Crazy Quilt Collage Design (Keeping Us in Stitches Activity)

Courtesy of the Illinois State Museum. December/0/2011
All rights reserved, Illinois State Museum
Purpose: to help the students understand the late-Victorian aesthetic through the design of Crazy quilts.

Illinois State Museum Web site used:

Objective: Students, after viewing the Crazy Quilt unit online, books about the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements and Crazy Quilts; will be able to produce a collage using the irregular-shaped and sized pieces, decorative stitching, and applied or painted motifs that reflect this style. Students will also be able to discuss how and why their design fits into this style because of its visual elements.

Grade Level: 4-8

Time required: one to two 50 minute periods

  • fabric, ribbon, and lace scraps
  • sewing pins
  • embroidery thread or crewel yarn and needles
  • beads, buttons, decals
  • gluestick, white glue
  • one 12-inch square piece of muslin per person

Students will view the Crazy Quilts online, in books, and in person if possible. They will discuss what visual elements make a Crazy Quilt distinctive. Older students may want to research designs in Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic design sources and discuss the Japanese and Middle-Eastern influences of the era. A quilter or embroiderer demonstrating the technique would be optimal (check your local quilt guild).

Students improvisationally cut and pin shapes in place to fill the muslin foundation fabric square. Decals are glued and/or flowers, bird, and other motifs are painted on some of the pieces. After shapes are pinned or glued into place, the ‘seams’ are decorated with embroidery stitches (if teacher or parent volunteer can teach embroidery), or ribbons, lace, or cord are glued on the seams. Edges of the “quilt” are trimmed or a binding of ribbon can be glued or sewn around the perimeter.

Publication and Closure: Finished Crazy-Quilt collage blocks could be sewn into a large quilt top or hung individually. Students will describe how their design fits the Victorian Crazy Quilt style and how they have personalized it.

Assessment: Student quilt blocks should reflect odd-shaped and odd-sized pieces of different but coordinating fabrics. Trim should be on the seam lines. Students are able to explain that these characteristics are those of the Victorian Crazy Quilt.
Illinois State Board of Education Goals and Standards addressed:
Visual Art: Late Elementary:
26.A.2e: Demonstrate the relationships among media, tools, and processes.
26.B.2d: Demonstrate knowledge and skills to create works of visual art using observing, designing, and constructing.
Middle School:
26.A.3e: Describe how the choices of tools and processes are used to create specific effects in the arts.
26./b.3d: Demonstrate knowledge and skills to create 3-dimensional works that are decorative.

Subject: Art

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