The 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition was one of the greatest fairs in the world. It gathered many ideas from all over the globe and presented it to the American public.
From the Orient, there came one idea in particular. The Japanese Exhibit showcased a sample of the type of quilting done in the Land of the Rising Sun and crazy television game shows. Japanese quilts featured asymmetrical designs and patterns, unintentionally inspiring a powerful quilting nation.
From those first crazy Japanese designs, American quilters learned to appreciate the beauty of asymmetrical art. They incorporated it into American patterns. Gone were the traditional symmetrical blocks. Gone were the recurring patterns. Hello asymmetry! Hello 1880s! Crazy quilting was born!
The new quilting style did not change needlework. It changed design. It got rid of pleasing order in favor of planned chaos. The patchwork used pieces of fabric that were irregular in sizes. The designs were unsystematic. Embellishment was found all over the place, even in the patches and the seams.
Crazy quilting became incredibly popular. In women’s publications all over America, articles raved over it or condemned it. Despite ruffling some more traditional feathers, many fine and upstanding women learned to create their masterpieces using this new craze. During the beginning years of the fad, fine fabrics and beautiful embellishments were normal and expected. Women used velvets, satins and silk, while buttons, lace, beads, embroidery and ribbons emblazoned the fabric.
In the height of its popularity, the quilting style was adopted everywhere. It gave style, flair and individuality to many designs. Quilts were only the beginning. Soon, vests and jackets were designed in the same crazy fashion. Today, with many American women practicing what they learned from their mothers or grandmothers, crazy quilting is most often found on quilts and other quilted items.
To differentiate crazy quilts and more traditional ones, keep these points in mind: Regular quilt blocks make use of geometric designs. Exotic fabrics and a huge range of embellishments are the order of the day for crazy quilts, while smaller and weirdly shaped fabrics are employed. The arrangement of patches is done haphazardly, or else it is designed to appear in that manner. Each patch used is one of a kind.
Crazy quilting is a craft that is enjoyable and creative. It encourages free-flowing thought. It’s not for beginners, but for those with skill, these quilts are pleasurable to make.