Crazy Quilting

Crazy Quilting

Crazy Quilts have fascinated us for over 100 years. They have been the height of fashion in the late 19th century and fallen out of grace soon afterwards. At intervals, they witnessed revivals and today, there are many quilters who still feel a passion for the sumptuous fabrics, rich embellishments and infinite possibilities this style offers.

When stitching a Crazy Quilt, irregularly shaped scraps are pieced together by fixing them onto a fabric base forming a block that is later joined to other Crazy blocks. There are many different approaches to Crazy Quilting – from doing every single stitch by hand to creating a Crazy Quilt entirely by machine, everything is possible.

If you are interested in the history of Crazy Quilts, we recommend you read the article Crazy Quilts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow here on Quilt around the World.

Crazy Quilt

Crazy Quilting can be very easy and also very difficult. This depends on yourself: if you choose to work with a lot of “difficult” fabrics such as slippery synthetics and silks, you will have a challenge on your hands. If you start with cotton fabrics, which can make very beautiful Crazy Quilts, you will have less trouble making the individual fabric pieces behave.

Asian Influence

  • We have subdivided the subject of Crazy Quilting into two chapters. The first chapter is dedicated to Crazy Quilting sewn entirely by hand. The second chapter looks at the machine sewn alternative.


    Intermediate to difficult

    Materials needed

  • A piece of cotton fabric as foundation material (the fabric should be prewashed to prevent later shrinking)
  • Fabric

Choose fabric according to the purpose of the finished object, your personal preferences and your skill level. If you think you might to wash the finished piece, you need to choose fabric accordingly. Working with silks, velvets and other “precious” fabrics and embellishments is not that easy, but once you get used to applying a little extra care, it can be quite intoxicating to create Crazies with these materials.

Make sure that you have a variety of textures and patterns. Mix solids with small scale and large scale patterns and combine shiny materials with “dull” materials. This will give your finished Crazy object more depth and create the rich look so typical of Crazy Quilts.

Other Tools and Notions

Crazy Quilting by Hand

  • Iron and ironing board
  • A pair of scissors for cutting the fabric
  • Appliqué needle (sharp)
  • Neutral coloured thread (we recommend a thin silk thread in light grey)
  • Pins
  • Thimble
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery floss
  • Optional: other embellishment such as ribbons, lace, buttons, sequins, beads etc.

Machine sewn Crazy

  • Sewing machine
  • Neutral coloured all purpose sewing thread
  • Rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat
  • A pair of scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pins
  • Machine embroidery thread
  • Optional: other embellishments such as ribbons, lace, buttons, sequins, beads etc.
Jutta Hufnagel (based on an unpublished manuscript by Halina Judith Schmitz)