Crazy Quilting Instructions

    by Karen Ellis

    About the Author

    Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.


    Crazy quilts are so-called because they have no set pattern or design. They are elaborately embellished with beads, stitching and other elements and are meant to be displayed as art, not used as bed covers. In conventional quilting, the tops are made from precisely cut pieces, usually formed into rows of blocks. Crazy quilts are cut and pieced to a foundation, usually with no particular block pattern in mind. These quilts consist of a foundation fabric and the quilt top pieces, with no batting between them.


    Start with the foundation. This fabric will be the size of your finished quilt top. If you are making a smaller project, such as a potholder, tote bag or vest, the foundation fabric must be cut to match the area to be quilted. Allow some extra to accommodate the quilting stitches. Sometimes a crazy quilt is made in blocks and then pieced together to make a larger quilt top. However, each block still starts with a foundation piece. Muslin or white cotton are the two most common fabrics used.
    Traditional crazy quilts feature luxury fabrics such as satin and velvet. Decide if you will choose from a bag of scrap fabrics as they come out of the bag or if you will be more decisive in your color palette. You might like to choose among only three or five different colors of fabrics. Wash and dry all of your fabrics (if possible) to allow for shrinkage. To make the project easier, cut each scrap patch so that all the edges are straight lines.


    There is no rule as to where to place your first piece of fabric on a crazy-quilt top. However, you might find it easier to maneuver if you start in the middle of the project. Place the piece of fabric wrong side down on the foundation and pin or baste it in place. Place your second piece of fabric right-side down along one edge of the first piece and sew a 1/4-inch seam. Flip the second piece over, so the right side of the fabric is facing upward. Trim your seams and finger press the seam open. Keep adding new pieces of fabric in the same manner, always working outward, until the entire foundation fabric is covered with patches.


    Crazy quilts are a great place to practice all those fancy embroidery stitches you've been meaning to try. You can embroider along the seams, or inside the patches. Use complementary or contrasting colors, but try not to match the thread to the fabrics. The stitching is meant to stand out, not disappear into the background. Ribbons, trims and lace may be hand-sewn onto the crazy-quilt top. Trinkets, beads and buttons also can be added. Victorian crazy quilts traditionally featured an embroidered or beaded spider web and spider for luck.


    Smaller crazy-quilt projects might need no quilting to hold the sandwich (layers consisting of the quilt top, batting and quilt backing) together. Larger projects will need some sort of quilting. Usually, a crazy quilt is so detailed and busy that it does not need quilting for aesthetic value, but merely for construction purposes. Use large safety pins or basting (long hand-sewn stitches) to temporarily hold the layers together, just as you would with a traditional quilt. Instead of machine or hand quilting, tying is the best option.
    To tie your quilt use embroidery floss or yarn. Make chalk marks every 5 inches. Thread your needle and insert it from the top to the bottom of the fabric on the first mark; leave a 3-inch tail. Bring the needle back up about a quarter inch from the first insertion. Make another stitch, in the same manner, 5 inches from the first one. Continue this pattern until you reach the other end of the quilt. Release the thread. Re-thread your needle and start another row. When all the rows have stitches, cut the threads between each stitch. Tie each stitch with a double knot. Trim all the tied threads to be even.