Very opulent crazy quilt of silk, velvet and satin, in the center a large burgundy-colored square with a bouquet of silk embroidered flowers framed by four fans of fabric and embroidery, most of the patches are heavily embroidered, some are painted, a wide satin border embroidered with a strawberry vine, with a faded ribbon with "Grand Commandery State of Iowa" and dated 1883.

Crazy Quilt

Elizabeth W. Nichols (Mrs. Ira Nichols)

1883

The art of the crazy quilt arose during the 18th century as a way to reuse worn-out clothing, usually in wool or calico. The fabrics increased in quality during the 19th century – quilters used silk, velvet, brocade, and satin – since most American families had more money to spend on luxury items. Around 1880, the patterns on crazy quilts became very colorful and graphic, prompting the name by which we know them today.