposes, like the sample below:

1930's CQ block with a utilitarian look (and probably practically purposed originally) offered for crafting by kittyscatnip

CQ then emerged again after the 1960's for those who love embroidery work. I, myself, have a love for embroidery and I am in the process of creating a wall hanging and a matching pillow. This will eventually hang over my couch with the pillow gracing my sitee. (Is this called "coming full circle"?!)

Note: Today is the last day to comment on my contest post:


Winner will be picked later today and announced tomorrow.


Splendid Little Stars said...

I used to see a lot of crazy quilt work. The mix of colors and angles of the fabric along with the embroidery is so alluring. Is it safe to assume that your own work is at the end of this post?

Linda Pruitt said...

Yes, Margaret, that is my work at the end of the post. I am anxious to get the backing for it and get it quilted around the embroidery work (and get it hung.)

tamdoll said...

This was really interesting to read about. I used to be fascinated with learning the stitches and wanting to make a crazy quilt... haven't done it yet. Maybe I will just stick to admiring them instead of trying to learn a new craft.

Sharrie said...

This was so interesting to read about, thank you for posting it. I think I'm going to go through my scrap fabric now!