Free ebook of Vintage Crazy Quilt Embroidery Patterns

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.

 pattern with a foundation of herringbone stitchThis seam embellishment has a foundation line of Herringbone stitch and further decorated with Detached chain stitch and Fly stitch.

detail from book of vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery patternA 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.

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern with a foundation of double chevron stitchA double line of Chevron stitch is decorated with Detached chain stitch or a tightly closed Fly stitch added. Similarly, how you see this will affect your interpretation.

 pattern with a foundation of Cretan stitchThe foundation of this seam embellishment is Cretan stitch which is then decorated with either Detached chain stitch or a tightly closed Fly stitch

pattern with a foundation of herringbone stitch

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.

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guide

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

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guide

Stitch 3 is Buttonhole and Stitch 4 is Feather stitch 

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guide

As you can see stitch 5 is Chevron stitch and Stitch 6 is an opened out Turkman stitch

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guideFor stitch 7,  I was scratching my head but in the end, I decided that the centre band is made of chain stitches which means this today is known as Wheatear. Stitch 8 is alternating Feather stitch.

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guide

In the case of stitch 9, it is Cretan stitch and stitch 10 is alternating Buttonhole.

vintage Crazy Quilt embroidery pattern stitch guideFinally, stitch 11 is a Fly stitch worked in a closed manner and stitch 12 is described as knots but I think will be a French Knot or a Colonial knot.

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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Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

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. This includes, 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. I profusely illustrated my book as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

17 Comments

    1. Hi Triche yes for sure – any of the patterns that people use on crazy quilt seams make great border patterns – books marks, the sides of place mats, a line of stitching down the side of cushion etc

      sharonb
  1. I do dearly love old pattern books and have worked from many antique crochet patterns from books scanned in online. And I still didn’t know about this site. Thanks for the recommendation, and a special thanks for typing up the modern names for these embroidery stitches! I’ll be annotating my pdf so I can’t forget, I’m pretty new to embroidery. Love your blog and appreciate all you put into it.

    Madelyn

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