Crazy Quilting Tutorial: Part 1, Making Patchwork

Last week, I introduced Sampler #10 – Crazy Quilting – and invited you guys to join me! If you’re up for it, today we’re going to make the patchwork foundation for our mini-Crazy Quilts – it’s so much fun!

Apologies in advance for the state of these photos! Of course I chose a day when a bleeding hurricane was passing the UK to prepare my tutorial! But this is a sew-along, not an art show, am I right? :) I’ll assume you’ll be ok with squinting past some poor color adjustments for today!

Ok, here we go! As I mentioned last week, here’s what you’ll need to gather up:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

– A piece of foundation fabric – I used a 13″-ish square in a scrap of some random off-white cotton, which is slightly larger than I mean to end up with, to account for trimming edges later. It really doesn’t matter what the fabric is, as long as it doesn’t have a color or print that will show through your patchwork. You can also use a piece of paper, but a fabric foundation will add stability later on.

– A pile of scraps! I started with fairly small pieces (shown above) but you will need them to get bigger as you go, so gather a nice variety of sizes and shapes.

– Sewing machine, sewing tools, etc. Nothin’ fancy really, just scissors or a rotary cutter if you’re more fastidious than I am, and plain old thread.

– Seam roller (which is what I used) or finger presser or iron.

We’re going to sew this like foundation paper piecing, so if you’ve ever done any, this is essentially the same thing – but I’ll assume you haven’t. Also, a little interesting note: in researching the traditional methods for crazy quilting, I came across this description in one of my antique needlework books:

“Place [your fabric pieces] over a lining to form a design, but instead of stitching two pieces together as in ordinary patchwork, lay one over the top piece and turn the edges of the top piece and run it into the bottom one.”

Slightly awkwardly described, but interesting. Another book described the method as laying one scrap overlapping another, then flip a seam under and baste it in place, overlapping the raw edge of the first. That book said to work in this manner, just basting everything by hand, one scrap at a time, then secure the seams with decorative stitches.

What I found interesting about this is that it is the exact same effect as what we call foundation (paper) piecing, but slightly more fussy (though it would be best if you wanted to play with curves). It actually sounded fun to me to baste each piece by hand, but I knew I wanted this particular project to be more manageable, time-wise. so I decided on our ordinary foundation piecing as my method. If you want to try it another way, absolutely go for it! Just promise to link to your project in the comments so we can see!

One more comment before we get started: there are foundation templates out there for crazy quilting, which you can download and follow like any other pattern. I even have a few pinned on my Crazy Quilting Pinterest Board as an example. Feel free to go that way, but to me, a pattern sort of defeats the purpose of crazy quilting! I mean, how is that crazy if mine would be the same exact layout as yours? The point is to use crazy shapes from your scrap bag, and just fit them together as they call to you! Be adventurous and go your own way!

Alrighty, that’s all I have to say about that. Now let’s sew, dangit!

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Choose a scrap to start with and plop it somewhere pleasing on your foundation fabric. Wherever feels right. (You can trim the edges of your scraps straight, but I didn’t bother for most of them.)

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Now pick a second scrap and lay it over the first, right sides together and edges aligned.

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Sew along the aligned edge, right through the foundation fabric, covering the length where both fabrics overlap. I’ve used a 1/4″-ish seam, but it really doesn’t have to be exact or perfect! (If you are using a paper foundation, be sure to shorten your stitch length to a very small stitch. This will help you remove your paper neatly later.)

Now flip your top scrap over:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

And press the seam flat with whatever method you prefer.

Do the same for a third scrap, covering the whole length of one edge. Each time you add a scrap, you’ll think of what’s already down as one whole shape that you’re adding to, does that make sense?

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Sew it down, just as before, and sew only through the length that both fabrics overlap, not beyond.

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

As you go, you can trim away any excess bits that hang beyond the last seam. See that little flap of gold dots? That can be trimmed away now – fold back the foundation fabric and just trim with scissors:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

Or you can trim with a rotary cutter if you want to be more precise.

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

You can also stitch down a larger piece, and then trim it afterwards, rather than trying to chose an exactly-fitting scrap. You can see above how I did this with the yellow dots, then trimmed it to align with the edge of the scrap beneath it:

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

So, basically, that’s it! You’ll just continue this way until you’ve covered your foundation fabric. Pay attention to the design of the fabric layout, but don’t plan too much – it’s supposed to be crazy! Just go with the flow and use your favorite scraps.

Don’t worry about matching the edge of your foundation fabric perfectly, we’ll trim it nice and square next week, so just let the edges be sloppy for now. Here’s how far I am …

Crazy Quilting Tutorial, Part 1

… let’s all show off our finished patchwork next Monday – and please just ask if you have any questions!

3 Comments on Crazy Quilting Tutorial: Part 1, Making Patchwork

  1. Rachel
    August 11, 2014 at 15:47 (4 years ago)

    This is really cool! I don’t know if I can join in just now, but definitely bookmarking it for later. :)
    I’m interested to see how yours turns out.

  2. Karen
    August 11, 2014 at 17:26 (4 years ago)

    Hmmm, crazy patchwork outside of a sew-together bag?!?!?! xx

  3. Kareen
    August 13, 2014 at 00:51 (4 years ago)

    I have done a little bit of crazy quilting, and many quilters will start off with a five sided piece in the center of the square. This can give many interesting angles in the following pieces.


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