The “artistic” Crazy quilt was not meant to be a functional bedcover. Rather, it was “fancywork,” and functioned as a display piece. Made of shimmering, textured, rich-looking materials, a Crazy quilt evoked luxury and refinement. Exhibiting one in the parlor was a way of showing off one’s gentility, taste, and skill.
Consequently, many Crazy quilts were made in smaller sizes -- even doll quilt size -- or were fashioned expressly as piano throws, pillow covers, or table runners.
A popular place to display a Crazy quilt was in the “Turkish corner,” a section of the parlor filled with luxurious textiles and intended for lounging and adding an exotic flair to the home. These corners were popular during the 1890s and represented the height of artistic taste.
Anna Cooke’s husband would have been at home in a Turkish Corner wearing his cigar silks jacket. Anna constructed it for him out of hundreds of silk premiums, which routinely came with tobacco products of the era. Women often collected these silk fabrics for quiltmaking and other sewing projects.
Click images below to view larger and read more information about some of the quilts included in the exhibit.