The Complete Book of Crazy Patchwork: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crazy Patchwork Projects


179 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920534-31-7






Reviewed by Ruth Kennedy

Ruth Kennedy was a librarian and fitness instructor in Islington, Ontario.


Mary Conroy is one of The Authorities on quilts and quilting. She wrote Three Hundred Years of Canada’s Quilts in 1976 (published by Griffin House). She founded the only Canadian quilting magazine, Canada Quilts, in 1973 (it was sold in 1982 to another quilter and is still being published). She is well known for her many workshops and illustrated lectures, in both Canada and the United States. Unfortunately, there is no information about her in the book, so that the new-to-quilting reader will not know that she is a master of her subject. She received a Canada Council New Horizons grant to write this, and the people in the quilting world should be delighted with the result.

By 1890, the popularity of Victorian crazy patchwork was at its peak, but crazy patchwork continued until the early 1900s in Canada and the northern United States. What was a household necessity became a work of art enabling women to make use of their colour sense and to demonstrate their skill with a variety of embroidery stitches. Crazy patchwork did become popular in England, but it was often done as a relief from boredom for those who had servants. Many of the quilts preserved today are from this period. The inheritors realize the many hours needed to make them and treasure them not only for their beauty, but for family memories. These quilts, always original in design, since there were no paper patterns to follow, were made of available scraps and were often a family affair, though they could also have been a group project.

Stitches for crazy patchwork fall into two categories, decorative and linear. The book includes 18 pages of stitches with diagrams and instructions. Also covered are clear details of tools needed, pattern making and changing pattern size, frames, and the use of colour, beads, and paints.

In addition to crazy quilt making, more than 100 pages are devoted to sewing both men’s and women’s wear projects, with patterns and photographs of skirts, jackets, boleros, handbags, vests, men’s workshirts, etc. as well as clothes and toys for children and babies. The section on Victorian crazy patchwork Christmas ornaments will appeal to many readers.

Many people with antique quilts do not know how to care for them. Mrs. Conroy explains the technique for their care and repair and adds a comprehensive list of further readings for the restoration and repair of old patchwork quilts. There is also a list of books for the reader who wishes more background information on quilts and quilting.


Conroy, Mary, “The Complete Book of Crazy Patchwork: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crazy Patchwork Projects,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,