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Crazy quilt

The “crazy quilt” style arose in the late 19th century, and featured richly coloured dress fabrics, embroidered or painted vignettes, and ornamental stitching to outline the pieces. The crazy quilts were popular at a time when women’s lives were governed by strict codes of behavior, but no such rigidity governs the irregular designs of these quilts. To the Victorians the word “crazy” not only meant wild but also broken or crazed into splinters.

Where was this textile created?

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The Farm

Crazy quilt, by Jessie M. Jones (nee Pomeroy)
North America: Canada, Central Canada, Ontario, Warkworth
Cotton and wool fabrics, pieced, quilted and embroidered
187 cm x 154 cm
Gift of Dorothy Caldwell, Jean Johnson and Skye Morrison.
T92.0120 Textile Museum of Canada

Jessie (Pomeroy) Jones made this quilt in Warkworth, Ontario, the year before her marriage. Her mother was a fine seamstress who made dresses and men’s clothing for wealthy clients, and Jesse looked for pieces in her mother’s scrap box. The top of this quilt is made from the scraps of fine wools she found there, unlike most crazy quilt tops which are pieced of opulent silks, satins and velvets. She stitched portraits of the family dog and cat on the quilt, demonstrating her needlework skills in sprightly illustrations of the plants and animals around her.

“Quilts are a complex form of artistic communication. They are records of acquired skills, documents of family or community history, and an art form that thrives in Canada today.”

  • Dr. Skye Morrison, Canadian design historian

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