Sunday, June 06, 2010

Crazy Quilting


I've been a crazed and crazy quilter lately, and it's been so much fun to say the heck with time constraints, my wrist and hand issues, and only 6 weeks to make two gift quilts in....and instead of complaining (well, not too much) just sew and get them done! So, for a great-niece's graduation present last week......a simpler version of a machine embellished 'crazy' to be used as a 64" x 64" throw.

As I was sewing, I was reminded of just how many form scrap quilts can take.....this one was quick and simple with only a few machine embroidered stitches as decoration...and...that I left 'crazy quilter' out of my last post on What Kind of Quilter Are You?!!!(adding it in!)

But then, we're all a bit crazy to begin with, aren't we? Or we wouldn't spend week after week, month after month, year after year, cutting up beautiful fabric into tiny pieces and then sewing them back up again into a more complicated form. So, yes...we're all crazed AND crazy.

To the Victorians the word "crazy" not only meant wild, but also broken or crazed into splinters. And 'Crazy Quilting' as a textile art is definitely creative and free-flowing by nature. As you add crazy quilt pieces and patches, you will often learn as much about the use of specific stitches or embellishments (and your love and obsession with them), as you will about your 'crazy quilting self' in the process. So, when it comes to self expression and liberation, being crazy is a whole lot of fun.

What we know as 'Crazy Quilting' began in the 1880's when it became quite a fad in the United States as a result of a Japanese Exhibit in the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Articles encouraging crazy quilting (and some actually condemning it!) could be found in women's publications, everywhere.

While the early quilts made in the crazy style were more decorative pieces than functional, and were often made as smaller lap robes (without an inner layer or batting) that were often used to decorate the parlor or thrown over a piano or chaise lounge. They were also fitting showpieces for the lavish interior decoration of the day. These quilts were usually made using velvet, silk and brocade fabric, cut and pieced in random shapes and then lavishly decorated with fancy embroidery, beading, laces, and trim and represented the 'true' crazy quilt that most of us think of as this art form.

Women's magazines of the time published embroidery patterns and offered ideas to be used on the new "crazies". Playing on the word crazy, they gave plans for "crazy" tea parties using mismatched invitations and other "crazy" themes. Some articles even suggested that women should be careful as as not to go "crazy" while working on these quilts!

"If your pieces are of good size, and all fresh and handsome, one way is to cut out blocks of cotton cloth, either square or diamond-shape. Cut enough blocks to make the quilt the desired size, then paste on the pieces of silk, satin, or velvet; lap the edges and turn the upper one under; then cover every seam with feather-stitch, cross-stitch, or any fancy stitch you can invent. "(from an 1883 article in "The Chester Times", in Chester, PA)

Originally these quilts were made by those women in the wealthy classes but before long, other women got in on the fad and found ways to make their own crazies. Some were made from the fancy clothing of the day that had been discarded or passed on to less affluent relatives. Also packets of silk scraps from mills and factories were sold inexpensively through mail order. And so the fad spread.

After 1900 women adapted their crazy quilting to using such fabric as flannels, denims and other cottons. Simply pieced and without the decorative stitching, the crazy quilt changed form once again. As time passed quilters began to make simpler quilts as thrifty housewives used everyday fabrics like wool or cotton and little or no embellishment to create more serviceable quilts than the original fancy crazy quilts.

It became (as it did with me) a wonderful opportunity to use up small scraps and odd one of a kind pieces. There might not be enough of anything to make it match, but it was a fast and fun way to make a quilt as both the giving of a gift and a means of self-expression. Get out those smelling salts, and look out for my vapors. This quilt may be crazy....but it's also done in time for the party!

Tips, Techniques, How-to ideas and Patterns:
The History of Crazy Quilts, Caron
The Crazy Quilt Handbook - Google Book, Free
100 Days of "Crazy Quilting" -- Learn the Details for 100 Different Embellishing Stitches
Crazy Block
Crazy Quilt Patchwork Block
Crazy Quilt Sewing Machine Cover
Crazy Quilt Teacup Wall Hanging
Crazy Quilts
Crazy Quilt Hot Pad or Pot Holder Pattern
Victorian Crazy Quilt Block
Crazy quilting projects
8 inch block crazy quilt
Hand Embroidery samples
Safe as Houses -crazy quilt
Victorian Era Quilts From Silk to Cotton

1887: Crazy Blocks al dente


Misc:

Allie in Stitches: Allison Aller's Blog
Pin Tangle:Sharon Boggon
Betty Pillsbury's blog
Hideko Ishida's Blog
Jo in New Zealand


8 comments:

  1. You certainly do set ambitious goals, and you certainly meet them. Great crazy quilt.

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  2. Every single time I come for a visit to this blog, I am amazed at how much I learn here! This was so interesting. Thanks,Michelle!

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  3. I love how you always give us so much info in regards to quilting. It inspires me!! Great crazy quilts. I love crazy quilting. Hugs

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  4. You're a girl after my own heart, not only sharing the beauties you're working on but also really valuable and interesting information. I just love that!

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  5. Hi there, I just wanted to let you know that I really love your blog and that I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! You can go to my blog for the info on it. www.madmomma07.blogspot.com

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  6. I just wished I had the patience to quilt! I really envy those people who are so good in quilting.

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  7. 'Crazed' fits me perfectly at the moment. Your quickie gift quilt turned out beautifully - your neice will love it.

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  8. Love how you're working on these quilts and working your life out and sharing all this extremely cool information!!! Wow. There's a lot to know about Crazy quilting.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.