May 13, 2021

A Sparkling Crazy Quilt


This is a stand-out crazy quilt, isn't it?  

I generally think of Victorian crazies as having so many more blacks and maroons, browns and navies, with brighter fabrics and embroidery threads interspersed only now and then. 

So I looked back at photos of other crazies that have crossed my path, and well, was surprised to see how many are very colorful after all.  So what is it about this one that makes it feel so very different? 

This quilt is super joyful!  It is packed of a wide variety of embellishments, all heightened by beading and other creative and fancy bits - it is simply dancing.  The brightness has been heightened a bit by patching done in the 1970s that add in that era's colors, too.  But clearly the quilt was a riot of color right from the start!

The quilt was made by the owner's grandmother.  Here is the story the owner sent to me (the ship referred to is commemorated with a woven ribbon, photos below):

My mother would be 114 years old if alive and her mother made this quilt before my mother was born.  My mother and her siblings and parents all lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My grandfather was a doctor there for 50 years.  Grandmother’s name, Anna Schick.  

My grandparents were from Germany. The story was my grandfather was on that ship. He was a physician and my great grandfather was a founder of Concordia college in Fort Wayne.  My grandfather died in 1952 and my grandmother 20 years prior.

My grandmother apparently was quite the artist but some was just living in those times. She painted porcelain (I have lamps and dishes), made many hand beaded dresses for my mother and her friends during the roaring 20’s ( I have one) and other items. My mother had minor repair done on the quilt in the 70’s. Only a couple of patches. One should be replaced as it stands out (white patch). Although probably many could be restored, I am really only interested in the severely  shattered ones in order to maintain the integrity.

Here is the ribbon, commemorating the ship.  Norddeutscher Lloyd was the shipping company, out of Bremen, Germany.  S/S Havel was the ship.  There is a webpage where you can see photos of the ship.

The repair turned out to be a challenge.  Some of the silks had become tissue thin in a way I had not experienced before and didn't anticipate.  So I did more patching than originally intended.  I answered the owner's specific requests plus mended some more pieces that didn't hold up.  I stopped when I'd found a balance between that and creating more problems.  Tricky! 

Following the quilt's return home, the owner sent me this delightful story:

Good morning.  Last evening my grand daughters, Desmin 7 and Cecilia 3 were over for dinner and we were sitting in the dining room. Desmin was facing the quilt and Cecilia with her back to the quilt. The girls are usually very observant and notice anything different in our house but had said nothing about the quilt. Suddenly Cecilia said I love this and went over to touch the bottom of the quilt. Desmin who is quite the artist at her young age and since very small done lots of art projects with her grandpa and daddy and on her own, still said nothing. I said Desmin what do you think. She said, I just keep looking at the quilt and how beautiful it it is. Then she gets up and go to the quilt and very gently feels some of the patches and is especially interested in the beaded ones (sparkle ones). Then they wanted to know how old great great grandma would be. Desmin wanted to know how old she was when she made it, how long it took her and how she did it. The quilt lives on.

So now, sit back and enjoy the visual feast!  

Here are the gorgeous velvet poppies at the center of the quilt.  Note the 3-D petals.

Here are two styles of fans, quite common crazy quilt motifs. 
The striped fabric on the right is cut velvet - just the maroon stripes have velvet pile.

There are quite a few printed velvets, too.

 In this view of the printed velvet, there are also patches made of three 1970s fabrics.  Can you identify them?  (The answer is down at the bottom of the post.)

This photo shows another cut velvet stripe, a black polka dot printed velvet, a velvet covered button with bead embellishment...

.... and a gorgeous woven flower fabric. (Note the 1970s patch at lower left.)

Beads, beads, and more beads!

And here, she even beaded the threads that are holding on the central jewel!  Now that's dedication to a more-is-more style of embellishment!

There are quite a few motifs of a fabric I don't know how to describe - sort of a heavy weave lace - that has then been embellished with beads and jewels.  The red fabric upper right is another printed velvet.

The rings on the sides of this piece are covered in leather and then embellished!

Here are some gathered flowers.

And a 6" tall paisley. 

And....the answer to the quiz, the 1970s fabrics identified:
1. lower left, orange with circular design
2. top right-center and on right edge, navy with white squares 
(the navy fabric is under a velvet leaf that looks like it has remnants of a feather that was used as the center vein - perhaps it was something that had once decorated a hat)
3. upper right, white with brown houndstooth and orange checkerboard designs

Did you find them?

And finally - Here is the quilt, happily back at home.  Thanks to the quilt owner for sharing her beautiful quilt and its story with all of us!



  1. The detail on this piece is incredible! I especially love the poppies. It's wonderful that you have the provenance of the quiltmaker's story as well. I hope the owner records all of this and keeps the story with the quilt. Do you ever add a label with this kind of information? Thank you for sharing this spectacular heirloom!

    1. Yes, Rebecca, it's a special quilt for sure. I always recommend that people write out the stories that they know and suggest ways to store them so they are accessible along with the quilt. I have occasionally made labels. And I'm always grateful to the descendants who let me share the stories and family photos with the "blogosphere". It is one of the best perks of having the quilts come to my house for a while.

  2. Absolutely wonderful! Thank you for sharing it!