Crazy Quilts: History Techniques Embroidery Motifs

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The crazy quilt was anything but "crazy." It began with necessity and ingenuity, the piecing together of any odd scrap of fabric that outlasted its first (or even second) use, and evolved into an art form in which the finest silks, satins, and velvets, stitched together with elaborate embroidery, attested to a quilters rich imagination and artistry.
This beautiful book traces the bewitching history of the ever-changing but ever-popular ...

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Crazy Quilts: History - Techniques - Embroidery Motifs

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The crazy quilt was anything but "crazy." It began with necessity and ingenuity, the piecing together of any odd scrap of fabric that outlasted its first (or even second) use, and evolved into an art form in which the finest silks, satins, and velvets, stitched together with elaborate embroidery, attested to a quilters rich imagination and artistry.
This beautiful book traces the bewitching history of the ever-changing but ever-popular "Crazies" from their earliest origins to the present day. Distinguished quilting teacher, lecturer, appraiser, and restorer Cindy Brick follows the crazy quilt through colonial times, the Civil War, and the Victorian era. She describes the crazy quilts influence on modern-day quilts. And she decodes the meaning of the curious images stitched into these quilts, from flowers to fans and farm animals.

Along with this history, the book includes a detailed how-to section on constructing crazy quilts. Brick outlines approaches to planning, piecing, and embroidering or embellishing your quilt. She also offers numerous helpful tips that only an expert could provide. Exquisitely illustrated with images of crazy quilts over time, this book is as delightful to page through as it is instructive to read.

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Editorial Reviews
From its front cover to the last page, Cindy Brick's latest book titled simply Crazy Quilts is a masterpiece of sumptuous and elegant photos of crazy quilts, both antique and contemporary, and is a true celebration of all that we might call "Victoriana" ... The book is a page turner, and yet, I dawdled and lingered over each page, not wanting the book to end... Even if you are the type who doesn't read books with words, or even if you speak a foreign language only, the photos and illustrations are well worth the price of this book, Crazy Quilts. I can guarantee that you will return to it, again and again, for inspiration. Many thanks to Cindy Brick for the quality and quantity of information she shares about a subject she loves, the Victorian Age and its textiles.
Everyone should have a copy of this book, especially those who work exclusively with crazy quilts. It is a great resource that you can refer to when our creativity is in a slump. It is definitely a book that belongs in your home library.
Crazy Quilts is a fascinating read for those who wish to know more about the cult of crazy. It is also a respite from a busy day. Just picking up the book and starting to thumb through, you see a gorgeous quilt, unique in its making, and pause to stare at the chenille embroidery or silk ribbon...An hour goes by and you realize you have become lost between the pages of a very good book. Buy it today!
Library Journal

Textiles appraiser Brick (Hanky-Panky Crazy Quilts) here presents a well-documented and generously illustrated history of a "crazy" form of quilting that was wildly popular in the 1880s and is today enjoying a resurgence of interest among quiltmakers. Crazy quilting combines irregular patchwork with exotic fabrics, embroidery stitches, and embellishments to create often idiosyncratic folk art quilts. Color photographs, vintage drawings, postcards, and advertisements bring the colorful world of the crazy quilt into focus while a practical "how-to" section teaches the prospective crazy quilter three different methods for constructing crazies. A fine, solid choice for public and academic library quilting collections.

—Jan Zlendich
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760332375
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2008
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Cindy Brick is an editor, designer, and writer who travels the world teaching about quilting and quilt history. A former editor for Quilter’s Newsletter, she is also an American Quilter’s Society–certified textiles appraiser and professional quilt restorer. She has written more than a hundred magazine articles and four books, including Hanky-Panky Crazy Quilts, The Stitcher’s Language of Flowers, and the Fabric Dating Kit. She is the “Old Things Considered” columnist for McCall’s Vintage Quilts and a frequent contributor to other magazines, newsletters, and online listservs.

            Cindy lives and works in Castle Rock, Colorado. For more on information, visit Cindy’s company, Brickworks, at or

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Nancy Kirk

Author’s Note


Part One          The History of the Crazy Quilt

Origins of the Crazy Style

Early American Crazy Style

America’s Oldest Dated Crazy Quilt?

The Emergence of the Crazy Trend

The Rise of the Crazy Trend


Popular Crazy Themes

The Flame Burns Low

Crazies in the Twentieth Century

Quilting Crazy in Modern Times


Part Two          How to Make a Crazy Quilt

Planning Your Quilt

Cutting the Background Foundation

Three Piecing Methods

Joining Your Crazy Patchwork Units

Finishing Your Crazy

Embroidering and Embellishing Your Crazy Quilt


Appendix         Embroidery Motifs


Works Cited

Additional Resources


About the Author

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Crazy quilts are addictive, and once you get hooked they become a lifetime passion. They are full of surprises. I've seen something new in every Crazy quilt I've ever looked at-a new stitch combination, a new embellishment motif, a new fabric, a new painting technique, some new ribbonwork, a new historic ribbon-the list goes on and on.

Cindy Brick learned just how addictive these oddball creatures of the quilting world can be about ten years ago. She had been aware of them earlier, but when a job change allowed her time to take over the editor's position for the Crazy Quilt Society newsletter, she jumped in with enthusiasm, but without realizing what a consuming passion crazies would become.

Over the years, her exploration of the history of Crazy quilting has led her to new theories about the origins of the art form, which are mysteries that have long intrigued all of us who love these unique quilts.

If you are new to Crazy quilting, as a collector, a scholar, or a quilter, you are embarking on a never-boring, never-ending journey with wonderful visual adventures around every corner. As you turn the pages of this "common sense" history of Crazy quilts, you will meet quilters who broke all the rules of quilting. They invented a form of abstract art a generation before the painters who became famous for it.

If you have been in love with Crazy quilts for years or decades, you will see them anew as Cindy explores the development of the form over time. You'll find something new in every quilt-look closely. As a quilter, you will find techniques to adapt in your quilts today. As a collector, you'll see great examples of the breadth and depth of thefield.

As I have studied crazy quilts over the years, I've found parallels in other art forms. Crazy quilts are to patchwork quilts what jazz is to a symphony. Jazz is improvisational, but works within a structure. The final result is most noticeable for the individual touches the artist brings to the underlying foundation of the melody, rhythm, and key.

Similarly, Crazy quilts build on a foundation, use a structure of blocks or wholecloth style, and may borrow elements of "sane" quilts, like sashing and borders. But within those most basic elements of structure the artist takes off on a flight of fancy, adding stitches, embellishments, ribbons, charms, buttons, fabrics, yarns-even animals, toys, and more.

I always tell my beginning crazy-quilt students that I have three rules for Crazy quilting:

1) There are no rules.

2) Always underlap velvets (the opposite of overlap).

3) Crazy quilts are the one thing in life where more is more. In almost all other aspects of our lives, less is more-in design, architecture, eating-we are advised "moderation in all things." Crazy quilts are the exception. They get better the more you add, and a crazy quilt is only done when you can't stand working on it anymore.

Cindy Brick has learned these lessons well. Now she is sharing a decade of study and research with all of us. Enjoy!
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Beautiful and informative, a must for a quilt library

    I have many books on crazy quilts, but still wanted this one, very inspirational.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    Wher are u guys at?

    Wheres horseclan at?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013


    "You made it so dramatic!" :3 "But good job!"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013


    You know what sucks... l have to wait till like the end...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013


    I can't wait till I comw in. It will be difficult though. Arp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013


    Very good braveheart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    The Clan of the Free

    The Clan of the Free: The History of HorseClan
    Written by Braveheart

    Darkness had fallen over the empty fields, and the clouds blotted out the stars, casting shadows across the land. A harsh wind whipped through the grass, pulling and tugging on the pale yellow blades, and rustling the leaves of the few trees that were scattered here and there.
    Alone on this empty field stood two cats, barely visable in the darkness, but for their glowing eyes.
    One was a pale sunny yellow shecat, with faint tabby stripes that raced across her back. Her fluffy chest was white, and her eyes were a bright amber, though dulled by grief. Around her neck was a blue opal necklace carved in the shape of a horse, glittering dimly in the night.
    The second was a light gray tabby shecat, with icy blue eyes that seemed to pierce the darkness and drive it away with their fiery light. She too had a similar necklace, a blue fire opal one carved into a wolf.
    Both shecats remained quiet, staring up at the clouded sky, not speaking a word to each other, until the pale yellow shecat broke the silence.
    "HorseClan has fallen, hasn't it?" she meowed, her voice masked with grief, not looking at her companion. It wasn't really a question, but a statement.
    The light gray tabby looked at the other in suprise, her icy eyes narrowing. "How can you say that, Sunnystar? HorseClan WILL survive, no matter the hardship!" she meowed, her quiet voice raising.
    Sunnystar sighed and hung her head. "We've lost so many cats, Lilywolf. How can the Clan survive without warriors, and a medicane cat? And..." she trailed off, a single tear falling from her amber eyes.
    Lilywolf rested her long gray tail on the yellow shecat's shoulder, turning her icy gaze down. "I know you grieve for Pinefall, but... Clan life goes on. There are other options, you know..." she said, not looking Sunnystar in the eye.
    "What do you mean by that?" the HorseClan leader meowed anxiously, not looking up.
    "There are plenty of rouges, loners, and kittypets that would be willing to join..." Lilywolf meowed, sounding uncertain. "We could ask then..."
    "It might work," Sunnystar said with a shrug.
    "I'm glad you agree," the light gray tabby purred. "Could I start now, if allowed?"
    "Wait a minute, Lilywolf. I have a question for you," the pale yellow shecat meowed.
    "Yes?" Lilywolf asked cautiously.
    "What would you say to becoming the new deputy of HorseClan?" Sunnystar asked.
    "Why, I... I'm... you really mean in?"
    "Of course I do!"
    "Then I accept."
    "Thank you, Lilywolf. I'll hold the ceremony when you return."
    "Thank you Sunnystar."
    And with that, the light gray tabby shecat dashed off into the night, set on fufilling her duty and rebuilding HorseClan... with the help of loners. Sunnystar remained on the lonely hill, gazing up at the dark sky.
    A single star suddenly appeared, and the pale tabby looked away. Another Clanmate, gone to join StarClan no doubt.
    "How will we ever survive?" Sunnystar whispered.
    The star glittered coldly above, and there came no reply.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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