Labor Crazy Quilt
Cotton, silk, rayon, velvet
56 1/2” x 68 1/2”
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan
State University Museum
Textile historians trace the emergence of the Crazy Quilt style to the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Over nine million visitors visited this World’s Fair and two of its exhibits had profound influences on art and design in the United States. The Japanese Pavilion hosted the most extensive showing of Japanese art the Western world had ever seen and the Royal School of Art Needlework from Kensington, England showcased ornamental needlework made by students at the school.
In the “Crazy” style, irregular shapes of fabric are stitched to a backing fabric. Crazy quilts commonly include silk, velvet, and wool fabrics. Ribbons, such as the union ribbons found in this quilt, were sometimes incorporated. Embellishments such as painting and embroidery are frequently added to the fabrics. Typically, decorative stitches cover the seams between the fabrics.
Other quilts including fabric scraps from work settings have also been documented in the Michigan Quilt Project. These include ones made from salesman fabric sample books, scraps from a women’s high button shoe factory, casino employee uniforms and shirtings from the men’s department in the Detroit-Based Hudson department store.