Crazy Quilt

CMC PCD 94-686-017

By Mrs. Jane Elliott Spencer or Josephine Maud Spencer McTaggart; London, Ontario; 1885; silk fabric, silk embroidery floss, cotton batting; 172.5 x 160 cm. CMC D-10755

Originally, the Crazy Quilt was one of the most economical of patterns, using up all the odd-shaped scraps of fabric that might otherwise have gone to waste. By the late Victorian era, however, quilting had begun its metamorphosis from necessary domestic task to leisure pastime. Women now quilted as a means of self-expression, and among their creations were Crazy Quilts of incredible colour and richness. They often incorporated fabrics of such fragility that the quilt could never have been used as an ordinary bedcover. The accomplished needlewoman from London, Ontario, who made this quilt worked a monogram and the date, 1885, into her creation. It is a small quilt and may have been used as a table cover. The fabrics — plain and patterned silk brocades — may have been scraps left over from dressmaking, or they may have come from the ready-made packages of fine materials that were available by that time. Like the goldminer's work pants that evolved into designer jeans, the Victorian Crazy Quilt had outgrown its utilitarian origins and become a luxurious display piece.