Crazy Quilting Sampler, Part 3: More Stitchin’

Ok, crazy quilters – ready for more stitchin’?!

First up, I’ve stitched these little alternating sprig-type things. I have no idea what this would be called, but they’re each made of three simple straight stitches, exactly as they look:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

I worked each one just over the edge of the seam, so they overlap it by a teensy bit.

Next, a typical crazy quilting stitch that you will see on a lot of the antique crazy quilts: stepped running stitch. This is a threaded stitch and threaded stitches are great for using more than one color in one place, just for some extra funsies. Start by working running stitch along each side of a seam, alternating the spacing. Then we thread those running stitches:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

Using a new color (if you like) and a dull cross-stitch needle (if you have one handy, it really will make it easier if you do), lace underneath one running stitch. Pass under the previous thread and down under the next running stitch. This is one of those things that’s insane to describe in words, but easy to do. Hopefully the photos above are clear even if my words aren’t.

The next photo shows you two stitches at once, because I’ve used them in sort of combination with each other. I wanted some stitching that was a focal point, that worked on a different scale to the others. So here I’ve made large stars all across one fabric strip. You can also work these across a seam, same as the other stitches. Unlike the teensy stars we made before, these are made with twelve straight stitches that come from the center. In the last star shown, you can see that I work the four straight arms first, like the quarters of a clock:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

This helps keep the spacing even. Along the seam of this area, I’ve made very small diagonal stitches. You can see how I’m working them by simply bringing my needle across the seam, perpendicular to it. It’s almost like lacing a shoe, and strangely satisfying.

And there, my friends, is where I’m going to send you off on your own to fill up the rest of your sampler! If yours is anything like mine, you should have covered about half of your seams now.

Crazy Quilting Tutorial 3

I will show you my finished sampler sometime next week – and I’ll also show you how I’ll finish mine off – but in the meantime, I want you to get creative with your stitches and, well, go crazy! Just use what you know and combine different stitches to make new effects – and stitch whatever pops into your head!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Hmm, Fabric Change?

So, I previously posted that I was planning on making my orange peel quilt with dark background fabrics and lighter peels. Then Wendy, one of our quilt-alongers, left a comment pointing out that I could run into trouble with darker fabrics showing through the lighter ones. Hmm, good thinkin’, Wendy!

I really didn’t think of that at all, but of course she’s right. That could be a problem. I went through my fabrics in the daylight and tested out a wide variety of pairings. Yes, a few of the higher contrast prints did show through the lightest of the fabrics. I think it could be worked around by carefully choosing background and peel pairings, but it got me thinking about my fabric choices …

Back when I started choosing fabrics, I did this half-assed layout test to get an idea of what my fabrics would look like:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Fabric Layout Test

Ultra-scientific, no?

But then thinking about the light / dark fabric issue, I wondered if it might just be simpler to reverse the layout, using the more typical light-backgrounds-darker-peels combo:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Fabric Layout Test

Huh. As it turns out, my gut says that the pink backgrounds work better. But I didn’t want that to be true, because I’d had the dark backgrounds in mind since the start of this project idea, you know? So I did what any sensible person would do – I asked the only person nearby, who doesn’t sew / quilt / care … my brother.

Somewhat surprisingly, he actually gave it a bit of serious thought and said that he liked the pink backgrounds better. He said he didn’t know how to explain it in any sort of proper terms, but that the pattern was clearer with the pink backgrounds, while the dark-background-layout made his eyes work too hard to see the lattice-y pattern the peels make. Double huh.

I took another look and, gee whiz, I think he’s right. But I think the problem is not just because they’re dark, but because my darker fabrics actually have quite a lot of variation between them, which makes it less easy for your eye to see them as all one background. My pink fabrics are all closer in tone – they have enough print variation to make it interesting to look it, but not so much that they contrast much between them.

So it looks like maybe I’ll reverse my layout, in a move that surprises me more than anyone! Quilt-alongers: I don’t tell you this to say that you can’t have dark backgrounds or variation in your choices or anything like that. Playing with the contrast or non-contrast could be totally awesome. In my case my background pile already contrasts my peel pile nearly as strongly as it possibly could, and that’s what I’m going for. The variation between my blues distracts from that – but maybe it’d be awesome in yours?

Have you tested out your layout at all yet? Did it do anything to surprise you?

(Oh and by the way, for anyone waiting for the final part of my Crazy Quilting Sampler tutorials, that’ll be up tomorrow! later in the week, hopefully. I’m really sorry for the delay.)

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Yay! It’s time to get started! Though today we’re just going to talk about getting started, really – what materials we need for our projects and what kind of fabric choices might work.

But first, a little disclaimer: this is my very first quilt-along – as a host or participant! I’m just doing this as it seems logical and pleasant to do, I don’t have any previous experience to build on. Also, I’ve checked out all of your links and I’m sure I don’t have any better quilting / sewing knowledge than you guys do. Seriously, you people have mad skillz, have you seen the beautiful things you’ve made?!? I’m sure you will all have good tips to share or have different ways of doing things – pretty please share those as we go along, either in the comments or in your own posts about the quilt-along! I don’t pretend to know better and learning from each other is definitely part of the benefit of sewing together!

Ok, I feel better, let’s go.

First up, let’s talk fabric. Here’s my choices for this project:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

My backgrounds are going to be the dark navy fabrics, my peels will be the pinks. I haven’t actually come across an orange peel quilt this way, dark with light peels. I really hope it works out as well as it looks in my head!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

The fabrics for orange peels are all about contrast and how much of it you want. For the original wall-quilt, I went with low volume backgrounds and darker peels in a strict color scheme:

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

Karen, who is quilting-along with us, mentioned the other day that she likes the low volume backgrounds, but doubted she’d have enough in her stash. I pointed out that at least two of my wall-quilt backgrounds don’t seem like they’d be low volume, but once they are contrasted with a darker fabric, they work perfectly. This Melody Miller horse print would never seem like it could be background fabric, but lookit with this extremely dark fabric from Lizzy House’s Catnap line:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

This combo is a little more typical, but also uses the print style to contrast:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Or you could go with pairs of light / dark solids:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Or maybe solids that are different colors but closer in intensity, for a lower-contrast quilt:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

The possibilities are endless, of course: you could make all of your peels from one fabric, if you have a couple of meters of something perfect in your stash. You could have all the peels in solids and all the backgrounds in prints, or vice versa. You could contrast by colors, or use scraps or even vintage sheets!

Whatever you choose, just consider what amount of contrast you want and make sure your fabrics work in pairs to give you the look you want!


Fabric Requirements:

(Two notes: Double-check that your fat quarters are a full 18″ tall, you’ll need every inch of height and a wonky cut could mean you’d need an extra fat quarter to make up the difference. Also, the background and peel fabrics are minimum requirements – you might find that you prefer a layout with more variety in prints, or that you need a bit more of your peel fabrics if you choose any prints that are directional or need to be fussy cut to get stripes even, etc.)

Wall Hanging Size: 30″ x 30″

  • 4 fat quarters (FQ) background fabric
  • 4 FQ peel fabric
  • 1 yd / 1 meter of backing fabric (or a 34″-ish square)
  • 34″-ish square of batting
  • 1 LQ (long quarter) binding fabric

Lap Quilt Size: 60″ x 60″

  • 16 FQ background fabric
  • 12 FQ peel fabric
  • 4.5 yd / 4 meters backing fabric
  • 2 yd / 1.75 meters batting (assuming width is at least 65″)
  • .5 yd / .5 meter binding fabric

Notes for customizing the size of your quilt:

  • Quilt size is based on 5″ finished peel blocks. If you want to change the size of your quilt, simply chose a size that is a multiple of 5″ – or a multiple of 10″ if you want it to be symmetrical (which you probably do).
  • To find the number of peel blocks you need to make, simply multiply the two sides: to make a baby quilt that is 40″ x 40″, each side will be 8 blocks long. 8 x 8 = 64 peel blocks, so you will need 64 background squares and 64 peels.
  • One FQ will give you 9 background squares or approximately 12 peels. Using the example above, 64 ÷ 9 = 7.1, so you will need 8 background FQs. 64 ÷ 12 = 5.3, so you will need 6 peel FQs. Does that make sense?
  • If I can help you customize your quilt in a different way, just let me know!

One more thing about fabric for this project: the nice thing about this pattern is that you really make just one block at a time, there’s no need to have every bit of fabric ready right now. My stack is ready to go because I’ve had this stack pulled and waiting for the right project for about a year. But you can always use what you have to hand and add to it as we go! And if you want to use scraps or other cuts, start gathering and I’ll talk about what to cut next time.


Other Materials Needed:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

  • Rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, sewing machine (for later), iron, etc.
  • Sharp fabric scissors, paper scissors
  • Reynold’s Freezer Paper – if you are in the UK, the cheapest I’ve found (so far) for a roll is right here at the Cotton Patch. If you are elsewhere and can’t find this anywhere, please let me know and we’ll figure out the best alternative. It really is a handy thing if you can get it though!
  • Tweezers
  • A pencil
  • Thread:
    • Machine-sewing thread to match your background fabrics – I’m using Aurifil 50wt
    • Hand-sewing thread to match your peel fabrics – I’m using Aurifil 40wt (shown here as 50wt, for you eagle-eyes, because it had to be ordered) because I want to try it for hand-stitching, but you don’t need any special kind of thread as long as it matches your peels.
    • Any old thread for basting – something that contrasts your peels will be easiest to see. I use the leftover bits on spools or bobbins for this.
  • Hand-stitching Tools:
    • Small scissors
    • A thimble, if you like that sort of thing – I use the sticky leather pad type
    • Hand-sewing or applique needles – I have a different pack shown, but I just ordered these a few minutes ago. I think you want something thin and not too long, but really, needles are personal and you’ll find what you like best as you work.
  • Sewing pins! They sell special applique pins, which are really teensy, but I don’t think that’s necessary myself, we’re not working that small.
  • A 5.5″ square quilting ruler will save you a lot of time if you are making a larger quilt. This is totally optional and we won’t need it for ages anyway, but I mention it now in case you see one on sale or something!
  • Binding clips, such as Clover Wonder Clips – again, optional and not until the very end of the process.

I think that’s it! Other than fabric and maybe the freezer paper, I imagine you’ll have most of this in your standard toolkit already. So go collect your materials and fabrics and we’ll come back on the 3rd of September (in two weeks) to starting cutting up our fabric. In the meantime, when you decide about fabric or just want to ponder some options or whatever, leave a link to a photo or blog post here so that we can all drool over each other’s choices!

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Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

Woohoo! It’s finished!

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

You might not have been around when I first posted about this special project, so I should probably tell the story of how it was made.

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

Two hand-sewing enthusiast friends and I (Karen and Christa) decided to have a mini-quilting-bee together and make mini-quilts together. We each planned out a mini-quilt for ourselves, divided the work into three parts, and made little kits with fabric and thread and whatever else was needed.

We each of us made a third of each other’s mini-quilts, and now we each have a small piece of loveliness that we made together! (Thank you so much, guys!!!)

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

So each of us hand-stitched a third of these peels, then I assembled them and hand-quilted around each peel. My Instagram peeps helped me decide not to do any more quilting and to let it be simple this way, and they were definitely right. I was worried that the pink thread I’d used (Aurifil 12wt, in case you’re wondering) didn’t do a good enough job tying all the pinks together like I’d wanted, but the binding does it beautifully.

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

The binding fabric is my favorite fabric in the entire history of the universe. It’s a print from the V&A’s Quilts 1700 – 2010 exhibition – they produced a small line of fabrics reproduced exactly from quilts on display. This print is taken from a patchwork coverlet dated 1797 and it really is the most beautiful fabric I’ve ever seen. I’ve hoarded a small stash of it but I’m still afraid to use it for fear of running out. This is the first time I’ve been able to cut into it – it seemed fitting for such a special project!

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

I will still embroider a tag for it, and I’ll have to add a sleeve so I can get it up on my wall. But I’ll call it an FO anyway, so that anyone joining in the Orange Peel Quilt-Along can see it all finished!

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt FO

(Wanna know more about the Orange Peel Quilt-Along? Check out the schedule and join in over here!)

Crazy Quilting Sampler, Part 2: Embellishments and Embroidery

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Hey, crazy quilters, ready for the next step of our little samplers?! This is where the ‘sampler’ part comes in – and why I love this project so much: the combination of patchwork and embroidery in crazy quilting is 100% of the appeal to me. I don’t have to choose between these two crafts that I love, and I get to try out all kind of fun embroidery stitching.

Above you can see my finished 13″-ish block. I love it so dang much! Now we’ll do a little prep before starting embellishing. I happen to have a 12.5″ square ruler, which is terribly convenient, so I’ve used that to mark my block for the next step. But you can use a straight ruler and mark out each side separately.

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

With a removable fabric pen of some type (I used a Frixion pen), mark out whatever you want your finished size and shape to be. This line is where you will sew later, whether you choose to add it to other blocks or make a pillow or bind it for a little wall-hanging. It doesn’t make any difference what shape or size you end up with, as long as it makes you happy.

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Sew all the way around your block, just a touch outside that line, somewhere under 1/4″. The sewn line will stop your outer fabrics from flapping around in your way as you work. The drawn line gives you a stopping warning for your embroidery stitching. This way you can wait until later to trim your block nice and neat (it’s sure to fray a little as you work) but won’t risk slicing through any embroidery when you do. Try to just cross the drawn line with your embroidery, but not the sewn line.

Now gather up a pile of embellishments of whatever type strikes your fancy:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

I have threads (size 16 perle cotton, ’cause it’s my current favorite), ribbons and lace. You might use regular stranded embroidery floss, beads, ricrac, applique bits – anything! These will continue to add to the design of your block – maybe create dramatic borders between each patch, or maybe add subtle embellishment to a high-contrast block. Whatever you feel it needs can be added now.

(Note: you could also have added lace – one of you added pompom ribbon! – into the seams in the previous step, for future reference. Honestly, I didn’t think of it earlier, but I do like that this way lets me apply it in fun ways if I like.)

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

I added a few bits along or over seams, simply by sewing them down close to the edge with a matching thread. I chose to do those on seams that ran off the edge of my piece, if that makes sense. It saved me having to tuck ends under (which is the benefit to embellishing into seams in the first place, I have to admit).

Now let’s start stitching. Basically, we’re going to cover each seam with some sort of stitching – and preferably something different on each one, making it a proper sampler. I’ll show you how to do a few, which are inspired by examples on my Crazy Quilting Pinterest Board, but don’t feel like you have to follow these. Be creative, get crazy and stitch whatever you think of!

Most crazy quilting stitches look complex, but are just combination stitches made up of the most basic embroidery stitches in creative ways. Let’s do one of the most common – herringbone stitch:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Herringbone stitch is often used as the only stitch in a crazy quilt over every seam. It’s fast and easy: just work long diagonal stitches across the seam, crossing each stitch over the end of the previous. (There’s a more detailed tutorial of herringbone stitch right here if that’s not clear.)

I added little french knots along either side, ’cause why not?

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

You could also stick some little lazy daisies there, or maybe little cross-stitches. Or just leave it simple, whatever you want!

On my next lace seam, I made a pretty little row of simple star stitches:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

In that photo, from left to right, you’ll see: one completed star, then the three steps that make up each star. First make a cross stitch (over the seam), then add a horizontal bar, then a vertical. Easy-peasy, and don’t they look pretty all in a row?

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Ok, let’s get a little more fancy, shall we? I’m sure you’ve all done some blanket stitch, right? Add blanket stitch over a seam, alternating long and short stitches:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

Now go back to the beginning and add little lazy daisy (aka detached chain stitch) blossoms to the shorter stitches:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

And lastly, let’s stick a neat line of large cross-stitches over another seam. These are so simple and fun!

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

That’s all for this week – here’s where my block is at:

Crazy Quilting Sampler - Part 2

(Click through to see a bigger version for more detail.) I’m having so much fun, it’s really addictive! I will show you a few more stitches next Monday, but I have to warn you, after that you’ll be on your own and I fully expect you to come up with some really creative stitching! It doesn’t have to be complicated, just use whatever you know and go for it!

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