Audio Recordings "I called 'em crazy quilts."

About this Item

"I called 'em crazy quilts."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Patton, Ila, 1905-2001 (Interviewee)
Patton, Ila, 1905-2001 (Creator)
Created / Published
Galax, Virginia
Subject Headings
-  Quilting
-  Quilts
-  quilt piecing
-  patchwork quilts
-  crazy quilts
-  string quilts
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- Virginia -- Galax
-  Geraldine Johnson described Ila Patton's quilts as "not fancy, but very interesting and well made." They include utility crazy and strip quilts, as well as a recent Cathedral Window, which is a novelty construction popular in the 1970s. The variety of Mrs. Patton's quilts, her recollections of learning to quilt from her grandmother, and her primary interest in making quilts for family rather than to sell are some of the key elements brought out in this "very useful and informative" interview.
-  Transcription: GJ: What are some of your, what were some of your favorite patterns, piecing patterns? / IP: Well, I declare, I don't know. / GJ: Any that you particularly liked? / IP: Well, I'll tell you, I used to just rather piece 'em in little strips every way and every color, I liked 'em that way. I called 'em crazy quilts. I don't, that's the way I most always pieced mine. I didn't hardly cut any patterns. It took a lot more material, when you cut a pattern, and when you piece 'em crazy you can just use every little scrap in it, and you can use, use it much better that way. To piece 'em. I'd sometimes cut a big block, out of a paper or old material and just piece it, start in the corner, and just go through, backwards and forwards 'til I got it pieced, and then, maybe I'd just sew all the blocks together sometimes I'd set 'em up with something else. And sometimes I'd take about a six or eight-inch strip and just piece 'em in strips, crazy. That's the way I most always done mine. Seems like I never had the time to sit down and cut the patterns out and get 'em all together and do whatever work I had to do. I had so much else to / GJ: So you always called those crazy quilts. / IP: Yes. / GJ: And now what were the ways you'd do 'em you said you'd get a six or eight-inch strip and then sew the crazy pattern onto that strip? / IP: Now I just called 'em crazy quilts. That's all I know. I'd just piece 'em like that. / GJ: Sometimes you'd piece 'em in a block? / IP: In a diamond shape, sometimes, yeah. / GJ: In a diamond shape? / IP: Yeah. / GJ: How do you mean, what do you mean by that? / IP: Well, I'd cut 'em in a square, like, then turn 'em in a diamond shape in your quilt. You could turn 'em 'til they looked, you know, they wouldn't just be in a square block they'd look more in a diamond shape. / GJ: And what, would you put that diamond on to a strip of [yeah] material? / IP: Well, you could fit in some half-blocks in that, and run 'em clear through, and that'd straighten 'em out and then you could start another row like that. Just cut out solid, you know, about a half, half a square and fit in between them big ones you'd already put in, a different color. You had to set 'em up pretty. Change the pattern some. / GJ: Sometimes you'd piece these crazy quilts on a piece of like catalog paper. / IP: Yes. / GJ: And would you start with your cloth going from one corner to the other? And then [yes] fill in [yes] with / IP: Fill 'em in then with the smaller pieces. In the corners, you could put smaller pieces, and as you got out in the middle of 'em, you could take your longer pieces and fill 'em. / GJ: And then once you got these all stitched down, then would you clip around the square and cut off the [yes] excess pieces? / IP: Trim all that excess material off to fit the square paper. You'd cut it. And then that fit it to your others when you wanted to sew 'em. / GJ: And then you'd take these squares, you'd, would you get a whole bunch of the squares together then? / IP: Yes. / GJ: And then you'd fit 'em together with strips down the sides [yeah] or something. / IP: Take strips, run strips around 'em, sometimes, you could change your pattern like that, by strips, or you could take solid blocks and fit around 'em, either way, you wanted to do it, until you got your quilt as large as you want it. Bed size.
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Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R90
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center
Online Format

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Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection, 1977-1981 (AFC 1982/009), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Lands' End all-American quilt collection, 1992-1997 (AFC 1997/011), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

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Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Ila Patton, and Ila Patton. "I called 'em crazy quilts.". Galax, Virginia, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed December 03, 2016.)

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Patton, I. & Patton, I. (1978) "I called 'em crazy quilts.". Galax, Virginia. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Ila Patton, and Ila Patton. "I called 'em crazy quilts.". Galax, Virginia, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.