Year of Samplers

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!

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!

Sampler #9: First Attempt with Drawn Thread

Sampler #9: Drawn Thread

I admit I haven’t gotten very far, but it’s a first attempt at drawing thread. (For the record: I’m using a fairly coarse Ikea linen fabric and a size 12 DMC perle cotton – my research said to use a thread around the same size as the threads in the fabric.) I’ve done only the very basic first steps: I snipped the threads with some teensy scissors and learned how to secure the threads on the sides — which I’m pretty sure I’ve done wrong, actually. (Maybe. It seems to depend on who you ask?)

Sampler #9: Drawn Thread

This is definitely a needlecraft worth consulting the vintage books for. There’s not a lot of information on it in modern books or online. I worked with a few of my books from around the 1930s, but if you’re interested in giving it a try, this post from Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread seems like a good place to start. There’s some good photos and a bunch of links to further information at the end.

Sampler #9: Drawn Thread

I’ve learned how to secure and do a basic wrap, gathering the remaining strands in the fabric. I’m already unsure how I feel about this craft. Although I generally like a little bit of fussiness in my needlework, and I’m not put off by the tedious aspects, this already feels like it might be a little too rigid for me. Once you cut threads in a fabric, you kind of have to follow the rules, you know?

Sampler #9: Drawn Thread

I guess I don’t see an immediate way to modernize this craft – I mean, I’m sure it’s there if you’re creative! But my gut says it all feels a little too fiddly and old-fashioned for me. Though I did think wrapping those stitches was pretty fun. Let’s see how I’ll feel as I continue!

Sampler #9, only slightly (ahem) delayed

Ok, so I missed June. Shuddup. I have to tell you, the trickiest part about these samplers is the preparation! Way back when, my brother hosted a local radio show. He used to say that the show, one 3-hour slot every week, was so fun, but all the preparation – making playlists (pre-iTunes), finding funny tidbits to share, checking the charts, etc – was a crazy amount of work! These samplers are similar: doing the initial research, planning out a design, and trying to pick a topic that works well with that month’s schedule – it’s so much more work than I expected it to be, and if the beginning on the month sneaks up on me, it’s kind of a lost cause.

So I missed another month – meh, so what. I’m still working my way through the 12 samplers, even if my ‘year’ turned out to be a little iffy.

IMG_1308

For July, I’m going to try a little bit of drawn thread work. I don’t have a photo of materials, because I believe we (if you’re stitching along) will just need some linen fabric, a pair of small, sharp scissors, and white threads of various types. I say ‘various types’ because I think we might try different threads and see how they work out – so maybe a fine perle cotton and some sewing thread, maybe linen thread if you have any. I think it might also depend on your linen fabric – mine is fairly coarse (from Ikea, the same as the fabric I used for my pattern darning sampler) so I might need a heavier thread than you will.

I so enjoyed just winging it on my canvaswork sampler that I’m going to take the same approach this time. I’ve got my antique books to help me along and I’ll just start and go. There’s a lot of fun stuff coming up in July (I’ll tell you more tomorrow!) so I’ll keep this one pretty simple, probably just 4 or 5 stitches to try the basics of the technique out. I’ve created a Drawn Thread Pinterest board for inspiration and I’ll be back with some some stitches and progress next Monday!

Canvaswork Sampler FO + June’s Sampler?

Canvaswork Sampler FO

As expected, I did finish my canvaswork sampler while I was in Amsterdam (pinned here, ready to be blocked) – I think crewel is definitely the style I want to keep exploring, but this canvaswork is such fantastic fun!

Canvaswork Sampler FO

It’s so instant-gratification – I’m sure every other sampler I’ve done so far took at least twice as long as this one. And I enjoyed it so much more, just relaxing, stitchy fun.

Canvaswork Sampler FO

I think I want to use this cream-and-gray stitch in something large, just as a total all-over pattern. In these exact colors, it’s so delicious!

Canvaswork Sampler FO

Sorry I didn’t offer much guidance on this sampler, if you’ve been stitching along at all. The truth is, you really don’t need any more than I linked to earlier. It’s just too simple to need more!

Canvaswork Sampler FO

So. Time for June’s Sampler, #9. The thing is … I got nuthin’. No ideas. No inspiration at all. I mean, I have a list of potential styles to ‘sample’, and I want to try them all, but … none of them are grabbing me right now. And everything on that list needs a little more research than I have time for, given that it’s the 2nd of June already and I haven’t started. Any ideas??

(P.S. – I’m working on a new blog design and it’s eating up up all of my blogging time. Posting will be a little light for a while, but I promise, I’m not gone. And if you miss me, you can always find me at Twitter and Instagram!)

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