February 12, 2015

Kate Greenaway and a Crazy Quilt

Another crazy quilt!  They certainly were all the rage with the Victorian ladies, and of course, still have many, many fans.  (Pun not intended, but left as written.)

As with all good crazies, this one has some unique and endearing embroidery details, and the scalloped edge is very special.  Having an embroidered date - 1883 - is always a big plus!  This is a family heirloom piece, though the precise history is not known.

Besides the date, this photo also shows a ceramic jar, a moon and stars, and a ladle.

What I find most historically interesting are the patches showing children at play.  There was an English author and illustrator who was very famous at the time this quilt was made named Kate Greenaway.  Sometimes her illustrations or style show up on crazy quilts.  This one has more of these little vignettes than I've ever seen.  They are quite adorable.


Another type of embellishment on this quilt are purchased and applied embroidered patches.  I've heard about these, but I don't think I've ever encountered any before.  They are pretty much like Scout badges in construction, and were glued on.  I know this, because some were coming loose.  I didn't re-glue, not wanting to damage the fabrics further, so stitched over and around them to hold in place.

Here are some other fun details.

From the household and the garden - tools and critters.  Many of these are sewn with
a single strand of thread.  This rake is just a bit over an inch long.

A painter's palette is a unique addition.  It's hard to see the design on the palette - it's a water bird, like an egret or heron, amongst the plants at the water's edge.

A pitcher, then a lighted candle in a heavy candlestick, 
and then a, hmmm, fan-broom-rake.  

A cross with flower vine.

A flat style fan.

And a folded style fan.
The pansy above the fan is another of the purchased embroidered patches.

And my favorites, some lovely china.  You've already seen a couple in the photos above.  
This lady loved her fancy china!

This teacup is about 2" x 2 1/2".

Here's a design that puzzles me, on the left, a crescent moon kind of filled with stars.  She embroidered it in a couple of places.  You'll see another one in the photo up above with the embroidered date.  I wonder if it's maybe a symbol used by some fraternal society (though I haven't found anything like it online) or if the quilter just enjoyed gazing at the night sky.

The border has a lovely scalloped edge.  The edges were left raw and buttonhole stitched.  The thread color changes every 5 scallops.  She used some really electric colors on this plum silk border!

And yes, the quilt is backed in this bright red!

The work I did on this quilt was entirely conservation, no patching.  I did a lot of couching across tattered silks to hold the threads and shreds in place, which you can see in a number of these photos.  As much as possible, I anchored the long thread in the edges of the patches, where doubled fabric and embroidery stitches were stronger, and put the little couching stitches into slits and between threads. 


  1. Hi Anne

    That China pattern looks to me as though it is part of a Blue Willow theme. I know my grandmother and great-grandmother had at least one Blue Willow plate, although we no longer have it.

    1. Yes, I thought the embroideries had the feel of the Blue Willow pattern, too!