Thursday, April 1, 2021

Crazed and Confused

Last night I had HGTV on tv as I usually do when I am getting ready to sleep.  A new show was on called "The Laundry Guy" about a man who apparently has a business cleaning all different kinds of textiles.  Last night he cleaned a Sunbonnet Sue quilt that the client's grandmother made.  He said, "the sunbonnet sue quilt pattern goes back to the mid 19th century but only became popular in the 20th century after the "Sunbonnet Babies" book was published.  He said it with great authority.  He was wrong.

The majority--but not all of you--may know that I collect Sunbonnet quilts.  In fact, my program on the history of the sunbonnet quilt pattern has been my most popular program.  Sunbonnet Sue or (Babies) quilts can be traced back to the book, first published in 1900.  A few years later embroidery transfers and all different kinds of quilt patterns were created like Marie Webster's Keepsake Quilt that we just discussed on Monday's post.

Quilt history is exciting because it is always evolving as new scholarship arrives and so let's talk about Crazy Quilts...

 I was sent an email after yesterday's post about the origins of Crazy quilts here.  The article follows a common theory that the quilts were inspired by the 1876 Centennial when Americans viewed and admired Japanese crazed pottery.  I have read this in many books on quilt history as well.  There are some good blog posts on the subject by reputable scholars but the truth is...we just don't know.  Frustrating isn't it?

Twentieth century crazy quilt from Pennsylvania.

I was really schooled on this subject by a prominent New England quilt historian.  She even speculated that the design for crazies may have begun by a needlework club.  

But here's the's okay not to know.  It gives us so much to research and learn and until we have definitive proof (documented with a variety of sources), we can't say for sure where crazy quilts originated.  Barbara Brackman does have an important blog post here on dates found on crazy quilts and Kimberly Wulfert has a great article here.

In the meantime, let's just enjoy them!

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and I welcome you to share any floral images with the group by emailing me at

One last thing:  gardening season is here and I'm so happy to be out working in the dirt again!  I'll be spending more time outside and less sewing and writing (until it gets hot).  So here's the question:

Would you like to be a guest blogger and submit an article to the blog (with your own byline of course)?  Email me!  Do you have some photos of quilts you would like to share (antique, vintage, or fresh off the sewing machine)?  Email me!

And as always, stay well and have a wonderful day!

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