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Crazy quilts

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An American tradition that goes back to the earliest colonial needlework, crazy quilts are made from irregularly shaped patches and are usually embellished with embroidery, lace, ribbon, buttons, beads, and the like.

Glorious American Quilts* put the crazy-quilt era as 1879 (when they were first described in Peterson's magazine), skyrocketing after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, peaking in 1884 and ending around the beginning of the 20th century. As they point out, there are examples from before and after those dates; the Terre Haute, Indiana quilt described on this page: is one of them.

The crazy-quilt tradition still thrives, and not just among the community of crazy-for-crazies quilters.

Quilts made today are often embellished with ribbon flowers, buttons, and such.

Since many are wall hangings, they may include dangling beads, feathers, chains, twine, and any other object a quilter fancies. It is not even a half-step from there to art quilting.

*Elizabeth V. Warren and Sharon L. Eisenstat (Museum of American Folk Art, 1996)


A West Virginia Heirloom

This extraordinary quilt was made by Barbara Farnsworth Dickson of Monroe County, WV (b. ca. 1839). Mrs. Dickson's great-granddaughter donated it to the Greenbrier Historical Society of Lewisburg, WV in about 2010.

Scroll down for more photos.



All photos courtesy of the Greenbrier Historical Society of Lewisburg, WestVirginia.




 

...and two more:

From Indiana, a multi-generational work of art

Click on the photo to see this crazy quilt from Terre Haute, Indiana. It has 5 sets of initials and 3 dates. The earliest is 1839!

Click on the photo for a short list of ways to find out more about a quilt like this.


Hex Y & Tri: The Bowers Museum quilt top

Chris L. fell in love with this design after she saw it made up as a crazy quilt in the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. To see the Bowers quilt top, click on the photograph.