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.


9 responses to “Rules schmools

  1. We don’t need no stinkin’ rules! It’s just whatever I feel like doing, which includes machine piecing. I machine-piece curves, too. I lop stuff off and add something else.

    I do all the stitching and the beading because I *like* it. It’s fun! It satisfies my need to create beautiful things. I also make quilts. I need both!

  2. Yes I cant agree more as I am not sure where this attitude comes from either as there are no rules to break in crazy quilting.

  3. Susan, your response made me laugh 🙂 You are so right on!

    Sharon, I’m wondering if people get so used to all the rules in sane quilting, that we think there ARE rules in crazy quilting? It could be one reason anyway…

    and my thanks to both of you for commenting!

  4. I have always believed that the rule of crazy quilting was to do whatever you want any way you want.
    By the way, I am a sane quilter rather than a crazy one, (though many people will question that statement) and the rules there are made so you know what to break!

    aha! a subversive quilter… the best kind! 🙂
    thanks for commenting!

  5. i don’t think it is about rules either….i think it about style and what people seem to recognize as cq. when people group things they stop asking questions. rules are only there if you choose to see them. or use them to lean on.

    “…when people group things they stop asking questions.” That’s a very good point! I hadn’t thought of it that way before.
    thanks for commenting!

  6. Sometimes rules or a “discipline” of some kind can be useful – oddly it can lead to a special kind of creativity. Difficult to explain but if you set yourself some limits on a project sometimes you can experience it.

    Not in this case. I was responding to a number of comments/posts saying something to the effect that “I thought I had to…”. There truly are no rules in crazy quilting; which in itself can be stifling because you don’t have a base to start from. But it also frees you to try anything. See Sharon Boggan’s post on her blog Pintangle for clarification.

  7. oh wow – you are so right on the money- who ever started this off is just so crazy- this was the one thing that drew me into crazy quilting that there are NO rules, I could do wot I wanted where I wanted and how I wanted- so to those who say there are rules I will send them here and let them read your piece on no rules
    love n hugs bear xoxoxoxox

  8. I have just recently started CQ and love it! there are definently no rules! but I sure would like to know what kind of thread everyone uses! Me and a freind find that DMC cotton thread is fraying and is disintegrating

    Wonderful! I’m glad you’re enjoying crazy quilting so much!
    As far as thread, if you find your thread is fraying and breaking, try using a needle with a larger eye. You might also want to shorten your thread; I keep mine to about 18 inches.
    I use several different brands of thread; my “basic” threads are DMC, but I love Caron Threads, especially Wildflower and Soie Cristale.

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