Tag Archives: Crazy quilting

New mittens & a hat

Regrettably, I am one of those people that lose or destroy mittens and hats on a regular basis. I always need another set, no matter how many I already have. I lose a mitten, rip a hat, throw frisbees for the dog and a mitten is wet & yucky, put gas in the car and get fuel on one mitten; one way or another, I need multiple mittens and hats.

New mittens

New mittens

I had all these scraps of bright-colored, slinky fabric that were too small to do much with but they were so fun I couldn’t resist picking them up at the transfer station. So I decided to try a bit of a “what if”. I used the polar fleece as the ground fabric, laying the first piece face up. The next fabric is laid face down on top of the first, with a very quick sloppy straight stitch to attach the two fabrics onto the polar fleece. Flip the second piece over, then lay a third on top of it, face down, and do another quick sloppy straight stitch. Continue until the mitten top is covered with fashion fabrics. Then I embroidered with easy stitches and colorful threads. No beads or other findings; these mittens will probably not have a long life.

I wanted to see how a “flip and sew” method would work for crazy quilting. The main problem was that the soft slippery fashion fabrics I used were difficult to keep flat. I didn’t really care about the addition of a little texture, and mostly I could embroider any bubbles away. Lots and lots of pinning helped too.

Anyway, they’re bright, colorful, and warm! They’re entirely handsewn; I will probably never make another pair of mittens with the sewing machine. It was quick and easy to make them by hand, and no more frustrating twisting & turning with the machine.

And pretty soon, I’ll be having a hat to match!


Tanana Valley State Fair, 2010

select image to enlarge, or check out my Flickr site

iPad case – made from an old daybook. I removed the insides and covered it with some fabric I’d previously used as curtains. The velcro strap keeps it closed, and there are two small pockets inside to keep the iPad from sliding out.

Trio of black quilts – each tiny quilt is made from silk samples purchased many years ago; I got a whole bag for $8.00. Little experiments in embroidery and beading.

Hearts to Sleep By – made from scraps left over from a big quilt. I wanted to play around with embellishing by machine.

Irish hat – I did all the embroidery while I traveled through Ireland in March 2008. All the buttons and embellishments were purchased on my trip, although the seed beads came from my stash at home.

Green flowered hat – I found this really fun flower fabric and couldn’t resist cutting out individual flowers. They are edged with a very tight buttonhole stitch, completely done by hand. I found both the ribbon that makes the flower stems and leaves, and the lining fabric, at Value Village. Serendipity!

Tanana Valley Fair, 2009

Well, I was surprised to round up seven things to enter in this year’s Tanana Valley State Fair, and even more surprised to get two class champions, three firsts, three seconds, and a third. I also won the Bob Hage award for the most unusual piece of needlework in the Needlework Division.

There are larger images on my Flickr site, if you’re interested…

Dinosaur’s Garden

Flowers were drawn freehand and colored with wax crayons, then embellished with simple embroidery. The grass is a silk hanky, separated into a single layer, covered with netting, and embroidered. The green felt at the bottom is stitched onto the quilt, covering the edges of the silk hanky. The tiny dinosaur at the bottom right corner is a commercial applique, as is the dragonfly. The butterfly-gosh, I can’t remember what it really was; a pin maybe? This was just a fun little experiment with crayons on fabric. Made in 2007. Class champion and first place in the art quilt division.

Blue Fish Reef

The block print in upper right corner was made in a print making class at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1992 or 1993. It’s my own design, and I’ve used several variations of it in different quilts. The kelp bed in the lower lefthand corner as well as the print fish, are embellished with ribbons that are folded, embroidered, and beaded, with some buttons attached. The small fish and the star fish are entirely hand embroidered. Made in 1998. Third place in the quilt division.

Photo box

I found this field box in a pile of junk at work, and kept it for a couple of years before figuring out what to do with it. I think it was originally used for taking field notes; data sheets were stored in the box and it was a good surface for taking notes and filling out data sheets. I liked the rough weathered finish, so I didn’t do any re-finishing of the wood but just washed the dust and cobwebs off. I used the peeling bark off birch trees in my yard to cover the sliding cover, gluing them down with a lot of diluted acrylic gel. There are two small clothes pins, painted a flesh color, to hold a mounted photo. Made in 2009. Second place in the reduce/reuse/recycle division.

Embroidered pillow

The pillow cover was constructed several years ago by machine. The folded fabric flowers are based on designs found in Fabled Flowers by Kumiko Sudo. The design and placement of the flowers and leaves is my own plan. The flowers are embellished with chain stitches and french knots; the leaves are embellished with feather stitches, and cotton and metallic threads. The stems are feather stitches in three shades of green cotton embroidery thread, or chain stitch and back stitch. Made in 2003. Class champion, first, and winner of the Bob Hage award in the needlework division.

Black lace hat

This hat was an experiment to see if I could make a full-brimmed hat that was stylish and comfortable to wear. It was a challenge to make the brim stiff enough so that it didn’t flop into my eyes! I used a discarded skirt, and a bolero vest I found at the transfer station. It’s based on a baseball cap, and I drew the brim pattern to fit the cap pattern I’ve used on many, many hats. The seams on the crown are covered in ribbon and embroidered with black feather stitches. The lace drooping off the edge of the brim was the hem of the skirt. I purposely left flowers off, as I couldn’t decide which ones to use! Any color that compliments the outfit worn with the hat will work. All the stitching was done by hand. 2009. First in the sewing division.

Needlelace hat

I’ve written about this hat earlier; it was entered in a competition in England two years ago, but didn’t garner any awards then. I made it in 2007. This year it placed second in the needlework division.

Bra bag

I found this black lace bra along my road while walking the dog; it must have escaped from someone’s laundry basket. And who’d want it back? But it was too pretty to just throw away. I added some Chinese style black on black fabric to the top, lined it with white cotton fabric, and embroidered small leaves and flowers on it. I also added a couple of silk flowers. The drawstring handle fits over my wrist, dangling alongside my leg. All the stitching was done by hand. Made in 2009. Second in the sewing division.

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.

What-if list

Oct 13 update:

ah, once again I’ve overbooked myself… I DO want to participate in Jude’s “What If” and the list is as far as I’ve gotten because I’m taking Vegetation Analysis & Description. Basically what I do at work, is put my supervisor’s veg analysis & description of the arctic tundra online; I thought it would be great if I understood what he does out in the field. It’s an awesome class, but it’s taking a LOT more time than I thought it would! I keep thinking that “next week I’ll be caught up” and I can sew again (and never mind about the house renovation project; that’s been put on hold too!). And today… ack! I just found out (nooooo, I didn’t read the syllabus carefully!) that our notebooks are due on Wednesday! So I will be madly organizing all my lab notes tonight and tomorrow night. Sigh. Not sewing yet…

What if list:

I thought I’d better start a list of “what-ifs” so I don’t forget them. Not that they Have to get done, but old ideas are often a good starting point for new ideas. I haven’t started on a “what if” yet, because I’m still working on the house remodeling and the sewing things are in the shed. But I do have to table-sit tomorrow, so I might have something to show on Thursday.

  1. what if I use just red? what can I do to red fabric to change the color? w/out dyeing/painting/etc… how can I use embroidery thread/stitches, organza, or ?? to change the color?
  2. what if I manipulate the fabric to include texture? how can I use embroidery thread/stitches to add texture?
  3. what if I use sewing machine thread instead of embroidery thread? how many threads (plies?) will I need? can I mix colors? can I add in a rayon or metallic thread for some sparkle?
  4. what if I stop painting for a bit and play?? oh, the kitchen is still torn apart, I can’t cook, I can’t find anything, most of the sewing stuff is in the shed… sigh. I’ll finish up the kitchen and *then* I can take a break.
  5. After seeing this post at Crafting a Green World… what if I made a crazy quilt in a particular shape? Like my name… or I don’t know, crazy or quilting… WITH a hole somewhere…
  6. What if I use a digital photograph of Alaska’s fall colors; enlarge it to the point that I can pick colors from individual pixels, and use that for a color scheme? Or heck, just collect some leaves and go with those!
  7. What if I take geometric shapes, lay them down, and embroider through the middle, rather than laying down irregular shapes, turning edges under, and embellishing seams? Like this, but with hand embroidery, using a variety of stitches.
  8. And even easier, just take small pieces of fabric and lay them down as is, then embroider. No turning edges under, no worrying about whether the ground fabric is covered. Use something pretty for the ground, rather than muslin…
  9. in response to Jude’s wool what if – what if I take wool and just seam it (no ground fabrid)? or not even seam it, just join it? w/insertion stitches? or um, whaddya call it… a whip stitch? no ground fabric (& I’ll probably use wool/polyester felt, because that’s what I have). but I could collect some wool clothing from the transfer station or Value Village…
  10. computer printing! I just got a sample of printable fabric from a co-worker that I’m going to play with. Not that I haven’t printed on fabric, but the sample is quite a bit different from what I’ve used before. so what’s the what if? what if I print on the backside of the map that’s printed on the sample, cut up the fabric and use it? I could cut pieces that would be reversible (ie, the same shape no matter which side is “up”).
  11. I have several Dover clip art images that I printed onto fabric and then colored. What if I cut them apart, in say, a fan design, then insert crazy quilting between? I’ve been wondering what to do with them.

I haven’t had much of a chance to check everyone else’s “what-iffing” ( reallyreally need to add all the blogs to my reader!), so the list below is sort of in response to some ideas I saw tossed around earlier. These are projects I’ve done in the past, similar to a couple of “whatifs” I’ve read on Jude’s blog. The links go to my Flickr site.

  1. Laura’s Quilt – made from a yard’s worth of 4 inch square Laura Ashley fabrics in 1990. I consider this my first crazy quilt.
  2. Air conditioner cover – made from a package of pre-cut hexagons in 2002.
  3. Roses Are Red – five mono printed rectangles, with embroidery and embellishments. In the center is a beaded rose; I traded something for it, but I can’t remember what-probably a small quilt.
  4. Victorian Landscape – linoleum block print on fabric that incorporates crazy quilting, made in 1998 (block printing done in 1991 I think).
  5. Flower Basket – I like using crazy quilting as a frame; this is the first “CQ frame” I made, in 1994.
  6. Photo holder – this is the second one I made. I don’t really like it, because it doesn’t function the way I wanted it to. Take the long part and fold into thirds; the “wings” on each side fold into the center to hold the pouch closed (there are velcro tabs too). I need a picture of it folded up…

Project update

Irish hat Irish hat

Irish hat

Brim for the Irish hat

Brim for the Irish hat

The Irish hat is almost done! This is the hat I started when I went to Ireland in March this year. Most of the embroidery thread and embellishments were purchased in Ireland. I did use my American seed beads, as I have too many and it was really silly to purchase seed beads in Ireland. Now I have to choose the lining fabric and sew the hat together, and then I’ll be done!

Wedding wallhanging

Wedding wallhanging

And this little… wallhanging I guess, is the best description, is coming right along. About 3/4 of the seams are embroidered and embellished now, and I’ve started adding “stuff” to it. So far just bells, which tinkle nicely as I manipulate the fabric to reach a seam or turn it to facilitate the embroidery. It will eventually hold a wedding photo in the center.

Small bag

Small bag

I’m also working on a small piece that was supposed to become an eyeglass case, but after a little disturbance with a Sharpie marker, it’s going to become a small bag instead. Really, it’ll make a better bag than eyeglass case. Lesson #57: Do not use Sharpies to mark your ground fabric! And I should have known better.

More on these projects…

Just so you don’t think I’ve been plodding through the same old projects all summer… I spent Sunday afternoon playing with my three dollar, basic Versa-Tool Woodburning Kit, that I got from Value Village (secondhand store) awhile back. People drifted in and played for a bit, so it wasn’t a big crowd scene. And considering that the Versa-Tool is REALLY hot, that was probably just as well! Good plan to use it outside too, because a) burning stuff stinks, and b) I probably breathed in a ton of carcinogens anyway, but less than if I was inside. I used an old picture frame with the glass still in the frame as a, um, a light frame I guess. I taped a stencil pattern on one side (face up) and a piece of polyester organza fabric on the other, and cut out a seahorse stencil and a Chinese character stencil. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with them yet, but I just signed on to this project, so I think the two might be a match.

You can also cut shapes out of polyester fabrics; I have two huge boxes of ’70s vintage polyester scraps from a friend, so I played with those too. I also experimented with some embroidery stabilizer and Peltex. Oh, and polyester felt! I made buttons with single and double layers of felt. They’ll be cool with some embroidery.

A dog and his boy

A dog and his boy

I also fooled around with my crayons and pastel crayons, and doodled on cloth and stabilizer, and layered some organza onto stabilizer and then some more crayon… it was just play time, no goals, no final piece to show off. And watching little boy Sawyer draw on fabric (and his face), throw balls for Gizmo, eat too much cake and too many pretzels, and enjoy summer’s last gasp.

Currently in my sewing basket:

It’s been awhile since I’ve shown off what I’m working on; I like doing this because it helps me keep on track. I’ll come back to this post and document when I finish something, so it’s a nice record of things accomplished. So, on to the show!

The wedding present:
for my friend Pam
I started this photo frame quite awhile ago; it’s definitely a *WISP! I’d like to exhibit it at a show in July, so I am trying to work on it more diligently. The blank square in the center will eventually contain a photograph. I’m going to try to finish this off so it’s easy to change the photograph.

Irish baseball cap:
latest baseball cap
I pieced this hat just before going to Ireland; the finished sections still need beads. It’s certainly brightly colored-I won’t get lost in the crowd when I’m wearing this hat! Most of the thread and all of the buttons and other embellishments were purchased in Ireland. There is one more section-I didn’t include it in the photo because I haven’t done any embroidery on it yet.

Baby’s onesies:
hand embroidered onesies
This is the third set! The first two were for girls, this set is for a boy. I did almost all the embroidery without any stabilizer or hoop. I used water soluble stabilizer on one to try it out, and decided it was too hard to sew through, and it was too time consuming to fit the stabilizer to such a small item. I think for an adult size tee, I would probably use the stabilizer though; getting your thread tension just right is a little fussy.

Eyeglass case:
eyeglass case
I am working on some ideas for small, simple, relatively speedy projects for crazy quilting classes. This is the first small project. If you select the image and enlarge it, you can just see the basting stitches around the edge.

Poppy quilt:
small crazy quilt
Another *WISP; this one was started three or four years ago, for the first Georgeson Botanical Garden quilt show. I wrapped the quilt top and some batting around a board, pinned the crap out of it, tacked a backing on, and entered it; I think it got third place. I want to put it in another show this summer, and the makeshift back isn’t gonna work this time! This is a closeup view; not the whole quilt.

There are more pictures on Flickr of each of these projects.

*WISP = Work in slow progress