Antique Crazy Quilt by "Mary Elizabeth Ward" - 4'5 x 5'4
This crazy quilt was hand-sewn and embroidered using recycled fabric in North America at the end of the 19th century.
Crazy quilts are so-called "crazy" because they don't follow a specific pattern or quilt block (the building block for a quilt pattern), instead patch-working differently shaped fabrics together to create an abstract pattern. This is a very labor-intensive craft and can feature a wild mix of fabrics and stitches. Crazy quilting reached its peak in the late 1800s, first with upper-class women who had the time to fully unleash creatively and employed fantastical fabrics and embellishments like buttons, beads, shells, and anything else that could lend sparkle and pizazz. Later once the fashion for these quilts had passed, they continued to be made in more rural areas, where women used sturdier fabrics and fewer embellishments.
This particular quilt was composed during the height of this movement and epitomizes the Victorian design sense. It features many symbols, a variety of fabrics, and tiny detailed embroidered "borders" around each swatch of fabric. The symbols include fans, flowers, and remarkably even an embroidered face. This piece was intended as and actually used as a family heirloom and came from a relative of the maker whose family kept a note with the quilt that said "Made by Mary Elizabeth Ward Stratton b.1842 d.1906"
In very good condition, signs of wear are consistent with age. A couple of patches are threadbare. Has a light and airy handle, consistent with crazy quilts.