Thursday, January 7, 2016

Crazy Quilting—Start to Finish

The title of this post sounds a bit intimidating, but it is the goal of a new class Teri and I (Kara) will be teaching at our local quilt shop. We have taught a beginning crazy quilting class that primarily focused on learning the basic embroidery skills needed for seam stitches and motifs; however, we really didn't have time in a one-day class to teach how to piece and embellish the blocks. Quite a few of our students wanted to learn those skills as well, so a 6-month class was born. The class doesn't start until January 16th, but we thought we would bring you, our readers, along with us as we take this crazy quilting journey.

We began preparing for the class by putting together a sample that consisted of four different blocks. Each one is a little different, which allows for a few different techniques in assembling them. Assembling crazy quilt blocks is inherently somewhat random, but the way one person puts them together may make sense to that person and not to another. That's what Teri and I discovered.  I tend to be more exacting in my process, whereas Teri is confident in eyeballing the pieces and putting them together with great results. Our students will get a little bit of both methods, and they will be able to choose the method that best suits them. Here are the four different blocks before embroidery:

We tried to incorporate different fabrics, many of which were sourced from local thrift stores.

We each finished two blocks, but before we started, we put together the 4 patterns and planned out our motifs and embellishments. By doing this ahead of time, we avoided duplicating our efforts.  The side benefit of this "worksheet" was that it allowed me to plan out my seam stitches and thread colors ahead of time.

Some people—like Teri—would rather choose their seam stitches on the fly, (stitching pun intended,) but planning things out helped me to contain some of my stitching chaos.

This is my "contained" stitching setup.

For the motifs in this sample, we chose images from our upcoming fairy tale project. You may recognize a few of the motifs from our December ornament series. I used the press and seal method mentioned here to transfer the images to the block.

Snow White's apple
The Beast's castle
The Nightingale
Sleeping Beauty's nemesis, the spinning wheel and its spindle
The wicked queen's crown from Snow White

The flowers in this piece of silk sari were highlighted and
beaded to help them stand out.
A beaded seam stitch and an antique button

We worked in some beading in various locations. Sometimes we used them in the seam stitches and other times in the motifs themselves.

One of the requests for this class was to learn how to use silk ribbon in a crazy quilt so we incorporated a bit of silk ribbon embroidery as well as an off-block silk flower.

A silk ribbon flower using the ribbon stitch

A gathered flower using French wired ribbon, with embroidered ribbon leaves

Lace appliqués and a bit of French lace trim were used to highlight certain areas of the blocks. We also used a piece of gathered silk ribbon embellished with beads to enhance the vintage postcard center of one of the blocks.

The lace flowers really stand out on the thick brown wool
we used.

The French lace trim and beaded ribbon highlight this
vintage postcard.

There are so many creative opportunities in a crazy quilt, and we can't wait to see how they are used in this class. We are looking forward to this journey that we will be taking with our students, and we plan on bringing you, the readers, along with us. Stay tuned for more updates as the class progresses.

Can you find any other elements from fairy tales in the motifs?


  1. Love that you will share your creativity and knowledge with your readers as well. I find this-crazy quilting-fascinating and inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Linda! We hope you'll be inspired to do some of your own crazy stitching...and perhaps share it with us. Happy stitching!

  2. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing. We have a group that does crazy quilting in our LQS. Having so much fun and loving other creative ways to do this.

    1. Thanks, Pam. Your group must be lots of fun. There are so many creative things you can try when making a crazy quilt. If you can imagine it, you can try it!

  3. Very interesting. I have made a crazy quilt yet but who know following along your progress in this class might just inspire me to have ago.

    1. Oh, we hope you will try it, Cynthia! It is such a fun way to learn and practice new stitching techniques.

  4. I love crazy quilts. I want to make one soon..

    1. Enjoy it; they are so much fun! Thanks for stopping by our blog. Happy stitching!!

  5. I've been 'hoarding' potential crazy quilt items in a 'tub' for years. Maybe 2016 is a good year to actually START using them?? I've never done one - but have one that g'ma made *years* ago that inspires me....

    1. Sounds like this might be the year! What a wonderful gift to have a crazy quilt from your grandmother—a treasure indeed.