Ann Estelle’s grandmother is an active volunteer for the local historical society. She has been instrumental in planning an exhibit of Victorian crazy quilts, made long ago right in Ann Estelle’s hometown! There is going to be a lovely opening party on Valentine’s Day and, of course, Ann Estelle is at the top of the list of invitees. Before the event, Ann Estelle’s grandmother gave her a primer on crazy quilts.
"Crazy quilts actually date back to Colonial times, when resources were scarce. Women would take the smallest pieces of fabric, whether remnants from sewing projects or good parts of worn-out clothing, and would bind them together to make blankets to keep their families warm. In the more prosperous Victorian era, crazy quilts became quite fashionable. Women wore dresses of very fine silks and velvets, and they would use pieces of these fabrics in their quilts. Crazy quilts were also used as a teaching tool - genteel young women would actually practice intricate embroidery stitches on crazy quilts. As their skills developed, they entered their work in local competitions. A well-made crazy quilt was the ultimate status symbol. Crazy quilts are still quite popular today. They are considered "kitchen sink" quilts because, well, you can put just about anything on them - except the kitchen sink!"
Ann Estelle was trying to envision these amazing quilts. Grandma said "Let’s go up to the attic, I need to get the quilts from our family out for the exhibit." Ann Estelle knows that grandma’s attic is just full of treasures, so she was very excited. While grandma was rifling through old boxes and trunks, Ann Estelle practiced her ballet steps in the large attic. She bumped into a new looking box that was quite out of place. Grandma smiled and said "I was hoping you would come upon that box, there is something special in there for you - an early Valentine’s gift." Ann Estelle opened the box and said "THIS IS A CRAZY QUILT!!!" But this was no ordinary crazy quilt, it was a JACKET, made especially for Ann Estelle by grandma, mom, and all of her aunts. She gave grandma the biggest hug ever! Needless to say, she was a big hit at the opening of the crazy quilt exhibit.
Ann Estelle’s crazy quilt jacket is a true "kitchen sink" creation. It is composed of all sorts of beautiful fabrics and trims, including silk, velvet, satin, calico, and vintage laces. Lots of embroidery highlights the junctions of these pieces. Almost every piece is decorated with something special, be it embroidery (floss or silk ribbon), applique, pretty buttons, roses, pearls, or beadwork. It is lined with a soft satin, and is filled with thin quilt batting (even though traditional crazy quilts have no batting, we want Ann Estelle to stay warm). It has a velveteen collar, and closes with magnetic gold clasps. This jacket looks perfect with her nubby silk noil shift, which is decorated with a bit of vintage lace and a heart applique. It is trimmed in a very fine vintage (looks handmade) lace. She also wears cream colored tights and turtleneck with this ensemble. The turtleneck has rosebuds embroidered on the cuffs. Finally, Ann Estelle’s hat is also made from silk noil, and has an embroidered band embellished with a vintage lace bow, pearls, and a handmade ribbon rose.