1880 - 1890 Elizabeth Darley's "Crazy-patch" Parlor Throw

Fans, butterflies, flowers, and many other motifs typical of the crazy-patch quilt era adorn this parlor throw. A wide array of fabrics available in the late 19th century for crazy-patch needlework is represented. Silks that are plain, printed, ribbed, pattern-woven, striped, brocaded, and plaid, as well as satins, velvet, taffeta, and ribbon are all combined to create this vivid example. Fancy stitches (herringbone, feather, detached chain, satin, French knot, stem) secure the patches. Originally an unfinished top, it was backed over a half century later with a machine-quilted gold satin, and a silk border was added to complete it.
Elizabeth Fenton was born in 1830 in Pennsylvania. She later moved to Washington D.C., and in 1851 married Benjamin Franklin Darley (1826-1884). They had four children. Elizabeth Darley died in 1890 and is buried in Congressional Cemetery, Washington D.C.
The donor of the parlor throw finished it in the 1960s as a favor to her friend, Mrs. Mae Glover of Norwalk, Conn. Mrs. Glover, born about 1890, noted that the quilt top was made by her grandmother, Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Darley, and “regretted that the quilt had never been finished.” As it remained unfinished and unused for so many years the crazy-patch fabrics are in excellent condition.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Darley, Mrs. Benjamin Franklin
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, velvet, taffeta, ribbon (overall material)
thread, silk, chenille (overall material)
overall: 66 in x 64 in; 166 cm x 161 cm
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. W. Harold Cope
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

8/12/2013 3:23:20 PM
Irene Moyer
I am the great great granddaughter of Elizabeth Gardiner Fenton Darley, and I cannot believe that I found this site!!!!! My great grandmother, Susan, created some absolutely incredible crochet pieces: a bedspread paneled with embroidered Irish linen with her initials SBC (Collins) and the date 1919 croceted in the corners. I am overwhelmed to see this quilt. I have one she made but unfortuately I used it and it is now almost threadbare. Much to my regret.
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