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....