An online buddy recently put on a "Mystery Box" wish list that she wanted crazy quilt embellishments. That piqued my interest - what kind of quilt has embellishments? So I did a little research and found a great article on QuiltHistory.com by Betty Pillsbury. You can go to http://www.caron-net.com/featurefiles/featmay.html to read the entire article, but I thought I'd just mention a few interesting facts about crazy quilts here.
Crazy quilting was really big back in those crazy Victorian days and is coming back into favor. You know how those Victorians liked to embellish everything in sight and these quilts are just like that. Crazy quilts aren't actually quilts - no batting or quilting in sight. They would baste bits of fabric on a base, usually a square, to make each block.
The process of piecing together ramdom bits of fabric goes back much farther than the Victorian era, but the embellishment was all theirs. Victorian gentlewomen used bits of silk, velvet and satin to make coverlets and embroidered over the seams. On some there was so much elaborate embroidery one could hardly see the fabrics! Some of the most interesting were those made from bits of fabric collected from family members and embroidered with names, dates of birth (and maybe death) and appropriate sentiments from the donor. Sometimes items such as a man's hatband, a leather tie or a bit of lace-covered corset were incorporated into the quilt.
It sounds like making a crazy quilt would be a great way to record a family history and certainly more interesting than a dusty old book of names and dates. I may just have to try one, even if it's just to see if I can remember how to do all of those embroidery stitches my mom taught me back in the day.
So go check out the article and see the beautiful pictures. The history of quilting is truly a history of America.