Crazy quilting, in general, is a great example of creativity, but doing it by hand is even better – there are no rules! You might wonder why I would choose to hand-piece a crazy quilt when a sewing machine makes it so much easier. I am not a professional quilter, and I prefer the sporadic, chaotic, vintage, unorganized appeal of a crazy quilt. My interest is in making quilts for fun, my own way. I have made a few quilts by machine, but this will be my first time making a quilt by hand. I thought you might enjoy taking the journey with me, as I start another video series on learning how to hand stitch a crazy quilt.
Crazy Quilting and it’s “Recycled” History
The history of the crazy quilt intrigues me as well. They were started by those less fortunate, by patching blankets, clothing, etc with scraps of fabrics and other clothing. Later, quilts and garments were made using elegant fabrics such as velvets, and embellishments of lace, beads, ribbons were added. Crazy quilts can be anything you want them to be. You can add pieces of memorabilia such as lace from your grandmother’s doilies, or pieces of vintage linens that may have a stain that makes them unusable. Crazy quilts from the Victorian era are adorned with beads, fine threads, trims, lace, velvets, and were found in homes of the wealthy.
Creative Control in Truly Handmade Items
As far as hand stitching a crazy quilt, I’m drawn to the fact that it is truly handmade, and the embroidery and stitches are made by me, not by machine. I am more involved in my quilt, and the creative outcome. The quilt becomes and expression of me. Stitching by hand also provides an activity that is relaxing; almost meditative. And, sewing quilt squares by hand is portable, allowing me to take it with me.
Quilting by hand may take longer, but I am not in a hurry, and the time spent is just another part of me that I put into the making of the quilt. If you have an interest in putting together a hand-stitched quilt, or how I create mine, you can follow along on the TLC Inspirations YouTube Channel.
Quilt Square Materials:
- Muslin Foundation Fabric
- Cotton fabric scraps
- Quilter’s needle
- Quilting thread
- Rotary cutter, scissors, and ruler
- Begin crazy quilting your square by cutting your foundation fabric into squares. I cut mine 8.5″ x 8.5″, allowing for a generous seam allowance when I sew my squares together. You can use whatever size squares you want, depending on the size you want your quilt to be. I’m doing a 6 by 8 square (quilt will measure 48″ x 64″ approx.) quilt.
- Cut your fabric scraps into different sizes and shapes.
- Choose a scrap piece to begin with in the middle of your foundation fabric. You can lay it in any direction that you choose. Either pin it in place or do a few basting stitches on one edge.
- Take a second scrap fabric, and lay it face down on top of the first fabric scrap, matching up a straight edge on each piece. The pieces don’t need to be the same size, but a common straight edge is needed to sew them to the foundation fabric. If one edge is longer than the other, sew to the end of the shorter one, leaving the longer one free. You may need to stitch it down later or overlap it over another scrap fabric.
- In the case of one fabric overlapping another, you will need turn the raw edge under on the scrap before you stitch it to the foundation. After the edge is ironed under, stitch it with right sides together on your foundation scrap piece. Once the scrap is stitched, and flipped to right side up, you will need to hand stitch the ironed edge down over the foundation scrap. Use small, hem stitches for this step, so the stitches are hidden.
- Continue to add fabric scraps in the same manner until the muslin foundation fabric is covered.You may have scraps that overlap the size of your foundation fabric, but now you can trim the excess off to the size of your muslin piece so you have a nice crazy quilting square with a clean edge.
We just completed our first square for our quilt! We only have about 47 more to go! That will take awhile sewing by hand, but for me it will be worth it.
In coming videos and posts in the Crazy Quilting with No Rules series, we will be doing some crazy quilting stitches and designs by hand, along with embellishments, and assembling the quilt. Stay tuned! And, I hope you are joining me, and making your own hand pieced crazy quilt.