1875 - 1900 "Crazy Patchwork" Parlor Throw

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This parlor throw, made in the last quarter of the 19th century, is an example of fancy work using silks, velvets and embroidery that was popular in Victorian America. Irregularly shaped pieces in silk and velvet combine with a large variety of stitches to create the crazy patchwork that was found on many items made for the home to display needlework skills. In 1890 a magazine, Sewing Machine Advance wrote this about crazy patchwork "it drives a man nearly crazy when his wife makes one because it keeps her so busily engaged that she has no time for other work."
This parlor throw has thirteen embroidered vignettes probably copied from patterns based on illustrations found in Kate Greenaway's children's books. Outline embroidered motifs of children playing were a popular addition to parlor throws. Other embroidered motifs that were probably copied from pattern books include; owls, flowers, cats, butterflies, plums, acorns, fans, spider webs, wheat, goldenrod, cat-tails, birds, a dog, strawberries, a house, a juggler, blackberries, shamrocks, mice and a chinoiserie tray with tea set. "Should old acquaintance be forgot" and "Welcome my friends all" as well as initials "JK" and "KUP" are also embroidered on the throw. The silks used for piecing are plain, checked, striped, brocaded, twilled, printed, pattern-woven, and plaid. Fur-textured fabric, satin ribbons and velvets are used as well. The lining is a pale green satin. The throw is not quilted but tied with pink and green silk thread every five inches. While there is no information on the maker or where it is made, it is an example of needlework typical of the Victorian period.
Currently not on view
Date made
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, ribbon, velvet (overall material)
thread, silk (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 65 in x 65 in; 165 cm x 164 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Thomas J. White
Sewing and Knitting
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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