Monday, May 04, 2009

Crazy Quilting

Dee Well, the Crazy Quilt Lady, showed us some of her quilts at our guild meeting this past weekend. She is a riot! She does beautiful work. If there was a liberated embroiderer then she is it!
I wanted to show some of her work and her thoughts on quilting.

Dee started embroidering when she was 6 years old...more than 70 years ago. She was born during the depression and needlework was her mom's idea of entertainment for the children. Except for the basic stitches she doesn't' try and memorize how to make them - that is what books are for. During and after the depression lots of people moved North to find jobs in factories. She was taught to piece a crazy quilt by a woman from Tennessee. She laughed when she said not making the seams match makes real quilters "crazy."

"It is the most personal of all quilts," Dee says about Crazy quilts, "you couldn't copy one exactly if you tried." She uses many of the old designs like spider webs and flower baskets. but also has some pretty unique ones - like a drawing of a doll designed by the same artist who did the Campbell Soup Kids. Sometimes she includes blocks made for her by friends in her works. She told one story of how she once put an embroidered block from a friend into this quilt but later the friend "did her a very bad turn." She didn't want to be reminded of it each time she looked at the quilt so she picked out the embroidery and replaced it with this peacock! Talk about taking charge of your environment! One of my favorite pieces is her sampler apron...the material is so soft you can tell it has been washed dozens of times but the colors in the threads are still bright and stable. Testament to her skill with a needle.
She also showed us some small projects she makes a like these little birds, cats, Christmas trees and the old lady doll..."always have an ornament on hand for trading," she advised me "you never know what nice little things someone in the crowd may have with them."

She tries to keep her crazy quilts away from sunlight but other than that tries to only make "useful" things now. "If it sits still though" she said, " it may get some stitches." Her presentation reminded me of all the crazy quilt and embroidery books sitting on the self at home..maybe just a few stitches could go on the apron I am making....

13 comments:

*karendianne. said...

Oh what lovely pieces you are showing here. And I loved the apron. Thank you for sharing, Sio!

Jenny in Belgium said...

A great old lady, thanks for sharing the story and the beautiful works

Piecefulafternoon said...

Thanks for sharing - this is all wonderful. Lovely stitching she does.

Bebesboutique said...

I super sized the pictures to really see the details. Accually getting to touch and see close up, Lucky you. I saw my first old crazy quilt when I was about 14 and fell in love. I have yet to make one. If you try makeing some pieces maybe I will too, lol.

Karen said...

She does beautiful work. The sample apron is a great idea.

Sherry said...

What lovely work. This is the kind of quilt I saw and thought I would like to do it but I have stuck to the basic for now and then I'm off to learn more.Thanks for showing us all the great work.

Mary said...

I love Crazy Quilts and one day want to make one for myself -- a year or so ago I played around with a doll size version and had a lot of fun. I've been collecting books and perle cotton for the last year and while I wait for the right time to make one -- I've been playing with some embroidery here and there on my postcards.

Good luck getting the porch like you want -- I wish we had a little more space out on our back deck -- the grill takes up lots of space but can't do anything about that -- when I get home after this next trip I'm going to get some flower baskets.

Loris said...

Thank you for sharing that awesome presentation from Dee. How inspiring! She is right. Those stitches really make the work intimate and meaningful.

Dionne said...

Wow, what a wonderful and interesting time you must of had. I would have loved to see those works of art up close.
Cheers,
Dionne

Sweet P said...

What gorgeous works. I love her philosophy on always keeping an ornament on hand. She is a great testament to needle and fabric work.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

I love the apron! Her work is so pretty.

Donnamo said...

I read your blog every day and enjoy it but don't comment.

Today, I can't help it.....I love crazy quilts, but I haven't tried to make one yet.

The kids at church call me "Crazy Old Lady" (because I suggested it) so you would think I could make one. Obviously it takes much more talent than crazy!

Thanks for sharing the pictures!

Jeanne said...

WOW, she does amazing work, I do a little bit (emphasis on LITTLE BIT) of crazy quilting and love it but all those embroidery stitches she does are amazing. Thanks for sharing.