Crazy Quilt

May, 2020

Crazy Quilt

Maker unidentified

Circa 1880-1900
Made in the United States
60 x 91 inches
Silk; hand embroidery
Click here to take a closer look at this quilt

Although 19th century social and cultural mores tasked women with creating warm, peaceful, “nest”-like homes, the chaotic look of crazy quilts speaks to underlying tensions. These dark, disordered decorations stood in direct contrast to the prim, symmetrical bedcovers of the preceding decades. Yet, each square contains a neatly ordered, balanced or symmetrical composition.   

While we do not know the maker, the array of printed and woven designs (jacquards, velvets, and a few lithographic printed ribbon) as well as embroidery stitches found in this crazy quilt speaks to the maker’s obsession with silk and needlework.

This quilt appears in our virtual pop-up exhibit “Crazy Quilts and Mad Women.” 

You can also learn more about the tradition of making crazy quilts in the United Kingdom and the United States on “World Quilts: The Crazy Quilt Story.”