Quilt, Crazy pattern

Clara Louise Roscoe American

Not on view

The word "crazy" used to describe this type of quilt may refer to the cracked or "crazed" appearance of the blocks or to the possibility that a woman might go crazy piecing so many small bits of fabric together! By the mid-1880s, Crazy quilts were so popular that enterprising manufacturers offered them in ready-to-sew kits. The prospective quiltmaker could order complete kits in which there were precut pieces of silk that could be formed into blocks according to instructions explaining how to fit them together properly. Sometimes, the backing fabric was marked like the base of a jigsaw puzzle, showing where to place each piece of silk. Often the silk pieces themselves were stamped with a pattern, such as the outline of a flower, over which one embroidered. If quilt makers wanted to use their own silk and velvet scraps, they could still order appliqués, commonly machine embroidered, or at least sheets of perforated-paper patterns to use in tracing designs onto the patches. There were also iron-on transfer designs and even specially printed sheets of paper with oil-painted pictures that could be transferred onto fabric by pressing the paper backing with a hot iron. This explains the strangely uniform quality of many Crazy quilts, with their ubiquitous Japanese fans and Kate Greenaway figures. It also makes those Crazy quilts that are not as formulaic seem all the more extraordinary.

This crazy quilt includes three pictures printed on silk, including one that is identified as a "SOUVENIR OF NEW ORLEANS / THE WORLD'S / INDUSTRIAL & COTTON / CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION." This picture, which illustrates and describes four exposition buildings, was printed by T. Fitzwilliam and Company of New Orleans.

Quilt, Crazy pattern, Clara Louise Roscoe (born 1828), Silk, silk thread, metallic thread, chenille, ink, and oil paint, American

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