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Crazy World of Crazy Quilts

Crazy Quilts were a manifestation of creative curiosity from about 1876 to 1890. A " Crazy Mania" emerged in the late Victorian era. Crazy parties were held. Pictures were hung upside-down - music was played but stopped and changed during the rendition to a different song. Conversation ceased, and conversing parties changed places.

The Crazy Quilt was a way for women ( and some men) of all economic backgrounds to produce a luxurious needlework. Skill as a needle person was the only criteria. Luxurious silks and velvets were the fashion. Leftovers and remnants of dressmaking and other sewing , ribbons, and shiny cotton pearl threads....could be found and traded.....a creative fantastic imagination was the only boundary. Third paragraph:

Quilts, Table covers, piano scarves, slumber robes, slippers, wall pockets and all manner of useful items were created. Fantastic embroideries and creative stitch work, hand paintings ...some in 3 dimension...were made. Oriental influence reminiscent of Eastlake style could be seen. Patterns for embroideries could be found in Godeys and Harpers Weekly periodicals. Symbolism was rampant. Owls stood for wisdom, peacocks for vanity, spider webs and animals....3 circles intertwined were for faith, hope, & charity....calla lilies for mourning, violets, innocence, red Rose's, true love, yellow Rose's, friendship. Patriotic flags and ribbons...especially those commemorating such events as reunions of Civil War regiments were used. I even found an Indian head penny button stitched into a Crazy Quilt. It was common for Crazy Quilts to be dated....and have names and places embroidered into them.

It could be argued that the best of all Crazy Quilts are among the most beautiful of all quilts. The worst were among the least. One thing is for certain: Crazy Quilts are among

the most innately and personal of all Quilts. By Textile Conservator Cheryl VanDenburg

Photo credits to Historical Palmyra, 132 Market St. Palmyra, N.Y.

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