Monday, July 23, 2018

Contained Crazy Quilts

Contained Crazy Quilt from the Arizona project.
Someone asked what a Contained Crazy Quilt was.

I did a search on the Quilt Index site for the word "Contained"
and found several interesting quilts

Contained Crazy Quilt dated 1904
from the Quilts of Tennessee and the Quilt Index.

The documenters in the 1980s were using the words Contained Crazy Quilt to refer to these and it's a term that still communicates today.

Bates Family Parlor Throw, described as a contained crazy quilt. 
New Haven, Connecticut.  NMAH/Smithsonian collection.

I doubt it was a term used before the 1970s.

Unconfined craziness. Just irregular shapes scattered across the surface.
Many of these are from online auctions or found on the internet.
All of them unless dated are probably 1880 - 1910.

A perfect example of contained craziness from the Winedale Collection and the Quilt Index.

A contained crazy quilt is first of all a crazy quilt, which means it has pieces cut to no standard shape
Those pieces may be embellished with linear embroidery.

 But what makes it different from a regular old crazy quilt is that the crazy parts are contained within a standard repeated shape.

Craziness contained in a triangle

Diamond-shapes may be the most common kinds of containment.

Actually, most crazy quilts are confined, built on squares. 

Crazy dated 1884, early in the fad.

There is probably a seam line right below that line in
the detail above but she's disguised it. 

Even a lot of those that look completely unconfined are based on squares or rectangles but the quiltmaker appliqued crazy pieces and embroidery over the seams to hide them. When you flip them over you notice the construction from the back.

Dated 1893 by Leonard Mitchell, Columbus Quilt for
the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Illinois State Historical Society

So one could classify nearly every crazy quilt as a contained crazy quilt. But this does not make sense to us, so the definition for a contained crazy quilt must be...

Crazy patchwork contained in a shape other than a square or rectangle.

With exceptions on the fuzzy edges of the definition.

Contained or not? Everybody has to settle on their own definitions.

Alice Bowman Plummer, Indiana Project & the Quilt Index.

Alberta Project & the Quit Index


  1. Those are some exciting examples of crazy quilts.
    I really like the contained crazy from the Arizona project.
    Craziness within precise borders.

  2. Love the examples you showed, great idea for scraps too, and keep a few main colors around them.


  3. Would love to see a post from you about The Queen's Quilt. Lilioukalini, the last Monarch of Hawaii. It was contained within blocks. Quite the story !

  4. My definition, from your very interesting examples, would be crazy quilting in a regular (as opposed to irregular) design, with separation between the crazy-quilted patches.

  5. First quilt I made (1971) was a contained crazy of large squares that were each covered with 1960s-70s fabric scraps and then sewn together ~ didn't even know it was an actual "method" but for years just considered it something my mom and I tried. :)

  6. I think Fribble is right. A contained crazy quilt usually has some kind of visual spacer.

  7. I just crazy quilts in whatever fashion. I think I'm well into my 10th crazy quilt. Some are still blocks, some need stitching, and still some are color chunks in clear bread bags. I read every post you write. I can be found at goodearthquilting.blogspot.com