In 1884 Mary Haehnlen wrote A Book of Fancy Designs for Ornamenting Oriental Work. It’s a little gem because it is full of vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery patterns. I bet she never thought that over a century later, women from all over the globe would be interested in it. To modern readers, the title a little misleading. It would be easy to assume that A Book of Fancy Designs or Ornamenting Oriental Work was a book on Chinese or Japanese embroidery but it is not. “Oriental work” in this case is what today we call crazy quilting. This small free ebook comes from the Antique pattern Library contains 20 pages of diagrams that illustrate stitch combinations for crazy quilting.
Here are a few vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery patterns from the book. They are suggestions for embellishing items. An interesting note is that Mary Haehnlen has used a thread with a twist. It is probably silk but today it would be like a cotton Perle. I love the way Mary has reversed these diagrams set them against a black background. It makes them look more dramatic.
A foundation line of half Chevron and half Herringbone stitch which has Detached chain stitch or a tightly closed Fly stitch added. So, how you interpret the stitch depends on how you interpret this illustration.
This vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern consists of Herringbone tied with a straight stitch. Mary Haehnlen has added straight stitches in the forks of the Herringbone.
What’s in a name?
At the start of the book, Mary Haehnlen lists 12 stitches that have been allocated strange names. Below I have listed the stitches alongside the names we use today. I have linked them to tutorials on how to do the stitch. This means people who are new to hand embroidery can use the book too.
Mary Haehnlen’s stitch 1 works a series of straight stitches over the seam. Stitch 2 although Mary Haehnlen calls it cat stitch it is what we call Herringbone today
The free ebook A Book of Fancy Designs for Ornamenting Oriental Work comes from the Antique Pattern Library and is full of vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery patterns that are copyright free.
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My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results shares detailed practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. From fabric choice, to balancing colour, texture, and pattern, in order to balance and direct the eye around the block. I cover how to stitch, build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.
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