History of Quilting in America - Crazy Quilts, 1890 - 1920 - Julie Brown Neu

History of Quilting in America – Crazy Quilts, 1890 – 1920

Crazy Quilts, 1890-1920

The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 and interest in Japanese art sparked the Crazy Quilt.  It was fashionable for genteel upper-class ladies to use needlework as a proper use of leisure time. They had servants to do the mundane work. In the rapid changes in the world, like industrialization, the women wanted to make something beautiful.

Crazy Quilts had geometric shaped fabrics in an abstract arrangement. The quilts were used mostly as a decorative pieces, made with expensive fabrics, velvet, silk, brocade, and satin. They were embellished with buttons, lace, ribbons and decorative embroidery stitches on each seam.


For our show, we had two examples of crazy quilting: a Christmas stocking from Rita Alesi and framed piece of an antique crazy quilt from Bethany Viens.  Crazy quilting is something that I have tried a few times myself, one of which was perhaps my first “crazy mom” moment.  I stayed up until 11:30  on Christmas Eve of my daughter’s first Christmas finishing her stocking. She was 7 months old so I don’t think that it made any difference to her if she had a stocking, but I COULD NOT REST until her stocking was hung.


I also made a crazy quilted wall hanging for my mother and my sister for Christmas one year. (I started one for myself, which is still in the UFO drawer.) I called it “Crazy Family.” I made that one before I learned the value of a good stabilizer.

Crazy Fam 2

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