Monthly Archives: October 2008

Rules schmools

I wrote this post about six weeks ago, and forgot about it. I think it’s still relevant… comments appreciated! How do YOU feel about crazy quilting “rules”?

Awhile back, I was amazed at some of the comments I read about crazy quilting… as a longtime (20? + yrs) CQ’er, I have never worried about “rules” or what you are “supposed” to do or worried that I would offend someone because I didn’t like their style or they didn’t like mine (tho their negativity might hurt my feelings, but eh, just get on w/it). Frankly, I never even knew there were rules for crazy quilting!

There’s no reason to superembellish a crazy quilt. You don’t have to start with a central five-sided piece of fabric*. You don’t have to use only fancy fabrics. If you look at 1880’s vintage crazy quilts, they mostly did not incorporate any lace, buttons, beads, etc. Just embroidery, and often fairly simple embroidery at that. The embroidery was generally worked on velvets and silks, because this was a decorative piece of work, not intended to be functional. There are some crazy quilts from that era, or perhaps a few years later, made with cotton fabrics and intended to be functional.

You can make functional crazy quilts or crazy quilt items. You just need to decide whether you can put that much work into something and know that eventually it will show signs of wear. I tend to use cottons in something I plan to use a lot, but I certainly don’t stick to that. I usually limit what I embellish the piece with, to ensure that I can toss it in the washing machine (just don’t machine dry anything with embroidery on it; dryers are very very bad for embroidery; let it hang dry unless it’s huge and then lay it flat. Good luck finding a flat surface, at least at my house!). But I don’t worry about that too much. I can always handwash if necessary (no, I don’t have kids <lol>).

Some people don’t understand the need to embellish with embroidery (& I almost always use seed beads too). “Why do you waste so much time with that?” I have been asked on more than one occasion when someone has seen one of my embroidered and embellished hats or a sewing machine cover or whatever. And all I can say is, I don’t like using a sewing machine, plus my hand embroidery is relaxing, soothing, contemplative. I have time to absorb the day when I sit down with a needle and thread, or I can visit with firiends. Try talking to someone with your machine running! I guess I am not product/goal oriented; it’s the process of making that I like, the product is almost an afterthought. I’d be just as happy working on one huge piece for my entire life, sometimes. Other times I do need closure, and want to finish a project.

Anyway, the whole point of crazy quilting, as far as I am concerned, is to do it your own way, whatever that way is. If you want to go crazy with beads, buttons, findings, laces, ribbons, then go for it! If you want to use solely fancy fabrics, go for it! If you want to use up your dressmaking scraps or your cotton quilt fabric scraps, go for it! If you want to work in one color scheme, go for it! If you want to use everything, restrain yourself, or work somewhere in between, go for it! There are no rules, you don’t HAVE to do anything!

Repeat after me: There are no rules in crazy quilting!

Just because someone else does it “that way” doesn’t mean you have to! Find your own path, sew your own way. Any rules in crazy quilting are just guidelines, a starting point, not something you must do this one way and only this one way.

*The pentagon in the center of many contemporary CQ blocks is for ease of machine piecing. Paper piecing is a way to get around that, but it has limitations too. If you hand piece your block, you can start anywhere and have much more freedom to place patches any old which way, including convex/concave curves, circular shapes, points, or other geometric shapes. I don’t like machine piecing; I don’t like the spiral effect, or the need for really long patches. Yes, I know you can break the long patch into several patches, but it’s still one long shape.