I’m goin’ crazy.

Goin’ crazy quilting, that is. Also known as crazy patchwork, crazy quilting should not be confused with actual quilting. Patchwork, piecing and appliqué are terms used in putting a quilt top together. Quilting is the stitching, by either hand or machine, that holds the three layers of the quilt together.

Now that we have the terms clarified, let’s get back to “crazy.” Crazy patchwork uses irregular-shaped pieces of fabric, such as silks, satins, velvets and brocades.

The earliest crazy patchwork was made into clothing around the mid-1100s in Venice, Italy. Here in America, crazy patchwork was a pastime for wealthy Victorian ladies beginning in the 1880s. My thoughts about this were that they got tired of all those embroidered samplers they were making and were looking for something more stimulating to work on.

Of course, once they completed their crazy patchwork they then added fancy embroidery over every seam line of the patchwork. Old habits are difficult to break. These were made into small framed pieces (to show off the maker’s needlework skills), or grew into small throws for the parlor’s Victorian settee.

As time passed, quilters began to make quilts in the crazy style, but made them into bed coverings, using more serviceable fabrics such as cotton and wool. This method of piecing enabled them to use very small pieces of fabric leftover from clothing construction. Like many quilters of today, the early quilters saved even the smallest pieces of fabric to work into their quilts. The early crazy patchwork had no pattern or design, only a combination of pieces of fabric stitched together willy-nilly. Later, fabrics were pieced into fans, circles, or squares, etc., to provide a more pleasing quilt. There was little, if any, embellishment on them.

Crazy patchwork is still popular today. I know several ladies who indulge their Victorian heritage by making fancy crazy patchwork items. I’ve seen beautiful small purses and clothing made from old silk ties. Personally, I’d never get past the washing and taking the ties apart to even start on a really fancy crazy patchwork project. But I have made a crazy patchwork jacket using cottons and sewing it by machine. Yes, I wear quilted clothing in Texas. There are several good books on crazy patchwork in the market if you think you’d be interested in making something using this method.

Last week, I received my International Quilt Festival registration catalog. The festival is held in Houston every year, usually the first weekend of November (check it out at Quilts.com). This is the largest quilt show in the world. While surfing all the classes I’d like to participate in, I found a number of classes on Victorian or crazy quilting. If classes are offered on a certain style of quilting in Houston, you can be assured that it’s still popular.

If you are a quilter, or enjoy quilts, you owe yourself a trip to the International Quilt Festival. A word of warning: Do not expect to go through this show in a day. Allow yourself at least two days if you’re just going to see the quilts. If you’re a quilter, plan to stay at least four days to be able to see all the quilt exhibits and shop your heart out at the vast array of vendors. Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring lots of cash or a charge card; all the vendors accept them.

See you there.

Nancy C. Judd of Harker Heights is a member of the Crossroads to Texas Quilt Guild.

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