CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Conroy, Mary.

Winnipeg, Hyperion Press, c1985. 180pp, paper, ISBN 0-920534-31-7 (cloth) $23.95, 0-920534-30-9 (paper) $12.95. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Christine Buchanan

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

In the winter 1981 issue of Quilt magazine, the author of an article on crazy quilts observed that "In the current revival of interest in quilts and quilting, it is strange that this form of the art has yet scarcely been noticed and granted only a few lines or perhaps a page or two in most quilt books." This situation has changed dramatically in the last two years. 1984 saw the much-heralded publication of Penny McMorris's lushly illustrated history called Crazy Quilts, and now in 1985 Mary Conroy has issued the first book by a Canadian in this field, The Complete Book of Crazy Patchwork.

Mary Conroy was the founder and first editor of the periodical, Canada Quilts, and the author of 300 Years of Canada's Quilts (Griffin House, 1976). She has conducted many workshops over the last few years, including some on Victorian crazy patchwork. This latest book draws on her experience in these programs and presents a wide range of projects from the very simple to the more elaborate. Examples of the smaller items include a glasses case, bookmark, bags, and various ornaments. More challenging articles of clothing such as vests, jackets, skirts, and a christening outfit extend the scope of the book. Actual patterns on reduced graph paper are given for these garments; thus the reader would not have to buy any additional patterns in order to proceed. Each project is fully explained, and there are sufficient black-and-white photographs to assist even a novice. Six and a half pages of colour are included, although the quality is somewhat blurry compared to the meticulous reproductions in Penny McMorris's book.

Useful supplementary sections include a history of the subject, adequate stitch diagrams of basic stitches, explanations of many often-requested needlework techniques such as mitring corners and making one's own bias binding, and hints on conserving and caring for old crazy quilts. One superb feature is the eight-page chapter showing many stitch variations and combinations that give this form of patchwork its richly embellished effect. The bibliography is generally good, although a valuable addition would have been Jacqueline Enthoven's The Stitches of Creative Embroidery. The address for One Stitch at a Time, an important Canadian embroidery mail order supply source, was incorrectly listed. This firm has moved twice since the address given, which must be nearly ten years old.

This collection of projects is quite conventional in style and is similar to the kind of items one often sees in general craft magazines. However, these items are often requested in public libraries (with the possible exception of the crazy patchwork toilet seat cover) and the book does present a useful gathering of projects from simple to more advanced. On balance, I recommend this book to most adult public libraries, especially ones with a clientele interested in crafts and needlework. The rather wordy format would not be suitable for children, but adults working with them could adapt some projects for their use. High schools with a textiles program will want to purchase this book, as will most embroidery and quilting guilds.

Christine Buchanan, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works