Materials

Fabric choices for Crazy work fall into several distinct groups. Opulent fabrics such as velvets, brocades, silks; satins and ribbons seem to have been the preferred choices for many makers during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This was no doubt due to the changes in fashion and improved manufacturing techniques that led to silk replacing cotton as the preferred material for clothing and furnishings among the more affluent. The invention of chemical aniline dyes in 1854 brought about a new and exciting palette of brilliant colored fabrics and quiltmakers took advantage. Available in numerous designs and with selvedge edges, ribbons were another favorite to include in high style Crazy work, especially in the United Kingdom. Here ribbons were a popular fashion trim for all aspects of clothing from bonnets to aprons.

Stevengraphs’, the woven silk bookmarks, and later pictures, invented by Thomas Stevens in the 1860s, also became popular during the 1870s after being widely exhibited across Europe and in America.

Advertisements selling packets of patches "suitable for crazy work" began to appear in newspapers and periodicals in America and the United Kingdom during the period of popularity and cigarette companies began to include printed silks in their packets to use in patchwork.

A few surviving examples of Crazy quilts made in cotton prints in the United States appear to have been made before the Crazy quilt peaked in popularity in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. These quilts are textile dictionaries, demonstrating the vast range of different and inexpensive cotton prints that became available. There are early twentieth-century examples of cotton Crazy quilts in the United States, as well, often displaying a slightly different look with a fractured geometry and little to no ornamentation. However, cotton Crazies found in the United Kingdom primarily date from the 1940s and 1950s, when there was a revival of interest in Crazy patchwork, possibly as a result of fabric rationing in Second World War. These follow the more conventional aesthetic.

Wool, more popular in the United States than in the United Kingdom, was also used in a number of Crazy quilts, especially those destined for use; decoration tends to be simpler and more practical.